Avoiding SEO Scams
In the past few weeks, several clients asked me about some unsolicited emails they received related to website promotion. Like any service solicited to you via email:
If it comes over email, and you didn’t ask for it or subscribe to it, chances are it is at best worthless, and at worse a scam. Always seek out your own services, never be tempted by those emailed to you. If the service is really that good, it will not need to use SPAM to promote itself.
Examples of subjects for these spam emails:
- “We’d like to cross link to your website”
- “We guarantee top 5 listings….”
- “We can send you 50,000 visitors next week”
- “Your site is not listed on the search engines”
- “www.yourcompetitor.com has you beat.”
Many of my clients ask me “What the heck, it’s only $___, why not give it a try and see what happens.”
To that, I say:
1. If any of these services use prohibited methods of improving your ratings, the search engines will blacklist YOUR SITE. Sometimes you’ll get a warning, but usually not. The appeal process sometimes works, but you can easily sink days into getting removed from a blacklist – and then you must start your promotion from ground floor.
2. The traffic many of these services send you is fake. It may show up as visits on your website, but the way these are generated is by using spyware/adware and/or automated click systems. In other words, the visitor may get a glimpse of your site (counting as a visit)… but they are mad because it’s coming up as a pop-under or pop-up window.
3. Google may count you as a part of the “neighborhood” of sites that use questionable/prohibited techniques to promote your site. While they might not ban you, you will never be able to achieve a solid presence on their search engine due to the impact on your page rank. There is no appeal process for this, nor anyone who can help you get out of this trap. Why? Because you cannot force “problem” sites to stop linking to you.
4. If you can’t resist trying the company out, first at least do a Google search for the firm and look for their mention in forums, discussion groups, and scam sites. Google will allow you to search for sites that “include the term _____”… allowing you to review all mentions of this company on-line. People who have been scammed will often post their experiences and Google can find them.