Avoiding an SEO Scam
When buying SEO services, it’s easy to flush money down the toilet.
Not because “SEO doesn’t work” or because your business sucks, but because it is VERY difficult to do right. Many people are falling for scams from overseas vendors, and packages from large SEO companies that get absolutely NO results, but seem cheaper, and less risky than agency services. Here’s why SEO is such a slippery slope for business owners:
- SEO doesn’t generate results for several months.
- It’s expensive if done correctly.
- Most people – even techies, web designers, programmers, and marketers – don’t understand it.
- It’s possible to do it wrong or rank for keywords that don’t convert into paying customers. (This article was risky on our part because it shows up for scam searches – However, we want you to be fully informed about this service so you don’t lose money in the future).
- There’s no way to guarantee results because your marketing team has no control over Google’s algorithm. The best SEO strategists can gauge how their efforts will impact your business and show you case studies that support their expertise.
Therefore, SEO is the perfect industry to take advantage of unsuspecting business owners.
The Truth Behind SEO Scams
You probably get calls and emails from marketing agencies promising 1st-page rankings.
We get them, and we’re a marketing agency with 1st-page rankings.
Even popular directories are now selling “SEO services” based on the trust they’ve earned from other services, completely unrelated to SEO. These companies have awesome ratings and reviews which lead users to believe they can also fulfill these services, based on the inherent authority bias at work.
However, these services won’t necessarily get you the results you want.
Usually, you’ll be added to a queue of clients that pay $300-1,000 monthly and have an assigned “campaign manager” who they can contact for basic information about the process. It seems trustworthy because they’ll give you a client dashboard, where they report their own analytical data and it’s probably blue/black (subliminally signaling how trustworthy they are) and pretty interactive.
This Means Nothing to Google
It could also be detrimental to your bottom line.
What’s more important are the quality of the links pointing to your website, and the relevance/strength of those links. Your website could look like crap, and your marketing agency could leave you in the dark about what they’re doing – but you still get results.
There is no correlation between how well your campaign is run, and how much you know about what the agency is doing.
Most business owners are experts in their field but confused about the process of SEO. A good marketing agency shouldn’t complicate things for you by sharing all the technical data or daily deliverables.
The resultant link to keyword ratio from these high-volume services is likely to worsen your overall potential scalability with SEO. It will also make it harder to find a good agency that’s willing to work with you for a decent price because your new agency will have to undo a lot of work before they can make real progress with your campaign. Eventually, if you pay for these cheap SEO services long enough, your website will start to be penalized in Google search.
We see so many websites who have had this experience. Their traffic grows for a short period, and then becomes stagnant for months, in some cases, years.
So it’s easy to get scammed in this industry, and you may never really know how or why.
How to Gauge What’s Working
These cheap SEO services usually get poor results, unfortunately.
They buy links in bulk and throw spaghetti at the wall (although it may seem like they’re working at first, this isn’t always a good sign). Their goal is not to grow your business. They want to sell the service to many new clients each month and keep them on-board long enough to make a profit.
In the industry, we call these churn factories.
They focus on clientele volume, rather than delivery or results.
We’re a small agency, everything is done in-house, and we only accept about 5% of the clients that reach out to us.
We don’t cold call or directly market via ads, newsletters, etc. Our clients find out about us organically, through the content we post or are sent to us via referral.
Quality SEO agencies are picky, and ask you a lot of questions before getting started. They may offer an analysis video or specific documentation upfront that details what your business needs, specifically. They’ll analyze competitors and develop a custom strategy for you. They won’t promise you the world and will make the timeframe for results clear upfront.
This sets proper expectations and makes sure both parties are on the same page. The agency must do this, not only to comfort you but to protect the reputation of the agency. No agency with under 100 clients can afford the number of negative reviews these churn factories get. However, churn factories can afford negative reviews when they’re selling hundreds, maybe thousands, of products and services each month.
Imagine an Amazon listing with 10 reviews, a single 1-star review is going to tank their conversion. If a product has 2,000 reviews, 10-20 1-star reviews won’t hurt them that much.
The SEO Scammer Archetype
Scammers come from all over the world, even in the US, and will approach you SEO from all angles.
The best way to find a quality SEO agency is to do some in-depth research and learn the industry lingo, prior to requesting a quote.
This will help you filter out the novices from the experts early on.
If they get enough information about your business, budget, and mindset – they will get inside your head. They have trained salespeople who have sold a high-volume of the service, that will seduce you into their sales funnel.
I appreciate the entrepreneurship, these business models are highly profitable.
However, they’ve earned a bad reputation for the SEO industry!
They provide really crappy links, for insanely low prices, and this may actually generate results in the short run. That’s doubly bad because clients are conditioned to expect cheaper prices and faster results. It’s completely changed the barrier to entry in this industry as well.
I can see how business owners who aren’t tech savvy fall for this.
However, in the long-run, online success is highly unlikely without true search engine optimization experts fighting for you through the trenches.
Why SEO is Worth a Shot
Does this sound familiar?
“Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is missing a few factors, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post…”
How about this?
“This solicitation is to inform you that it’s time to send in your search engine registration for yourwebsite.com. Failure to complete this order by [[insert date 3 days away]] may result in the cancellation of this offer (making it difficult for your customers to locate you, using search engines on the web.”
Oh really, cancellation of this offer makes it harder for customers to find me???
Unfortunately, business owners fall for these kinds of things all the time. Read this article to find out why…
Here’s the simple answer to why SEO is worth a shot: it works.
It is possible to achieve 3-10x ROI with SEO, and we know because we’ve done that for clients.
How to Choose the Right Agency
When vetting an agency, ask yourself:
- Do other authorities in the industry mention/refer them?
- How long have they been in business?
- How did I meet them (did they contact me, or did I reach out to them)?
- Have they offered me anything personally? (a video analysis, site audit, etc.)
As consumers, we’re all subject to our own biases and beliefs.
This limits our ability to think clearly when we’re dealing with marketers. Marketers are experts in the art of selling.
A person may look like us, but that doesn’t make them trustworthy.
They may have a great smile, but that doesn’t make them knowledgable.
They may make incredible promises and offer a refund if we’re unsatisfied, that doesn’t mean those promises are as strait-forward as they seem.
A successful SEO campaign will benefit your business more than you can imagine, more than any other marketing strategy has promoted business growth in the past. The internet is a powerful weapon. It can be used for both good and evil.
SEO takes time, investment, skill, and most importantly, trust. When vetting an agency, discernment is crucial. Try not to pay attention to the high price tag, or year-long commitment, but the individual’s loyalty, legitimacy, expertise, and commitment to understanding the nature of your business and customers. These values will go a long way. If you’d like a custom neuromarketing strategy from us, send us a message. We’ll be in touch within 24 hours.