This isn’t something I like writing about but the fact is a lot of so called SEO companies are defrauding their clients, misleading, mis selling and flat out lying most of the time.
I am not going to name the SEO company in question but you can be assured they appear in the top 5 for a lot of the broad ‘SEO’ search terms and trust me, just because a site ranks for these terms does not mean they are good at SEO.
You hear horror stories all the time, “They did no work and charged me thousands”, “I was on a monthly retainer for 6 months and saw no improvements”, these are common statements but the level of deception displayed in the latest horror was something I had never come across before.
I would love to out the company but I want to save myself the aggro and legal implications, anyway here is what happened.
It started the usual way, potential client types in ‘SEO’ gets a quote from the top 5 and makes a decision based on case studies and promises of quick results.
The company promised to provide the following:
- Keyword research
- on page suggestions
- link building
- consulting and strategy
These guys rank well so they must know what they’re doing right? Well let’s break these services down.
They came up with a list of keywords and advised the client these were the terms to target.
- No search volumes were provided
- No potential conversion rates were discussed
- No potential results were analysed
So they loaded up the Google keyword tool and exported the results, not great but hardly criminal so lets move on.
They updated the blog with unique but dry SEO driven content, again not ideal but nevertheless plenty of others do this.
On Page Suggestions
They didn’t say this but may as well have done “Stuff Your Title Tags!”.
This worked really well and they saw their rankings rise, thanks Google, trust developed in a less than adequete SEO partner.
This is where things start getting really interesting.
The company placed 20 blogroll links, sitewide, in 2 weeks and sure enough rankings shot up to the first and second page of Google. The sites were reported with a PR figure next to them, they weren’t the best quality to look at but hey, they were working.
Every month the client got a report with 20 more links on, however as the client completely trusted the company now they never checked the links, all the SEO company were doing is changing the anchor text on the 20 maintained links, no new links were built but the SEO company were taking a substantial amount of money every month.
Consulting & Strategy
Non existant, the most the client got was a meeting every few month with a couple of sales guys, no disrespect to sales guys but for SEO strategy surely you need to be speaking with the experts?
The strategy was simple, increase your budget and we’ll head over to digital point and secure some more links for you They didn’t say this but it would have been the truth.
Glorified link brokers….
When I saw the monthly report for this client I couldn’t believe it, an excel doc with random lists on it.
“500 directory links” was one of the headings, however their were no URL’s to prove these were placed.
“200 article submissions” again no evidence to prove these were placed.
There were two columns, one had the word ‘link’ in every column, the other anchor text which stated the anchor text.
- Traffic report? nope
- rankings? nope
- converions? nope
An utter disgrace.
So What Happened?
OK so the SEO company were doing a bad job and getting away with it, the clients rankings were going up all were happy, whats the issue??
At this stage there are 2 issues:-
1 – The SEO company were glorified link brokers, they offered no strategy and no real technical advice
2 – The reporting was non existent and later transpired thats because no links were being built
Still nothing I haven’t seen before, however what happened when the client found out they’d been taken for a ride? This is where things start to get ugly.
How a Rogue SEO Company Can Destroy Your Business
So the client realises they are just switching the anchor text on the same links not building new ones, the clients wants a refund but instead the company offer to make it up by building hundreds of links from unique domains in one month
All you genuine SEO’s know there is only one way to do this, yup, outsource it to some dude in India for $500 dollars where links will be placed to your site on some of the spammiest sites I have ever come across.
Guess What Happened Next?
The clients rankings were all pushed up the first page of Google! Brilliant, loads of traffic, loads of conversions!
But there’s a catch, about a month after these links were built Google caught up with them, devalued them all and placed a filter on the site for a few core terms, rankings dropped lower than ever before, traffic diminished and sales were 50% down.
A business destroyed thanks to getting involved with a rogue firm.
Rightfully so the client cancelled the contract after a 5 figure investment and to add insult to injury the firm removed what “OK” links they had built.
You Pay For What You Get, But Never Pay For Spam
You can only get done what your budget dictates, however what ever your budget is it should never pay for spam and just so we can be clear on what spam is let me throw a few examples your way, these were literally taken from the above SEO companies report.
Spam Site Yes that is around 300 links in the side bar
Spam Site Notice the 4 feet of links as you scroll?
Sure if you have a small budget you can expect some lower quality blog posts, article directories and a few directory submissions but this kind of spam is unexceptable at any level of budget, if you have them in your profile expect to be penalised soon.
Picking an SEO Company
Don’t just pick a site from the top of Google when you search ‘SEO’, ‘search engine optimisation’ or any other of the glory terms. Anyone can buy links and rank.
Don’t agree a contract until you know what the strategy is, know what links you are going to get and know how they are going to be reported on each month.
Ask people in the industry, they will normally tell you who are the better agencies out there.
If you are currently being provided with SEO services and haven’t had a link report or have been getting links like the ones above, stop now, start asking questions and think about how to repair any damage before making rash decisions.
It’s really not the sort of post I like to write but something needs to be done to educate business owners and stop them making mistakes like the one above.Line Break
Author: Tim (292 Articles)
Tim Grice is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 7 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Head of Search at Branded3, an SEO agency in Leeds.