Another Scam is on the Rise - Be Aware of These SEO Scams
Another scam is on the rise - Receiving an email offering to help you fix SEO issues on your website.
I hear from my clients frequently about this – when they forward an email to me asking, is this real? I myself get a handful every week or so. My guess is that maybe, 1% of all the emails sent are vaguely legitimate.
Here are the easiest ways to spot fake emails from scammers:
- Look at their email address – if it’s from Gmail, Hotmail, etc, just delete. If they aren’t affiliated with a company, you can’t vet them; and if they have a website, be sure you can view who the owners or staff are, or where they’re located.
- Many times your website is not even mentioned in the email. What? How can they know of an issue affecting my website, and not even mention my domain?
- Did the email arrive unsolicited? I’m guessing you didn’t reach out to them, did you?
- They use some technical mumbo jumbo to give an impression they’ve analyzed your domain. While it’s certainly possible that a marketer may take time to analyze a site; it’d be much more common for them to just do a mass-email copy/paste to everyone on a list. The scammer-marketer may include images of legitimate reporting tools, taken out of context, like scoring-numbers marked in red, or similar negative marks. Here are some samples:
I noticed a few areas that, if fixed, may result in increased traffic and reach. For your convenience, I have collated all the recommendations in a short, no obligatory performance report and would like to send it over.
What would happen if you actually hired one of these imposters?
SEO scammers can destroy your rankings, causing you to lose leads and sales.
Scammers want to do work for you that’s unnecessary and you’re out the unnecessarily-spent money.
Lastly, it is entirely possible that they mean to infect your site with malware, or worse.
Types of SEO Scams
SEO Scam #1: Get your site ranking on the first page of Google search!
No one can guarantee Page 1 results.
Even Google can’t predict what will wind up on page 1 or when.
Web pages rank in relation to a keyword (search query). Not all search queries are worth ranking for. Like what you ask: for example, a local electrician’s site may rank high for “halloween pumpkin LED lights.” It’s a sure bet that people searching for that keyword have no intent to hire an electrician.
SEO Scam #2: We ran a Google Lighthouse* report (fill in any other report name) for you and your site loading speed is poor.
This email may include an image of your low load speed score. The style of the image looks like it’s from the Google report, but it’s not, because they never ran a report on your website. The speed score is made up.
While slow load speed is bad for rankings, no real SEO marketer does work they’re not getting paid for.
*Google Lighthouse is a web performance measurement tool, used by professionals, to gauge site loading speed, along with other metrics.
SEO Scam #3: Get High Quality Backlinks* to your website (or they may ask to guest-post on your site) (see #4)
Link-building is a legitimate marketing tactic, but most anyone offering this service, especially all by itself, will use “black hat” SEO techniques and this will undoubtedly destroy your rankings. Paying for links is clearly against Google’s guidelines, and Google has gotten very good at detecting unnatural link patterns.
Have you heard of a “splog”? This is a spam blog; a site that only exists to sell links. The quality of the content is usually terrible and covers a weird mix of topics. Often these “splogs” are part of a private blog network (PBN). These are multiple spam blogs operated by the same people engaged in link schemes. These scammers buy domains that have expired, already have a high score, and then, they turn it into a spam blog.
Stay away from backlink people – the best practice indicates that the best method to getting backlinks is simply by earning them.
SEO Scam #4: Can I guest-post on your blog?
Guest posting to build links is a legitimate marketing technique. Typically it happens when two business owners provide two different services or products but have a shared audience. They choose to collaborate by providing a guest post for the other’s blog, or they might interview each other (text or video) and share to both blogs.
But the problem is that no one is giving you free content without wanting something in return. The guest poster wants to include a link in the article to benefit their (or someone else’s) SEO. And, you need to be able to vouch for this person.
If that link goes to a PBN then your site may be seen as related to link schemes and be penalized by Google. Plus these links may end up at questionable websites including online casinos or drug sites.
SEO Scam #5: We’ll Help You Increase Traffic
Some marketers will try to sell you on boosting traffic. While some of these efforts may be legitimate, unscrupulous individuals may use bots* to create an illusion of increased traffic. There’s no benefit to acquiring fake traffic. Bots don’t sign up for newsletters, read articles, or buy things.
Traffic is not a key performance indicator (KPI); it’s meaningful only when traffic increases are linked to increased sales.
*Not all bots are bad. For example, search engines and marketing tools rely on bots for data and analysis.
SEO Scam #6: Emails (and sometimes calls/voicemails) from Fake Google Employees
Example: I work for Google and noticed that you have some problems with your business listings/other issue. Your NAP* is not consistent. I can fix that for you for X dollars. *NAP refers to basic business info like Name-Address-Phone.
First of all, no Google employee has time to make calls and do work one on one on a cold-call basis. If it’s a phone call you answered, and as the call progresses, the person also mentions they work for a business. (One can’t be an employee of Google and an employee of a marketing business.).
However, many top marketing agencies are Google Partners; this is different from being a Google employee. Google Partners are certified Google Ads specialists who’ve been vetted by Google and meet their requirements. To find out of a business really is a Google Partner search for the name in this directory.
Ideas for Protecting Yourself From SEO Scams
- Follow a Beginner-Friendly SEO Blog or YouTube Channel
- Know Common SEO Services as offered from freelancers or marketing agencies:
- Submitting sitemaps to Google, Bing, Yandex, Baidu.
- Doing a Site Audit - These reports detect what can be improved.
- Creating an SEO strategy with measurable goals.
- Keyword research and content creation.
- Adding quality Title and Meta descriptions.
- Checking Header hierarchy.
- Measuring your progress using tools like Semrush, Mangools, ahrefs, Google Analytics, or Google Search Console.