How to detect an SEO scam
SEO Scammers Are Big Business
SEO scams are everywhere now. Our clients often ask us what to do when scammers call them. These search engine optimization scammers seem to be offering legitimate, needed services, and our clients are motivated to improve their marketing and web traffic. That’s why they’re our clients.
The situation is quite frustrating. But it doesn’t need to be, because detecting an SEO scam isn’t hard.
Scammers Don’t Want to Work
Of course, the whole idea of the scam isn’t to help your site. It’s to get your credit card, confuse you with jargon and useless reports, and bill you monthly for something you don’t understand but desperately hope is helping your business. Until the day you die.
Depressing, isn’t it? How do they ever get their fangs into you?
The Classic SEO Scammer Sales Pitch
“Hi, I’m Charlie with Google. We noticed that your web traffic is weak and we’d like to help you increase your visitor numbers.” (Google never calls people offering to improve their websites or sell you ranking. They’re in the business of selling advertising, not tweaking websites.)
“For the low cost of x, we can guarantee you a top-ten ranking in Google within x weeks. Are you interested in a top-ten ranking in Google?”
“But I’m sorry to say this is a limited opportunity. We only have two slots for priority clients and they are going fast. Do you want to sign up?”
Yeah, it’s like that. Tempted?
The Lies in the SEO Scam
For the scammers who actually do try to honor their guarantee — and it’s not all of them, I assure you — the key is in the wording. They promise you a top-ten ranking in Google, but they never say what the ranking is for. If they told you your site could rank in the top-ten for “worthless garbage heap of trash,” you wouldn’t be so excited, right?
What if I told you that they’re selling you a top-ten ranking for your business name? Sounds good, right? You want people to find you for your business name, right?
The crux of this scam is that they’re often selling you something you already have. Very few businesses don’t already rank top-ten for their own name. But they often don’t know it. And if by some cruel joke you don’t already rank top-ten for your name, you should be able to rank that highly after a few simple tweaks to the site.
If you would like to find out a few easy ways to improve your site's visibility, get in touch.
The fact is… ranking for your business name is worthless because of the way search works.
If someone’s searching for your business, they’re already a customer. It’s good to have these people around, of course… but what you want is to cultivate your business. You want new customers.
A new customer doesn’t know your business name. What’s the chance they’ll search for it and find you? Zero.
What a Real SEO Company Will Offer
A new customer who wants your product or service is going to search for that product or service. That is where you need to be visible.
And that is what a good, non-scammer SEO company can do for you. And that is also… drumroll please… what a good, non-scammer SEO company will offer you as a service. Not a vague promise of a top-ten ranking for who knows what.
SEO Red Flags
- The scammer won’t say his name or company name clearly.
- The scammer will be on a fuzzy, low-quality phone line.
- The scammer is in a noisy room where you can hear other scammers working.
- The scammer will claim to work for Google, and will mention Google a lot, because that closes sales.
- The scammer will tell you it’s a limited time offer, because that’s classic high-pressure sales. Ever seen Glengarry Glen Ross?
- The scammer will have zero personality, because he is reading from a script and hates his scammy job.
- The scammer will have no patience for your questions. Your questions are a sign that you are thinking, and that you might say no.
- The scammer won’t live in your city, although he probably will claim to. Try to set up a meeting!
- The scammer has no idea what your business really is.
- The scammer said he’s seen your site, but if you ask him a few questions you can prove he’s never visited it.
Run away! Hang up with a clean conscience and contact a good, local SEO company that isn’t cold-calling every number in the book!