[notification style=”neutral” font_size=”12px” closeable=”false”] Quick Foreword: We don’t provide SEO services. This article is based on our experience in hearing nightmare situations from our clients. It’s meant to help future clients that have not been through these lessons learned yet. [/notification]
Google can be a cruel mistress, we know. Businesses that want their websites to achieve higher traffic and greater visibility are slave to her rankings and algorithms; they are desperate to find someone, anyone, who can make their dreams of search engine supremacy come true. So they turn to [cue ominous music here] SEO consultants.
You know how when you’re in a theater watching a horror movie, and the audience lets out a collective groan whenever a character deliberately walks into the path of a hatchet-wielding psychopath? That’s how we feel whenever anyone tells us they’ve hired an SEO firm that’s going to ratchet up their Google rankings fast. Nooooooo…
And while not all SEO consultants are out to scam you, the fact is that wherever there is a need for Web visibility expertise, there is also an unscrupulous company promising to provide clients with unrealistic search engine results using shady methods, all for a low price. Good SEO happens by having great content that readers find valuable. But, if you must, here are a few of the most common scams pushed by SEO firms:
1. The promise of immediate Google first page search results.
Seems important, doesn’t it? Going from total obscurity to being the very first site that pops up on Google in one day. Yes! Of course, if you have a website up now, you can register on Google AdWords and just pay them to advertise your site. Mission accomplished.
Organic first page results are a different story. An SEO firm cannot legitimately bump a previously unknown website to the top of Google rankings in only one or two days without using pretty shifty tactics. Anyway, what any business wants is a high flow of interested traffic to the site, not just instant (and temporary) visibility.
2. The promise of “special knowledge” of Google’s processes.
So, they have a guy who knows a guy whose girlfriend used to temp at the Googleplex and she says… Trust us, Google guards its trade secrets like a wolverine guards a tenderloin. Even if there is a mole lurking within Google walls and an SEO company was somehow apprised of their methods and memos, there are so many algorithmic variables that it would be nearly impossible to circumvent them all.
3. The promise of guaranteed top 10 rankings.
This is a meaningless promise, plain and simple. We’ve seen SEO companies advertise “Guaranteed first page placement.” This can’t be guaranteed unless it is sponsored (bought), and anyone can use AdWords to do that.
4. The promise of submission to hundreds of search engines.
Fair enough. Although… only three search engines really matter. Well, two, actually. Alright, there is pretty much only the Google juggernaut. Anyway, just because your site is submitted to these search engines, doesn’t mean that the search engines will actually respond. Those “hundreds” of submissions to search engines that no one uses are essentially worthless.
5. The promise of hundreds of directory links for a low price.
The sheer difficulty in legitimate link building makes this promise all the more outrageous. It takes years to earn the reputation for providing great content and services that would entice useful link building. When SEO companies offer directory links cheaply, you can be sure that the directories are low quality and essentially irrelevant to your purpose.
6. The promise of free trial services—after they access your site.
Under no circumstances should you give any company offering a free trial access to your website for any length of time. Never. Do you hear us? Ne-ver. We have seen cases of entire sites being wrecked by a couple amateurs offering free trials.
7. The unsolicited offer of service.
Received an email from an SEO company recently? Let me guess, they’re incredibly impressed with your site, but thought that your rankings could be significantly improved. This is a classic spammer that just trolls the internet looking for URLs and email addresses. Some of these companies actually use veiled threats, like including phone numbers or personal information, the underlying message being that they have the power to do something nasty to your site if you don’t use their service. Just ignore them, or report their actions to the appropriate government bureau.
8. Reluctance to tell you their methods.
We all know there is such a thing as a trade secret, but if an SEO firm fails to answer a specific question about what it is doing, it is highly likely that the firm doesn’t even know the answer. Whenever you want someone to provide you with a service, you want experience and expertise, not secret magic formulas.
Bottom line is, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. These scams are all part of a greater picture, where the SEO industry has spawned companies that try to game the system. It’s one of the reasons why the SEO industry is dying, and why you need to instead focus on great design and relative content.