If your business has a website, by now you’ve likely received at least one unsolicited email alerting you that your site needs immediate improvements. These alerts typically include vague promises to instantly get you to the top of Google or guarantee more traffic, sales, etc.
While occasionally these emails can be sent from a legitimate organization or real person, the reality is that most of them are spambots trying to gather leads. They use spiders to crawl websites for email addresses (or submit Contact forms) and send automated emails with a canned sales pitch. Once an unsuspecting business owner takes the bait (replies to the email or contacts the sender), the spammer will try to sell them on a short-term contract involving shady Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices that have absolutely no long-term value.
Learning how to identify whether or not these emails are legit can help prevent turning a productive afternoon into an unnecessary scramble to fix your website (that wasn’t even broken). Identifying these emails as scams is becoming increasingly difficult as the spammers have learned to include personalized information using publicly available data (Dear website owner at yourdomain.com, for example). But there are several red flags that can simplify this task and give you the ability to put the spam in its designated box so you can keep on cruising through your day.
- No company name or website is provided – Why wouldn’t a salesperson mention the name of the organization they represent? Seems like an unusual strategy… Maybe they’re waiting to disclose that information until the duped victim has been vetted?
- It’s sent from a disposable email address – Gmail, Hotmail, and other similar email providers offer free addresses that can be discarded (which will happen once they’re flagged enough as spam). Similar to the previous point, a legitimate email address would include the person’s business domain.
- The pitch lacks any evidence of research – If you can confidently tell me that my website’s traffic is suffering, why can’t you include that information in the email? And not just some generic industry benchmarks, actual data about my site. If we’re not ranking for specific keywords, shouldn’t those be mentioned?
- Pressing a sense of urgency – Spammers will try to create a sense of urgency in hopes that you’ll panic and make a hasty decision (in the spammer’s favor). They know if you start to inquire further, you’ll figure them out.
- Same pitch from different senders – If you receive enough of these, you’ll start to notice a bunch of consistencies in the pitches from different senders. (this is best when they happen in the same day)
These are only the most common red flags, but use this info to scrutinize those emails a little closer. If you’re ever unsure, check with your developer or marketing agency. Keep in mind that website SEO is a long-term commitment. Anyone that guarantees rankings, especially in a short amount of time, is a scammer.
Unfortunately, we will continue to see these types of spammers until people stop falling for them. Once you start to recognize them, though, it’ll get easier to confidently click that MARK AS SPAM button and get back to business.
The truth is, good Search Engine Optimization takes time, great content, and commitment. Show Google, Bing, and other search engines that you’re consistently an expert in your field by providing resources and helping people easily find what they need. Search engines are always tweaking and updating their algorithms to find the best, most relevant content in order to produce better results for users. This is why it’s important to be persistent in your SEO efforts. There are no overnight solutions or “Google hacks,” and anyone who promises a quick-fix is simply looking to turn a quick buck using black-hat techniques which will severely damage your site’s reputation. Our friends at 360ideas offer a comprehensive and strategic search engine optimization plan that has improved results for several great businesses. Give us a call at the number below if you’re interested in a 100% no obligation, scam-free audit!