Five Ways to Spot an SEO Scam

By: Aiman Ghori

Search engine optimization can be complicated and sometimes difficult to understand, so you may be seeking help from an SEO expert to generate more traffic to your site, or, just as likely, those claiming to be experts may be seeking your business out, regularly. This creates the perfect opportunity for scammers to take advantage of you and your practice, potentially leading to detrimental results for your business. As with any hiring process, it's important to do research and ask probing questions to see if the SEO experts you're speaking with are legitimate and use ethical strategies/best practices, or if they're just scams. Below are 5 ways to tell if your SEO 'expert' is deceiving you.

  1. "We Guarantee First Page Results"

  2. Nobody can guarantee a specific result and if they claim to, chances are they're not following Google's guidelines. Some companies will claim they can increase traffic to your site incredibly in a very short amount of time but be wary of their promises. Due to the nature of how SEO works, there are no absolute guarantees and you should be aware of the methods they use. Despite there being no guarantees, there are certainly better chances of improving your SEO organically through ethical methods. Experienced SEO companies have spent years learning and refining what methods and work and which ones don't. Their techniques can guarantee that traffic will increase to your site but in a realistic amount of time. Plan to be in regular contact with your SEO service provider and their plan for improving your site's SEO.

  3. "Our Strategies are Confidential"

  4. Lack of communication between a company and client can lead to very bad results, SEO and otherwise. If your SEO expert is unwilling to include you in the planning process and won’t tell you how they’re going to improve your SEO, you should take action immediately. Chances are, they’re using unethical (or 'black-hat') techniques and the consequences could include your SEO falling sooner rather than later, or delisting, directly affecting your practice. If you're looking to hire an SEO company, make sure they are open to communication and provide references you can look into. Ask them for previous examples of their work and speak to their references on how they handled communicating their strategies. If you're currently working with an SEO provider, request timely updates or reports so you can monitor your practice's progress. Ask them to explain clearly the methods they're currently implementing.

  5. "We Know Google’s Algorithm"

  6. Any company or SEO expert that claims to know how Google's algorithm works is lying. Google's algorithm is private intellectual property and changes often enough for anyone to know it in its entirety. Even employees at Google's search department do not know how more than certain parts of the algorithm works, so it's impossible for an outsider to be privy to that information. Most likely, this is just a deceptive sales pitch to get your business. The best way to find out what works and does not work for search engine optimization is following Google's accepted guidelines as well as experimental changes refined over time. So, it's important to ask a potential company about previous experience and case studies. If you hear this claim or read it in a cold email, do not even consider them.

  7. "We'll Link Your Site on Hundreds of Websites"

  8. This is likely a 'black-hat', or unethical, technique where a company links your site indiscriminately on other websites and forums in order to trick Google's robots. Inbound links are great for building your SEO but Google will know almost immediately when those links are irrelevant and spam, and penalize your site for it. It's best to create meaningful and relevant content specifically curated for your target audience that they will be encouraged to share. It will also help to have your own active social media pages where you can link your content. So it's important to ask your current SEO expert or potential SEO company what technical as well as customized strategies they use to increase traffic to your website. Be sure to also ask them how they would use inbound and outbound links to improve your site.

    Read More: The Importance of Content-Based Marketing.

  9. "We Offer Free Trials"

  10. Never give your website's access information to anyone you do not trust, particularly someone offering a supposed free trial for their SEO services. SEO optimization and its results take time to develop, they cannot be curated overnight. So if an offer sounds too good to be true in terms of results or price, it probably is and you should do further research into the company before deciding to hire them.

Finding the right SEO expert for your business or practice sounds like a daunting task. However, with the right amount of research and awareness you can equip yourself with sufficient knowledge to hire the best one for your needs. If you're looking for experienced and professional SEO managers, contact UpOnline and ask us about our search engine optimization services.