SEO Scams: 7 Signs That Someone is Trying to Rip You Off

This is a guest post from Josh Garner, a practicing SEO professional. He’ll be sharing some of the things small business owners and the self-employed should be wary of when looking to hire an SEO.

As an Search Engine Optimizer (SEO), my job is to make use of a number of methods in order to help a site rank higher in the search engines (Google, Yahoo!, MSN, etc.).

I’ll save you some of the boring parts, but SEO is a pretty important aspect of any serious business venture with an online component. However, my business is also a pretty strange one.

It requires a lot of experience, research, and patience to effectively get a website to rank highly. Because of this, a lot of what I do is still a mystery, even to clients I’ve had for over a year.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of “SEOs” out there taking advantage of the unknowing site owner, leaving a bad taste in their mouth about what SEO is and how it can help.

With this post, I would like to give you a few signs that someone is trying to rip you off. These are seven signs of SEO scams.

Sign #1. We can rank your site in 48 hours!

Boy, I wish this was possible. It sure would save me a whole lot of time slaving over my computer like a maniac, pouring over search term trends, conversion reports, traffic and ranking reports, etc.

I wouldn’t be spending hours on end modifying and optimizing content until my SEO fingers bleed. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case.

It takes hours to find the right search terms. Depending on the size of a website, it can take days to implement changes.

It takes weeks to see the initial effects. It can take months to get things going in the right direction. If you’re being promised results in a few days, your being offered a money pit and little more.

Sign #2. We sill submit your site to 1,000 Search Engines!

Put aside the fact that I’ve been doing this job for years, and I can only name about 10 search-engines without cheating.

Instead, consider the fact that I haven’t submitted a site (personally or professionally) to a search engine in over three years now. Even the guidelines of the search engines themselves tell you it doesn’t really do anything for you anymore.

The major search engines have also been in this business for years, and they’ve gotten pretty good at finding sites themselves. No need to submit, let alone pay someone to do so.

Sign #3. We will get thousands of links to your site!

This claim is usually paired with an incredible time frame, but the sheer number of links promised alone is beyond amazing. First, it’s not the number of links coming to your site that makes a difference.

It’s the number of QUALITY links. Second, where are all of these links coming from? Probably what’s known as a link farm: a large number of websites set up in order to link one site.

The search engines don’t normally appreciate this practice, and it can lead to penalties. Third, it’s more likely a straight out lie.

Even scammers don’t waste their time with link farms. It takes too much more time to set all that up than it does to just take your money and disappear.

Sign #4. Have your site optimized and promoted for only $71.95 a month!

In my first point, I hinted at the amount of time and work I put into a single website. Not only making the changes, but keeping up with the site’s progress, promoting it through links and thinking of ways to drive traffic to the site.

Consider the countless hours I’ve spent learning what it takes to rank a site. Consider also the returns a proper SEO campaign offers a site. Ranking well for a competitive search term can yield some pretty nice rewards.

Think we would do this for $79.95 a month? Not to sound crass, but I wouldn’t even open my laptop for that much money.

If you’re serious about your site’s success, expect to spend no less than a few thousand dollars, and that’s low end. There are some SEOs that charge $1000 an hour for consulting, and they are worth every penny.

Sign #5. We can’t tell you what we are doing: it’s a trade secret.

Other than a few tid bits you find after years of doing this kind of work, there really isn’t a whole lot of “secret” information. We aren’t paid because we have some incredible secret wrapped up.

We are paid because of the experience we have in dealing with the search engines, and the success we can bring to the site’s table.

If someone makes this claim, they either don’t want you to know how poor the service is, or they have no idea what they are doing.

Sign #6. We know a guy at Google.

I love this one. Mostly because I know a guy at Google. I also know a guy at Nissan, but I still make monthly payments. I know a guy at Sprint, and I still pay a monthly bill. I know a guy…well…you get it.

Think of the search engine ranking factors as the closely guarded secret formula for Coke. You have to get pretty close to the code to have even a clue about what goes into it.

The guys and gals that do know for sure what the factors are also fully understand the legal implications of giving away such secrets to some guy charging you $79.95 a month to rank your site in 48 hours (like how I tied all those into that one?).

Sign #7. We guarantee page 1 rankings!

Nobody can do this. Nobody. In SEO, there are no guarantees on rankings, traffic, or any other measure. Think of SEO like advertising (that’s really all it is, just online).

The best marketing guys don’t guarantee anything either. Neither do doctors or lawyers. You hire these professionals based on the questions you’ve asked them, their past successes, experience, etc. SEO is no different.

Good SEOs are good SEOs because they have spent years learning and testing, and know of the measures most often needed to produce results.

So if anyone guarantees anything, they are only guaranteeing that you will be wasting your hard earned money.


So how do you find a good SEO?

Well, leave some comments on what you think about this post.

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