The world of search engine optimization is a little on the dirty side, to say the least. As a website owner, there is a high chance that you have been approached by some SEO expert who promises amazing results many times in the past – and will continue to do so in the future. Perhaps you have been tempted to take them up on their offer – after all, who wouldn’t want to make it to the number one ranking on Google for a knock-down price? But you take up these offers at your peril because they chances are the SEO ‘guru’ who has contacted you is likely to be nothing more than a scam artist. It is important for you to avoid getting scammed and protect your business, that you understand how SEO works. With this in mind, here are some of the red flags that can tell you when you are about to get burned.
The SEO Scammers Promise
Number One Google Ranking
‘Pay us x amount of money, and we guarantee the top spot on the SERPs!’ This particular message is a common sight in emails, websites, and other marketing materials created by so-called SEO experts. If you see it, run a mile. There is no way on earth that any company or expert can guarantee you a number one spot in Google, or any other search engine for that matter. It’s an impossible claim for a variety of reasons, not least because search results are continually being refined, tweaked, and personalized these days. Anyone that claims otherwise is either lying to you, or using ‘black hat’ techniques that might impress at first, but ultimately will lead to your site being banned from the SERPs by all search engines.
‘I Know A Guy…’
Anyone that claims insider knowledge or that they have a special relationship with Google or any other search engine is being dishonest – it’s that simple. Even those people in the top jobs at Google don’t know much about what is happening in another department, let alone the search algorithm that is used, and the company has strict rules about secrecy. No business or individual has priority access to Google and other search engines – it’s simply not how SEO works. Search engine optimization is all about experimentation, finding out what works – and what doesn’t. Any firm that claims to know everything thanks to insider knowledge is just looking to extract your hard earned cash from your wallet.
Registered Partner & Bought Formulas
Another couple of common scams that will burn you hard are the dishonest claims of being a certified partner and the ‘we bought Google’s special formula’ claim. Needless to say, both are complete nonsense. In the case of registered partners, Google doesn’t offer this to anyone. Yes, you can be a certified partner for AdWords, but that is another Google service entirely (PPC), and nothing to do with SEO at all. In the case of the latter – companies claiming to have bought Google’s unique SEO formula – it would be funny was it not for the fact that people fall for it. Even if someone did have access to Google’s algorithm, given it changes more than once a day – however minor those changes are – the formula they have bought will be completely redundant as soon as they hand over their cash.
Page 1 Ranking Within 2 Days
Given the enormous amount of data search engines have to work with, it takes time for any SEO tweaks and changes to your website to take effect. In fact, the vast majority of reputable SEOs make it clear that they need somewhere in the region of 4-6 months for any improvements to start working. No company can guarantee you results within a small time frame, whether it’s a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Even the best web designers and SEO’s can’t make this happen, no matter how big your budget is.
Many SEO companies and self-professed experts can be a little underhand when it comes to delivering their services. If you find yourself talking to a company that isn’t prepared to disclose what or how they are doing to help your website improve, it’s best to walk – or even run – away as fast as possible. SEO is not magic, and in fact, it isn’t even that hard – it’s just a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that is ongoing. Anyone that tries to sell you a secret SEO strategy is purely blowing smoke, at best. At worst, these scammers will be using black hat SEO tactics that will eventually get your site banned by every single search engine.
Low Ball Prices
As we discussed above, SEO is time-consuming and labor intensive. A real SEO strategy requires content creation, quality links, on-page optimization, and more. You can bet that it takes time for an SEO company to start getting results, and just as you charge enough money for your products and services, you should expect an SEO consultant to do the same. There are no quick, cheap fixes – it’s a case of paying an experienced expert what they are worth, or taking the time out of your schedule to learn it yourself. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys – it’s as simple as that.
Thinking you need a prepackaged SEO bundle? In the past, you might have had some joy with a service like this, but that was a long time ago, and it certainly isn’t the case today. In the vast majority of cases, packaged SEO services will be cheap, nasty, and cause you more problems than they are worth. Why? Well, for a start, it’s likely that none of your leads – in the form of traffic in this case – will be anywhere near qualified for you to benefit from them. Secondly, there’s a good chance that the package will involve unnatural link building to try and cheat the system – Google’s algorithm will, eventually, catch you out on this and this my friends is how you get a Google ranking penalty. And finally, no SEO company worth their salt can offer a service that is suitable for every business on the planet, which is effectively what packaged bundles claim to be. Good SEOs need to take the time to get to know your company, work out how to fit your SEO needs in with your overall business and marketing objectives, and understand that every company and industry is different.
We hope this helps some of you out when it comes to choosing your next SEO service – when in doubt give us a call and ask if it’s for real!