This is my first message here, I'm hoping for some advice.
A few months ago I hired a SEO specialist. The reason I did this was because we just launched a new website. I have read a few books about SEO, that's all the knowledge I have. I asked the SEO specialist to build backlinks. First he did a website audit, then he started to build links.
I didn't really pay attention to the quality of the links he build, I assumed it would be fine. At first we started to increase ranking, but after the recent google update everything plummeted. Not sure if that has to do with the links he build. One day I decided to take a look on what type of links he was building so I opened Ahrefs.
Then I found that that the do-follow links where coming from medium domain authority domains. Some with some ok traffic, some with zero traffic. Some of the websites feel reality unnatural, no real reader would want to visit it. When I was looking at the articles that were written on these pages containing links to my website they were filled with unreadable, uninteresting content. No real person would even consider reading it.
I confronted the SEO guy about this, and he said it's fine. He said he has been working for years like this and booked good results. As said, I don't have much knowledge about SEO but it worries me. I feel like this content is clearly for the only purpose of PageRank. The text is unnatural on websites I'm not sure why they even exist other than selling links. I contacted one of these websites to ask if I could write an article for them. They responded with yes, but we charge $ for it.
To wrap it up, is this considered blackhat? And can I get in trouble for this tactic, like a Google penalty? It also worries me that a competitor can easily contact Google and tell them about these weird backlinks.
I hope someone can gives me a little bit of advice.