With some of these spammy emails in my inbox today, I thought it was time we revisited the issue with another look at an article from last year that discusses this in more length.
SEO Service Spammers: Combating Disinformation by Jonathan Hochman
Contrary to what one might expect from a professional search engine optimizer, my website home page does not feature SEO services. This is intentional, primarily because I do not want to be associated with self-proclaimed SEOs who tout their services in spam messages promising unrealistic results. Many people already regard SEO as a scummy profession, largely because we as an industry have failed to create and uphold professional standards. Search agencies and consultants need to come together and write the missing guidelines if we are to change that perception.
Here are portions of a sample message a client received:
“I was recently doing some prospecting research and came across your website. I’m reaching out to see if you are currently testing the effectiveness of SEO. I work for (blank)… we’re a Performance-based SEO Services company. We do not require any set-up fees, and all pricing is upfront. As an example, our current pricing is $211 per month, if indeed we can help you achieve one of the Top 3 rankings in Google for the keyword “website security”.
I don’t know for sure if this same message was sent to a bunch of people, or if the sales representative is sending them one at a time. Whether or not this message is illegal doesn’t really matter. It’s bad for business. The company has promised top three rankings for the term “website security,” which seems like an unrealistic promise, or at least a confusing offer. Maybe the SEO will buy the listings (the only way I know to guarantee ranking). Many consumers of SEO services don’t even understand the difference between paid listings and sponsored listings. Taking advantage of their confusion isn’t right.
Here are excerpts from another specimen:
“I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough Social Media and Organic search engine traffic for xxxxxxxxxx.com.
1. Social profile is not available in top Social Media websites.
2. Your SEO score is 71%. We can bring it to 100% by implementing on and off-page factors which will fetch better results in major search engines.
3. Your site has 20 Google backlinks, this can be improved further.”
This email also included an offer for a free “website audit report” and a postscript informing the recipient that “I found your site from online advertising but did not click.”
To combat marketplace disinformation, legitimate SEO firms need to support and uphold standards for marketing SEO services. SEO spam gives all of us a bad reputation and reduces our opportunities. I am disappointed that our national and international search engine marketing professional organizations have failed, for nearly 10 years, to publish ethical standards. If we had standards, clients would use them to distinguish between legitimate search agencies and scammers. I could point to the standards whenever a client forwarded me one of these dubious SEO emails, and say, “This sort of communication is not allowed by our industry’s ethical and professionals standards.”