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We can get you ranked #1 on Google!

Status: SCAM

SEO is an acronym for "search engine optimization" or "search engine optimizer." Deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision that can potentially improve your site and save time, but you can also risk damage to your site and reputation. Make sure to research the potential advantages as well as the damage that an irresponsible SEO can do to your site. Many SEOs and other agencies and consultants provide useful services for website owners, including:

  • Review of your site content or structure
  • Technical advice on website development: for example, hosting, redirects, error pages, use of JavaScript
  • Content development
  • Management of online business development campaigns
  • Keyword research
  • SEO training
  • Expertise in specific markets and geographies.


7 Signs of SEO Scams
*Guest report written by
Josh Garner, a practicing SEO professional.

1. We can rank your site in 48 hours!

Boy, I wish this was possible. It sure would save me a whole lot of time slaving over my computer like a maniac, pouring over search term trends, conversion reports, traffic and ranking reports, etc. I wouldn’t be spending hours on end modifying and optimizing content until my SEO fingers bleed. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case. It takes hours to find the right search terms. Depending on the size of a website, it can take days to implement changes. It takes weeks to see the initial effects. It can take months to get things going in the right direction. If you’re being promised results in a few days, your being offered a money pit and little more.

2. We sill submit your site to 1,000 Search Engines!

Put aside the fact that I’ve been doing this job for years, and I can only name about 10 search-engines without cheating. Instead, consider the fact that I haven’t submitted a site (personally or professionally) to a search engine in over three years now. Even the guidelines of the search engines themselves tell you it doesn’t really do anything for you anymore. The major search engines have also been in this business for years, and they’ve gotten pretty good at finding sites themselves. No need to submit, let alone pay someone to do so.

3. We will get thousands of links to your site!

This claim is usually paired with an incredible time frame, but the sheer number of links promised alone is beyond amazing. First, it’s not the number of links coming to your site that makes a difference. It’s the number of QUALITY links. Second, where are all of these links coming from? Probably what’s known as a link farm: a large number of websites set up in order to link one site. The search engines don’t normally appreciate this practice, and it can lead to penalties. Third, it’s more likely a straight out lie. Even scammers don’t waste their time with link farms. It takes too much more time to set all that up than it does to just take your money and disappear.

4. Have your site optimized and promoted for only $71.95 a month!

In my first point, I hinted at the amount of time and work I put into a single website. Not only making the changes, but keeping up with the site’s progress, promoting it through links and thinking of ways to drive traffic to the site. Consider the countless hours I’ve spent learning what it takes to rank a site. Consider also the returns a proper SEO campaign offers a site. Ranking well for a competitive search term can yield some pretty nice rewards. Think we would do this for $79.95 a month? Not to sound crass, but I wouldn’t even open my laptop for that much money. If you’re serious about your site’s success, expect to spend no less than a few thousand dollars, and that’s low end. There are some SEOs that charge $1000 an hour for consulting, and they are worth every penny.

5. We can’t tell you what we are doing: it’s a trade secret.

Other than a few tid bits you find after years of doing this kind of work, there really isn’t a whole lot of “secret” information. We aren’t paid because we have some incredible secret wrapped up. We are paid because of the experience we have in dealing with the search engines, and the success we can bring to the site’s table. If someone makes this claim, they either don’t want you to know how poor the service is, or they have no idea what they are doing.

6. We know a guy at Google.

I love this one. Mostly because I know a guy at Google. I also know a guy at Nissan, but I still make monthly payments. I know a guy at Sprint, and I still pay a monthly bill. I know a guy…well…you get it. Think of the search engine ranking factors as the closely guarded secret formula for Coke. You have to get pretty close to the code to have even a clue about what goes into it. The guys and gals that do know for sure what the factors are also fully understand the legal implications of giving away such secrets to some guy charging you $79.95 a month to rank your site in 48 hours (like how I tied all those into that one?).

7. We guarantee page 1 rankings!

Nobody can do this. Nobody. In SEO, there are no guarantees on rankings, traffic, or any other measure. Think of SEO like advertising (that’s really all it is, just online). The best marketing guys don’t guarantee anything either. Neither do doctors or lawyers. You hire these professionals based on the questions you’ve asked them, their past successes, experience, etc. SEO is no different. Good SEOs are good SEOs because they have spent years learning and testing, and know of the measures most often needed to produce results. So if anyone guarantees anything, they are only guaranteeing that you will be wasting your hard earned money.

OK, Google has been around the search engine business for a pretty long time, and they are pretty smart guys to boot. What does Google have to say about their SEO techniques?**

** from Webmaster tips

While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways. Practices that violate our guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your site's presence in Google, or even the removal of your site from our index. Here are some things to consider:

  • Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.

    Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:

    I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories..."

    Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for "burn fat at night" diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.

  • No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.

    Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.

  • Be careful if a company is secretive or won't clearly explain what they intend to do.

    Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or "throwaway" domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google's index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it's best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to "help" you.

  • You should never have to link to an SEO.

    Avoid SEOs that talk about the power of "free-for-all" links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search engines. These are typically useless exercises that don't affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines -- at least, not in a way you would likely consider to be positive.

  • Choose wisely.

    While you consider whether to go with an SEO, you may want to do some research on the industry. Google is one way to do that, of course. You might also seek out a few of the cautionary tales that have appeared in the press, including this article on one particularly aggressive SEO: While Google doesn't comment on specific companies, we've encountered firms calling themselves SEOs who follow practices that are clearly beyond the pale of accepted business behavior. Be careful.

  • Be sure to understand where the money goes.

    While Google never sells better ranking in our search results, several other search engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web search results. Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. A few SEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they "control" other search engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn't work with Google because our advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our search results, but be sure to ask any SEO you're considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.

  • What are the most common abuses a website owner is likely to encounter?
  • One common scam is the creation of "shadow" domains that funnel users to a site by using deceptive redirects. These shadow domains often will be owned by the SEO who claims to be working on a client's behalf. However, if the relationship sours, the SEO may point the domain to a different site, or even to a competitor's domain. If that happens, the client has paid to develop a competing site owned entirely by the SEO.

    Another illicit practice is to place "doorway" pages loaded with keywords on the client's site somewhere. The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the SEO's other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the SEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.

  • What are some other things to look out for?
  • There are a few warning signs that you may be dealing with a rogue SEO. It's far from a comprehensive list, so if you have any doubts, you should trust your instincts. By all means, feel free to walk away if the SEO:

    • owns shadow domains
    • puts links to their other clients on doorway pages
    • offers to sell keywords in the address bar
    • doesn't distinguish between actual search results and ads that appear on search results pages
    • guarantees ranking, but only on obscure, long keyword phrases you would get anyway
    • operates with multiple aliases or falsified WHOIS info
    • gets traffic from "fake" search engines, spyware, or scumware
    • has had domains removed from Google's index or is not itself listed in Google
    • requests your FTP account information or root access to your server

    If you feel that you were deceived by an SEO in some way, you may want to report it.

    In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) handles complaints about deceptive or unfair business practices. To file a complaint, visit: and click on "File a Complaint Online," call 1-877-FTC-HELP, or write to:

    Federal Trade Commission
    Washington, D.C. 20580