Getting Burned: The Story Behind Some SEO Scams
Scams are everywhere. They lurk in every field of endeavor and within all populations and demographics. Dating back to the 19th century and that famous phrase that Barnum is credited with but swore he never said, there’s a sucker born every minute, this premise still applies in the modern world even though most people would like to believe that it couldn’t happen to them.
It is amazing that some of the oldest and most outrageous Search Engine Optimization (SEO) scams still manage to wreak havoc among innocent people trying to make a decent living. The problem is that time is on the side of the thief/scammer because SEO results greatly fluctuate and it takes a while for Google to detect and analyze black hat tactics. You end up penalized with a bad reputation and footing the cleanup bill to boot!
There are some red flags indicated below that may help avoid common pitfalls and possible financial disaster.
• One important rule of thumb is to remember that no one (not even God) can guarantee rankings on any one website. Stay away from those who promise: Top Ten Rankings Guaranteed. Rankings are not the goal of a website anyway, and any website owner worth his or her salt must consider it as a means to an end (leads/sales, etc).
• Along the same lines, avoid any company or person that tells you they either know someone at Google or have a special relationship with someone who works at Google. You need to know that Google has no partners in the world of SEO. Any such illicit liaison could result in the loss of a job for any Google employee. Therefore, any company that tells you this has a nose long enough to reach the ground.
• Stay away from any organization that promises submission to ”thousands of search engines.” There aren’t thousands, my friends. There are only about four; Google, Yahoo, MSN/Bing and AOL account for more than 90% of the search engine market and they are the ones that count.
This scam really stings because these so-called “search engines” are really centers for all kinds of SPAM. The thieves behind it add insult to injury by bombarding you with unwanted emails until the day you die (and maybe even afterwards).
• Link building is a stony but worthwhile path to web success. There are no shortcuts. When you see an ad that reads: 500 Directory Links for $49.95, your senses should go on high alert. Remember this: the cheaper the link, the less potential it has to take you anywhere at all.
• Companies that ask to install a link directory on your website for a low upfront price should be avoided like the plague. Even if they are not deliberate scammers, their offering indicates that they have no understanding of the mechanics of SEO.
New web entrepreneurs are often in a hurry to see a marked increase in traffic to their sites. This makes many of them vulnerable to the promise that they “can appear on the first page of Google within 48 hours.” The problem here is that virtually anyone who signs up for AdWords, selects a keyword and pays, can get as many top placements as they want. The goal here is distorted; it should be to gain qualified traffic streams and a positive and consistent ROI.
Companies that are vague about what they are offering and don’t tell you how they go about getting the results they claim to offer should not be trusted. These so called “SEO experts” are banking on the fact that new entrepreneurs don’t understand SEO and can be easily fooled. Even if you are not familiar with SEO, by asking them their strategy and demanding they explain it to you step by step, you place them off balance and they most likely will seek another mark.
No legitimate company will ever offer “free SEO trial services.” If in exchange, a request is made for access to your hosting account or any password or user name, run, run and run and run some more. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
That old saying about the best defense being an offense couldn’t be truer in the matter of Internet scams. The more you know about them, the less likely you are to fall prey to them.
Caveat web entrepreneur, caveat indeed.