I recently had a client contact me because they received an email from an SEO company that said their website was not properly optimized and underperforming in search engines. Of course, the client didn’t know this person, who reached out totally unsolicited, and it was a message that came in through the contact form on their website (i.e. obvious contact form SPAM).
These emails make the receiver think the person sending it is a true “SEO professional” and has taken the time to review their site thoroughly. They point out that they have noticed their website is underperforming for specific keywords and offer some helpful suggestions for how they could fix all of their SEO problems. They often will throw in lots of confusing sounding industry jargon, for good measure.
I assure you they have not looked at your website unless it was to copy and paste a form message into your contact form! And, in all actuality, they may have never visited your site personally at all and are using software to mass contact companies in bulk.
Often these emails come from shady SEO lead generation companies that collect leads (like you, when you reply), that they will sell those leads an SEO company that does the work. However, I would argue that SEO companies who gain clients this way are more than likely doing questionable work. I mean, if they are a great SEO company, wouldn’t their potential clients be contacting them because they found their company in search? Not the other way around.
Sadly, I have heard stories of legitimate SEO companies who are actually performing for their clients, getting fired after a client received one of these types of unsolicited messages. They make the whole search engine optimization industry look bad.
SEO suggestions that seem tailored to you.
I have had clients sometimes push back when I explain to them how this whole SEO scam works. They think the message has been tailored specifically for them. The email may include their first name, or even their website address, in it. But, what you need to understand is that this is all commonly available information.
SEO spammers will use software that is capable of scraping publicly available data to create lists of website owners, their email addresses, and their website URLs. They then combine that information with templated text and send out these messages in bulk.
It’s so labor-free that even if they only get a minimal conversation rate, it can yield plenty of viable leads, they can then get to hand over their hard-earned money for services that are below par.
I can attest to how hands-off these emails are, because as a digital marketing agency that does SEO work for clients, we receive them too, at least once a month, if not more. What legitimate SEO company in their right mind would send such an email to another SEO agency?
How to spot an SEO pitch that you should ignore.
The bottom line is if any company contacts you to pitch services unsolicited through a contact form on your website, the best rule of thumb is to ignore it and trash it. A good SEO company or website development agency would not contact you out of the blue, clogging your inbox with super excellent sounding offers that are often too good to be true!
Search Engine Land has a great article about how to spot crappy SEO pitches, but to summarize it, here are the top five warning signs that you are dealing with an online scammer:
1.) The message, email, pitch or offer was unsolicited.
If they contact you, instead of the other way around, it’s best just to walk away. Now, I’m not talking about someone in the industry that you may meet at a networking event, or who is local to you that a mutual (verifiable) colleague has said might want to reach out to you, of course. But, rather, I am referring to those unsolicited offers that come to you, with no mutual connections, through your website contact form or email.
2.) The address of the sender is not attached to an actual company.
These types of scams will often have an email address included in them. These email addresses will usually be something like xxxx@gmail, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or some other free email service. A legitimate company would have their company name at the END of the email, so you know who they are and can research them further online.
And, no, an email address like “firstname.lastname@example.org” does not do it! Very few legitimate companies in this industry would dare have a “@gmail.com” email address, rather than their own branded email address that ends with their company name.
3.) Their company name is never mentioned in their message.
Many of these emails will only mention a person’s name and never a company. For whom does this person work? Can you look the company up online and find out more about them and their services? Failure to include an email signature that has a real company name in it is the number one sign these people are scammers.
The reason is often two-fold. First, there may actually be no SEO company yet, as the email is simply being used for lead-generation. And, second, an ethical SEO agency is not going to pitch you through contact form SPAM and wouldn’t want their agency’s name associated with the email. They aren’t willing to give up that information until their “SEO Specialists,” which is a fancy name for hard-sell salesperson, have you on the phone and are ready to close a thousands of dollars a month deal.
4.) A guarantee of top rankings.
These emails will often make grandiose claims of getting you to “the #1 spot on Google” or “first-page results.” If a company makes such claims, whether they contact you or the other way around, I suggest you run away as fast and as far as you can!
It is impossible to deliver such results, and no one can make such a guarantee. Google even says this themselves, and it’s their site you are trying to rank on, usually.
Google specifically states:
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.
So any such claims made by an SEO company are flat out lies. As an SEO agency, our goal is always to try to get you on the coveted first page of good for specific keywords, of course. And, a good portion of the time we can do it. But, to make a guarantee that it will happen is disingenuous.
5.) The pitch is a copy and paste job.
One of the first things you should do when you get a suspect email is to take a paragraph or two from it and copy and paste that into a Google search box.
You will often come up with many results that contain the same text in them. What this does is tell you that their claim to have “personally” looked over your site is pure crap! If they had done so, why are they copying and pasting a form email to send to you? Just delete it and move on.
I did just that with the message our client received which read:
How are you? Hope you are fine.
I have been checking your website quite often. It has seen that the main keywords are still not in top 10 rank. You know things of working; I mean the procedure of working has changed a lot.
So I would like to have opportunity to work for you and this time we will bring the keywords to the top 10 spot with guaranteed period.
There is no wondering that it is possible now cause, I have found out that there are few things need to be done for better performances (Some we Discuss ,in this email). Let me tell you some of them –
1. Title Tag Optimization
2. Meta Tag Optimization (Description, keyword and etc)
3. Heading Tags Optimization
4. Targeted keywords are not placed into tags
5. Alt / Image tags Optimization
6. Google Publisher is missing
7. Custom 404 Page is missing
8. The Products are not following Structured markup data
9. Website Speed Development (Both Mobile and Desktop )
10.Off –Page SEO work
We will also work on those area ..
1. 5XX status code Check
2. 4XX status code check
3. Title Tags
>> Title Tags Optimization,
>> Title Tags Length
>> Keyword Optimization
4. duplicate title tags
5. duplicate content issues
6. Internal broken links
7. Crawl Errors (Webmaster Tool)
8. DNS resolution issues (Hosting)
9. incorrect URL formats
10. Internal broken images
11. duplicate meta descriptions
13. XML Sitemap Format Error
14. XML Sitemap Optimization (incorrect pages – Redirection)
15. WWW resolve issue
16. viewport tag (Responsive)
17. HTML size optimization
18. Cannonical Tags
19. Https Redirection for all pages
20. broken canonical link
21. multiple canonical URLs
23. External Broken Links
24. External Broken Images
25. H Tag Optimization
26. duplicate H1 and title tags
27. too many on-page links
28. don’t have alt attributes
29. low word count
30. Nofollow Internal Links
31. Sitemap.xml not indicated in robots.txt
32. Images are formatted as page link
33. Pages should have more than 1 internal links
34. orphaned pages
35. Schema Mark up
Lots are pending……………..
You can see these are the things that need to be done properly to make the keywords others to get into the top 10 spot in Google Search & your sales Increase.
please give us a chance to fix these errors and we will give you rank on these keywords.
Please let me know if you encounter any problems or if there is anything you need. If this email has reached you by mistake or if you do not wish to take advantage of this advertising opportunity, please accept my apology for any inconvenience caused and rest assured that you will not be contacted again.
The search results show that a lot of people had received the same message before. And, it, or a slight variation of it, had been circulating online for almost a decade. This Reddit thread that is years old contained practically the exact same email our client received.
Just throw the SEO scam email away and move on.
Worrying about the contents of these types of emails is just not worth your time. They make false claims about your site, offer false promises for how to fix it, and are only out for one thing — your money! If you feel your website needs real search engine optimization work (and most do!), you should be the one reaching out to SEO agencies and finding the one that fits best with your needs, not the other way around.
And, don’t feel bad, even Google gets these type of scam emails and pitches too! The fact that Google falls victim also tells you how little effort they put into sending the emails out.
Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam fighting team, wrote on his personal blog website about someone trying to pitch Google on how they might show up better in search results. So, they know how to rank Google better on Google, then Google does themselves? Ummmmmm…mmmmkay.
These SEO pitches are simply a scam that has been going on for quite a long time. The fact that it is still around and circulating means it must be working for the scammers, at some level.
And, sadly, when they have gotten ahold of your website, and butchered your SEO making you drop in search engine results placement (SERPs), it just makes the rest of the actual legitimate and ethical SEO companies look bad.
These types of pitches are often seen on Craigslist as well. They are ruining things for real SEO professionals. I totally agree with an SEO freelancer who stated:
“These emails and Craiglist ads are ruining real SEO’ers, especially freelancers and consultants. I work with small business owners all the time that get these emails or see an ad on Craigslist. They walk away with the impression that their site is about 5% optimized. Meanwhile, I’ve been working six months on it, hitting it hard for them, and have already moved them from the non-existent internet void onto the first page of Google for certain keywords. Then my client shows me an email like this — which he followed up on — and supposedly, this guy who barely speaks English from a foreign country could also get this all done — in only ONE MONTH! Really? If the Jamaican lottery scam can still make hundreds of millions of a year, these emails can scam thousands from unsuspecting small business owners.”
Have you received these type of emails? Did you ever bother to contact the people back? Please let us know your experiences and how you dealt with them by commenting below.
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