In recent years, search engine optimization has evolved from an incredibly interesting and marvelously beneficial aspect of digital marketing to a source of threatening risks and expensive tricks. Because search engine algorithms are constantly changing, it is easy for malicious marketing firms to take advantage of eager but naive clients with devious SEO ploys. These companies do not focus on providing quality SEO services to their clients but only want to extract as much free money out of them as possible. This is the main reason why some people say “SEO is a scam”.
New entrepreneurs would be wise to learn about the most common SEO scams and how to avoid them! However, if your company is ready for assistance from reputable and experienced SEO professionals, we encourage you to read our post on how to find the right SEO company article to learn more about the topic!
What is SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the practice of optimizing a website or webpage to increase the quantity and quality of traffic it receives from organic search engine results. Search engines are the digital equivalent of libraries. Instead of copies of books, they keep copies of web pages.
When you enter a search query into a search engine, it searches through all of the pages in its index to return the most relevant results. It accomplishes this through the use of a computer program known as an algorithm.
Your website will rank higher in search engine results if you organize it in accordance with Google’s “best practice” rules, post material that offers value for your customers, and establish connections with other websites on the Internet.
The majority of modern web marketing campaigns are built around SEO. In general, the more effective your SEO efforts are, the more success you will have online in the long run. There are set guidelines, procedures, and methods that regulate SEO. In other words, everyone is essentially doing the same thing, albeit from a variety of techniques and perspectives.
What Not is SEO?
A “quick fix” is not SEO. There are no shortcuts for proper SEO work; it takes weeks or even months to see results. SEO is not a “one-time” thing. It is an ongoing technique that necessitates regular upkeep. You can be sure that your website will not remain at the top of the search engine rankings for very long if you simply sit back and relax after getting it there.
While it is true that everyone abides by certain standards and best practices, search engine algorithms form the basis of the SEO industry as a whole. The SEO environment changes often along with these algorithms. Hence, it is best to keep yourself updated or work with a professional SEO agency to keep up with the ever-changing environment.
Is SEO A Scam?
You should know all SEO is not scam. SEO scams are deceptive practices used by few digital marketing firms and contracted SEO consultants to dupe entrepreneurs and business owners into paying for search engine optimization services that provide no real value.
Because all successful digital marketing campaigns today place a strong emphasis on UX and SEO strategy, business leaders should do some research before speaking with any potential SEO professionals for their company.
Watch Out For These 13 Sneaky SEO Scam Tactics
Entrepreneurs will find success with an SEO firm that prioritizes their customers’ long-term success and satisfaction. SEO consultants and marketing agents who consistently promote all new websites, content, and other vague ideas without any knowledge of current content and rankings are most likely not in it for the right reasons.
The list below does not include that you might encounter, but it does provide unseasoned business owners with an idea of the most common SEO scams and SEO predator tactics.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to identify the most common SEO scams and avoid them. Let’s start by knowing about the common scams:
Guaranteed Google Page 1 Rankings
This is the most common scam, most likely because every business owner wants to be ranked #1 for their keywords and most do not want to hear that it might not be possible. Unless you are targeting niche or low volume keywords, competition for the keywords on your website will be fierce.
Your competitors did not reach the first page by accident. Instead, they have been spending thousands of dollars per month on SEO or marketing services for years. Monthly SEO retainers typically range between $500 – $2,000 per month. Taking the low end figure of $500 per month and multiplying it by 12 months equals $6,000 per year.
If you are only now attempting to overtake your competition, you are not only years behind them, but they have most likely spent thousands of dollars over the years to obtain and maintain their rankings.
If an SEO company offers a $100 or $250 per month special, risk-free offer that includes “Guaranteed Page 1 Rankings,” it’s almost certainly a scam. You cannot expect to outrank your competitors with a $250-per-month SEO package, and you should never believe this or any other common pitch. If ranking were that simple, everyone would be number one.
The Agency Has Google’s Secrets
There is no such thing as a “secret” sauce. While no one, not even Google, can claim to fully understand all aspects of Google’s algorithm, there are tried-and-true techniques and best practices for ranking well.
If the company cannot or will not outline their processes or tell you exactly what they are doing, chances are they might be doing nothing or, worse, they are using black hat techniques that will harm your rankings.
Unsolicited Emails or Contact Forms
Almost all unsolicited emails or contact forms submitted via your website offering SEO services should be ignored. You are probably on a massive auto-generated email list if you did not actively seek out the person or company. Bots and scrapers collect email addresses and fill out contact forms on websites automatically. It is uncommon for humans to be involved in these initial communications.
Furthermore, when your website begins to rank well in search engines, spam mail begins to accumulate in your inbox – a sign that your current marketing company’s SEO campaign is producing results. Try adding a reCAPTCHA to your forms to protect your website (and your inbox) from this spam.
They Know Someone Working At Google
This claim may contain some truth, but it is still extremely misleading. A Google Partnership can exist for Google Ads but not for SEO. To become a Google Partner, you must first create and complete a Partners company profile, then pass Google Ads certification and meet certain spend and performance requirements.
A Google Partner account representative is assigned to each company. The titles of these Google employees include “Agency Development Manager” and “Agency Account Strategist.” This does not imply that you have a “special relationship” with Google, as some companies claim, or that you have insider knowledge of how the algorithm works. You also do not receive any ranking benefits.
The Google employee is essentially an account manager who is there to assist you in selling more advertising. This collaboration has nothing to do with SEO. In fact, Google does not currently offer any SEO certifications and does not explicitly endorse any SEO firms.
Claiming to Get 1,000 Website Visitors Every Day
If you check your website’s contact forms on a regular basis, you have probably seen offers to receive 500, 1,000, or more “targeted visitors” per day. This offer could even include a free 30-day trial. Do not fall victim to this ruse. More than likely, these “targeted visitors” are just bot traffic. Traffic is a vanity metric; your conversions will not increase as a result of this traffic.
Bot traffic can also misinterpret your Google Analytics data, making it difficult to filter out the bad data afterwards. It is best to disregard these offers.
Agencies Offering Instant Link Building Services
Scammers will offer to build hundreds, if not thousands, of links to your website overnight, with the unrealistic promise that these links will improve your rankings. The quality of links, on the other hand, is important in Google’s algorithm.
A quality link is one that is relevant to your website and comes from a reliable source. A good link cannot be bought or easily obtained. If your website suddenly receives thousands of low-quality links from low-quality sites, it will appear that you are attempting to manipulate the rankings.
Google despises attempts to game the system and has become extremely adept at detecting unnatural links. The Google Penguin algorithm quickly detects this tactic and devalues all of those links. Google may even impose a manual penalty on your website. You do not want this to happen, believe us.
Not only will you be wasting money on useless links, but you will also have to pay someone to fix your website’s link profile and remove the manual penalty.
Supporting Private Blog Networks
A popular black hat link-building tactic is Private Blog Networks (also known as PBNs). A private blog network is a collection of thin content websites that offer little value to users. Their sole purpose is to generate links pointing to the sites where you make money.
This strategy may appear appealing at first because there are currently some high-quality Private Blog Networks operating outside of Google’s radar. But beware: this tactic violates Google’s webmaster guidelines, and Google will penalize you for it.
If people or businesses openly advertise their PBN and anyone can gain access to them, chances are they are not operating under Google’s radar. Google has most likely already discovered the network and devalued all of the links as well as deindexed the websites associated with it. However, the company that owns the PBN will be unconcerned if this occurs. They will continue to provide useless service to anyone who is willing to pay for it.
Submitting Your Website to Hundreds of Search Engines
If you have ever received this “proposal” and carefully examined the list of search engines they claim they will submit your website to (if they include it at all), you will notice that many of those listed are fake or have not existed for years.
Google, Bing, and Yahoo control more than 95% of the search engine market in the United States. The other hundreds of search engines are not nearly as important.
Core Web Development Companies That Provide SEO Services
SEO services appear to be offered by every online marketing company these days, including GoDaddy! Be wary of these companies, especially if you look them up and discover that they do not even have an SEO specialist on staff.
Many of these businesses are likely to have a limited or basic understanding of how SEO works and include it as part of their service package to remain competitive. Make no mistake: you will not receive the same level of SEO services as you would if you hired an SEO specialist.
Free Trial SEO Services
Some businesses will provide their services for free for the first few days. All you have to do is grant them administrative access to your website and possibly your credit card information. Isn’t it simple? Do not waste your time on these deals. A free trial is a desperate attempt to gain new customers. An experienced and self-assured SEO will not offer to do it right away, if at all.
Scammers have recently used this and other similar offers to inject malware into websites after gaining administrative access. Be wary of giving unauthorized people admin access to your website.
Furthermore, 30 days of SEO services will not produce long-term results if they work at all. Even Google’s Maile Ohye admits that “in most cases, SEOs require four months to a year to assist your business in first implementing improvements and then seeing the potential benefit.”
Claiming To Do Everything Your Current Provider Is Doing At Less Price
The first issue is that they are likely unaware of what your current company is doing for you, so when they claim they can do everything and more for less, they are already deceiving you.
SEO is a way of doing things, not something that is done. Assume your current SEO or marketing firm is doing everything correctly, but you decide to hire a new firm anyway. That new company could come in and do nothing or make very minor changes, and you probably will not notice any drops or drastic traffic changes for the first few months.
SEO requires time. If all of our current clients discontinued their SEO services immediately and made no changes to their websites, they would continue to see improvements for the next few months due to the residual effects of our SEO campaigns.
The main issue with these types of scams is that most business owners may never see a drop in traffic even after paying this new company for a year or so, making it appear as if they truly can offer the same work for less. If, after a few months, you notice your month-over-month growth has stopped and traffic has flattened or even begun to decline, this is a red flag that the new company is scamming you.
Companies That Own Your URL, Social Profiles, Google Analytics, And More
This is the most deceptive of all SEO scams. Some businesses will gladly set up or take over hosting for your website, even adding Google Analytics tracking and creating multiple social profiles for the company. However, you will notice in the contract that they own the domains, social media profiles, and even the Google Analytics account.
This will not be a problem as long as you work with them, but as soon as you try to leave, you will realize how bad it is for your business.
These accounts are assets unique to your company and are among your most valuable resources. You should always have ownership and control over them.
It is possible that the company will hold all of these accounts hostage for ransom, and you might be thinking, “So what? I’ll just make another one or hire my new company to do it.” However, all of the work and business intelligence you gathered and paid for will be lost, and you will have to start from scratch.
Creating Pages with Dead Ends
Doorway pages are web pages created solely for the purpose of ranking high for specific search queries in order to direct users to their client’s site. This tactic is unethical and denies more deserving websites a place at the top of the SERPs. This SEO tactic may appear to be common sense and guaranteed success at first: more doors, more access, more people, more sales; however, it is far from successful. In fact, this strategy is immediately harmful.
Overloading search engine queries with similarly produced and designed web pages all linked to the same destination confuses search engine crawlers, lowering the client’s website’s overall ranking. When it comes to the number of homepages for a website, less is more; in fact, one is sufficient.
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How To Stay Clear of an SEO Scam ?
Understanding the fundamentals of SEO will enable entrepreneurs and hiring managers to make an informed decision when hiring an SEO Specialist. Reviewing the initial technical audits, as well as detailed SEO service quotes and lengthy implementation plans, may appear daunting at first, but a professional SEO agent will be patient and knowledgeable enough to explain everything in a way that’s easy to understand and build on.
The most important thing to remember is that, while SEO may necessitate some complex, nuanced tactics, none of them are so difficult to comprehend that the SEO candidate would be unable to explain them to potential customers. An experienced SEO professional understands that it is also their responsibility to ensure that their clients have a thorough understanding of their company’s current digital marketing influence, the necessary search engine optimization elements, and how these tactics will improve their online visibility.
SEO is still very important and should be a part of any digital advertising campaign. On-page optimization is much more important than it used to be. Load speed, usability, and a clear schema are just a few of the factors that will boost your ranking. Relevant, well-written, and on-target content will do more for you than any army of “link builders” could ever do.
In short, no one can offer you a magical secret, an overnight success story, or a guarantee when it comes to search engine optimization. Consider it in terms of brand development: Few brands emerge overnight. Concentrate on your company and its offerings, and cater to the desires of your customers. Things will go well for you if you follow the rules and give your audience what they want.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I keep getting SEO emails?
In most cases, the emails that you are receiving could be companies trying to generate new business while in some cases these could be malicious emails trying to plant malware on your system or scam you in some way. These businesses and fraudsters often pick up your email address from social media sites and other public platforms.
I often hear, SEO is a scam. How do you check if someone is scamming you?
There are several ways to spot a scam, the most easy and popular out of which is to check if the offering is too good to be true. For example, if a company is offering 3 or more months of SEO services for the price of one then it is probably a scam.
Why are people afraid of SEO?
General misconceptions are the number one reason behind people being afraid of SEO. Oftentimes people consider SEO as an overly complicated, gimmicky process that has a very low chance of yielding results. They are also afraid of it because of the scams that run in the market. However, these both reasons are no reason to be afraid as good SEO could be a boon for any business.
What are the top 3 SEO scams everyone falls for?
3 common SEO scams that even the most aware people could fall for are:
1. Agencies offering instant link building services
2. Companies claiming to get guaranteed 1,000 new visitors every day
3. Companies claiming to know someone at Google
Read the above post to find out more about these scams so that you do not fall for them and lose your money overnight.