The dark side of digital marketing agencies?

Digital marketing can be a funny industry at times. While some marketers are highly ethical and avoid all questionable tactics, others seem determined to continue with practices that are aimed at misleading either search engines, or their clients. We came across a great example of this recently, when a new client’s contract ended with a very large, very well-known provider of digital marketing solutions and they moved their website and campaign over to Quantum.

What we initially observed with this client was that their website was not ranking anywhere near as well as it should for some very basic keywords, and they were also paying a lot more than they should be. Our proposal basically advised that we could do better, and for less than they were paying this industry giant. Not long after they joined us we noticed something very interesting regarding traffic to their website. Less than two weeks after their deal had ended with their previous ‘marketers’, referral traffic virtually stopped delivering visitors. Now this is a business that is in the health industry and offers services that rarely see much in the way of referral traffic from other websites. We have several clients in this industry and from experience we know that the vast majority of new visitors come from search results, with a smaller amount of traffic often coming from social media. Referral traffic in this industry is generally very low, so low that it usually makes up less than 1% of visitors to the site.

Upon closer inspection we noticed that in previous month leading up to the end of their contract with the previous provider, referral traffic made up a staggering 70% of visitors to the site. The month before that the site received almost 50% of their traffic from referrals, and the month before that, it was just over 24%. Was this a tactic from the previous mob to keep the client and not lose them, knowing their contract was nearing its end? Did they genuinely believe the clients wouldn’t question such an increase in visitors to the site? It seems a brazen move to keep a client, especially considering that the business would surely notice if things are getting busier, which would be expected considering traffic to the site had almost doubled over a period of a few weeks. This could be some kind of bot, that followed links to the site more and more frequently over a few months, but the fact that it all happened in the months leading up to the end of their contract, then suddenly ended, does make it unlikely.

A quick search online also showed that several of the websites from which this fantastic referral traffic came from were registered to the same business. What a coincidence! Regardless, it’s an interesting method of improving traffic for a client’s website. It’s just unfortunate that all those clicks didn’t turn into new leads! Check out some screenshots of their website traffic below:     Seen some interesting spikes in traffic that aren’t driving new business? It may be time to question your digital marketing agency about this traffic, or, get a second opinion.

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