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SEO Scams and Ripoffs

How to identify an SEO scam, ripoff company, or risky SEO practices.

It seems that in every trade or profession, there are scam artists, rip-offs, and deceitful sales pitches, especially in the industries that appeal to our human desires of quicker results to feel better, look better, or live better.

Before I start, I must clarify some terms.  (I’m not a lawyer, so these are not legal terms – since different kinds of fraud have various penalties in different locations).

First, How some misuse the term “scam”.

The word “scam” is often over-used and mis-used on the internet.  I’ve read other sites with pages about SEO scams or ripoffs, and I often find one item on each lists that I disagree with the label “scam”. 

  • The worst use of “scam” I hear is  something like this, “They charge XX amount when you could do it yourself for free”.  That doesn’t make it a scam!  That’s what you call any service business!  These days you can do just about anything by yourself.  You can lay tiles in your bathroom by yourself, does that make a professional tile layer a scammer?  Of course not.  You can learn and do SEO by yourself, but most businesses don’t have the time or motivation to go through a learning curve or the funds to invest in excellent time-saving tools, so they actually save time by hiring a professional.  However, it does become a “confidence trick” if someone claims you canNOT learn to do it yourself and only they know “the secrets”.  If you have hours and days to spare, you can learn just about everything online or through books from industry experts.
  • Some affiliate marketers actually use a tricky tactic and use the word “scam” as bait in their ad or post to provoke controversy or get clicks to their page, though there may not even be a scam involved.  The use of the word was a scam in itself!
  • Some say a company scammed them, when it was simply bad customer service, or making mistakes. Some SEO companies simply are poor at explaining their services, they aren’t necessarily out to deceive you.  Sometimes it’s used too easily by a disgruntled customer who may not have read the terms of service or contract.
  • Some use it to refer simply to things they don’t like or disagree with by a competitor.
  • Some use the word if they think a charge is too much for their liking.   (if a customer is ignorant of the labour involved, and varying degrees of activity needed, they think variations in prices are “scams”).  

These are different from being “scams”.   Scams involve intentional deception.  So what IS a “scam”?  

According to dictionary.com, it is defined as:

Noun: a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.  
Verb: to cheat or defraud with a scam.  

A scam is a confidence trick, or an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence.

  • Guarantee of specific position, by a specific date.   Besides being against Google’s terms of service to guarantee such things, there are too many uncontrollable circumstances – like constant updates and changes by Google’s own search engine ranking algorithm.
  • Promising page 1 on Google for your personal or business name, and pretending that took some skill and time.   Look, it’s very easy to rank for your business name or personal name.  How many are competing with that in your city?  ANYbody can do this almost without trying.  What you want to rank for are keywords people are typing in search who do NOT KNOW your company name – like “web marketing surrey”.  For that phrase, you would be competing for many other companies in the same city or region.  So the question is, can the SEO company help you rank for the more popular keywords?
  • Companies who take your money without delivering the service.  I spoke with someone who is paying around $80/month to a company that is advertised on TV and appears trustworthy – Web.com.  On their site for “Gorilla Marketing” package, they promise to “promote them” to all the search engines, on Facebook, Twitter, and many local directories.  When I searched for his type of industry, of course his website was nowhere to be found (but that’s not always the marketers fault – the site really lacked content and proper optimization).  The real kicker is that when I searched for his company name on the promised directory sites, and FB and Twitter – his site was not listed anywhere!  And they were still happily taking his money every month.  The business owner said he may have failed to give them some details they needed to fill in those sites, but still – why is that company still taking his money?  The truth is, many companies don’t care about your success, just your money.  It’s better to work with someone who cares about your success.  If we at Found Online Solutions don’t get what we need to market for you – we either write our own content (enough to put on directories), or hound you until you give us what we need – or just not charge you for the months we don’t do anything for you.  We don’t charge you for doing nothing!  If you’re the type of business that won’t provide content so we can market for you (or pay us to write needed content), we just won’t do business with you – you’re not serious about your own success anyway.
  • SEO companies that claim to use ethical practices, but really use spammy techniques that go against Google’s terms of services.  These techniques are software generated, and give the impression to you that “20,000 backlinks” are worth a lot to you, but they may actually HARM your site’s ranking in the end once search engines figures out how artificial your links and popularity really is.  These techniques take little time, especially if outsourced to Philippines or India, but also have little effect.  If the services are CHEAP, it’s most likely this type of fake SEO or ineffective shortcuts; and if they are expensive is STILL could be this kind of technique, with big profit to them – giving you the illusion they work hard to provide the right thing.  True SEO does take time and effort and even quality directory listings take strategic thought in wording, and some marketing skill.  You can’t afford the cost of going cheap in SEO, web design, or social media.
  • Those that give you the impression they are with Google –  Hard to believe, but yes, there are those who want the business to think they are with Google.  I experienced these calls asking me to update my Google listings, and they never did tell me what company they are with.
You can avoid these scams best by getting the name of the company and website of anyone who calls you, finding a LOCAL company or SEO specialist that you can meet with and learn their reputation and others they’ve helped, as well as ask if they can give you an overview of what kind of strategy and effort they put into your success, how up-to-date they are with the constant changes of search engines, and a sample of a monthly activity report they can expect.

Call Duane at 778-578-1202 for your free half-hour consultation.  I guarantee you’ll learn something and won’t be a waste of your time.