While there may be a sucker born every minute, there’s also a scamming SEO company born every minute. These companies pop up everywhere and usually end up emailing you or calling you on the phone. They look up domain registry information and contact people every day, and some of them are very good. Good at ripping you off that is.
Hey “buddy” want to get rich?
A while back my mother received a phone call from one of these guys. Thankfully she’s not too naive, and making money is not the primary goal of her site. The person on the phone said “Hi, I’m from Google….” and rattled off this slick sales pitch about how they were from a new office in Portland and they could guarantee top rankings for her site, for a monthly fee and soon she’d be rolling in traffic. She listened to what the guy had to say and didn’t commit to anything. She mentioned her son was an SEO, and how he’d done a lot of work for big companies in town, and if you do a quick search you’ll find his site. The conversation pretty much ended at that point and he gave her some contact info and went on his way.
Unfortunately this type of thing happens every day. I have more than 10 customers in the last 5 years or so who fell for one of these things and the money spent ranges anywhere from thousands of dollars to $49 a month or so. None of them were happy with the results, and they all had roughly the same story about the phone call and sales pitch. They drop big names to impress you, but it’s very likely a huge stretch they joined some affiliate program and are making claims the company doesn’t know about, or outright lies.
Fact: Google, Microsoft, AT&T, Yahoo, and similar companies do not have divisions of their companies that sell SEO services.
Here are some other things you should know to avoid these scammers:
Nobody can guarantee search engine rankings. Nobody can sell you “guaranteed spots”.
This is the first claim out of the mouths of these slimy salesmen. They are really good at SEO, or have some inside track with the search engine companies and they can guarantee you a rank. This is 100% false. Nobody can guarantee you a ranking for any price. In fact, read it for yourself right on Google’s website.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.
You have to ask yourself, if they’re so good they can guarantee any #1 spot, why are they wasting their time calling you? They could be making a large fortune funneling millions of searchers to various product. I certainly can’t “guarantee” any rankings or I wouldn’t be writing this, I’d be sitting on a beach somewhere on the island I just bought. Even the best SEOs can’t guarantee rankings. They can only promise to do whatever they can to ensure your site is successful. There’s no question a good SEO will get you top rankings but it’s not something they can promise.
Google does not have a “preferred vendors program” or anything like that. Another common claim is an “inside track” to Google that the general public does not have access to. “We do lots of business with Google” is usually a part of that pitch. They claim to have a “priority submit” or something similar. It’s all crap. Google does not have such a program, and neither does Bing. Yahoo has a program where you can pay to have your site considered for listing but it does not have anything to do with ranking, it’s just for getting your site listed (which is free if you wait a while).
If you’re paying a monthly fee for SEO, ask them exactly what they’re doing. While many SEO’s warn against monthly fees there are some legitimate reasons for paying an SEO a monthly fee. Here are some of them:
Good reasons to pay an SEO
- The SEO is adding content to your site (articles, guides etc).
- You are adding content frequently and the SEO is checking it.
- The SEO is doing something every month to get you inbound links(submitting to social media sites, article marketing etc.)
- Analytics. They could be analyzing your traffic or rankings and monitoring for changes and trends.
All of these are good reasons to have an SEO on retainer. Not all “monthly fees” are bad.
But don’t pay an SEO for:
- Resubmitting to search engines. You don’t need to do this.
- “Maintaining your ranking”.
- “Fake Forum Posts / blog comments” and other shady attempts to spam your site.
- “Secret” operations they aren’t allowed to tell you.
The more you know…
If you’re not a technical person or don’t have the time to learn SEO, nobody can blame you for hiring someone. You’re paying for expertise and time you don’t have. But the more you learn about SEO the better decisions you will make when it comes hiring time.
Reading this blog is a good starting point, but there are thousands of SEO websites and forums on the internet, and you’d be surprised what information is floating out there for free. Not all of it is correct of course, but you can at least familiarize yourself with the process enough to know what to ask for and sniff out a scammer.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!