Talk Is Cheap: How To Avoid SEO Scams

Posted on January 5, 2013 by Nikhil P Naik

If your business wants to compete online, SEO will be an inevitable part of your strategy. It’s simply unavoidable and when done right, your business can see profitable results. However, the Internet is full of scammers and spammers that will tell you just about anything to get your money.

SEO is a legitimate business with strategies that can pay off and yield real results, but that doesn’t mean every SEO firm is worth its salt. Don’t be fooled by big promises and unbelievably low rates. Below are the five most common SEO scams that you’ll come across when searching for a reputable firm to market your business effectively and ethically.

SEO Scams

Fast Turn Around Times

Any SEO “guru” that promises you an influx of qualified leads or top rankings in no time at all is just buttering you up. There are some SEO strategies that can act quickly, but effective SEO can take months, even years to firmly market your website…and it doesn’t stop there either. If you’re hearing promises of just a few days to top rankings and that’s all the SEO your website will need, show them the door. Legitimate SEO requires constant attention and patience. The only way you can see fast results is through Pay-Per-Click campaigns, like Google AdWords.

Lofty Guarantees

A real SEO expert won’t guarantee you fixed page one rankings or beating out top name businesses for highly competitive keywords. These are wonderful things to hear and might eventually be accomplished, but nothing is a sure bet when it comes to SEO. Search algorithms are constantly changing, marketing trends come and go, and keywords are always being challenged. But if never hearing a guarantee scares you, don’t worry. A respectable SEO firm will talk to you about your goals and what kinds of results you’d like to see from SEO, and then they’ll give you a strategy to get there. But a guarantee that sounds too good to be true? It probably is.

SEO Tools

Any SEO company that tells you what tools you have to buy or any SEO software that you come across is most likely a scam. SEO firms do use various tools to determine keyword rankings and site health, but they use them in-house and run the reports for you. There doesn’t seem to be much sense in hiring a firm that tells you what to buy. Also, SEO software that claims it will submit your website to thousands of directories and search engines might actually do what it claims to do, but you won’t see much results come across. SEO is about quality content, building trusted networks, and updating constantly. Any tool or software that is a “one-and-done” deal won’t give your website the chops it needs to succeed.

ethical blog

Unethical Links

Link building is a well-known and highly effective SEO strategy. It connects your website with other quality websites and can cumulatively raises rankings. The ethical way to go about link building is to offer something to another website in exchange for a link back to your website. Something like writing a quality blog post for another website or becoming a moderator on a relevant forum are all great ways to link build. Unethical and “spammy” link building methods constitute of plaguing unrelated blogs (or even related blogs!) with comments that link back to your website. It’s also unethical to set up another website and just link back and forth between the two web properties. Google sees these methods as spam and it can cause your rankings to plummet immediately. Be sure to ask your SEO about their link building strategies before you hire them on.

Cheap, Outsourced Labor

While not every foreign SEO firm is bad news, you should be very careful when hiring an outsourced company. Their prices might be significantly cheaper, but you will undoubtedly get what you pay for. Not only can they be difficult to contact, but they’re methods might be spammy and ineffective and they can do serious damage before you ever get them on the phone. Also, beware of companies that will outsource certain aspects of SEO to foreign companies. For instance, an SEO firm that doesn’t do it’s own content creating can almost never guarantee the quality of the writing that will come back to them, nor do they usually care about it. Find an SEO firm that performs all services in-house and can vouch for every element that implement.

SEO can be a time consuming and complex process, so it’s natural for many companies to turn to SEO firms that specialize in improving rankings. But make sure your SEO firm isn’t just telling you want to hear. Take a little time to research ethical, or “white hat,” SEO strategies and be prepared when interviewing an SEO. After all, you are putting your company’s online reputation in someone else’s hands. But don’t be scared that all SEO firms are working against you. A company that is willing to meet your company’s marketing goals through consistent hard work and search algorithm compliance is usually a safe and reliable bet.

About the Author: Pete Wise is the SEO Manager for Network Affiliates; which has been an ad agency for lawyers and doctors since the dawn of the internet. We were the first in the space, and have a full production studio, full digital agency, and media buyers and planners under one roof. Give us a call if you want the best legal marketing agency on your side. Check us out on Twitter: @Netaff

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About Nikhil P Naik

Nikhil Naik has a Master's Degree in Information Systems, and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. He also loves playing cricket, listening to music, and traveling. Twitter Handle - @buzz_nikhil.

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