Top 10 awful SEO scams to be kept at bay

They say probably 90 percent of the entire SEO scape is a big scam. Take a stroll across popular online forums about digital marketing or SEO and this is a buzzing question. Well, honestly, 90% could be a wild claim but definitely the contemporary SEO industry is rife with scammers. Some loot you down promising larger-than-life statements while another sadist bunch is waiting to make your life hell with injected malware. Bottom line is- SEO scams are plain real. 

Now, of course, that doesn’t imply every apple in the basket is rotten. But, you need to be careful about the bad daddies to keep your site safe from nefarious SEO scams.

1. The secret elixir

Well, two things- one, a SEO company is not supposed to keep their techniques hidden from the client- two, there is nothing called “secret recipe” in SEO.

The truth

It’s because, no SEO agency has been able to grasp the complete nitty-gritty of every Google algorithm till date. Also, Google keeps on introducing new algorithms that makes the job even tougher. Having said that, it should not be denied that there is actually a bunch of tested and proven strategies for higher rankings.

What to do

But, a reliable SEO company would always be transparent about their techniques. You need to know whether the company is into black hat SEO techniques or not. Don’t forget, if your site gets banned by Google, the onus will be on you, not on your SEO agency.

2. #1 page ranking

Wise men had reminded that if something sounds too good to be true, it’s likely to be a farce.

The truth

So, if you ever come across a SEO agency that claims to offer something as utopian as #1 page ranking in just a few months, it’s a red flag. Google does not guarantee #1 ranking in SERPs. 

Rather, always remember, it’s a cut-throat competition out there and there is a long journey ahead. Your SEO agency, should certainly, try to improve your current rankings.

So, how do the top brands have been able to claim a top rank on SERPs? Well, it took them “years” to reach at where they are currently. It will be the same for you. 

What to do

Focus on a company that doesn’t make idyllic claims but reasonable promises like consistent growth for your ranking over time.

3. Google pals

Some SEO companies might lure you into their plans by boasting that they have special rapport with the core Google team and that Google endorses their SEO operations. 

The truth

Well, first things first, Google never endorses (directly) any SEO agency. Second is, Google doesn’t offer SEO certifications. So, just because the SEO agency holds Google Ads Partnership doesn’t mean they are Google Partner for SEO. 

If a SEO company has attained Google Partnership for Ads, they are assigned account representatives from Google staff pool.  But that doesn’t mean the Account Representative will make them (the SEO companies) privy to  Google insider details- nor the Account Representative holds the power to influence your ranking by virtue of being Google employee.

What to do

So, if a SEO agency claims to bring in special endorsement from Google just because the company is a Google Partner for Ads, it’s just a scam. The best thing you can do here is- “avoid”.

4. Unwanted knocks at the mailbox

If you ever receive a flurry of unsolicited contact forms or email citing SEO services, please beware.

The truth

There are spammy companies that keep on pestering entrepreneurs with contact forms even when you haven’t asked for it. So, how do those land up in your email inbox? Well, it’s just a part of automated email id campaigns where email ids are collected by bots – there is barely any sort of manual intervention here.

What to do

Odds are, you will start receiving a shower of these unsolicited mails, especially when your site seems to be ranking high on SERPs. First, ignore these emails. The second thing you should do here is add reCAPTCHA right to your contact forms.

5. Upping traffic influx by thousands

Do you receive offers from SEO companies claiming to get you 500 to even 1,000+ targeted traffic to your site daily? The offer might also be accompanied by a free trial run.

The truth

Please, it’s a scam. Inflated numbers are…well…”inflated”; odds are, there is no truth to it. 

No authentic SEO agency can claim such high volume of traffic, especially when your website has not been on the web world for years. When an agency is claiming such rocketing numbers, it mostly means the company will send you bot traffic. 

What to do

Bot traffic ruins the authenticity of your Analytics data. Worse, it’s pure pain to weed the bot numbers later when you realize the scam. So, please be careful of inflated numbers.

6. Link building scams

While link building is one of the core aspects of SEO, link building frauds are some of the topmost SEO scams.

Below is a list of multiple link building scams you might come across while dealing with SEO agencies. 

  • Selling links like hot cakes

You need money to buy hot cakes. Fair enough. But, if you put money to buy links, you would run the risk of getting the paid links nullified by Google. 

Google doesn’t allow paid links. Worse, your whole website might get dubbed as “black hat” if you use paid links.

The truth

So, how does the scam work? Well, the scammer SEO agency is most likely to target you during link build-up outreach campaign. As you will go for the outreach campaign, you will be notified than a certain existing link that links to competitor site was a purchased one. But, you can get it if you are flexible to pay a fee for it.

It will create the illusion that your competitor was also vying for it and was ready to pay but you came out to be the winner. The reality is probably nothing like it. These links mostly come out while researching for link profiles of competitors, based on targeted keywords.

Now, what happens is that the link builder contacts the owner of the page and requests the owner to change that existing link right to his/her content. The owner will just charge a nominal fee and do the honors.  

But, as mentioned previously, Google doesn’t allow paid links. So, this link, for which you had to shell out a fee, would do nothing good to your site.

What to do

If you are too busy to operate the whole link building process all by yourself, the best alternative is to work with a publicist.

  • The lure of “high DA”

A scam seller might offer a link tied to a “high DA” (Domain Authority) site. The seller will insist that the link will do wonders to amp up the page rank for your site. 

The truth

But, it’s a scam.

There are two reasons why you shouldn’t trust these sellers. One, as mentioned previously, Google maintains an extremely strict stance against paid links. The second thing is, improved DA for your site is not going to help anyway for improving your site’s ranking on SERPs.

What to do

The best solution is to work with an experienced publicist who will shoulder the legwork for you.

  • Overnight link building

What’s the ultimate point of truth in link building? More than scores of links, Google wants quality and relevant links. And, it takes little bit of time to achieve quality.

The truth

So, if a SEO agency claims that it will load your website with hundreds of links almost overnight, it’s probably a sham.

What to do

Ask yourself- Is it humanly possible to garner hundreds of links from hundreds of credible sources in the blink of an eye? The answer is “No” and you know that. So, if the company is making such unrealistic claims, odds are the firm is going to bring links from random sources.

Shower of links at one go will only prove that you are making a proactive attempt to manipulate rankings. Also, remember, Google is able to detect manipulative and unnatural links these days. If caught, your site might even get penalized.

7. Friendly emails might not be so friendly

Another common SEO scam is to scare website owners with emails claiming their site is having ranking issues due to some keyword problems. 

The truth

Beware! These illicit agencies send these spam emails to many website owners out there. The e ails are send randomly and are not based on any kind of sound research. This is a major reason why these emails will never mention which keywords are particularly creating the problem.

The idea behind the email is to scare you to that extent that you don’t give even a second thought to sign up with them.

What to do

Scare tactics are unethical. So, do not ever sign up with a SEO agency that compels you to be their client by scaring you though spam emails.

8. Expiry message straight from Google

If you are a local business, you certainly have a GMB account for your business. In that case, have you ever received a phone call or email claiming that it’s a direct message from Google about the expiry of your GMB listing? If you haven’t yet, you might – this scam is on rise these days.

The truth

The problem is most of the people don’t hold a clear idea about the workings of Google. And scammers are waiting to take advantage of our limited knowledge about Google operations. The end result is, business owners generally get scared and then sign up with a scam SEO agency. Once they are convinced they have been able to make you sufficiently anxious or worried, they will contact you in some way or the other and lure you to use their services to keep your listing active. Most business will fall for this trap if they are not careful.

 Probably it’s not possible to know every single thing about the search engine giant but you should know one thing for sure- Google will never send you any kind of call or message or email notifying about the expiry of your GMB account. Also, your listing is never going to expire. So, if you receive a similar call or message ever, consider a red flag.

What to do

Don’t fall for these fake calls or emails. Just make sure to keep your listing updated from time to time.

9. Submission to umpteen number of search engines

You might come across proposals from SEO companies that they can submit a website to scores of search engines.

The truth

When it comes to SEO, there are only “three” search engines that are significant as they cumulatively command 95% market share (in terms of the U.S.). Added to Google, the other two are Yahoo and Bing.

If a SEO company proposes to submit to a lengthy list of search engines, then most of the name on the roster would be fake.

What to do

Stay away from such unrealistic claims. Stick to agencies that do not make inflated claims rather assure to submit to only the 3 major engines mentioned above.

10. Big brother is controlling

Some SEO agencies will claim to shoulder almost all kinds of website maintenance tasks for your site, added to SEO- such as hosting, data tracking, social media marketing, and more. Sounds peachy keen, eh? Now, what will happen when you would wish to switch to another SEO agency? Well, things won’t be that smooth.

The truth

These SEO companies mostly hold complete control  over almost every single thing when it comes to client’s marketing and website operation and maintenance tasks.  It won’t create a problem when you will work with them. But, the moment you will try to switch, these scam agencies might not release your accounts to you. Worse, they might ask for ransom!

What to do

Now, these accounts (social media hosting etc.) carry Big Data related to your business – something that only the website owner/entrepreneur would have control over. So, if ever you come across a SEO agency that assures to shoulder all the account responsibilities on your behalf, consider a red flag.

Final words

So, you have quite an exhaustive list here. There is just one more basic thing that should be added. If the prices seem to be too cheap to be true, please stay away. Quality does not come cheap. Settle for a reliable SEO company that can assure reasonably affordable rates.

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