How to Save Money and Avoid SEO Scams

SEO Scams

SEO is a huge business. But you don't have to get suckered by the scammers.

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a huge business today. People understand that Google and the other search engines are huge sources of traffic. Ranking prominently for the right keywords can bring in tons of revenue for your business.

Because SEO is such a huge business there are some pretty slimy marketing practices out there being used by unscrupulous people. Many of these “offers” may result in actually damaging your website’s rankings in the long run because of they often implement “black hat” approaches.

With these approaches the unsuspecting business owner may see some quick results with their pages starting to rank well. But then, after the shady SEO consultant is long gone with their money they can find their website gets banned completely from Google. And Google doesn’t really care that the company you hired did unethical things without your knowledge.

Wide Range of SEO Providers

Now folks who offer SEO services fall across a wide spectrum. There are folks who do excellent search engine optimization work and will help your business bring in far more revenue than their fees. And then there are outright shysters who prey on folks who don’t know a search engine from a web browser.

And there is a ton of space in between full of folks who will provide some benefits.

The big question is this. How do you tell them apart?

One big way to evaluate an SEO firm is by their marketing methods. If a search engine optimization firm is using spammy tactics to generate their own business, then let’s just say they probably aren’t someone you want to do business with.

Contact Form SEO Scam

If you have a website, and if your website has a contact form then chances are you’ve received a message from one someone promising to improve your search rankings.

You can save a ton of money and avoid these scams by simply hitting the delete button in your email.

Seriously. Just delete them. An organization that would spam your inbox is not one that you want to partner with for something as important as search optimization.

Like many website owners I get several of these emails every month. Usually they are horribly written by someone who appears to not have English as their first language. It’s obvious they just copy and paste their pitch into your contact form and don’t have a clue about your business.

They tend to make outlandish claims and usually give you cryptic contact info to get back in touch with them. By cryptic I mean they don’t list the website of the company they work for – mainly because they don’t want you to see who they really are.

Usually I just hit the delete button and move on.

An Example

However last night I got one that was written a little better than most. (Actually they sent it to me twice just to make sure I got it.) It read well enough that I thought perhaps folks who don’t really understand this whole internet thing might appreciate the warning.

On the surface this email looks a little better than most. But when you look a little closer it’s pretty bad.

Take a look and then I’ll break it down for you.

Name: Maria wilson
Email: topseo.webmarketing@gmail.com
Website:
Message: Successcreeations.com Team,

I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough Social Media and Organic search engine traffic for Successcreeations.com

1. Social profile is not available in top Social Media websites.

2. Your site has 81 Google back links, this can be improved further.

There are many additional improvements that could be made to your website, and if you would like to learn about them, and are curious to know what our working together would involve, then I would be glad to provide you with a detailed analysis in the form of a WEBSITE AUDIT REPORT for FREE.

Our clients consistently tell us that their customers find them because they are at the top of the Google search rankings. Being at the top left of Google (#1- #3 organic positions) is the best thing you can do for your company’s website traffic and online reputation.

Sounds interesting? Feel free to email us or alternatively you can provide me with your phone number and the best time to call you.

—————————————————————–
Best Regards,
Maria Wilson
SEO Consultant
(347) 329-2976
——————————————————————
PS1: This is onetime email and you may ask us to “REMOVE” you from our mailing list.
PS2: I found your site from online advertising but did not click.
PS3: We operate 24 x7. I will be happy to send you links to price list, money back guarantee, client rankings, client testimonials, “How we are different from others?”, and “Why should you choose us?” on receiving a response from you.
Phone Number: (347) 329-2976

Time: Wednesday January 4, 2012 at 12:01 am
IP Address: 203.129.198.51
Contact Form URL: http://successcreeations.com/contact/

Sent by an unverified visitor to your site.

SEO Scam Warning Signs

Here are some of the obvious red flags that I see with this email which seem to indicate that this is a total scam.

1. No website given

I like to research things before I decide to do business with someone. If I want to do business with a company for their expertise on the internet then I absolutely want to see their website before I’d even consider it.

2. No Company Email Address

By itself this isn’t a show stopper. Gmail is a great service and I get why small business people use it sometimes. However, when coupled with number 1 above, using Gmail is simply a way to hide who they really are.

3. Assuming Traffic Levels

It’s obvious they have no idea how much traffic my website gets, or where it comes from. I guess they figure that no one has “enough” traffic. But they aren’t talking about general traffic. They are specifically talking about social media and search engines. (Actually I get a bunch from both.) Fortunately they know the top two reasons why I’m not getting more. (Except they aren’t.) Which brings us to #3.

3. Social Profiles, I Have

The first “reason” they list is that I don’t have social profiles.

Social Links

It's kinda hard to miss all those links right next to my contact form.

Excuse me??

I’ve got profiles on a ton of social media websites. For starters:

And it’s not like the links to those profiles are obscure. They show up in my sidebar right beside the contact form!

Obviously this email is a cut and past job and whoever submitted it didn’t read what they were pasting in.

4. Bogus Google Backlinks Number

Inbound Links

My Google Webmaster Tools shows a few more than 81 inbound links.

Then they go on to say that my site “has 81 Google back links”. I have no idea where they got that bogus number.

Looking at my Google Webmaster Tools I see 41,825 inbound links. That seems a bit higher than 81. At least to me.

Heck, if you look at SuccessCREEations.com on Website Grader you see that there are 528 domains linking to my site. So really I have 6.5 times the number of domains linking to me than they claim total links and over 516 times the total number of links than they claim.

Unfortunately folks who don’t know how to look for these things may fall for false claims like this and decide to call them out of fear.

5. Pitch That Says Nothing

Then they go on with some boiler plate stuff that very carefully avoids actually saying what they will actually do to help my business. Sure it’s good to be in the first 3 search results. They say their clients tell them that.

But they don’t say that they had anything to do with those rankings.

6. Bogus Name?

A quick Google search of the phone number shows that number associated with some other names. So either Maria Wilson is a bogus name (my guess) or the company has some turn over.

Either way, that’s probably not a good sign of someone we would want to work with.

7. Intending to Spam

The first PS says that they fully intend to spam me unless I tell them to remove me from their list. I’m sorry, but spamming is not the right way to get me to do business with you.

Instead, offer something worth receiving and I might very well opt into your list on my own.

8. Outright Lie

The second PS is an outright lie. First I’m not actively advertising online. So they couldn’t have possibly seen an ad for my site.

Plus I have their IP address. My stats tell me how they found my site. And it wasn’t from an ad.

9. About that IP Address

While we’re on the topic of their IP address, it comes from India somewhere. That’s part of why I doubt “Maria Wilson” really contacted me.

A much Better Alternative

One thing I will say that they did get right is my site has plenty of room for improvement. There are lots of things I can do with my site to make it better. I know that.

But do yourself a favor. When you get a contact like this through your website, just delete it. Save yourself the aggravation, not to mention however much of your precious money they would chisel out of your business in exchange for something that could potentially harm your business.

And that’s not to say all SEO folks are shady. Not by a long shot.

Remember what I said early on in this article? There are some excellent SEO folks out there.

For example there’s a guy in Europe, Yoast, who knows SEO backwards and forwards. He’s the guy who has written one of the two or three best SEO plugins for WordPress. It happens to be the one I’m using here on SuccessCREEations. Yoast is well worth his fees.

Web Savvy Marketing

Use a reputable SEO company such as Web Savvy Marketing. It'll make you money in the long run.

Another high quality Search Engine Optimization service provider is Web Savvy Marketing. I do a ton of work with Rebecca on the WordPress side of things and I get to see first hand how well she knows her SEO stuff backwards and forwards.

Like all the best people in the SEO field, Rebecca has actual success stories to point to. And they are listed right on her website too. Imagine that.

Not only does Rebecca do great work, but in my experience she’s great to work with too. I highly recommend her services.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is this. Avoid SEO Scams. At best they will waste your money. At worst, they might get you banned from Google all together.

Go with someone reputable for your Search Engine Optimization needs. It may cost you more up front, but the return on your investment will be so worth it.

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Comments

  1. I got the same email today. I think i’m going to try and report them for phishing.

    Organic SEO
    SEO Services freseo.list@gmail.com

    Biolumo.com Team,
    I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough Social Media and Organic search engine traffic for Biolumo.com
    1. Social profile is not available in top Social Media websites.
    2. Your site has 1 Google back link, this can be improved further.
    There are many additional improvements that could be made to your website, and if you would like to learn about them, and are curious to know what our working together would involve, then I would be glad to provide you with a detailed analysis in the form of a WEBSITE AUDIT REPORT for FREE.
    Our clients consistently tell us that their customers find them because they are at the top of the Google search rankings. Being at the top left of Google (#1- #3 organic positions) is the best thing you can do for your company’s website traffic and online reputation.
    Sounds interesting? Feel free to email us or alternatively you can provide me with your phone number and the best time to call you.
    —————————————————————–
    Best Regards,
    Maria Wilson
    SEO Consultant
    (347) 329-2976
    ——————————————————————
    PS1: This is onetime email and you may ask us to “REMOVE” you from our mailing list.
    PS2: I found your site from online advertising but did not click.
    PS3: We operate 24 x7. I will be happy to send you links to price list,money back guarantee, client rankings, client testimonials, “How we are different from others?”, and “Why should you choose us?” on receiving a response from you.

  2. Thank you for sharing. Permission, I share

  3. Thanks for this good info Trish. Have reposted it and twittered. Madonna

  4. Hi Chris,
    I found your post by google search. The keyword is exactly the name mentioned in your post, “M**** W****n”.
    As I read from my email, I sort of know it something fishy and just couldn’t entrust the source. Most importantly, I was unable to analyze the email methodically.
    So I’m glad to find your post. After reading, it clarify my doubt and helps to identify SEO scams using emails. BTW, I received the scam mail today. Same message as what you pasted.
    Thanks for sharing. Great info to learn from you!
    Edwin

  5. Thanks For nice information…… :)

  6. hey thanks for this i’ve just started seriously learning SEO and it’s alot harder than i thought i t would be lol. I know what you mean about the emails. I ended up signing up to alot of free stuff and now i get constant emails from people with random names offering me back link services or other SEO products but i just ignore them because my site is ranking well at the minute without any of it. Thanks for this info :)

  7. That sales letter was actually much better than the junk that I get all the time. Too bad their facts were so wrong, even they could probably hoodwink a few unsuspecting people.

  8. Roy Morris says:

    Thanks Chris
    You are a legend, you saved me from making a huge mistake.
    Regards
    Roy

  9. I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough Social Media and Organic search engine traffic.

  10. I really enjoyed reading your article. This is learning for the beginner is good. I also provide some of the files that you may find can not find it and I might be able to help. thank you

  11. Great read, thanks
    Really like the website grader.
    keep writing.

  12. Great information.I have just received the exact email you describe and thought it sounded a bit fishy so I googled ” Maria Wilson” and saw your post.Thanks for the info.good job!

  13. Thanks for the useful share. As you says blackhat SEO will damage the website, yes its 100% true and I have an experience with it. My previous website has lost its ranking suddenly due to some reasons and after all when I search for a valid reason that happens just bcoz of Blackhat SEO.

    So its best to stay out of blackhat SEO’s now a days. Remember, its index well but those rankings are not for long time.

  14. I like the all the above information share by the blogger and also like the ideas of gathring people attention to wards the post written.

  15. Great article! Almost every unsolicited email I receive. None of them have an actual website. My advice to anyone out there is to work only with a firm that can supply references or better yet! Learn it yourself. You will feel so rewarded you did.

  16. hey thanks for this i’ve just started seriously learning SEO and it’s alot harder than i thought i t would be lol.

  17. I’m in Thailand and I just got one email from *M-R-** W-L-S-N*, same message.
    But this person name is everywhere even in Wikipedia, said she one of best in the
    world.

  18. Great to read such a valuable post lot of Seo Firms are offering there services and giving such a big promises and when i ask them to please provide your some previous Seo works then some have no answers and other give some really not good Seo works practices. I think before giving your website for Seo we should check the Track record of that Seo firm and see what they do in Past. Thanks for sharing such a useful post.

  19. There´s lot of companies offering SEO services in the World, I think on this industry we should pay for results not in advance.

  20. I got the same email today. I think i’m going to try and report them for phishing. too
    =========================================================
    Dear Hootel.us,

    Name : Maria Wilson,

    Email : marketings897@gmail.com,

    Message : Hootel.us Team,

    I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough Social Media and Organic search engine traffic for Hootel.us

    1.Your website Hootel.us is not ranking top in Google organic search for many competitive keyword phrases.

    2. Your website profile is not available in most of the Social Media Websites.

    3. Your site has 0 Google back links, this can be improved further.

    There are many additional improvements that could be made to your website, and if you would like to learn about them, and are curious to know what our working together would involve, then I would be glad to provide you with a detailed analysis in the form of a WEBSITE AUDIT REPORT for FREE.

    Our clients consistently tell us that their customers find them because they are at the top of the Google search rankings.Being at the top left of Google (#1- #3 organic positions) is the best thing you can do for your company\’s website traffic and online reputation.

    I found your site in the Google search and after having a look over your website I think you should go for an SEO campaign to boost your marketing strategy.

    Sounds interesting? Feel free to email us or alternatively you can provide me with your phone number and the best time to call you.
    —————————————————————–
    Best Regards,
    Maria Wilson
    (301)859-4903
    SEO Consultant
    ——————————————————————————–
    PS1: This is onetime email and you may ask us to “REMOVE” you from our mailing list.
    PS2: I found your site from online advertising but did not click.
    PS3: We operate 24 x7. I will be happy to send you links to price list, money back guarantee, client rankings, client testimonials, “How we are different from others?”, and “Why should you choose us?” on receiving a response from you.
    ===========================================================

    Thanks for your post, very help me :)

  21. Every since I saw the Social Network I dreamed of having my own website. To me the idea of working in an office where you can wear sandals is heaven. Unfortunately I didn’t realize to get there you need to do most mundane work aka SEO. Everyone has their own opinion, most people are scammers, and know body really knows what google is looking for for Page Rank. Its very frustrating.

    Thanks everybody, just had to rant for a second! lol.

  22. I got the exact same email and thought I would see what people are saying about it. After reading your article, no further research is required. I too figured they were a scam because they only gave a name and phone number, and they spammed me. Our policy is we NEVER buy anything spammed to us or offered in a phone call. I tell people who call me, “You’re wasting your time. Even if you were selling real $50 bills for $10 bucks, I wouldn’t buy any.” Our only exception to this rule is if we get a phone call or email from a company we are already doing business with, and they have taken the time to see if we could really benefit from something more. If everyone had this policy all these scammers would dry up and blow away.

    Thank you for the very helpful information!

  23. Yes..Spam are ruining the business. They select the growing company and promise them to get their business up the horizon. But at last when your business is trapped by them. You can not do anything. So best advice are those you mentioned above. You have done a very good job. I am going to bookmark your post really interesting for any online business.

  24. Jason Spaulding says:

    I received the same email today but the name is now B*o*b M*a*r*t*i*n. The previous name was getting too much negative press so they did a name change to prevent us from finding out the scoop on this bogus company. I found it suspect that a professional SEO company would be sending me email from a gmail account. The whole thing smacks of being foul.

    Thanks for keeping us informed.

  25. Found this page by googling “(301) 859-4903″ (Sophi Nelson SEO Consultant). Hilariously, these suckers operate through some “Software Technology Parks of India (STPI)”, “a society set up by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Government of India, with the objective of encouraging, promoting and boosting software exports from India”, as their site states. Didn’t bother to contact their abuse team, just in case it’s at ashokyadav@rkl.stpi.in .

  26. Thanks Chris,

    Found this page from a Google search for “(301) 859-4903″.
    It is a better written come on that most, I agree. I knew it was written by a liar as soon as I read
    “I found your site from online advertising but did not click.”
    Clearly this is just boilerplate copied into forms found by searching Google for “contact form”.
    Only a fool would hire a liar to represent him.

  27. Im getting this letter as well but now the name Maria wilson has changed to
    Sophi Nelson
    SEO Consultant
    (301) 859-4903
    ——————————————————————
    PS1: This is onetime email and you may ask us to “REMOVE” you from our mailing list.

    PS2: I found your site from online advertising but did not click.

    PS3: We operate 24 x7. I will be happy to send you links to price list,money back guarantee, client rankings, client testimonials, “How we are different from others?”, and “Why should you choose us?” on receiving a response from you.

    Stay away from these spammers….Great article by the way…

  28. Hy Guys ,just found you, here’s another scammer I can’t get rid of..:
    “I am an SEO sales engineer representing a very successful digital marketing agency in Toronto. Our primary focus is to help generate leads or sales for our clients through online marketing and increased organic rankings.

    I found you while researching your website ….. and noticed some key SEO factors were missing.

    Please do not treat this as spam, as I have invested some time to gather and review what your needs to improve for better ranking results in your industry, and have prepared a presentation for you.

    Our SEO packages start from $850/month. Please contact me for more information or for a copy of this FREE report via email.

    N.B: We can offer 2 months FREE SEO if they sign up for a package for 1 year or 12 months .

    Kind regards,
    Dale O’Brien”
    ————————————
    Thanks for making this a small resource for preventing scams
    All the best with your businesses and websites.
    RP

  29. I got the same email today. Thanks for the article…now i know its a scam!

  30. There is one SEO scam warning sign you forgot to mention and that is those companies which guarantee that they will get you in the top rankings in the search engines, especially Google. Now, as someone who’s been involved with SEO for many years now, I know the only way they can guarantee you a top ranking is if it’s done via pay per click. Still, the spammers keep trying.

  31. Thank you very much for this post. We run a small business that hosts over 1000 websites for schools around the country, and recently, we’ve been slammed with offers like these, including this very same piece of spam.

    We decided to engage the spammers simply to see if we could waste some of their time the way they waste ours. The result is our new site, http://www.thewhitebaboon.com. Here, we record each spam message and our response to it. In several cases, we’ve been able to get the dirtbags to write back, which only adds to our fun.

  32. Thank you for posting this! My boss got the same email (but from a different fake name), passed it on to me, and asked for me to look into it further. It was really easy for me to forward your blog post along rather than go through and explain it all myself.

    I get similar emails every day and although I see through them, it is sometimes hard to explain why.

    Thank you again!

  33. I thought you would like to follow a new forum discussion about these scammers too: http://www.cre8asiteforums.com/forums/topic/91034-seo-hall-of-shame-are-you-kidding-me/page-3#entry340131

  34. Thanks Chris – as you say the english is much better in this email, to the point where a client asked me if it might be worth trying. I knew it was garbage but being able to point to your post lent weight to my argument. FYI another name now being used is Diana J. Blevins – (301)859-4903

    Thanks, Chris

  35. Yes, “Diana J. Blevins” 301-859-4903 (a Maryland area code) at organic.seosrvc1@gmail.com sends the following spam on a regular frequent basis.We know it’s her because she characteristically hits the send button twice to make sure we get the identical spam twice in our inbox. Attempts to block her have been unsuccessful apparently because she sends from different email servers or spoofs the real identity of the sending address. On occasion, a similar or identical SEO letter about our website is signed by another “SEO consultant”. True, there is no company name in the spam letter, only a hint of what it might be in Ms. Blevins’ gmail address: “organic.seosrvc1″. If these people are on our continent, let’s find them and put them out of business. If they are overseas, it’s international sabatoge if they lead you down a road that actually harms your website’s Google position. Often, email spammers and telemarketing scammers obtain U.S. area code phone numbers from Pacific Tel. In addition, for about $10 on the Internet, these scammers, spammers and scummers can purchase a spoof card that fools your caller ID with a phony company name/number. So, in addition to being careful whose email solicitation you respond to, remember these bottom-feeders also use telemarketing, but electronically hide their real identities. Any Bounty Hunters want to find these snakes in the grass?

  36. Received this spam
    I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough Social Media and Organic search engine traffic for Aboutthegreatsmokymountainsparkway.com.

    1.Your website Aboutthegreatsmokymountainsparkway.com is not ranking top in Google organic search for many competitive keyword phrases.

    2. Your website profile is not available in most of the Social Media Websites.

    3. Your site has 9 Google back links, this can be improved further.

    There are many additional improvements that could be made to your website, and if you would like to learn about them, and are curious to know what our working together would involve, then I would be glad to provide you with a detailed analysis in the form of a WEBSITE AUDIT REPORT for FREE.

    Our clients consistently tell us that their customers find them because they are at the top of the Google search rankings.Being at the top left of Google (#1- #3 organic positions) is the best thing you can do for your company’s website traffic and online reputation.

    I found your site in the Google search and after having a look over your website I think you should go for an SEO campaign to boost your marketing strategy.

    Sounds interesting? Feel free to email us or alternatively you can provide me with your phone number and the best time to call you.
    —————————————————————–
    Best Regards,
    Diana J. Blevins
    SEO Consultant
    (301)859-4903
    ——————————————————————
    PS1: This is onetime email and you may ask us to “REMOVE” you from our mailing list.
    PS2: I found your site from online advertising but did not click.
    PS3: We operate 24 x7. I will be happy to send you links to price list, refund policy, client rankings, client testimonials, “How we are different from others?”, and “Why should you choose us?” on receiving a response from you.

    Click here to reply us.

    I reported it here, please also report every email

    If you’d like to report a Gmail user who has sent messages that violate the Gmail Program Policies and/or Terms of Use, please fill out a report form at http://mail.google.com/support/bin/request.py?contact_type=abuse_phishing.
    We’ll investigate your report and may send a warning or discontinue Gmail service for users who violate our policies.
    Also cc email to abuse@gmail.com and abuse@google.com

  37. So happy other people are helping to stop this problem, Please help in the fight to stop unsolicited SEO spam from India, we are exposing spammers at http://www.seospammersexposed.com – Please feel free to report any SEO spam to us.

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