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.
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
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.
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: 220.127.116.11
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.
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 NumberThen 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.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.
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.