3 Telltale Signs of SEO Spam

Written by neatly.io on 25th June 2019

Given the arcane nature of search engines, the SEO industry is more vulnerable to spam than most. There’s no shortage of hucksters looking to make a quick buck off of someone else’s naivete. The good news is that they’re quite easy to recognize if you know which red flags to spot. 

We’ve all received the email at one point or another. 

You know the one I’m talking about. The expert who cold calls you, boasting about their SEO expertise and claiming they’ve “analyzed” your website. Name-dropping major publications in which their work has been “featured” and talking about how many sites they manage. 

I’ll call them what they are — spammers and scam artists. Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of people like this in search engine marketing. At best, they operate in well-meaning ignorance, sincerely buying the garbage they sell.

At worst, they’re little more than two-bit hucksters looking to make quick and easy money from people who don’t know any better. 

The good news is that, with a bit of know-how, this particular breed of “expert” is extremely easy to recognize. Because where SEO spam is concerned, every song-and-dance routine hits basically the same notes. They are:

The Silver Bullet

Maybe they’ve told you they work at or with Google. Maybe they claim to have insider secrets or information available only to an elite few. Maybe they talk up some awesome new trick they’ve discovered.

Whichever the case, they want you to believe there’s some sort of trade secret, some sort of one-size-fits-all trick to manipulating your website’s position on the search engine results page.

There isn’t. The only people who know, with absolute certainty, how Google’s algorithms work are Google employees, both present and former. And Google takes its NDAs very seriously.

If this scammer really knew what they claimed, it wouldn’t be long before they were hit with the full force of Google’s legal team.  That literally happened just recently, when Google targeted a business claiming to be acting on its behalf with a lawsuit. Spoilers – it’s not going to end well for that organization.  

Tall Tales and Big Promises

A good search engine optimization firm will promise to help you find weaknesses in your SEO strategy. They’ll aid you in understanding what it takes to rank on Google, and the tactics and techniques you should avoid. What they won’t do is guarantee results.

The fact is, there’s no such thing as 100 percent guaranteed results in any industry. Anyone who tries to claim that they will, without question, get you to the top of the Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) is either lying or woefully ignorant to how Google’s search engine actually works. Either way, they aren’t worth your time or money. 

Hiring an SEO expert is about improving your own approach. It’s about finding your blind spots and leveraging the expertise of a third party. It’s not about finding shortcuts that will allow you to place with little to no effort.

Because again, those shortcuts do not exist. 

Putting Their Worst Foot Forward

If you’ve received a cold email, take a closer look at it. How’s their spelling and grammar? Are they messaging you from a Gmail account or an actual corporate email? Do they demonstrate an understanding of your business and industry, or do they talk entirely in vague terms? 

An SEO spammer usually has only a tenuous grasp of English, rivaled only by their poor understanding of SEO. Their websites are usually poorly optimized and poorly designed. In short, their “expertise” is a smokescreen, an act that falls apart with even a little scrutiny. 

Oh, and if they name drop a bunch of major publications or personalities, you should be suspicious, too. The agencies that work in the big leagues feel no need to send out cold emails. Their clients usually come to them.  

Last but certainly not least, if someone calls you claiming to be a representative of Google, hang up the phone. Google does not, nor will it ever, call you for matters related to SEO. Per the company itself, there are only two specific instances where it will contact you via phone, and neither of them involves PageRank. 

Don’t Get Spammed

SEO spammers and scammers aren’t going away.  As long as there are people they can victimize, as long as there are small business owners and webmasters who lack knowledge of SEO, they will continue to thrive. They will continue to be an unpleasant thorn in everyone’s side.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that they’re easy to spot. By teaching yourself to recognize their most common behaviors and tactics you’ll be able to recognize them from a mile away.

And you’ll be able to track down an agency that will actually help your website grow. 


About the Author:

Daniel Page is the Director of Business Development for ASEOHosting, a leading provider in SEO hosting and multiple IP hosting.