Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or where you show up in Google Search, is something that most business owners know they need, but have no idea how to attain. It’s this lack of knowledge that allows so many SEO companies to manipulate business owners into spending money and ultimately receiving little return for their investment.
DO NOT BE SCAMMED. We all receive lots of messages from supposed SEO companies with the promise of helping you get to number 1 (a big time red flag). In this post, I share tips to help you become more informed about common tactics used by questionable SEO companies. I hope these insights will help you avoid being scammed in the future.
TYPES OF SEO COMPANIES
There are three types of SEO companies to watch for and they are classified as Black Hat, Grey Hat and White Hat agencies. Here are the differences:
Black Hat agencies are the most common kind of SEO agency and probably the ones you’re being solicited by in your inbox. Black Hat agencies essentially work to try and break the recommended suggestions made by Google to enhance your search results. Not only is this a bad practice, but the consequences to your website are severe. Google could de-list your site which is essentially the death knell to attracting business online.
As the name implies, Grey Hat SEO tends to operate within grey area of Google’s guidelines and may or may not result in your site being banned. We’ll call this approach, walking the line.
White hat SEO is regarded as SEO practices using strategies and techniques that focus on the end user (your customers) and follows search engine rules and policies.
Personally, I’m a proponent for the white hat approach to SEO. This may take longer, but it will serve you best in the long term.
SCAM RED FLAGS
If you’re getting e-mails from companies promising to improve your SEO, this is a clear warning sign. Spammers use web crawlers looking for a list of domains and e-mail addresses. This is how they’re finding you. If a person says they have looked through your website, they’re probably not telling the truth.
Any SEO company that guarantees that they will get your website to number one in search rankings is lying. NO SEO company can guarantee this. Google’s algorithm is top secret, so how can anyone guarantee this?
Calling From Google
No SEO company is a partner with Google or represents Google. If someone calls you and says, “Hello James, I’m with Google,” get ready to hang up the phone. Google’s job is to help rank websites not tell you how to improve your ranking. If you get a call from Google, it may be about helping you optimize your Google Adwords campaign (a major revenue generator), but no one from Google cares about your Google organic ranking.
You Don’t Show Up
This is a classic one… “You don’t show up in Google Search.” That may be true, but it depends on the keywords being used to find your business online. This is a tactic to hook you in by causing alarm because everyone wants to be found online. Ask them what keywords they are using to determine how you are not found in a Google search.
30 Day Free Services
This is a big, whopping, major, red flag. If a company offers 30 days of free services to showcase how they’ll improve your SEO, buyer beware. Never give your passwords for your website’s access to any company like this.
Submitting Your Site to Thousands of Search Engines
Again, another buyer beware. A well-done website doesn’t need to be submitted to thousands of search engines and Google recommends that you not do that anyway.
Lots of Link Backs
A big aspect of improving your SEO is having other quality websites link back to your website. Many black hat SEO companies will promise to have hundreds of sites link back to yours. Chances are, they aren’t of good quality and will actually hurt your site’s SEO performance in the long run.
Companies that charge flat rates or low monthly retainers typically don’t result in much. The time it takes to assess and monitor a site is so time consuming that anyone charging a low monthly rate is leveraging your ignorance of what it takes for a good SEO company to do its work. SEO consulting from excellent white hat SEO companies usually runs hundreds of dollars per hour.
Don’t be fooled by the many SEO scams that are catching business owners everywhere. I receive e-mails about SEO every single week and so do you. If you’ve been solicited and are unsure whether it’s a scam, feel free to contact me and we’ll be happy to have a look at the contract for you.