Monday, February 3, 2014
Top 5 Red Flags that Scream: SEO Scam Ahead
With just about every business looking to monetize to website traffic, the need to optimize an online commercial presence thru search engine marketing has brought the SEO business to be quite competitive in winning clients. But just like any business, there are those out to make a quick income from gullible or misinformed customers, and SEO scammers abound.
These unethical SEO practitioners may succeed the first time, but search engines like Google and Yahoo are just as quick to counter manipulative and deceptive SEO methods with sophisticated algorithms that identify and penalize unethically search optimized websites by pushing them out from the first few search pages, striking them off their indexes, and outright banning their websites.
The last thing a website business owner wants is to incur the ire for Google. This can easily be avoided by simply knowing what can realistically and ethically be accomplished with search engine optimization. Seasoned SEO practitioners know this but many others will promise you the moon with optimization strategies that either don’t work or could get you into trouble with search engines. Consider the following top 5 obvious red flags that say you are dealing with SEO scam:
(1) Promising to bring your website to #1 position on Google.
This is a common promise and already betrays a scam. No ethical SEO professional can guarantee #1 search result position on Google or other search engines. How far up the search engine results pages (SERP) you land after a thorough SEO makeover on your site also hinges on competition. The higher the completion, the lesser likelihood there is that you can make it to 1st page, let alone 1st place. Moreover, even getting to 1st place is no guarantee you will remain there for long. Remember that the competition is also optimizing its website. And should you get there using unethical SEO tactics, you run the risk of your website getting demoted or banned outright from search engines.
(2) Promising noticeable SERP results in just a short period of time.
Achieving first page visibility or significant movement up your SERP position in Google takes weeks or even months. Any promise of instant results immediately raises a red flag. Such unrealistic claims are not only unlikely, they also expose you to deceptive or manipulative SEO schemes that can get you into trouble with Google and other search engines.
(3) Promising to generate thousands of visitors to your site.
This is what commercial website owners want but the promise only be achieved if your website lands in the first 1-2 pages of a search result. A higher SERP ranking generally translates to more website visits. But getting there depends on other factors such as the number of times your relevant keywords or keyword phrases are used to make searches. Driving significant traffic to your site requires ranking high for searched keywords. If the SEO practitioner does not use the right keywords, all the other SEO tactics could be rendered useless.
(4) Promising the “highest or premium quality” SEO service at a ridiculously low price.
Just like in any purchase, you generally get what you pay for. This truism has significantly more relevance when it comes to services that require time-consuming and labor-intensive code-level reprogramming (i.e., on-page optimization at the HTML level), content relevance improvement, off-page optimization that includes link-building, and understanding your market and competition for the right keywords. Any offer to do so cheaply raises another red flag. Search engine optimization that does the job is not cheap. But while you can find affordable SEO rates, don’t expect to get the “best”, “highest” or “premium” SEO service.
(5). Refusing or avoiding customer questions.
Ethical SEO professionals offer a service to enhance your online presence and deliver excellent value for your money – one that often assumes a long-term business partnership that takes time to see fruition. Unfortunately, many are out just to get your money as fast as possible. A relatively simple way to check is to ask probing questions through their chat line, phone, or email. (A site that has none of these contact points raises a red flag. An emailed question that takes days to answer is another.) Ask questions and expect to be asked about your business as well. If you are unhappy with the answers, don’t get any answer at all, or if it shows little or no interest with your business needs and expectations with irrelevant questions, you are facing an incompetent SEO practitioner or a scammer. Look elsewhere.