7 Myths Digital Agencies Tell to Get More Clients

We’ve all seen the guaranteed first positions, the algorithm change that never existed and the CPA targets are simply too good to turn down.

I know I have probably commitment to things that was always going to prove difficult to chew let alone swallow. I’ve also been on the other end where i’ve been turned into the incumbent agency because another agency had promised a lower CPA within 3 months, meaning I was given the flick.

Digital agencies and unscrupulous sales people will commit to things to get the business across. Here are some of the best (or worst?) I have heard:

1. The SEO Guarantee

thanks touchpointdigitalmarketing.com
thanks touchpointdigitalmarketing.com

So you guarantee the top spot in Google ay? Within a month ay? Or your money back ay? This is 3 birds in 1 stone.. 3 lies… 1 lie that nails about 3 smaller lies.

Ok so lets get this straight. In most cases (excluding branded terms here) you cannot guarantee the top spot in Google. You don’t own Google nor do you have access to their algorithm.

Thats like saying that you will keep a family dry by guaranteeing sun shine. You are better off providing that family with equipment to shield them from the whether.. although telling them it won’t rain sounds pretty cool right? And that;s why this guarantee works.. in the short term.

The top spot SEO guarantee is usually followed up with an extremely short time line and some type of guarantee just to seal the deal. All I have to say is check the fine print and if you can actually do all this stuff, why did you contact my client using a spammy gmail account instead of being everywhere due to your fantastic marketing skills?

Oh and the email always starts with ‘Dear’.. can’t remember the last time I addressed a client with ‘Dear’. Very sweet.

2. The backlink strategy

Have you heard the backlinking strategies used to lure clients? Its like SENuke + 2004 bundled together. In case you havn’t heard, it goes something like this:

Dear <marketing manager/webmaster/whoever>,

We are a team of experience somethings. We we build you links that look something like this:

bad backlink strategy

50 Article submissions? From 2 Articles? Where does the video come from? Social Media 20? How in the world does that actually work.

Oh right… you don’t know my website, don’t know my goals, my competition or my business but you know how to do SEO.

6 Months of the above and you will be well on your way to sandbox heaven. The thing is this isn’t a lie as such… its just a terrible terrible strategy. In a way.. I just told a lie. Psychedelic.

3. The SEO and PPC relationship

You will get better rankings if you do PPC on those keywords. What? Really? This theory still exists? You bet it does.. and its a great way for these agencies’ to get both the SEO and the SEM work.

“Oh you want those shoes? Then you need that shirt to go with it”.  No you don’t.. you have a perfectly find shirt for that but the fashion expert said this is the best way.. so you do it.

I actually have one client at the moment who I absolutely love working with but his SEO guy insists we run search on keywords he is trying to target for SEO. Unfortunately for me (and my client), the client feels this is necessary.

Apparently rankings and SEO traffic is bad because the PPC guy (me) isn’t bidding on the right keywords.

4. Google analytics kills traffic

The same SEO guy in point 3 doesn’t allow me to install Google Analytics or Tag Manager because apparently it hurts his SEO. That’s right, Google Analytics kills your SEO traffic.

Let me do a little test of that:

quicksprout analytics
QuickSprout runs… Google Analytics
Moz runs... Google Analytics!
Moz runs… Google Analytics!
google analytics runs google analytics
Google Analytics even runs… Google Analytics!

Ok Google Analytics might obviously be running Google Analytics but Moz.com and Quicksprout.com also run Analytics. I don’t think their traffic is pretty shabby either.

Why would an agency tell a lie like this? Well why would they want complete transparency? Or they could just have their own ways.

5. The ranking report

This isn’t exactly a lie but to be honest, I am not the biggest fan of rankings reports. I feel rankings are like the cliche iceberg image. You know the one.. little tip and the top and the huge section at the bottom. Actually here is one just in case you are not familiar with it:

Here is the typical iceberg picture

Here is another one just for good measure:

And another ice berg
And another ice berg

Most iceberg photos are then discussed along side an analogy of some sort like love, life, business or something deep and meaningful.

I’m going to use this analogy to explain why I’m not the biggest fan of ranking reports. Rankings are really “just the tip of the iceberg” (wow I’m on a roll here). In most cases the keywords you choose to rank for are not what your users are actually typing in.

In fact according to Neil Patel from Quicksprout, 91% of Quicksprout.com traffic comes from long tail keywords. In that case it was 238,000 visitors from long tail keywords. What are the chances that you are getting a solid portion of these keywords in your ranking reports?

I prefer to focus on traffic as a key metric to the performance of any SEO campaign. After all what other reason could the client be wanting SEO if it wasn’t for driving traffic that leads to business?

6. The SEO is dead lie

How many times have you heard this? SEO is dead. Trust me SEO isn’t dead… its just that the old methods of doing SEO are dead (see point 2 above). Big publications are saying this and even some cool infographics have been created.

Is SEO time consuming? Yes. Is it easy? No. Is it dead though? Definitely not.

If you are not providing great content on a regular basis then chances are SEO may be dead to you. What is dead are the old spammy methods, they just don’t work anymore. However as long as companies need to drive traffic to their website at scale SEO is relevant and definitely alive and kicking, the traditional methods may not be however.

7. H.I.T.S as a KPI: how idiots track success

We can get you hits and increase traffic to your website. How often have you heard this before? How many times has a client said to you we want more traffic and that’s it. How did that work out for you or more importantly, how did that work out for them?

A lot of clients, especially those with larger budgets and more traditional backgrounds commonly move into digital with an engrained offline mentality. Some agencies are great at playing this card. Client’s expect eyeballs, viewers, readers or more commonly known these days as ‘hits’. Easy.

My opinion on this. Hits is not a KPI. Hits is not a success metric. Hits is an arbitrary number that no longer has its place in the digital space. Hits means spikes on a graph and makes stakeholders agree and nod. After-all, who doesn’t like a nice graph with a spike of traffic that can be attributed to $xx being spent.

Hits is used as a KPI because it is easy to deliver and can maximise profits. More clicks and hits means more spend, its a very profitable but using it as a KPI is an easy way to persuade and deliver a ‘successful’ campaign.


In many cases we as agencies will work our approach in getting new clients based on what we know they are interested in. In fact, it’s good practice to know the client’s needs and then deliver a plan and strategy designed specifically to meet their needs.

Sometimes we go a little far and push the boundaries of what is needed and what the client wants to hear.

Saying that, some of these approaches are getting tiresome and as client’s and internal marketing managers get more digitally savvy, these myths won’t fly.