[Updated 9th July 2016]
SEO is not a mystery. It is about the technical setup and winning an arms race with your competitors, with quality content and engagement across your website and social channels. All the while trying not to upsetting Google.
Poor performance in search rankings normally starts at poor website hosting, Poor Website configuration and lastly your attracting the wrong traffic by marketing your content to the wrong segment or users don't like what they find. These areas should always be addressed first before moving onto any marketing. If you are desperately in need of new customers now! then look at Adwords as a short term solution, while you sort out these issues...ideally the above should be sorted out before you do anything.
However I often still hear from potential clients claiming that their brand new website ,in the most competitive market, will easily rank #1 (whatever that means) Because an unknown, but very nice and friendly SEO company promises it will for just $89 per month. Never mind that their competitor is spending $4 million a year on creating their ranking and building market share. For just $89 they will simply slip past that 4 million budget and that stupid big marketing team.
I/Mebsites for a long time we didn't make any claims about our SEO skills or techniques in Social Media used for clients and ourselves. However after a string of clients hired out right scammers because they weren't aware of our SEO/SEM/PPC abilities we officially claim to be stewards of SEO - Social Media - Marketing knowledge. Our SEO style is the same as our coding; straight forward, pragmatic, sensible and transparent, with a lot of testing and measuring. In contrast here are some of my most hated scams.
To follow are some of my pet have SEO scams.
X number of Top Ten Rankings Guaranteed
Firstly by who's measuring stick are we using to test the results? What does having a top result even mean anyway. Will it increase profit? Well being number one doesn't automatically mean increased sales, though it can upset your competitors which is sometimes worthwhile in its self, but that's not what the business goal should be. Always a business should look to increase profit and market share. If you want to come up first use Goole Adwords short term while you create a real online presence.
Here is why this is an SEO scam:
First off no body can Guarantee you a ranking unless you can guarantee them an endless supply of money. Even then it may not be possible. Secondly you likely have a few number one rankings already, for example your website address or company name or even you and your company name can give you top ranking, because there is likely not another company with the same name operating in the same area and line of business. Ergo, you have no competition so you come up first in a one person race. Similarly, if you find something obscure and specific enough you'll find an easy ranking.
Often what these scammers actually do is just look for the things you already rank well for, then point them out to you. Great job them! This is often easy to fudge because you haven't been tracking yourself in Google or understand the results.
As a business owner what you actually want is profitable traffic, profitable followers who convert. Ranking and number of followers may have little to do with this. One of my younger employees said to me a few years back '...how the hell do we get so much business?....we don't even rank top 100...'. So what was my secret? I knew we provided some very specific services that other website developers did not. I made sure these services where featured correctly on our site. Also put and engaged with people who might need those types of services. So when someone who wanted that specific service, searched for it, there we were. I new we couldn't compete for sometime for the generic search terms, as we didn't have the content or the engagement, as we were still quite young. I focused on the niche markets that paid!. This is slightly different from focusing on the niche search terms that rank easily.
This is not what you are being sold though!
2)We'll register you to thousands of search engines
Why? I don't even think this ever worked. Let alone now there is really only one search that matters and thats Google. The other 2-3 you won't even miss if you ignore them.
What actually happens is your website gets marked as having a guilible owner and now you will get inbox crippling spammer until the end of time.
3) 500 Directory Links for $99
Most directory services are dead! When was the last time you used Yellow pages...lol
There are some services that can benefit you though. However the ranking benefit will be secondary to the actual service they provide. For example WOMO.com.au is becoming a popular way of vetting online services for customers. Consequently due to its size, but limited number of listings for most industries there is some small ranking benefit, but the real benefit comes from being on there and having good reviews. FYI it is not free because it provides real value.
Ever heard the saying there are no free lunches! Sometimes being on the wrong directory can become an expensive lunch you just got stuck with. Some directories can negativily effect you, especially if Google knows they are just a dumping ground. You'll be better off without that.
Having good content will bring the back links to you anyway.
1st Page of Google in 48 Hours
This scam preys on those in a hurry – they’ve got a website, the sales are not coming in and they’re hoping to hire an “expert” to get them visible in search engines quickly.
Why this is a scam:
Anybody (yes, anybody) can get to the 1st page of Google almost instantaneously, and you don’t need to hire someone to do it.
You can pay for top placements all you want – that will make Google very happy. Consistent and qualified traffic streams and a positive ROI are another story.
I want to rank No.1, no problem how much money do you have
5) We have an inside man at Google
The is fun, no company the size of Google will have some willing or in possesion of the power to be helping people out for any sum of money.
Not to mention you don't need inside knownledge. Google make all the information you need public every year and make other important annoucements when things change. This scam is similar to the stock exchange, FX trading scams and gambling that pop up.
6) Our methods are a trade secret – we can’t tell you what we’re doing
This is one I hear the most around the Coast, Sydney and Melborne. Also it is one I here from potential employees for SEO. When asked to explain their methods you'll get a bunch of fluffy talk, anecdotes and vagness reminiscent of a politician.
If they can't tell you what they are doing and how they can varify it. They are not doing anything. For me a website should be able to be bench marked through assessment. A plan of attack made in plan english. Plan needs to be excuted and results tested and measured then refined as needed.
Some clients spend upwards of a $100,000 a month. Do you think for one second they don't question how that money is being spent? It's no different for your $100, $500 or $1000
7) We have analysed Googles Algorithm
And? ... Not even Googles elite know whats going on here Even if they did the algorithm changes several times a week so the information is useless with SEO having a lag time up to 3 months and longer in some cases.
8) We just need to install this code
Congratulations you are the owner of a malware or botware laiden website that you paid for. Consequently if you hear this run!
The Phone or email SEO enquiry scam
Just ask your self, what is the purpose of SEO? To bring traffic to your website upon search enquiry. If your SEO expert just called or emailed you, you just might want to think why he needs too do this.
What I find amazing in the Website and SEO busines is the stunning amount of experts who promise the world take your money, then seem to just shrug there shoulders and move on without a care. Sometimes even using you as a references, even though they left your SEO in a smouldering heap of blocking!