5 Ways to Tell if Your Content Marketer is on The Up And Up

Up and up

Not all SEOs are shysters. Too many, however, are. Not all content marketers are shady either. Still, too many are. I suppose if I thought about it hard enough I’d conclude that too many marketers in general fall into the trickster bucket. But not all of us are.

How can you tell if you are dealing with someone who is on the up and up or is taking you down a shady path in the online marketing world?

Content Marketers Are Not Shyster

Content Marketers Are Not Shyster

I can think of several criteria a prospective business might check out before they sign on the dotted line. Likewise, SEOs and content marketers would do well to offer up these criteria as tangible proof that they can meet the expectations of would-be clients.

What to Ask For – What to Show

  1. Proven track record – If your dude says they can do something, have them open up their dashboard and show you that they have done it. No theory. Case studies. Actual results. If they say they are just starting out, tell them to go to work for someone else for a while till they can demonstrate actual results.  Then they can come back and pitch to you.
  2. Clear understanding of strategy – If you as the client cannot get a clear explanation from your SEO of what it is they are going to do or have done, something is wrong. Run. Good online marketing strategy is not rocket science. It is old-fashioned hard work that most anybody can understand. Not necessarily do, but understand. If your client rolls their eyes and gives you the Nike (Just Do It), then find someone in the organization who will make the effort to understand, in principle, what you are doing. This is important for clarity and accountability. Knowing what the key metrics are and why they are key is essential for the client and for the service provider.
  3. Transparency – “We can’t tell you exactly what we are going to do because it’s a trade secret.” Run. Look for: “We are doing things this way and you can expect to see these results over this much time. We will do it this many times because it will produce that result. At the end you will have this many and you can verify it by going here and seeing this.”  Everybody gets access to the dashboards to see what is going on, and what the results are.
  4. Reporting – I am dealing with a client now, and for some reason we are not seeing the results we want to. First thing I did was let the client know. No hiding. No fudging. Regular meetings to report on the progress or lack of for your efforts is a good sign you are dealing with someone who is credible.
  5. Visibility – Does your content marketer have an online presence? Can you find them in the social networks? Do they have their own website? Are they putting themselves out there to be scrutinized? I get bummed out when people think I am shady because they have been affected by someone who really is. Let’s change that.


I want to raise the bar for content marketers. I want clients to expect more and I want them to know who they can ask to deliver. If you are the client, ask your content marketer to show you what they got. If you are the content marketer, show them whether they ask or not. Write well, get read.


Image property of BillBelew.com
Screenshot taken 4/14/14

Bill Belew
Professor, Speaker, Author, blogger, all-around old man. Having taught a full 48-hour MBA course in Marketing with Social Media at a graduate school in Silicon Valley, Bill delivers insights from recent, real and relevant case studies. Bill has been working in social media for more than 8 years and has more than 90 million unique visitors from organic search to his network of sites and in a variety of niches. He knows what works, what doesn't, what can kill a site, and what can cause it to grow. Bill has a network of 5000+ Meetup followers in the heart of Silicon Valley. He is a paid, professional, international, in-demand speaker.
Bill Belew

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8 thoughts on “5 Ways to Tell if Your Content Marketer is on The Up And Up

  1. Well indeed. This, in part, is what Google’s anti-spam campaigns have been about. Whilst many SEOs balked at the updates, anyone who actually writes their content (and is good at it) has benefited. It’s pretty easy to tell if someone’s messing about rather than doing their job properly – read the content they produce, and monitor the social shares. Sorted.

    1. Alex.

      You’re spot on. Shysters are the ones who are squealing the most while those with our heads down trying to do right and do well look up from time to time thinking, did something happen?

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill Belew

  2. It is very difficult to get really good marketers…You need to have some knowledge yourself so that they do not mislead you…You have written nicely on how to choose a correct marketers…

    1. Karnal,

      I agree. If you lay a bunch of marketers end to end they still will not reach a conclusion on best practices.

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill Belew

  3. #2 all boils down to Branding. Content marketers worth their salt must lock into how the particular stream of content their creating (and the relationships it builds) leads to pushing the client’s brand forward. It’s rough out there. According to some estimates, over two million pieces of (business-related) content are published daily. Every post, article, or infographic must lead to branding.

    1. Gene,

      I don’t think I agree with you.

      I think the ultimate litmus test is goal conversion. How many click on and click thru the hire us, contact us page.

      I will take that over branding any time.

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill Belew

      1. If you are doing content marketing with the sole purpose of conversions, then you are probably going to fail. Content marketing is much more about brand awareness and brand loyalty than it is about conversions. How often do you read an article or watch a video and then immediately contact a company or buy a product? It almost never happens. You have to produce highly engaging content that will spread your brand name and bring people back again and again. If they trust your brand, they will eventually convert.

    2. @Norton,

      I disagree with you. Content is not only about brand awareness. It helps, but content is more about solving problems. My experience is that visitors come and DO buy/convert the first time.

      Do you have data to the contrary?

      Thanks for reading.

      Bill Belew