Search Engine Optimization – What Not To Look For

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Have you received emails spam emails from people promising to increase traffic to your website by making you rank high in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages)? We get them all the time. As a matter of fact Google states they even get these unwanted solicitations. Here’s an example of an email Google received in the past:

I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”

Funny huh? But how many people are responding to these ridiculous emails and spending lots of money with hopes that they can increase traffic to their website? What’s worse, many of these companies are actually able to brainwash their clients into thinking they really are benefitting! Companies that use these unethical business practices give the entire SEO (Search Engine Optimization) community a bad reputation.

Two Point Enterprise writes this article about what NOT to look for when shopping for SEO so that you may arm yourself to make an informed choice. We know of no better way to illustrate this article for you than to present a spam email we received from one of these rogue companies. Carefully read the email in the capture below, and then see our comments afterwards.

Click here to see a capture of the email

The subject of the email was “Do You Want Referrals from you Website?” (I guess they were in such a hurry to fire this email off they didn’t even take time to check the spelling.)

The first red flag is your receipt of the email in the first place! Check out Google’s Information for Webmasters and you’ll see that the very first thing they tell you is “Be wary of SEO firms that send you email out of the blue.”

The next thing the author of this spam email tries to do is make a feeble attempt of identifying themselves with real estate agents. Hence the words, “Location, Location, Location”. (Sorry partner, you ain’t jumping in bed with me.) Then they pay credit that you might already have a nice website, but if traffic could be increased could potentially drive millions of customers and billions of dollars to your website. They rule out pay-per-click services apparently without giving credit that real estate is actually one thing pay-per-click can work fairly well with, namely in large cities. Finally, as with all spam emails like this, they believe they have the solution you’ve been looking for!

We couldn’t help but chuckle a little at the next line where they increase the font size and announce, “It’s Here!!!! & Satisfaction is GUARANTEED!!!!!!!!” (One more exclamation point and I think everybody in the office might have wet their pants.) Seriously though Mr. Spam Email Author, what’s here? Is it SEO services with a perpetuating monthly fee to guarantee yourself recurrent income? I hate to crash the party, but SEO was around a long time before you registered your domain on September 24, 2004. And monthly fees were invented a long time ago too. I will give them a little credit for putting a guarantee on your satisfaction rather than your ranking. Rule #2 from Google is, “No one can guarantee #1 ranking.” They don’t tell you how they guarantee your satisfaction in the email though. I’d be surprised if it’s a 100% money back guarantee. I’ll bet they have it set up where they end up pocketing money some way or another. If they can brainwash you into thinking they are doing a good job they don’t have to give any money back.

The next thing this spam email does is make an attempt to establish credibility for themselves. They want you to go to a search engine and search for the massive, non-competitive five keyword phrase “neighborhood prospecting websites for realtors”. If the reader hasn’t deleted the email and flushed it through their recycle bin by now they’ll see that the company that sent this email currently ranks #1 for this search. We plugged the five word phrase into a Google AdWords campaign and put a bid of $5 on it. After submitting, Google automatically adjusted the price down to $0.02 (because that’s how much it’s worth), assigned it the top position on the page (because there is no competition for that phrase), and estimated that our cost per day for the phrase would be $0.00 (because nobody in the world would be searching for that). So big deal guys if you are the #1 result for “neighborhood prospecting websites for realtors”. That’s because nobody else wants it!

Now look down a little further and see what we have here! Well if it isn’t an intellectual property and trademark infringement against the search engines, Google, MSN, and Yahoo!. I’d be willing to bet that these search engines didn’t authorize any use of their registered trademarks. Also I don’t see any notice at the bottom identifying the rightful owners of the trademarks, nor do I see the author disclaim himself from any affiliation with these search engines. Subtle little images like this can mislead the reader into thinking some kind of special relationship, or affiliation, has been radified with the search engines. Google says “beware of SEOs that allege a ‘special relationship’ with Google”. My guess is that Google has no plans of entering into some sort of strategic partnership with these whiz kids any time soon.

Next we have the sign-up button where we can make our monthly donation to these people. How thoughtful of them to make the button so nice and big. We don’t want to miss when we try to click it with our mouse!

At the very bottom they try to stay with the rules and offer you and itsy bitsy link to opt out of future emails from them. Unless they are conpensating you, why should you have to take time out of your day to opt out of this email you didn’t ask for in the first place? Good luck with that, by the way. Two weeks ago we received this email and we asked them to stop sending us spam. They replied and told us we received it because we signed up for something, which we know damn well we didn’t. However, we cut them some slack and dismissed it. Then on 3-2-2006 we received this same email again after we told them 2 weeks before to stop emailing us!

Hope you enjoyed the article! Good luck with your SEO!

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