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  1. #1
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    CAN SEO agency DELIBERATELY bring down my website rankings?

    Hi all, Nice to meet everyone here. I am a newbie. I have some questions to ask and sincerely hope some experts can enlighten me ?

    Based on an scenario only, lets say I engaged An SEO agency and pass them all my cpanel password to bring up a website ranking in google for 6 mths, and after 6mths, i stopped their service. QUESTION:

    1) Can they deliberately bring down my website ranking ?

    2) If my website ranking dropped in google by a huge amount after I stopped their service, isit more of a case of google or more of a case of the SEO AGENCY ?

    3) What are the things I should be aware before engaging an SEO agency ?


    Thank you so much guys.

  2. #2
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Don't give ANYONE the password that gives full access to your site. An SEO agency should be able to do what they need to with only a minute fraction of what the cpanel password would give them access to.
    Stephen J Chapman

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  3. #3
    SitePoint Mentor silver trophybronze trophy
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    Hi Hope, welcome to the forum. I'll do my best to answer your questions.

    Can they deliberately bring down my website ranking ?
    If you give them complete access to your site, then they can do anything they like with it. That might include editing all the content so that it is no longer relevant or useful to your target audience; or doing various other things that could lower the quality of the site in different ways. Doing that would inevitably hurt your ranking.

    The solution to that is not to give them access to the site. There's no reason for a SEO firm to have cPanel access, for instance. Their role should be to recommend what actions you take to improve your ranking, and then let you take the necessary steps yourself. In that case, there's very little they would be able to do to hurt your ranking in any way.

    Keep in mind that, if the SEO did alter your site in some way that could hurt it, that change would be visible to you. Whatever the search engines can see, you can see too. So there is no question of a malicious person damaging your site in some way without you knowing it.

    If my website ranking dropped in google by a huge amount after I stopped their service, isit more of a case of google or more of a case of the SEO AGENCY ?
    It's not possible to answer that question. You would have to investigate the cause of the drop, and form a conclusion accordingly. There are many reasons that Google might suddenly demote your site. It's impossible to give any general advice on that point.

    What are the things I should be aware before engaging an SEO agency ?
    Ultimately, you're looking for a professional relationship with the firm, and that relationship must be based on mutual trust. If you have a special reason for thinking that the firm might maliciously damage your site, then that trust is clearly absent.

    Hope this helps.

    Mike

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    You should better make a little background check before you hire any SEO agency. With the changes Google made on its algorithm, most SEO agencies still don't know what to do and continue their own ways which results to drop in rankings instead of improving it.

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    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Another thing to consider is that they might not have actively sabotaged your site, they might just have been cowboys who were only using short-term strategies in the first place. There are ways that you can boost your ranking for a short time, but these either fizzle out after a few weeks/months or need a lot of constant to maintain. Obviously, that isn't a good long-term strategy for a website to use, but all most SEO firms care about is getting you high enough up the rankings for just long enough to trigger their final payment, and then they're off and they couldn't care less what happens to your site after that...

  6. #6
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    Mikl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    ... most SEO firms care about is getting you high enough up the rankings for just long enough to trigger their final payment, and then they're off and they couldn't care less what happens to your site after that...
    I'm sure that's true in many cases. And for that reason, I would also be suspicious if they start talking about guarantees (see, for example, "Get me to the top of Google? Don't take me for a sucker") *.

    Mike

    * Full disclosure: The above link is to a page on a site that I help edit.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hope99 View Post
    Hi all, Nice to meet everyone here. I am a newbie. I have some questions to ask and sincerely hope some experts can enlighten me ?

    Based on an scenario only, lets say I engaged An SEO agency and pass them all my cpanel password to bring up a website ranking in google for 6 mths, and after 6mths, i stopped their service. QUESTION:

    1) Can they deliberately bring down my website ranking ?

    2) If my website ranking dropped in google by a huge amount after I stopped their service, isit more of a case of google or more of a case of the SEO AGENCY ?

    3) What are the things I should be aware before engaging an SEO agency ?


    Thank you so much guys.

    If they are payed more but a site that is competition with you ... then yes. But I don't think that happens to often.
    For question 3: read reviews about the firm you make the contract with.

  8. #8
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    Don't give your password to anyone.
    if you have given, please change your all passwords. if you could not.

    inform to your domain registrar and also to hosting reseller.

    keep update your site with frequency and also keep update your site SEO with frequency

    no one can defeat you against Google.

    Don't worry.

  9. #9
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    Hi all , thank you for the kind replies, actually have not given password to anyone YET, but since i am thinking of outsourcing all SEO services for a short period about 3 to 6mths for about 10keywords, the agency told me that they will need FTP account

    access , but i do not know what FTP account is ? ( Im new to all this, zero experience on website, zero experience on programming, my own website is done by others, zero experience on all these matters ). The SEO agency told me if i dont know my FTP

    account, or not sure where to create one, then they will need access to my webhoist CPANEL ..... they also need to know my website CMS admininistrator details, my website is using wordpress. Im new to all these, I wish I have e time to learn but as of

    now I dont, so I know i need SEO expertise from them to do my website, BUT my question is should I just pass them all access to my website ? I mean is there some ways to safeguard myself ? I feel uncomfortable passing them all my cpanel and website

    admin password, But If i dont pass them my cpanel password and my wordpress admin password, then HOW exactly are they going to do optimise for my website ? Since I cant do all these things myself ... dont shoot me, just a newbie here, just hope to

    have some constructive feedbacks, thank you ...

  10. #10
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    You do NOT need to give them access to an FTP account.

    FTP is essentially an alternative way to manage the files on a web server (that's not a complete definition, but it will do for this purpose). I assume you created the site yourself, so you must already have a way of accessing the content - presumably you edit it directly in WordPress. If you are happy with the method you are using, forget about FTP for now. It's a useful thing to know about, but it's not relevant to this discussion.

    The main point is that the SEO does NOT need to get at the actual files on the web server. They only need to see the site in the same way that an ordinary visitor sees it, that is, via a web browser. They don't need cPanel, or FTP, or even access to your WordPress account.

    You ask "If i dont pass them my cpanel password and my wordpress admin password, then HOW exactly are they going to do optimise for my website ?" The answer is they don't optimise your site. They tell you how you should optimise it. That's the key point. Their job is to make recommendations. It's up to you to actually do it.

    In this case, their recommendations will consist of changes you should make to the content of the site, such as modifying page titles or re-writing the text in some way to emphasise the key words. You already know how to do that (otherwise you wouldn't have been able to create the site in the first place). They might also recommend certain actions in regard to getting incoming links. Again, they don't need cPanel or FTP access in order for you to do that.

    If they insist on knowing your passwords, I would seriously think about using a different firm.

    Mike

  11. #11
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    Thank you Mikl, but I didnt do the website on my own, was done by others.

  12. #12
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hope99 View Post
    Thank you Mikl, but I didnt do the website on my own, was done by others.
    So before you even start thinking about SEO you should first learn how to maintain the site yourself. Even if you were to give someone else access to do the SEO directly and they were honest enough to do just that and nothing more, you will still need to know how to do it yourself to be able to make the other changes necessary to keep the site up to date.
    Stephen J Chapman

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  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy PicnicTutorials's Avatar
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    If they have your password they can. If not no

  14. #14
    SitePoint Member rkweb's Avatar
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    Hi Hope,

    Completely agree with Mike, he have explained you everything about "Do" & "Don't" for your Website to a SEO Agency.

    If you don't have knowledge about SEO, then you either search for a reputed SEO Company having past good reviews or learn SEO through subscribing newsletters. Always make sure about your Website is doing good considering SEO perspective when you hire an SEO Agency.

    After the contract, you need to change your FTP & Cpanel password, so that they cannot do misuse of it, and thus your Website is safe.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Member swapnilramani's Avatar
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    Can they deliberately bring down my website ranking ?
    When you give complete access to your site to a SEO Agency it can do anything as Miki said that it can change the content and make it irrelevant for the users to get information from, or they can indulge in bad practices to make your site suffer from penalty or even a ban on ranking, but again it depends on the mutual trust and confidence that you share with your company and then, It also depends on the nature of practices they adopt to make your site better ranked, if they use black hat techniques than consider your site to be getting in serious trouble in the near future, but if they are using legitimate techniques, you may rely on them for ranking, but do check the reports and demand monthly reports on the improvement in the sites ranking.
    In future, when you are planning to employ and SEO for doing your sites work related to SEO, you may first make a complete scrutiny of the Agencies past record of success and nature of maintaining the work and relation with the client etc and then go forward for getting into a contract.
    If my website ranking dropped in google by a huge amount after I stopped their service, isit more of a case of google or more of a case of the SEO AGENCY ?
    It is really difficult to tell who will be responsible if the site's ranking goes down, because, no one can predict unless a good research is made on the site as to who is responsible, it may happen due to Change in algorithms, new updates issued by google which may not meet the criteria to get ranked better, even it may be the negligence or irresponsible behavior of the Agency to whom the work is assigned
    What are the things I should be aware before engaging an SEO agency ?
    The first and the foremost thing to check or to make a count on is the past records of the company to whom you are planning to get into contract with, it may be their past success records, even past failure records, and the proportion or ratio of the success to failure, the other thing might be try and find for some positive influences or recommendations from their past or existing clients with whom they are engaged with for similar work.
    Thanks

  16. #16
    SitePoint Guru Paid Surveys's Avatar
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    Any SEO organisation doesn't need your password. They will be primarily doing off page SEO so why would the need to access your website? If they require internal changes ask them what they want you to implement and if you're not sure how to do it post a queston here at sitepoint.

  17. #17
    Non-Member phillipturner's Avatar
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    If you have stopped doing optimization work after 6 months, it might be a cause. I don't think one will try to do any thing just because you stopped taking their services. In now a days some updates has came... might be you are victim of this. Well would like to answer you one by one:
    1) Can they deliberately bring down my website ranking ?
    Yes they can if they will to do the same!

    If my website ranking dropped in google by a huge amount after I stopped their service, is it more of a case of google or more of a case of the SEO AGENCY ?
    Since you stopped, and if you are not doing it by other means..... its obvious, SEO is consistent and continuous approach at all!
    What are the things I should be aware before engaging an SEO agency ?
    Their link building techniques, way they see SEO Services! Yes if any company does it just for doing SEO they may use many techniques which are not prescribed, its more to aligning business needs with website, giving users of website an optimum experience!
    Kindly Note: Cheap link building Services : Penguin Hit
    Cheap content writing/marketing: Panda Slap

  18. #18
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    In the same way that a SEO company can, up to a point, boost your raking, it can do all kinds of stuff to take it down... but for what purspose? if you're a customer, they want to keep you happy and that means doing everything possible to increase that ranking.

    I agree with everything that's been said above up to a point. I wouldn't give username and password to access to all my site. But creating a FTP account just for them, doesn't necessarily mean that they can access the whole site.

    Let me explain myself. FTP means File Transfer Protocol. Its name is very self-explanatory, I think. When you download a file, or you upload it, or any transfer files, you're using this protocol.

    When you contracted your hosting, the hositing company gave you a FTP account so you could upload you website files. Else, your site would not be visibile because the website wouldn't be in the hosting computer at all. So it is necessary.

    Now, if your hosting allows you to create more that one FTP account then you can create a second account for them. The thing is that when you create that account, you have the choice to decide which folder they have access to. And this is the difficult decision. If you give them access to the root folder, then they will be able to change everything. If you give them access to a subfolder, they will only have control over the files and folder under it.

    Now, why a SEO company would want to access your files and make changes to them?

    Because the way you code your page, how semantic is your HTML, the words that you use in your title and in your content, the number of HTTP requests needed to load the full page... everything, every little thing, affects your ranking. Therefore, they want to speed up results by taking control over code and content.

    SEO is done in a page-per-page basis.

    As it's been said, this is extremely dangerous and can have some nasty consequences. As an example, if you're using a CMS, what needs recoding is the templates used and not one page itself. They can mess up big time.

    But it is also true that things run faster if they take that control. And still... would I give them so much power?

    This is a question of trust, reputation and honesty. I think I would follow a third path... let them send me the changes that they want to do and I will approve those changes and then implement them myself, more than given them full access.

    And only if I see it necessary and depending on what this company wants to do... I may create a FTP account for them that will allow them to access a specific subfolder... if the file they load needs moving to some other folder, I may do it myself.

    Just in case

    Better to prevent

  19. #19
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    Thank you everyone for the kind advice and feedback ... I really really appreciate everyone's response and appreciate your sharing of insights. Now I have a better picture. Thanks again.

  20. #20
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    Hai ,

    First of all complete access your site then they can do anything they like with it...The solution to that is not to give them access to the site..There's no reason for a SEO firm to have cPanel access, for instance. Their role should be to recommend what actions you take to improve your ranking, and then let you take the necessary steps yourself..


    Thanks.

  21. #21
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    I don't think we need to dredge up year old threads, especially when the OP has stated they got enough of an answer for their purposes.

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