Your Guide to Spotting an SEO Scam

BY digiTech - April 7, 2015
Austin SEO

It’s easy to hide behind a computer and that’s what a lot of SEO experts do on a daily basis. When searching for an SEO professional or company, don’t fall for some of the scams they frequently use. You deserve to work with a partner that truly understands the business and takes an honest, calculated approach to optimizing your web pages.

Spotting SEO Scammers

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 Five or ten years ago, it was fairly easy to spot SEO scammers. They often had a very poor understanding of the industry and did little to prove their alleged skillsets. They preyed on weak business owners who didn’t know much about optimization either. However, as SEO has become more complex, so have the scammers. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate quality SEOs from the scammers. If you aren’t careful, you could end up wasting a lot of time and money on the wrong SEO business partners. Thankfully there are some common red flags that can help you steer clear of danger.

The Top SEO Scams

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Here are the top SEO scams that business owners and webmasters continually fall for over and over again. Stay alert and avoid working with SEOs that exhibit these signs or claims:

  • Top ranking guarantee. It’s important to understand this truth from the beginning: nobody can guarantee a ranking. It doesn’t matter if they are claiming a ranking at the bottom of page five or the top ranking on page one, guarantees are meaningless. Are certain SEOs better at getting page one rankings? Sure, but it’s tied to a combination of skill and chance. Be very wary of these guarantees, as they often point to a faulty marketing scheme and may mean there are larger underlying issues beneath the surface.
  • Free 30 day trial. Who doesn’t love a free trial? It allows you to test out something and determine if it’s worth purchasing. While free trials are valuable for various tools and software, SEO services are not among them. By giving a third party source access to your data and information, you’re essentially giving them your login and password to do whatever they please. Go ahead and give them your car keys while you’re at it.
  • Thousands of submissions. A lot of SEOs will try to attract clients by telling them they’ll submit their website to thousands of search engines, when in actuality only a couple matter. While this isn’t necessarily a mean-hearted scam, it’s certainly a marketing gimmick. They probably will submit your site to a bunch of search engines, but they aren’t worth your time or money. In some cases they’re actually spam centers that put you on a bunch of random email lists and directories.
  • Inconsistent prices. Very rarely will you find a high quality SEO that offers prices significantly below the standard industry rate. If you find a deal that looks too good to be true, it probably is. Quality is typically related to price in SEO, and you don’t want to get caught investing in black hat services.

On the other side of the spectrum, be wary of an SEO that offers a rate two or three times the going rate. This is usually a ploy to appear better they actually are. Find out what the average price of services is and try to find an SEO that’s somewhere near that range.

To be able to differentiate between a real SEO company and a scam, please also try these quick actionable tips:

  1. See who they have worked with previously. Reach out to those clients and ask them if they are satisfied.
  2. Don’t get impressed with the list of awards and certifications that many SEO companies have on their site. For one, there are a lot of fake awards and certifications (that one can purchase) out there. Secondly make sure that the award or certification is relevant and was awarded in the past 1-2 years.
  3. If the SEO company talks about ‘number of links’ but gives no indication that they care about the quality (e.g DA/PA, contextual link vs author bio link) and anchor text diversity please run in the other direction and don’t look back.
  4. Ask them to share examples of previous results generated, and then try this simple tip by feeding the site they generated results for in Majestic.com: see if their trust flow to citation flow ratio is at least 0.5. If not, the SEO health of the site is bad and you should not hire them
  5. Do google them and add the word scam to their company name to see if there are any scam reports about them online. Alternatively look them up at http://www.ripoffreport.com or other similar sites. Check their YELP, Facebook and Google reviews.
  6. In today’s world, SEO and Content Marketing are hugely intertwined. So do ask them what would be their content marketing strategy. Low quality links created by commenting on blogs, posting in forums and creating directory profiles don’t county anymore. Guest posting still works but not unless it is done on low quality SEO or PBN (private blog network sites). Ask them to provide a list of 20 sites they got links from. See if these were links gotten from comments, forum posts, directories, and if they are from low quality, badly designed, low-DA sites. If so, ditch them
  7. Do note if their braggings are limited to a boost in SEO rankings alone or if they do mention how these increase in rankings increased the ROI of the client. If it’s the former, ignore them. It may not look like it but there are many terms which look like top notch but have little to no search volume and SEO competition and so it’s too easy to get them ranked. Plus even if you do get ranked for a term which has lot of searches, it doesn’t benefit you one bit if it doesn’t directly increase your revenue.
  8. See if their own site has a good onsite and offsite SEO health. For instance, is their site loading fast? Is it optimized for the right keywords? Is there DA good enough? Is there meta description appearing well in SERPS?
  9. If they don’t talk about agreeing upon KPIs from the beginning, you should look for another company.
  10. If they promise instant results, they probably don’t know enough about SEO to realize that improving search engine rankings takes an average of 3-6 months.
  11. Do they listen? Do they try to understand what your pain points are? Are they good at explaining their strategy and convincing you? If not, trust your gut, and continue looking for a better company
  12. Today’s SEO has changed a lot, and it is constantly evolving even more. Ask them if they spend a lot of time on learning new things, relearning old things, and unlearning a lot of things. In today’s word, no SEO can survive if they ain’t investing a lot of time in improving themselves.
    Also this evolution means shortcuts, gimmicks, and attempts to game the system through bad content and bad links won’t work. Look for someone who is passionate about SEO, content and the intersection of SEO and content. Not for gold diggers.

Stay Savvy Business Owners

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As you can see, there are a number of scams to keep an eye out for. The good news is that for every black hat SEO in the industry, there are a handful of quality solutions waiting to help. At digiTech Web Design, our experienced team of SEO experts will work alongside your business to develop a strategic solution that improves your chances of ranking higher for industry keywords and gaining visibility. For more information on our detailed service offerings, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

BY digiTech

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