8 SEO Scams That Won’t Die

imagesWherever there is a knowledge gap between the the service provider and the customer, there is an opportunity to deceive. Look around any market that fits this description – you’ll find dishonesty.

You’ll also find service providers who don’t know what they don’t know, but know more than the client and talk a lot of jargon while the outcomes never quite match up with the hopes and promises. Many of us who make our livings online have come to view certain truths as self-evident. We don’t fall for the classic scams. But many people are just starting to explore the world of online business, coming to grips with the basics and uncertain about what information they can trust. That’s where we all started. And when you’re just getting a grasp on how search engines rank websites, it an be hard to know who to trust and who to ignore. I’m not one to claim that I’ve “seen it all” in SEO, but I’ve seen my share of scams. And it amazes me: they don’t seem to be going away. Some of the oldest and most ridiculous scams are still running. And if they’re still selling that means that there are business owners out there who don’t know better. In hopes to shed some light, here are 8 SEO scams that just don’t seem to go away and an explanation of why each one is simply not worth your money.

1) “X Top Ten Rankings Guaranteed!”

I had the unfortunate experience of working for a company that offered “50 page one Google rankings guaranteed” as an incentive for uncertain prospects. Not to say hard work wasn’t being done – it was. But guaranteed rankings are meaningless.

Why this is a scam

First off, nobody can guarantee a ranking. Secondly, your website already hashundreds of page one rankings. Here’s an example: search for “mike tekula unstuck.” I guarantee you UnstuckDigital.com (my website) is the first result. Shouldn’t it be?

Go through your own website and put together a list of similar obscure, specific keywords that probably only show up in that order and proximity on your page. Search for them. You’re going to find lots of page one rankings.

Rankings have never been the goal. They’re merely a means to an end. The end is leads/sales/whatever your goal is. Qualified traffic that converts. A ranking by itself means nothing if it refers no qualified traffic.

2) “We’ll submit your website to thousands of search engines!”

Really? Thanks. Thousands of search engines sure is a lot. It would probably take me weeks to do all that myself.

Why this is a scam

How many search engines have you heard of?

How many do you use on a regular basis (at least once per week)?

You’re not unique in this. Most people use Google – about 70% of people in this country as a matter of fact. Something like 20% use Yahoo!. 8% use Microsoft Live. Ask.com, Dogpile, Metacrawler, etc – the handful of remaining search engines collectively get about 2% of search traffic.

There are not thousands of search engines to worry about. There are three. And if you’re really pressed for resources, there is one – Google.

The worst part about scams like this: those “search engines” they’re submitting your website to? They’re mainly SPAM centers. So not only is your money being ill-spent on this “service,” but you’ll be inundated with SPAM emails until the cows come home.

3) “500 Directory Links for $49.95″

Link building is important – links are the most powerful way to outrank your competitors. Link building is also really, really hard.

So when someone comes along offering you 500 links for $50 you might think it’s a good idea – that’s just $.10 per link!

Why this is a scam

Ask yourself: if you were Google would you want it to be this easy for websites to achieve top rankings? Just drop $50 here or there on a few links and bamn, you’re at the top?

Of course not.

There’s a general rule of thumb here: the cheaper the link, the less powerful.

Sometimes, when you’re clever and create great stuff, links come on their own – and these can be very powerful. But the kind of links you’re going to get for nothing more than a $50 upfront investment are worthless.

4) “1st Page of Google in 48 Hours!”

This scam preys on those in a hurry – they’ve got a website, the sales are not coming in and they’re hoping to hire an “expert” to get them visible in search engines quickly.

Why this is a scam

Anybody (yes, anybody) can get to the 1st page of Google almost instantaneously, and you don’t need to hire someone to do it.

  • Step 1: Sign up for AdWords
  • Step 2: Pick a keyword, any keyword
  • Step 3: Pay

You can pay for top placements all you want – that will make Google very happy. Consistent and qualified traffic streams and a positive ROI are another story.

5) “We have an inside man at Google”

Wouldn’t it be cool if your consultant had a “man on the inside?” You’d get your SEO advice straight from the horse’s mouth!

Why this is a scam

You really think Google employees are selling state SEO secrets to John and Jane Q. Consultant? Remember the Rosenbergs?

Google’s ranking algorithm reportedly contains 200+ variables. In short: they could hand the formula to just about anybody – we wouldn’t be able to “crack the code” and start ranking well. Too many of the variables are hard, if not impossible, to game.

6) “Our methods are a trade secret – we can’t tell you what we’re doing”

Of course some things are proprietary – you can’t expect companies and consultants to give up all their goodies.

Why this is a scam

The minute you’re paying someone for a fuzzy list of deliverables you’ve entered the twilight zone of the B2B services universe – where the basic trade of money for actual work unravels.

I wouldn’t expect your SEO to tell you everything about their research methods, tools and software, but then your mechanic doesn’t turn over a work order with one line item titled, “secret car repair service” and expect you to pay, does he?

7) “We’ve studied and cracked Google’s algorithm”

Similar to #5, this one is equally absurd. It sounds very nerdy and scientific – and we all like the idea of being in on top secret info, especially when it makes us money.

Why this is a scam

Not even Google employees have “cracked” the algorithm. It’s handled by a team of engineers and is updated sometimes several times per week. In other words, a minute after someone “cracked” the algorithm their information would be outdated.

8) “We just need to install this link directory on your website”

Sounds simple enough – and they’ll usually offer to do it for a low upfront price.

Why this is a scam

Your SEO consultant/company is basically telling you that their link building strategy amounts to nothing more than a thin link exchange program. Run screaming. They might not be knowingly scamming their clients, but they don’t know SEO.

This method was already stale and fruitless when people were still listening to Creed (isn’t it nice to let the past die?).

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