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5 SEO Scams in a Sea of Scumbags

Written by David Harry   
Thursday, 08 October 2009 13:01

(by Brian Harnish)

It has become common throughout the SEO industry to find more and more head-shaking scams full of false promises.  Not all SEO companies will scam you, but there are quite a few out there, that you will want to keep an eye out for when you’re looking for SEO suppliers (or even outsourcing partners).

On a personal level, the majority of these scammers also give SEO a bad name, it’s no wonder that SEO is sometimes referred to as a snake oil laden industry.  Anyway, before I get too worked up, let’s move on to the scams;

SEO Scam #1

Or any variation of the above c-r-a-p.

The fact of the matter is, this is NOT true.  Google does not currently sponsor any work-from-home programs.  They do not hire people to work from home, and they do not offer money to people looking to make a quick buck.  Google is like any other company out there.  You have a hiring process – you have a background check – you have to work in an office. 

The unfortunate thing is that these scammers are banking on the bad economy.  They don’t have any remorse or care about the individual they’re hurting.  Quite simply, these scammers are banking on the economy and people’s desperation to quit working and become their own boss.  The problem with that is that building a business takes years. 

The one thing these people are counting on is your ignorance – that you don’t know that Google as a company doesn’t do that.  Well, take it from me as a professional in the SEO industry – they do not.  These lame advertisers are banking on the Google affiliation, and the fact that you’ll open your wallet without thinking to purchase the latest, greatest get rich quick scheme.

SEO, however, is NOT get rich quick.  True SEO requires hard work, dedication, talent, and a temperament to deal with hours upon hours of content writing, link building, and other technical work that goes into gaining higher rankings.

Guaranteed Rankings

Or some other ridiculous position within a ridiculous time frame

Sorry.  You can’t get to #1 in organic Google rankings within 24 hours, (or certainly not for any terms worth having).  Quality #1 rankings take time and consistent effort.  You have to build links, you have to write content, you have to build relationships with those in your community, and you have to become an authority figure to both Google and your potential clients/consumers. 

Plus, different markets take differing amounts of effort and time.  A market with only a 100,000 quantity saturation of web sites will take far less time than a market that has a 4,000,000 quantity saturation of web sites!  For the latter, you’ll need more content, more links, and a bigger site!

Unless the person stating this works for Google, there’s no way for them to know exactly what an algorithm that was developed by a third party company is going to do to particular modifications on a web site.  There are certainly specific parameters in place that we know of to help increase rankings – but there’s no way to guarantee X number of rankings in Y amount of time.

Next - Pay per click for $80/mo or the infamous

Google Adwords ain't SEO

Definitely not gonna’ happen.  These programs, if you read the fine print, are pay per click programs being marketed as search engine optimization services

What happens is that they can get away with paying $80/mo for some rinky-dink keyword like “Orange County’s Crab Shack and Lobster House” or “The Best Possible agent of all time in DevereauxCounty.”  They pay a very small amount of the $80 charge for the keyword position/clicks banking on the fact that no one is going to click on that keyword. 

Then if it gets a couple of clicks, oh well.  That won’t dip into the $80 much.

Flat rate pay per click services are never a good idea.  They’re cumbersome, typically run by those that are not well versed with pay per click, and will deliver few if any results.  Stay far away from this one.

SEO Scam 4

The above quote is from an email that was sent to one of my clients.  They were soliciting the client for SEO services (hopefully that is obvious).  The problems with this statement are the terms “mathematical balance” and “any search engine algorithm”.  It’s a fancy-spam-speak way of saying keyword density

In my experience, there is no such thing as a favorable keyword density. 

If you riddle your content with repetitions of keywords in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings without taking into account how natural your content appears, you risk your content appearing as spam to the engines.  It’s only a matter of time before your site gets penalized as a result.

Last, but not least, anyone that promises ...

Shady SEO providers

This is probably one of the biggest scams being perpetuated in the SEO industry today.  There is no way that ANY marketing campaign will ever return the results that you expect and want in the amount of time that you want.  Anyone that makes such a blanket statement doesn’t know what they’re talking about, may be a salesperson that doesn’t know a lot about marketing, and/or a company that wants to sucker you in to their “deal of the week.”

No SEO/marketing program provides instant, get-rich-quick results.  If you’re looking for a get rich quick scheme for your site, you’re in the wrong place and you should play the lottery instead.  However, if you want a great, long-term way to build a viable business online, then SEO is the best place for you to be!

And what is YOUR favorite SEO scam? Drop it in the comments and we can let the world know what to watch for (and maybe help SEO’s image while we’re at it).

Brian Harnish

About the Author; Brian Harnish is a website marketing specialist with Advanced Access. You can catch up with Brian on Twitter or check out his blog; Prolific SEO. I’ve known Brian for just under a year now, he’s a good guy and def SOSG – thanks for dropping in B!



0 # Matt Saunders 2009-10-08 13:25
these scams exist because people keep falling for it. the a fundamental lack of even basic understanding that make people buy into them. Scam #4 for example could be EASILY believe by somebody who knows little about search engines.
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0 # Dudibob 2009-10-08 13:40
No amount of security can protect from human error
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0 # David Fairhurst 2009-10-08 13:56
I'd totally agree with you - the SEO industry is now bursting at the seams with unsavoury types trying to con hard working people... we see it every day with our clients!
There are many SEO scams out there to catch the unwary, unfortunately a lot of website owners don't fall into the technically/worldly wise category so they keep falling for it and the only thing that responsible SEO's can do is expose these fraudsters for what they are, so I applaude you for this article. @LisaDMyers recently exposed some so called SEO firm trying to sell Google local business listings... another one for your list perhaps?!
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0 # Fred Black 2009-10-08 13:59
Good points. It's a confusing area, so people will beleive the techno sounding crap instead of trying to learn what they need to know. You're correct that there are a lot of scams out there for SEO. Before I learned what really works, I fell for a few and paid a monthly subscription to watch my rankings sink like a rock!
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0 # Justin Parks 2009-10-08 14:51
Even though SEO gets a bashing its not the only part of the internet industry that gets slammed, though SEO is continually associated wit hscams, rightly or wrongly. My colleague Craig Edmonds posted this the other day which explains a domain name appraisal scam currently doing the rounds.

While not targetted at SEO directly it still implaies that there is value in the doamin anme for potential SEO purposes, otherwise what value could it have.

Take this on top of general spam selling viagra, dodgy hosting companies, phishing scams, credit card fraud and a bunch more and is it any wonder that lots of folks are shit scared of any thing internet.

The kicker is that when a legitimate company comes along and says "this costs X" people clam up because inadvertently these scams have some how made them think that the service, process or product should be as cheap as or even free!

Makes me mad.
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0 # Foot In Mouth 2009-10-08 15:12
Fantastic post Bri-man,

I love the one about the page being mathematically out of line with the algorithms... I just hate that people wind up clients with gobldy-gook quasi seo talk and get away with it.
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0 # Fred Munoa 2009-10-08 18:37
Totally agree with this post, but you forgot our Indian link building friends. I get ton of emails like that every day. The funny part of it, is that the amount of scam emails I receive is directly proportional to how close you get to the top of Google rankings.

Great Post.
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0 # Ian Lockwood 2009-10-09 13:05
Yep, I see most of these most months! I wrote about one email a client of mine received a couple of months ago:

Scare tactics. Not welcome, they just waste my time explaining to the client what a load of hokum it is!
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0 # Allan 2009-10-19 13:03
Are there really companies who promise a #1 spot in 24 hours? I have not heard of that. I think there should be more post and awareness campaign for something like this.
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0 # Ari Manes 2009-11-03 05:56
It is my personal opinion based on my experience that a person must know what to look for in an SEO company before they research what SEO really is!

I documented on 2 websites my collective experiences with an seo company and with my seo research...I feel a person could benefit from taking a look (if you want to see what an seo scam looks like)....the sites are: and also
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0 # NJ Hypnotist James M 2011-10-27 12:39
I have a few web sites and hardly a day goes by when I don't receive some sort of SEO related spam. As the author of the Little Book of Scams: Swindling for Fun and Profit, fortunately I haven't fallen for any of these con games. Although the psychological tactics they use are "time honored" the web provides ease and anonymity, which is making it so widespread. 8)
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