How To Spot SEO Scammers And Avoid Them
SEO scammers trying to steal your money have flooded the internet. Scammers will use unethical SEO scams tactics to achieve their goal.
They have scruples or shame. So beware!
We share with you the top 17 most common SEO scams and how to void them.
Unfortunately, legitimate SEO companies offering affordable SEO are taking the bad rap because of the scammers’ evil scheme.
Sadly, many small businesses with limited marketing resources are falling for their scams.
At BuzFind, we can’t go for more than a day without receiving some SEO scam, via a cold call or email, from a so-called SEO expert or freelancer trying to sell us their too-good-to-be-true SEO guarantee and promises to get BuzFind top-ranking on Google.
Yes, even BuzFind has its share of search engine scammers trying to offer us their cheap SEO services and a guarantee to get BuzFind the #1 position on Google within 24 hours.
We’re pitched “You are not ranking for …” and “Our blog article will boost your site’s ranking” at least twice a day by search engine scammers.
If you are a small business owner and have been approached as we do daily by such self-proclaimed SEO professionals trying to separate you from your hard-earned money, then this article is for you.
BuzFind SEO consultants have put together a list of 17 most common “SEO scams” and claims you should be very familiar with and avoid at all costs.
The scammers are trying to lure you in with their too-good-to-be-true “cheap SEO price” offers and claims, then take your money.
Please note that we are talking about the scams dealing with the free organic ranking in Google’s or Bing’s search engine results.
Without further ado, here are the top 17 most common SEO scams and claims you should steer clear from.
Scam #1. Guaranteed SEO
As the name suggests, “guaranteed SEO” and “first page SEO guarantee” promises to website owners by SEO scammers and unethical SEO agencies.
Search engine scammers will do about anything to steal your hard-earned money. They’ll try to lure you into buying their guaranteed SEO, promising to take your website to Google’s top-ranking positions within a set of days.
The guaranteed SEO scam will start something like this.
The so-called SEO agency will reach out to you via email or a phone call with an offer that is too good to be true. The company or the freelancer will try to lure you in with their cheap SEO packages first.
Then make the deal appear sweeter with a guarantee to place your website above your competition within a couple of days.
Scammers might even offer you a money-back guarantee. But know that if things go south, there is nothing you can do, such as take legal action against the scammer because they are overseas.
They know there is nothing you can do after you’ve been scammed because the scammers are aware that our states have no representation accredited to the overseas court system.
If the scammers reside overseas, you can take legal action against international fraud. Good luck with that!
If you are ever approached by anyone offering you an SEO guarantee enveloped in low SEO prices, know that it is nothing but a scam.
It would be best if you steered clear and did not even bother to respond to their email.
No SEO agency or freelancer controls how Google and other major search engines rank a website.
A legit and professional SEO company extends its SEO guarantee to the quality of its work.
Scam #2. Link Building
For a fee, link-building scammers will offer to create hundreds of links to your site on other websites with high domain authority (DA).
Link scammers will even state that link building improves website ranking. Link building will enhance your website visibility in Google and other major search engines.
But not every link is created equal. BuzFind gets its share of link-building scams regularly.
We receive at least five emails daily from people claiming to work for a trusted link-building company. Their email usually looks something like this.
Let’s analyze this link-building scam together, shall we?
Joyce C Porter claims to be a professional blogger and a link builder, yet, she emailed us from a free Gmail account.
Legit link-builder agencies and freelancer will use their domain to reach out to you and offer you their link-building services.
Look at the bold text ‘Blogger,’ ‘Link Builder,’ ‘Guest Post Provider,’ ‘High-Quality sites,’ ‘Discount,’ ‘Top & High-Quality‘, and ‘Niches/Categories.’
Professional link-building companies will not use bold to highlight such words.
Scam #3. Cheap SEO
It is important that you know that cheap SEO will come with ‘one-size-fits-all SEO strategies‘ and ‘Back Hat SEO tactics.’
A search for “cheap SEO” will lead to a plethora of hundreds of companies offering low-cost SEO with monthly SEO packages that businesses with low marketing budget fall head first for.
I will tell you the truth if you are looking for cheap SEO services. They don’t exist. Or at least, they should not exist because low-cost SEO services are a money-making scam that many small businesses fall for – unfortunately!
It is important to note that high-quality local SEO or nationwide SEO services will not cost $50 a month.
Yes, someone did reach out and offered BuzFind its SEO services, with many features, for $30/month. Don’t believe me? Check out the email below.
Suppose you are a small business owner with limited marketing resources. In that case, the $99/month SEO services price is too good to be true.
The low cost of their SEO services will appear like you’ll be getting a good deal.
Note – You can only get professional SEO services with a reasonable search engine optimization price.
This is what you’ll get if you decide to hire an SEO provider based on their cheap SEO:
- Black hat SEO tactics,
- “Cookie-Cutter SEO” or “One-Size-Fits-All SEO” techniques,
- Inexperienced SEO freelancers,
- Your website banned by Google and possibly other major search engines
Cheap SEO will open your business to a can of spammy and unethical SEO tactics that will harm your business.
On average, hiring an experienced and professional SEO specialist will cost you between $70 and $200 an hour.
If you decide to take the cheap SEO route, keep both eyes open and ask the SEO consultant to share with you their plan before taking any action.
To help lower your SEO cost, you can tell them you want to do the updates yourself – Provided you know SEO basics.
It is important to note that you implement the updates only if you feel you can take over the changes after knowing and understanding what the search engine consultant did.
Scam #4. Guest Posting Will Help Your SEO
This scam goes something like this.
The scammer will offer to provide you with a link or a guest post on their high DA website, claiming that doing so will improve your SEO.
Obtaining a link from a high DA domain might boost your website domain authority, but that is the only thing it will do for you.
According to John Mueller of Google, Google does not use Domain Authority (DA) in its ranking algorithm. Domain level is not one of Google’s ranking signals. DA can make your website rank somewhat. But don’t bet your business on it.
Buying a link is a big no-no for Google and other major search engines.
Link building should be made naturally. Just write quality content relevant to your niche, share it on social media platforms, and watch your links build themselves.
Scam #5. Guest Posting On Your Website
The guest posting on your website scam will look like this.
The guest posting scammer will take the form of a professional writer and offer you to write high-quality content for your website. The scammer will make the offer enticing by stating that the content they will write will fit perfectly with your audience.
Look at the email we just got this October 19, 2022. The sender is using an Outlook email account (not based on a domain. The scammer did include their profile picture to make the email look more legit.
The picture you see in the scammer’s signature is a stock photo you can find on Freepick.
Have you been approached by a scammer offering you their guest blogging services and stating it will help your SEO?
Read “The Disadvantages Of Making Your Blog Guest Post Friendly” by: Fabrizio Van Marciano at Magnet4Blogging.net. It is a Good Read.
Remember when I said, ‘link building should be made naturally‘?
In this “The Top 17 Most Common SEO Scams” article, I decided to link to Fabrizio Van Marciano’s post because I found the article to be very well-written, informative and relevant to the topic of ‘Guest Blogging.’
Fabrizio didn’t even ask for a link to this great post.
Scam #6. We Are Google Partners Scam
The SEO scammer will state that they are Google Partners when emailing or calling you to make you believe they are a legitimate SEO company or freelancer.
First and foremost, Google does have an SEO program. However, it doesn’t have a “Google Partner” program or anything like that.
Any search engine optimization company or freelancer that claims they have a partnership with Google is lying to you and are trying to scam you.
On October 10, 2022, I received an email from Rakshit Patel offering his Web & Mobile App services. This unsolicited email doesn’t fall within the SEO scams. It is a web design scam. Nevertheless, it’s a scam.
When I checked their website, it had a ‘Recently Client Says’ slider with a bunch of so-called clients praising their work.
I looked deeper and chose a picture of one of their so-called clients ‘Jonathan Kirby‘ fake review, and did an image search, and I found a similar image with a different name on Google Lens.
As you can see above, the person’s name is not Jonathan Kirby. The image belongs to a real person named ‘Chandler Thornton‘ (or Thornton Chandler).
Scam #7. We Are Google Certified
A scammer will reach out to you and mentions their Google certification for search engine optimization.
Even if the quite shady SEO agency or professional has a Google Certification for SEO, you should focus on something other than hiring an SEO agency with a certification.
Have you seen the process of getting a Google Certification for SEO? Go ahead and try it, and I can guarantee you can get one after a couple of tries.
If the SEO scammers try to use their certification to scam you into hiring them, imagine what other unethical SEO tactics they could use to get you top ranking. Very scarry.
Scam #8. They Have Google’s Secret Sauce
They know Google’s Algorithm.
Look, I love sauces, especially my homemade Harissa ‘hot sauce’ I make from scratch using Carolina Reaper peppers, garlic and my other secret spices.
When it comes to sauces, there is no such thing as a ‘Google Secret Sauce.’ If an SEO marketing agency claim to have one, it is a sign that their sauce’s contains one of the following ingredients:
- 2 Tablespoons of Black Hat SEO,
- 1 Gallon of keyword stuffing,
- 1 Cup of Guest posting on non-relevant or topic related websites,
- 1 Teaspoon of Cloaking,
The final product will be a ‘banned website.’
Scam #9. Get You Top Ranking in 24 Hours
The only way to get your website rank in the top 3 positions within a short amount of time is by paying Google for their Google Ads services. And for that, you don’t need help from an SEO provider or freelancer.
But if anyone reaches out to you and promise you to rank your site on the 1st page of Google or of other major search engines within a day or two, know that even professional SEO services will take from 6 months up to 1 year to bring positive results from your hard work.
Keep both eyes and ears open for digital marketing companies trying to sell you their ‘top ranking in 24hrs’.
Scam #10. Offering 15 days SEO Trials
SEO is tidious and requires days of hard work implementing SEO best practices and techniques to get your website in the top ranking position of google.
No legitimate SEO services company will do SEO for free even for 1 day, including us at BuzFind. What professional search engine optimization companies might offer for free is doing a website audit.
However, the SEO audit report won’t be detailed because auditing your website will require an SEO provider like me a lots of hours and resources.
If we offered a free and detailed site audit report to every small business owner, BuzFind will close its doors.
You can’t expect someone to give you a used car with 150,000 miles on it and expect the car to have no problems and last you for years.
If you want something good, then you’ll need to invest in it. I am just being honest here.
Scam #11. Submittal To Directories And Search Engines
The scammer will offer their cheap SEO services including the submission of your website to hundreds of search engines, including Google, Bing and to other directories.
This scam is used to make you believe you are getting a lot of SEO features and it is a good steal.
Sometimes, the SEO scammer will have a deadline (a day or hours left) on their website before the too good to be true offer disapears.
It is important to note that search engines that allow you to submit your website or pages still exist such as Google via your ‘Search Console’.
The truth is that you don’t have to submit your pages to Google via your Search Console for them to be crawled and indexed.
When its time and ready, your website and pages will be discovered and indexed.
If you want to speed up the process a bit, you can submit your homepage or any other important pages to Google from within the Search Console and if you have properly executed your internal linking campaign and your pages have no crawling or indexing issues, your pages will eventually be crawled and indexed.
So don’t get ripped off by this decade’s old scam.
Scam #12. Unsolicited SEO services
I receive several unsolicated emails, from our contact form or direct contact, on a daily basis from every dick and harry (mostly from overseas) offering their search engine optimization at a very cheap SEO price.
One of the unsolicited email I received with a too good to be true SEO price of $7 per hour. This scammer claimed they have an SEO team comprized of 250+ professionals and are running 800+ SEO projects.
Legit SEO marketing companies, like BuzFind will not seek you out and offer our services.
A car mechanic will not visit every street and offer his engine repair services. If your car breaks down, you’ll open your prefered browser and use your prefered search engine and look for a car repair mechanic.
So if someone reaches out to you and offer you their search engine services for a cheap SEO price, it means they are desperate for cash and they will do anything to trick you into signing up with them.
Scam #13. Your Website Is Not Ranking On Google
Again, a scammer will send you a friendly email stating they’ve noticed your website not ranking on Google and they can remedy that for a low SEO price.
I understand you want to show up in the top 3 positions of Google for one, two or multiple keywords you believe your website should be ranking for.
First of all, if I shared with you all the emails I received from someone claiming that BuzFind is not ranking on Google, you’ll notice the following:
- Most of those emails we received come from free email accounts like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo and so on,
- Most of those emails didn’t mention the keyword, or keywords BuzFind is not ranking for,
- The content or the verbiage used is almost identical from one email to another,
- In all of the email, most, if not all of the similar words are in bold,
- Some of the emails will be signed using a Christian name but when you look at the grammar, you can tell this scammer’s first language is not English,
- Most of the email will either have no contact phone number, or have an overseas number, a Skype or WhatsApp number,
- If the scammer lists their SEO company address and you do a search using Google Map, you’ll see that 1) the address or place belongs to a hair salon, 2) The address is located somewhere in an empty field.
Don’t believe me, go ahead and try asking for a phone number or address and then check it using Google Map.
Scam #14. You’ll Get Thousands Of Visitors Per Day
The scammer will email you and offer to bring thousands of visitors to your website in less than a month of you sign up with them. The SEO marketing scammer might even include a 15 days SEO trial.
They might also share with you a screenshot showing a company’s high monthly visit as a proof even though they haven’t done any SEO work for that company. A screenshot with thousands of monthly organic visits can easily be obtain.
What they don’t tell you is that those visits are actually from bots and that they will not increase conversion.
Scam #15. Your Listing Is About To Expire
On a weekly basis, I receive several calls from a John, a Bob or a Smith stating that my listing is about to expire soon, or that BuzFind doesn’t have a listing.
Just for laughs, I ask them which is it?
- I don’t have a listing? or
- My listing is about to expire?
I go even further and ask them which website they are talking about?
This is when they will ask for the phone number of the property. I go ahead and reply:
“shouldn’t you know the property since you told me that my business listing is about to expire?”
This is when the end the conversation and hang up.
Don’t fall prey for this scam. Sign up for a Google listing account and keep it up to date with proper information about your services or products.
If you need help with Google listing, you are the one who should be reaching out, not the other way around.
Again, a legit search engine marketing company will not contact you and offer their Google listing services using lies and unethical tactics.
Scam #16. Your Domain Is About To Expire
This is not an SEO scam but nevertheless, it is a scam.
About once a year, BuzFind receives a card or a letter from an unethical XYZ company trying to rip us off. The card or letter will state that BuzFind domain is about to expire and if we don’t act soon, we’ll loose that domain.
They will even offer you a 25% off discount with a final price of $225 for 2 years.
Don’t fall for the scam. Just login to your domain registrar or web hosting account and you’ll see that renewing your domain for 2 more years will not cost you $225.
They only thing you’ll get when your domain is about to expire is a notification, mostly via email reminder, from your domain registrar, or your web hosting company if you bought your domain through them.
Scam #17. Own Your SEO Campaign
When it comes to SEO scams, this one is the scammiest of them all.
Look! No one should own your domain, Google Search Console and Analytics.
An SEO scammer will reach out to you and offer you their cheap SEO packages knowing you don’t already have a website.
How they would no that? It is not that difficult to do with a tool or a choosing a niche and perform a Google search where they will see a plethora of business that don’t have a website.
So they reach out to you with the offer of designing a website for you and do SEO for a measly price. They will coerce you into letting them do the leg work for you off:
- Getting a domain,
- Design your website,
- Setup Google Search Console and Analytics for you,
- and so on.
This looks great for a couple of months or so.
Then you receive an email from the XYZ company informing you that they are raising the price of their services.
You decide to leave them only to find out that if you leave, you’ll take nothing with you because they own everything.
This happened to one of my clients.
The client was working with a shady SEO company and when they decided to leave because for the high price increase (after 3 months of SEO service), they realized they didn’t own:
- The domain,
- The website,
- The Google Search Console and Analytics.
All of their online assets where at risk.
Luckily together, we were able to come up with a short and sweet domain that fitted their business niche, and I recommended a good web hosting company.
I told the client to register the new domain with a domain registrar and host their website with a hosting company we trust and have a good experience with them.
Note – BuzFind doesn’t get any kick backs from any hosting companies.
What I do is recommend a domain registrar and a web hosting company then ask that you register the domain and choose a hosting package yourself.
In my 20 and some years in the web design and marketing fields, I’ve seen my share of all types of scams related to search engine optimization.
It is very easy to avoid them. Really! All you need to do is:
- Not respond to unsolicited emails,
- Hang up the phone as soon as you hear the person at the end offer a service,
- And most importantly, know that legit SEO companies will never contact you and offer their services.
If you received something, I mean anything related to SEO, web design, social media marketing, domain and are unsure as to what to do, please reach out to us and I’ll be more than happy to help you and recommend what you should do at no cost to you.
Of course BuzFind is in the business of making money. But not everything is about money.
If I can help you steer away from scammers, or have any questions related to search engine optimization, web design or social media marketing, I will be more than happy to help my fellow man/woman.
I hope you enjoyed reading this “The Top 17 Most Common SEO Scams” post as much as I did writing it.
Would you like to share your comment about this article or an SEO scam experience you had with a shady SEO company or a scammer?
Please let me know by contacting me.
Good luck and please stay safe and steer clear from from all types of SEO scams.
FAQs About SEO Scams
Is SEO a scam?
No! Not all SEO is a scam. SEO scams are deceptive marketing tactics used by unethical cheap SEO agencies and freelancers.
Are SEO companies a scam?
No! SEO companies that offer professional SEO services with ethical SEO techniques do exist. You just need to be more careful which search optimization company you hire.
Do phishing websites still exist?
Yes! Phishing websites that try to get you to share your personal information still exist.
how do I spot an SEO scammer in minutes?
The easiest way I found you can spot an SEO scammer is knowing that legit SEO marketing companies never cold call you or send you an unsolicited email.
how can you protect yourself from phishing scams?
The easiest way is never click on any link without checking the URL by hovering over the link. Note that your bank will never email you asking you for personal information or ask you to click on a link to reset your password unless you initial the password yourself first.
What SEO scams exist in digital marketing?
They are the ones I mentioned in this blog.
Why some legit websites display SEO scam Ads?
It could be because their revenue is so low that they try other venue to monetize their website by hosting ads.
Why can’t SEO companies offer guaranteed search engine rankings?
Because legit SEO agencies know and tell you they can’t control how Google ranks websites. If an agency or freelancer tells you otherwise, know that it is a lie and you should be looking elsewhere.
The top 17 most common SEO scams
If your business website is not ranking and you need help, our SEO services for small business will help you outrank your competitors on Google search results without burning your wallet.