Be Alert to SEO spam and scams
You know how you feel when you hear about other carpet cleaners using "bait & switch" tactics and other misleading marketing, basically, to steal customers.
Well, I think I know how you feel EVERY TIME I receive unsolicited emails from friendly-sounding, self-described SEO experts like Neha, Carla, Abbie, Ava, Adeep, and Lilly (literally the last six I received).
Sometimes they even send their message through the contact form on my website, and that really gets my goat. I created that form for you, my clients, and business prospects to use, not for unsolicited spam. Has this happened to you?
Below are the subject lines of these messages. Do they sound familiar?
- Google top ranking
- Re: Ranking Report
- Re: Business Growth Plan!!
- Best Traffic Your Website (Guaranteed!)
- Re: SEO Service Proposal
- SEO Services (Low Cost)
Then, they EACH go on to say something like the following:
Note the last one didn't tell you how many businesses they failed to help.
My clients regularly get these emails too, and sometimes they ask me if they are worth looking into.
As a smart businessperson, you are acutely aware of the importance of search engine optimization (SEO), and you're very interested in being ranked high in Google to boost your web traffic and then turn those visitors into customers.
But these emails are scammy, generated in bulk and sent to thousands of business owners.
Aside from the broken English, it looks like they all attended the same seminar, because they all use very common marketing tactics that are not honest and straight forward.
First of all, some use "Re:" in the subject line which makes it look like you've already replied or responded to them. This tactic makes it more likely that people will click to open the email. That's smarmy.
But most importantly — they obviously did not "go through your website and find issues." Their messages may range from grammatically ridiculous broken English to personalized and legitimate-sounding. But in reality, it is almost certain that no human being has spent a single second analyzing your website.
How do I know?
Because they don't say anything specific about your business or your website. It's often all generic.
Now, if they said, "The description meta tag on your Upholstery Cleaning webpage is missing" — that is specific, and maybe this is a legitimate offer. But if it's true, then your webmaster can probably fix that issue in 5 minutes for free.
You may have noticed that in one of my samples above, the spammer actually included something specific — "www.murphymagic.com". Though you may have received a personalized email with your name and website address, the message(s) most likely arrived at your inbox through the magic of software automation.
The software systems used by the scammers simply use publicly available data to generate large lists of websites, website owners, and contact emails. Then they add the boilerplate text and send out the mass emailings. Alternatively, perhaps your contact info was on a list purchased by the spammer. In massive mailings like these, even a tiny conversion rate can yield big leads.
So, if you receive an SEO marketing message which contains your name, business name, website address, or email address, then they still did not "go through your website and find issues." Ignore it. Delete it.
If you were to take the bait and contact the sender, you will usually be sold to some other unidentified massive SEO "factory" that will quickly analyze your site and then try to sell you a short-term contract for half-baked SEO tactics that build zero long-term value.
Short-term, Half-baked SEO tactics?
Nobody — not even the best, most-honest SEO professionals in the world — has any power over Google's rankings. Every legitimate SEO simply follows a checklist of tasks.
Recently on Mikey's Board, there was a fancy SEO flowchart circulating the forums which illustrated a fairly complete list of SEO tasks. It's pretty good! Below is a little thumbnail picture of this flowchart:
But let me tell you a few things about the items on the chart:
- About half the items are losing importance
- About half the items are gaining importance
- A few of the items aren't important at all anymore
- This chart looked quite different 5 years ago
- This chart will look quite different in 5 years
- Many items are not relevant to carpet cleaners — at all
- Some tasks are very easy to do
- Some tasks are quite difficult and time-consuming
- Some items you could do yourself in a few minutes
- Some items, only your webmaster can do them.
- You could totally neglect some of the important items — yes, the important items — on this chart, and still rank #1 in Google search results, depending on the competition in your area.
Now, back to the spammy emails....
Many of the spammy SEO emails list a few of the easiest items on the SEO flowchart, and call them "your issues", which makes them sound credible if you don't understand how SEO works.
As a sample of some that I've seen,
these spammers will tell you that on your website, the items below are "not optimized":
Does it sound technical and impressive? It's not. This stuff is SEO 101 — the easy stuff. And if you take their bait, they will typically charge you $200-300 a month on a short-term contract. You may even see a bump in rankings, but that bump will almost certainly fall again, because they didn't invest in the difficult solid SEO work on the flowchart — User Experience, Writing Articles, City Landing Pages, Customer Review Management, etc.
This short list of easy SEO tasks actually worked pretty well 5 years ago. But these tactics, including getting large numbers of LINKS to your website, are losing value every year. Google has gotten a lot smarter in the last few years. Google knows that terrible websites can just buy 100s of links for cheap. So, Google is no longer impressed by large numbers of links.
In other words, by applying everything on the short checklist, and buying hundreds of links, SEOs used to be able "game the system" and fool Google into ranking terrible websites higher. Not anymore, thankfully.
In 2019, an SEO professional has to do the hard work of actually improving and growing your website. It's part art, and part science.
For more information on my professional SEO strategy — specifically for carpet cleaners — please read my article: My SEO Strategy for Carpet Cleaners in 2019 - 2020. I go into some detail about my SEO Checklist vs the other's — and why I'm more effective, more efficient, AND far less expensive than the others.
I really want to demystify this whole SEO thing for my clients.Home