With SEO being widely used for online success, many self-proclaimed “SEO Gurus” have popped up, offering unrealistic results and making impractical promises. Every other day, business owners receive cold calls and spam emails about surefire SEO techniques that can take any business to the top in no time. It is no surprise that SEO scams are still being sold under the pretext of making all your digital marketing dreams come true. While too many people are becoming a victim of this SEO rip off, you can easily avoid falling prey to this digital marketing scam. We have compiled a handy list to help you stay away from incompetent and inexperienced SEO companies.
What are the common SEO scams?
Every business owner that has some interest in online marketing knows that if a customer finds you on the first page of Google, or any other search engine, there is a high chance that they will land on your website and possibly convert. This means there is high competition to be on the first page and expert scammers know this too. This is why you should lookout for these SEO scams that are doing rounds out there:
1. Avoid companies that guarantee you rankings on search engines
You have probably heard an ‘expert’ claiming that they can get your site at the top or first page of Google rankings in no time. Good marketers know that this is not true and they only promise what they can deliver. What these ‘experts’ are not telling you is that:
- Nobody can guarantee you a specific ranking because they are not in control of what other websites are doing about their own SEO. Assuming you are ranked first today, if any other site’s ranking changes, it automatically affects your ranking.
- SEO is a combination of a lot of tactics, work and expertise and the results are slow to trickle in; they may take a number of months before they start showing.
- Google and other search engines change regularly based on progressive tactics and they do not guarantee that once you get a ranking you will retain it.
2. If a company is offering you free trial SEO, stay away
Successful SEO is a result of loads and loads of hard work done over a long period of time. How long will a company give you this expensive free service? They will be time bound to show you some sort of results and this is where they turn to black hat or unethical tactics to impress you and get business. This is how it can affect you:
- Your website can be banned from search engines and this means the very service you are getting is taking away your business.
- Such unethical tactics focus on being ranked by search engines and do not focus on the human audience. This means, as much as you will get ranked, customers do not convert on your website because the user experience is not good.
- You may lose all the effort and ranking you had previously achieved because once you are banned from search engines, you lose it all.
3. We ‘know’ Google algorithms or we know someone in Google
Remember that Google is giant business with millions of customers; if they were giving these algorithms out to just anyone, then you can be sure they would be plastered all over the World Wide Web. This is definitely a scam. Also it is important to note that these algorithms are diverse, complex and automated; knowing someone in Google does not mean that these ‘experts’ are in way qualified to undertake your website’s SEO. It is important to understand that:
- Companies like Google have the resources and technical capacity to protect their trade secrets; the Algorithms are one of the core pillars of their business just like your website is core to your business; you must protect it from this kind of self-declared ‘experts’.
- Probably the reason someone would be giving you this kind of scam is because you are a small business and you do not have a specialist in your staff to advise you in digital marketing. If this company was so well connected in Google, would they go for small companies? No, they would chase big corporates for bigger paychecks.
4. Companies claiming big strategies and secret formulas
Your website is as good as money in your bank; it is the core of your business in this internet era and you cannot gamble with it. The SEO service provider needs to tell you exactly what they are going to do on your website or not do it at all. There is definitely nothing secret or big when it comes to the one tool that is helping you reach your customers. This is what could possibly happen with this kind of promises:
- They could engage in unethical SEO tactics that could result in your website being banned from search engines.
- They might do nothing at all and still bill you for services that you cannot verify.
- They could use your website to benefit other websites through linking.
5. Unsolicited emails and calls from SEO experts
SEO is a trust business and must be based on a company’s reputation to deliver such service. Today, contact harvesting which results in several unsolicited emails or calls is very common, and could be very convincing. It is important to ensure that the person you trust with your website has been properly vetted to avoid ruining your position with search engines and losing business or money in the process. These come with a lot of red alerts including the below:
- We can submit your site to hundreds of search engines
- Our clients are confidential
- We have clients all over the world
When it comes to SEO, you may need to research widely and understand what it entails. Knowing the basics can help you ask the right questions when qualifying a service provider. Being cautious and careful can mean that you have saved your website from these scammers who can effectively put you out of business or force you to start all over again when it comes to your online presence.
Remember that this stretches further to other digital marketing services that you may choose to outsource. Online reputation is based on every action you take on the internet and you should therefore choose wisely when it comes to giving a company or a person the mandate to represent you online. A mistake on the internet is extremely challenging to correct and can cost you a lot of resources including your business.
Author Bio: Jason Walberg is the Marketing Director of Power To Be Found, a Phoenix-based online marketing agency specializing in content marketing, social media marketing, conversion optimization, and organic and paid search marketing. Jason develops and delivers all the SEO & SMO strategies for the company’s clientele and has contributed to numerous influential publications. He has received his Master’s in Education Technology from Pepperdine University and has extensive experience in helping corporations drive online visibility.