I see claims like ‘get thousands of visits to your website’ and ‘get your website on the first page of Google’ pop up quite a lot. Mostly in my spam folder. If you aren’t familiar with this kind of email, here are some great examples of what I’m referring to.
And this is the sort of thing that can be easily found on sites like Fiverr:
Sadly, there are business owners out there that will get these emails or look at these posts and think that they are getting a sweet deal, when in reality, they will probably see success for a very limited time – if at all. While they may only be spending a small amount of money, the long-term effects can be devastating for their business.
There are also business owners that will end up getting burned when they post jobs like these:
The maximum budget advertised to undertake these jobs was $180. The least was a measly $2 per hour. As a general rule – when it comes to marketing your business, if you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys.
The truth is, marketing a business isn’t easy, and isn’t cheap. If it was, we’d all be millionaires.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Anyone who promises you major results overnight is a liar. I’d be wary of anybody that approaches you who:
- is super-duper cheap, or works on a ‘payment on results’ model
- guarantees results like more traffic, top of Google positions, increase in Facebook fans – overnight
There are a number of tactics that these people will deploy in order to show you quick results:
1. Spammy link building
Using the terms you want to be found for as the anchor text, it’s likely that they will build you thousands of links on crappy websites, directories, article sites, forums and in blog comments.
This will probably give you a nice uplift in visibility for what is likely to be a very short time.
In the example above, there was a huge increase in traffic after search engines picked up on a lot of new links. Sadly, they were all terrible, and the site was penalised. The two bumps that followed after the drop were a result of even more spammy link building to counter this. The site has never fully recovered – and low-quality links are still being found and removed months later.
Search engines are getting good at detecting dodgy links. If they detect dodgy links, expect to be punished.
Links are important, but be prepared to pay a decent price for a link building campaign that focuses on quality and relevancy over quantity. To build high-quality links, you need to be prepared to put the effort into forging relationships with people who are interested in your opinions, insight, products and services, as well as spending a lot of time researching relevant sites in your niche.
2. Use bots to artificially inflate traffic to your site, or pay people to physically sit there clicking on your site over and over and over again
Want 10,000 visits per month? Not a problem, providing you want traffic that is completely useless to your business. Although it seems that your website is becoming more popular, essentially, these visits are completely worthless, as you don’t get the benefits you get from real people. Whereas genuine visitors will click your links and explore your site; robots and people paid to send traffic to your site will not.
The danger here is not really the inflated traffic itself, (other than perhaps hogging bandwidth and potentially infecting your site with Malware if the traffic sources are really dodgy). If you sign a contract that states you will get 10,000 visits per month guaranteed, and you’ve agreed to pay them once this is achieved, you have just paid someone for nothing. Literally nothing. It has no benefit whatsoever.
3. Buying likes/followers
As with inflating traffic, buying fake likes and followers is a pointless tactic. Why would you bother to buy likes and followers, and then just have them sat there? To make you feel popular? If there is no interaction and no content, most users are savvy enough to spot when a business has bought likes and are unlikely to trust your brand as a result.
How can you protect your business from SEO scammers?
Put simply – do your research.
Ask the business who is pitching for client testimonials – and examples of their work with said client. This is particularly important when assessing the quality of the link building they have done for clients.
If the links they show you are contained within low-quality content on low-quality websites which bear no relevance to the client’s business – but they tell you it’s on a PR 4 site, so it doesn’t matter, run for the hills. If they won’t show you any of the links they have built, it’s probably because they are ashamed of them.
It’s also worth asking how long this client has been working with them. As demonstrated in point 1 – it can be easy to blag great results short term, only for it to go downhill very soon after.
If they say that they will write you great content, start by having a read of their blog. If they don’t have a blog, or if the content on their blog does not read well, you need to ask yourself whether or not you trust them to represent your brand. Ask them what other types of content they have produced for (or alongside) clients; case studies, white papers, site content, infographics, for example.
They should be asking you a lot of questions too – way beyond what keywords you want to be found for on page one of Google. They should want to understand your brand positioning, business goals and objectives, your competitors, your customers and your industry before they even begin to put a proposal together for you.