Link your site to their sites
This is the most common. It is normal for the design company to be credited for the design by a link from their customer. Since the strength of the designer’s website is dependent upon how many sites link to it, the designer will probably post a link to the designer’s website. This is considered normal and acceptable practice..
Link your site to another customer’s site
Search engines may count links and may use links to rate the importance of web pages. Links are no longer just important for visitors, but transfer influence to the site that receives the link in search engines. Web Design firms have two products, the design of the site and SEO, the position of the site in searches. It’s entirely possible to hide secret pages on your site that link to other customers in order to help them in searches. This is an unacceptable practice.
2. Host other websites in your account.
Some hosting accounts let you host multiple “domains” (dotcoms)….Your Web Designer, host could put some other websites in your account and charge them for hosting.
3. Make it hard for you to leave.
You should have admin logins to your website (WordPress or other) AND admin logins to both your Domain Name AND your hosting……You should have access to FTP and all databases. You should be able to change your Web Designer without asking.
4. Make you rely on them for changes.
Independence is vital. Try to learn enough, get those around you to help you, at least be able to change your address.
“Oh our website is done down there, they take care of everything.”….