The Anatomy of an SEO Spam Message

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If you have a website, you’ve gotten a spam message trying to sell you SEO services. The SEO industry is overwhelmed with scammers trying to make a quick buck off website owners who don’t know much about search engines. In fact, these scammers have given the SEO industry a bad name because so many people have been burned by them in the past.

Occasionally, our clients will forward these spam messages to us asking if their claims of “top Google rankings” are possible. Invariably, our answer is to mark the message as spam and never respond to that person again.

To help you recognize these spammers for what they are, I wanted to share a few examples that Pronto and our clients have received and point out common traits that many of these messages will have.

The bad grammar and formatting

seo spam example This is an example that was recently sent to us through a form on our website. Obvious formatting errors, missing punctuation and missing capitalization mark this clearly as spam. He doesn’t even bother add a little finesse and instead directly asks us to send him business. No, we will not be outsourcing work to you. Further digging shows additional suspicious activity here. They actually have a decently looking website for a company claiming to be in Miami. However, in the form he lists a non-US phone number and a quick search of their address shows that its an apartment that was recently put up for rent. On top of that, their site claims that they designed websites for the Rolling Stones, Katy Perry and Jason Mraz. Sorry, but I don’t think Katy’s web design company is offering any services for $99/month.

The Gmail account

seo spam example In this example, we have an unsolicited message from a Gmail account trying to sell traffic services. That should throw up an immediate red flag for you. Spammers often use generic Gmail or Yahoo accounts because it adds a layer of protection and anonymity making it hard for any spam complaints to actually come back and harm their domain. A real SEO company offering valuable services would never spam you like this and if for some reason they did send an unsolicited email, it certainly wouldn’t come from a Gmail account. What makes this even worse is that the service she is trying to sell is complete junk, but it could be tempting enough to trick a few website owners who don’t know better. More traffic is good, right? Not in this case. The traffic they would be sending would come from automated bots. You’d see a big spike in your traffic analytics and you might have a few vanity stats to brag about, but that traffic wouldn’t actually do anything on your site. Thousands of visits with zero new leads and a bunch of wasted money. Traffic needs to be earned, not paid for.

The bad research and empty promises

seo spam example Here’s one that a client recently received. At first glance, this one almost seems legit, but there is so much wrong with it. First, he claims that the client’s website is on the 17th page of Google results for “Louisville alterations.” Really? That’s the best you could come up with? The client involved here isn’t even located in Kentucky and they’re definitely not in the tailoring/garment industry. Jason didn’t even take the time to visit this client’s site to see where they are located or what kind of business they run. The really frustrating part of this message is that he’s focusing on a technical aspect of the site that most website owners don’t really know about (W3C standards) and making a claim that sounds plausible. In short, W3C is organization that attempts to maintain consistency in coding languages like HTML and CSS used throughout the web. The standards are impossibly high. It’s essentially not possible to build a website without any W3C errors or warnings and there might even be cases where writing invalid HTML would be more beneficial than sticking with the W3C standards. The good news is that search engines are aware of this and generally ignore any errors or warnings. Unless you had a huge error that was causing your site to stop functioning, these won’t have an impact on your site’s performance and fixing them won’t make any noticeable improvements. In fact, Google has publicly stated that W3C errors and warning don’t impact rankings. So if this client ended up hiring Jason, they would be paying for work that wouldn’t actually improve performance. As with the first example, this spam company has a decent looking website that might rope in a few unsuspecting owners. However, a quick look at their contact page shows that their address is listed as 123 Main St. Anywhere, USA – nice try guys.

Knowing is half the battle

The best defence against these spammers is knowledge. The more you know about SEO and internet marketing, the less likely you’ll be to fall for spammers’ tricks. You don’t need to be an expert, but knowing the basics of how SEO works can go a long way. And if you’re ever unsure, we’re always happy to help. Just send their message to us and we’ll gladly take a look at it for you. Don’t forget that Pronto now provides professional SEO services!

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