With the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) being widely used, many self-titled “SEO Experts” have popped up, making unrealistic promises and offering guaranteed rankings. Nowadays, you can’t go more than a few hours without receiving some spam email about Search Engine Optimization, or a cold call from an “SEO guru” who can make all your Internet Marketing dreams come true. The best defense against SEO scams is becoming more educate about the subject.
Since most small business owners don’t have the time and resources needed to become experts, we’ve put together a quick list of the most common “SEO claims” you should look out for. It’s important to note that we are talking about claims regarding organic search engine results (natural results), not paid results. Anyone can pay for top placement of an advertisement.
#1 Guaranteed Rankings
Many SEO scams center around some sort of guaranteed rankings. Claims like “Guaranteed #1 ranking on Google”, “Guaranteed first page ranking on Google”, “Guaranteed #1 ranking on all search engine” are simply impossible to substantiate (when referencing organic results). If you read the following article from Google, you’ll see a section titled No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Google goes on to say “Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings”. Since you’ve heard it directly from Google, you should make sure to avoid any company that offers such a guarantee.
#2 They know someone at Google, or have a special relationship with Google
False! Again, no SEO company has “special relationship” or access to a “priority submit” for Google. Any SEO firm that makes this claim is simply lying to you.
#3 Offering free SEO trial services
SEO is tedious and very involved. The process required to achieve great results requires days of work, and no legitimate company is going to do this for free. Additionally, if in return for the “free trial” they ask for your FTP username/password or ask access to your hosting account, just imagine what they could do. Avoid promises that sound too good to be true!
#4 Submissions to thousands of search engines
So what. Google, Yahoo, MSN/Bing, and AOL accounting for over 95% of the search market. Just focus your attention on the ones that matter.
#5 Undisclosed or secret SEO strategies
Hmmm, a magic potion? A crystal ball? Is Harry Potter involved? Any legitimate SEO company should be able to explain what they will do to your site, as well as outline their link building strategy. Firms who reference “SEO trade secrets” are likely planning to use black hat SEO techniques that will get you banned by all major search engines at some point.
#6 Top Ranking within 48 hours
We’ve already discussed the concept of guaranteed top rankings; LET ALONE adding a deadline to this promise. The only way to guarantee this would be with Pay Per Click (PPC).
#7 The lowest priced SEO
If an offer sounds too good to be true, it is. As we mentioned, SEO is hard work and takes some serious time to do correctly. You’re better off learning how to do it yourself, rather than paying some “SEO expert” who claims that he can do it for an absurdly low price. You get what you pay for!
#8 We work with someone at Google, or are partners with Google
No they don’t, and no they are not. Google has no such partnerships in the SEO world. Plus, no Google employee would jeopardize their jobs by illegally associating with any such firms.
#9 We know the Google Algorithm, we are Google Algorithm experts
The algorithms used by search engine are complex, and dynamic. At best, people may know about certain aspects (link popularity, content, meta tags, etc). By the way, knowledge of the important aspects of SEO should be a given if you’re in the SEO world.
#10 Avoid SEO companies that take ownership of content
Anything you pay for, should belong to you. Make sure that any agreement you sign does not give ownership to the SEO agency you work with. This content can be held hostage, or even worse, be sold to a competitor.
We hope that this article will help you avoid the most common SEO scams.