One of the signs of an abusive relationship is when one partner controls parts of the other person’s life. This can be access to children, finances, or other important aspects of their life. The abuser threatens that if the other person leaves, they will forfeit whatever the abuser controls, putting them in a position where they have to choose to either stay in a bad situation or risk losing things that are important to them.
This type of coercion can also be used in business relationships. Some marketing agencies stoop to similar dirty tactics to prevent clients from leaving, refusing to give clients login information and other access to the accounts they have set up in the client’s behalf.
In the course of business, SEO & web design agencies set up and/or manage a variety of accounts – maps listings, social media accounts, web hosting, etc. Gravitate Online and other ethical agencies will always give the log in information for these accounts to their clients when they leave so they can continue to use these assets. However, some agencies try to coerce clients into staying by refusing to turn over access to these accounts when a client leaves.
This can cripple the client’s marketing because they can no longer update their information. Even if they start from scratch and create new accounts, the old information will still be floating around, confusing customers and hurting the business’ credibility.
Shady SEO companies can also threaten to remove inbound links when a client leaves, hurting their search ranking. Basically the idea is that the agency will only allow the client to profit from their work while they remain a client, forcing the client to start over when they leave.
These tactics are a dirty, desperate attempt to keep clients. The client isn’t happy with the agency’s work and want to find another agency that will better meet their needs. But if the agency refuses to give access to these accounts or threatens to undo any good work they have done in link building, the client runs the risk of a drop in search rankings and having customers find incorrect or missing information.
These tactics used to be common in the early days of online marketing. They had become less common, but unfortunately are making a reappearance as competition increases among marketing agencies.
The best option is to avoid the situation in the first place. Any company that is looking to hire an agency to handle any of their online marketing – SEO, social media, website, etc. – should first check to make sure that the agency does not use any of these dirty tactics. If the agency will not give the client full access to their accounts (after all, the accounts are for the client, they should have access to them), the client should find a different company that operates more ethically.