Wear a tinfoil hat when it comes to your employees


I probably shouldn’t post this, because recently this phenomenon has made me a lot of money – but in the process of me making money, it’s hurt a lot of people.

The simple fact is that no matter how awesome an employee is, you can’t trust them completely. I’ve written in the past questioning the loyalty and commitment of employees who are making six figures doing SEO and affiliate work on the side, and recently in at least three cases I’ve seen myself proven correct.

When your employees have access to your passwords, accounts, clients accounts and other information that you use to run your business you are entrusting them with a huge responsibilty. Today I heard a story about a disgruntled consultant who was given full access to a companies interactive marketing program and managed to cost the company thousands of dollars by sabotaging things when she left. The company has little recourse as the police don’t want to hear about it, the woman has no money to be gained in an expensive civil suit and the damage has already been done.

So my advice, wear a tin foil hat when it comes to employees. I’m not advocating Big Brother type techniques,  but make sure that when things go badly you can lock out employees and have recourse. My former partner, Giovanni Gallucci was very good at this. In fact, I used to get annoyed with him for his tactics and thought he went too far. Now, I’m not so sure. The damage that can be done by a rogue SEO or SEM is too much to ignore.

So, here are some tips I recommend:

  • Don’t give employees adminstrative access to Google MCC accounts
  • Make sure that an owner of the company has current list of ALL passwords
  • Keep a current list of vendor contacts so if someone does do something, you can call and get it corrected
  • Be aware of every project and make your employees document steps taken. That way if they leave suddenly or get hit by a bus, someone can take over
  • Take care to keep your employees happy, but protect yourself legally. Consult a lawyer on what you can do to protect your programs and your client’s programs.

Have a happy weekend!


  1. This is bullsh*t…! Not your article, which is good as an expose, but the fact that the remedies suggested make us out to be like helpless sheep.

    It’s a classic, “make yourself out to be less attractive to the wolves than the guy next to you.” problem-solving mindset.

    Instead, I suggest you and others grow some fangs and claws and make these b*tches pay.

    Your first course of action is to have the employee sign a NO-CONTEST contract. You don’t even have to prevent SIDE-WORK in this case but only side-work that directly competes with the sensitive data to which they have privileged access.

    NEXT, have an employee (or even a $5/hr overseas person) to look for competitive campaigns that seem to suspiciously match yours.

    THIRDLY, all companies should be required to have employees sign an agreement saying they are NOT under a contract that would legally prevent them from their required tasks.

    If another company/person does not make that inquiry then they can be held accountable for “turning a blind eye” in a field where what you just mentioned is common.

    In a field where the data is so sensitive and can, literally, make or break a company, there should almost, dare I even say it, be some govt mandated controls to prevent businesses (and business insurance) from being run into the ground and causing taxpayers to have to suffer the fallout.

    What you just described in your article is INSIDIOUS. I’ll bet the Chinese would consider that a capital offense.

    Grow fangs, grow claws and look for suspicious patterns over people competing for your keywords. Look for sharp drop-offs, and follow the trail to the site where the competition leads, OR HIRE SOMEONE TO DO IT FOR YOU.

    And start making some examples out of people.

    When I go into BEAR country, I know that running faster than my companion is going to increase my chances of surviving a bear attack, but we can BOTH survive if we bring a Smith and Wesson.

    Unless, maybe, some amongst us secretly relish the idea of our competition being devoured… but that would mean we turned a blind eye, too.

    Show people how to SPOT and go AFTER these jerks. In fact, I’ll work on a report with you, if you want, and we can use it to generate leads.

    Something like, “Is Your SEO Geek Cheating On You?”

    Anyways, I wrote more than usual in a comment but this is one topic that gets me steamed.

    Drop me a line if interested in developing something along the lines of warning people and pointing to, or developing, an aid, or a solution.

    Best regards,
    Sam Freedom

  2. Ummm…Wow. Sam, I think that you are on to something about writing something about check on your SEO personell. I’ll reach out to you next week. But your comment….wow. I was once a pretty good fighter (haven’t fought in 15 years) and I think I’m pretty tough. This is stuff that happened to people who I like and I’m helping them pick up the slack. Also, the contracts you are talking about don’t mean shit in the real world. Anyway, thanks for the comment.

  3. Tony,

    You’ve known me for 5 years now…I’m gonna go with Sam’s approach. I always knew I was too aggressive or your taste and it makes my heart happy to see you coming over to the dark side a bit :-).

    Of course, I jest, you and I have both been screwed by this and experience if an effective hammer for shaping our opinions.


  4. Brandy Eddings says:

    I would like to clarify that the reference to “she” in your blog is no way referencing me.

    I have recently departed with one agency and moved over to another one. I have strived to great lengths to ensure that the transition was as smooth as possible for my former employers and their current client base.

    I don’t understand the reasoning behind such malicious and devious acts. No matter how it is attempted to be justified at the end of the day you are left alone with your own conscience.

  5. Just to clarify, this post is NOT about Brandy Eddings. She is a fine employee and would never try to screw anyone over. This was another, completely unrelated story told to me by a client.

  6. Ditto on Brandy! She ROCKS and we MISS HER!!!!!


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