Frightening, Nah, Not If You Know What To Look For!
SEO Scams - Really!!
I apologise in advance for a post with shades of negativity although written with positive intentions!
Scams, as you know already, exist all over the internet (and off it).
The world of SEO has its fair share. If you own a website you might already have experienced one or more of the following SEO based scams!
So, here are perhaps the top 8 SEO scams outlined so you can recognise them.
1. Link Building or Guest Posting Ideas for Digital Authority!
As you probably know, if you get a link from another “high Digital Authority" (high DA)” website it's expected to increase your website’s Domain Authority, giving you the hope that your site will make SEO progress. I'm regularly contacted by someone attempting to sell me high domain authority links.
But, Google spokesmen, John Muller and Gary Illyes both state that Google doesn't use Domain Authority in its ranking algorithm (DA was invented by Moz apparently. In fact, they say that Google doesn’t use anything at all similar to domain authority for ranking.
Google does use a page-level authority called PageRank but the details are no longer available to the outside world so organisations showing page-level authority numbers are now basing them on educated guesswork.
They might be helpful but you can't rely on their accuracy.
In general, though, Google has made it obvious over some years that they do not approve of paid-for links.
2. Take the Link Bait
This is very similar to the link selling from point 1.
In this case, the scammer tries to attract the link builders into buying a link by making it look as if a competitor is also buying links. That's the bait.
It doesn’t matter how a competitor is behaving. Copying them neither makes the behaviour right nor does it stop your site from suffering as a result. This practice should be avoided at all costs.
If Google catches you, they can just throw your website out of the index! They say that if your content can't attract legitimate links then it doesn’t belong on a website.
3. Offering Guest Posts for Your Website
A writer, just trying to get a start in the business will happily write original content for your site that they can then add to their portfolio while they try to get some paid work.
Some are totally genuine... but be careful...
A friendly offering can turn into a scam when the so-called "writer" embeds a link in the delivered post, to another site that has nothing to do with your business or perhaps asks to make a few of the words into a link.
So the scammer makes your website part of their own "private blog network" (PBN)! PBNs are mostly frowned upon, Google tends to ignore them for a while until they can't any longer. Often the scammer has sold that link, thereby putting you in violation of Google’s terms and conditions.
Some posts may include links that are relevant to the article and your business, but again, be wary of falling foul of paid links.
4. Rankings Guaranteed
There are indeed legitimate SEO firms out there who provide a money-back guarantee for their work. If you use them, make sure you agree with the goals set for achieving the guarantee.
The less than legitimate SEO expert contacts you and offers to do some work on your website by making a few changes. A few months later, they’ll show you a report for a web page from your site in the number one position perhaps for one or even more keywords.
The “guaranteed rankings” will be for keywords relevant to your business, but that, unfortunately, have little or no value. Anyone who has followed the WA training on keywords will understand this.
The scammer will have done just enough keyword research to find a collection of relevant, low-competition (but low traffic volume) targets that give the false appearance of success from ranking. Effectively, they'll set you up with the lowest hanging fruit possible that will rank easily.
So your site ends up ranking for a wonderful set of useless keywords and you’ve paid for that privilege!
In addition, it's possible that the link building tactics or other efforts used to help your site rank quickly, for a bunch of useless keywords could get your entire site kicked out of Google’s index.
5. I'm A Google Partner
Some SEO firms have been known to claim that they are a Google Partner" or similar. The idea is usually introduced kind of unofficially when offering to provide help of various (ok... scammy) sorts. .
Be aware that Google doesn’t operate a partner program for SEO. They do run a certification program for Google Analytics, Google Ads, and a few other programs.
There isn't anything for search engine optimization.
They are basically claiming a false endorsement from Google.
Whether they're capable of real SEO work or not, if they’re willing to at best mislead people, at worst con people with a false Google badge, then they should be treated with care.
6. Let Me Help You Submit Your Site To The Search Engine
An SEO expert may claim they have access to proprietary software or some other methodology that allows them to position your site at the front of the Google ranking line.
In practice, Google and other popular search engines index new pages from websites by crawling links often discovered during the indexing of other webpages.
Therefore, you really don’t need to submit web pages to Google. Be patient and the search engine will find you when they are good and ready, and no external service can boost your position in the line.
"Paying good money for old rope" comes to mind.
You can of course submit your new page or post to Google for free using the Google Search Console (GSC). Also, you can re-submit your site map when you do updates.
Avoid any "expert" offering a method for getting you to rank faster.
7. “Your Website Isn’t Ranking for…”
I regularly get spam messages through my contact form informing me that "they" have taken a look at my site and noticed it is not showing up on Google for various "important" keywords that they think I should be ranking for. This scam plays on the "fear of missing out" (FOMO) which gets everywhere!
Of course, they never tell you which keywords they're talking about.
That’s because they've sent a mass spam message so they neither know your site nor do they care who you are until you reply.
So, if you're not careful, you hire an SEO firm that uses scare tactics to obtain new customers. Whether they are able to provide honest SEO services or not, I wouldn't want to spend my money with a company that uses such methods.
8. “Your Listing is About to Expire On Google…”
This one's not for you or me of course; we know better. The thing is that most people have no idea how Google works. So when they receive an automated call telling them that their "listing is about to expire" some will believe it and follow up.
The scam simply takes advantage of people's lack of knowledge in the most sleazy way.
Google doesn’t have “listings” that run out. No, really, they don't.
So somebody, in ignorance, pays for something they just didn’t need when there's no threat of their website “expiring” on Google.
During my shortish time in digital marketing, I’ve spotted a few scams in the SEO world. Fortunately, I haven't succumbed to any... yet.
Although I've seen a few come in via my website's contact form, most scams arrive in our inbox through mass email campaigns and are easily spotted with a little awareness and care.
If in doubt, ask for advice and be careful. Stay safe!
Please tell me what you think. Are you aware of SEO Scams that I haven't listed?... please share.