SEO Fraud: Small Business Owners Beware

Like most industries, the Internet marketing world is fraught with companies and individuals seeking to make a quick buck by ripping people off.  One of the most common is SEO fraud.  There are unfortunately many firms or “consultants” out there preying on the unsuspecting small business owners and selling them SEO “guarantees”.

Frankly, there are a lot of larger SEO companies doing similar things by charging outrageous prices while spending about 2 hours a week on your project and telling you to “stay the course” and that it takes time.  They use iron clad contracts and by the time you are frustrated by the lack of results and fire them (if you can get out of your contract), they have collected thousands from you.  These days of course that is harder to get away with because do to the economy, companies will price compare more often.

So how do you find the right SEO company? How do you compare the good ones from the not so good ones, and choose a company where you feel confident that the money you invest is in good hands and will generate good returns?  Here are a few tips:

  • Do as much research on basic SEO as you can on your own so you know what questions to ask
  • Choose a few firms and learn as much as you can about them
  • Be careful about the pitch where they show you all the “rankings” they have gotten for their clients – you never know what was involved, what kind of rankings the client had before, or if they are even still a client, etc.
  • Look at the firm’s own rankings and see if they practice what they preach
  • Look at their website:  if they are selling you SEO but don’t even have title tags, descriptions, etc…RUN!
  • Ask them details about their SEO practice, strategy, process, link building efforts, etc.
  • Know who their SEO engineers and project managers are:  chances are your campaign and keyword strategy will only be as good as that individual’s knowledge
  • Check certifications/qualifications
  • Read their blog, if they even have one
  • Ask if they attend the SEO trade shows, seminars, etc. to make sure they are continually learning too:  SEO these days is all about staying current
  • NEVER work with a firm offering ranking “guarantees” because you might be treading closely to black hat SEO and potential penalties

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