One of my clients forwarded me the email below the other day and asked if I knew anything about it. I told them that it was a scam. The company is trying to get them to pay for a service that they do not currently have, nor do the need to pay for. Then, I checked out the company’s website and became even more frustrated, because it appears that offering an unneeded “service” appears to be this company’s entire business model and sending out scary emails is probably their best source of revenue.
Why is this frustrating to me, you ask? I mean, seriously, why do I care what they are doing?
This is not SEO
I care because they position themselves as an SEO company, but they don’t appear to do any actual SEO and use false scare tactics to get people to buy. Let’s take a closer look at this email.
- The main headline reads, YOUR PAYMENT IS PENDING. This is to lead the reader to believe that they have already initiated something in hopes that they will pay now and ask questions (maybe) later.
- They use Google in the invoice title. This is in hopes that the reader will think this is somehow related to Google and feel they need to take quick action.
- In not one but two places, they lead the reader to believe that if they do nothing their website will no longer show up in Google searches. This isn’t some vague allusion, it is implicit, “without this service you site does not appear in google searches.”
Holy Crap! Are you kidding me?! Read that again.
“WITHOUT THIS SERVICE YOUR SITE DOES NOT APPEAR IN GOOGLE SEARCHES.”
Why take the chance?
If you are a small business owner that hasn’t done any work with a real SEO professional, this looks pretty scary. And it is only 49 bucks a year, to make sure your site shows up on Google? Yeah, you better do that, right? It isn’t worth taking the chance, is it?
That is what they are hoping for. And in the end, you are not likely to see any actual results from what they do. From what I can tell, they set up Google Analytics for you and then connect it to a custom dashboard so you can see the details by logging in through their site. That is it.
This is hurting true SEO
But still, how does this impact those of us who truly work to help their clients with search engine optimization? I mean, it isn’t going to change what I do, right?
No, it won’t change what I do, but it does make my job harder. Because of offerings like this, I have to work harder to educate business owners about what I do and how I can help them. If someone has fallen for a scam like this, they are going to have a negative view of all SEO offerings. Think of the slimy used car salesman that makes you leary of all others, or the pushy Buckle employee at the mall that made you never want to step foot in another one of their stores.
On top of that, they are charging such a low price that I have to work harder to justify my costs. Seriously, I cannot do anything for $49 a year. Maybe I could set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console for you and give you the logins for a one-time $49 fee, sure. That is basically what they are doing, so I could actually save you money if that is all you want. If you want to see actual results, though, their price is not just “not in the same ballpark” it isn’t even the same game.
What should you look for in SEO?
That can be a tricky question, because every website, every location, every niche is a little bit different. However, there are some minimal expectations that should probably be met:
- Recognition that there is no “one size fits all” solution.
- An SEO audit to set a baseline for how your website is doing currently
- Setup free Google tools (Analytics and Search Console)
- A plan to adjust and optimize the site and current content
- A plan to build credibility (backlinks, content marketing, social media, etc)
- For local
- Setup or optimize Google My Business page
- A plan to build citations
- A plan to build reviews
- Regular progress reports