With the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) being thrown around carelessly, loads of self-proclaimed “SEO Experts” have materialized, giving phony guarantees and offering ranking promises. Today, you can not go over a few hours without getting some spammy email about SEO, or a cold call from someone promising amazing results that they can’t possibly provide.

Accountants in particular need to understand that a past success does not guarantee the same outcome in the future. In general, individuals who make this guarantee are likely just trying to get you to part with your hard-earned money.

Since SEO for accounting firms is both expensive and very competitive, it appears to attract some of the shadiest business practices outside of SEO for adult websites like online poker or porn. As the owner of a inbound marketing agency that is holds its head up high for the way we “practice what we preach,” we commonly hear about a couple of these SEO scams from companies that don’t put their client’s needs first.

Avoiding SEO scams for accountants altogether will help you avoid an expensive headache for both you and your accounting firm. Read on for some

Tips to Avoid Accountant SEO Scams.

You Don’t Own Your Website’s Design

Coming the resources for an accounting firm website design can be a major undertaking. Accounting firms that need a full-blown individualized design, with several page templates or unique tools and features can often face costs surpassing $12,000.

Unquestionably, you own your website for that price, right?

Not always. In many cases, the design or marketing company owns the rights to the design of your site. So, if for some reason it doesn’t work out, and you choose to hire a different agency later on, you could be saddled with the cost of an entirely new website build on non-proprietary platforms.

In regards to your website, NEVER lease. You should keep a wide berth from any contract that does not give you full ownership of your website and content after your contract expires.

Blogs On Domains You Do Not Own

Allow me to begin by telling you that in nearly all cases, your blog and website should not be on separate domains. Hosting your blog on a different domain not only makes more work for yourself and compounds your expenses, but you will basically be rivaling yourself since you‘ll essentially have two separate sites competing to rank for the same key words and phrases, which will be detrimental to both.

To exacerbate the situation, I’ve lost count of SEO companies selling “blogs” where the domain is registered to the SEO company instead of to the accountant or firm.

This is an even more scarier position than not owning the rights to your web design since now whoever “owns” your domain is running the show, and you could lose any equity you ever build in that URL for any reason. The entirety of your content will be creating authority and links for a site that could vanish the millisecond you quit paying the company who sold it to you.

If someone attempts to offer you all your content being hosted on a domain owned and operated by them, run, don’t walk!

No Access To Your Own Traffic Metrics

Understanding cost per inquiry and cost per client is fundamental to handling your own marketing. By calculating these two figures, you can precisely assess the ROI from all of your campaigns. In the event that you do not have direct access to your PPC data, Google analytics, or conversion tracking, you’re basically flying blind and will not be able to form an effective strategy for your digital marketing campaigns.

Without being transparent with campaign data, how could an SEO company accomplish more than pretend about their clients’ successes? Depending on the contract agreement, you might be stuck with a proprietary admin panel that only allows you access to limited data, or scarier still, you might be barred from seeing anything at all.

If an accounting firm plans to make educated choices, there is no benefit to limiting the data available to them. Many accounting marketing scams involve limited or no access to campaign metrics and data.

Sending PPC Traffic To 3rd Party Landing Pages

One of the scariest accountant marketing scams to watch out for is running PPC or other campaigns to a different domain. The reasons why a few agencies run PPC campaigns to sites outside of a accounting firm’s primary domain are different. I’m not going to get into the upsides and downsides, instead concentrating on what this will ordinarily mean in terms of campaign tracking.

Lets pretend that your PPC traffic gets sent to a site out of your control. Now you’ll be standing without Google analytics data that lets you calculate if the campaign is paying off.

You might know how many inquiries you get and how much revenue your agency brings in, but you will be left without the means to review the finer details and calculate your campaign’s ROI.

Inflated Hosting Costs

Another one of the common accounting firm SEO scams we see is inflated hosting or service charges. The traffic any given accounting firm receives will rarely require more than a $100 hosting charge.

However, I meet clients all the time that get a month–to–month “hosting” invoice of $500 or more from their agency. The agency is simply inflating their hosting charges because it’s a simple grab for cash. I have even heard of one accountant who got charged repeating costs for “mobile optimization” alongside with their preposterous web hosting bills.

If your ad-spends and agency retainers are sufficiently high, sometimes recurring costs like inflated web hosting slide past you unnoticed. Look carefully at your invoices to ensure you’re not getting hosed for a generally reasonable expense.

We Have Partners At Google

There is one thing you will never want to forget: Google nor any other search engine does not band together with the third party SEO companies. The search engines provide unprejudiced results based on the keywords and no exceptional treatment is given to any specific company (unless of course you have picked Google AdWords). Since there is no such partnership, if any SEO expert is making such a claim, avoid them. Additionally, no Google employee will be willing to risk their job and permit any third party an advantage over the any other.

I hope this article helps you avoid these SEO scams. So, avoid getting search engine optimization services from a company making these promises and don’t let an an agency make a fool of you!