SEO Scams – Why you get ripped off again and again


While you are reading this post there is someone somewhere getting ripped off by some dodgy SEO. If you as a SEO professional think why so many dodgy SEOs take away your business then this post is for you. If you as a webmaster ever wonder, why I got scammed or being scammed then this post is for you.


You think SEO can be done cheap

Lot of businesses don’t understand the value of getting the desired rankings esp. in the competitive markets. It takes real money to displace real money. Websites which are in top 10 for highly competitive keywords have been spending loads of money in content creation and marketing for years. They didn’t come up on page 1 of Google overnight and certainly not with a shoe string budget. Which means if a business is spending say $5000 a month on seo and has been doing it for the last 3 years, then it has spent $5000*12*3 = $180000 so far to get/remain in top 10 for number of competitive keywords. And if your idea of replacing this $180000 worth of rankings with total budget of say $500 then you need to wake up.

Businesses which don’t understand the value of getting desired rankings often fall in the trap of SEO noobs who sell them their dream rankings for $100. The seo noobs themselves don’t know the value of desired rankings and the amount of efforts and skill required. So they make any promise and place lowest bid on every type of project irrespective of the industry and competition. Whereas experienced SEOs know that getting the desired rankings will require lot of efforts and budget. So they place the actual bid for the project. Businesses being unaware of the real value of desired ranks opt for lowest bid. Now if you attack $180000 with $500 then what is going to happen? Many SEOs have price advantage because of their country’s economy. But then, how low they can bid? Is there a limit? Every project has some fixed cost (content development, marketing etc) associated with it and no genuine seo (irrespective of his nationality) will place a bid that can’t cover even the content development and marketing cost of the project let alone his own fees.

Takeaway –Understand the value of getting desired ranks in your industry and pay accordingly.


You are not ready to pay the actual fees

The entrance threshold for becoming a seo is very low. There is no minimum qualification requirement, no certification and no regulatory body. Anyone can read ‘something somewhere’ and start selling seo services. This has resulted in population explosion of SEO noobs (often dressed up as SEO Experts) around the world. With so many dodgy SEOs out there it is hard to find the genuine experienced seo. But even when you find them, you don’t want to pay them their fees and look for cheaper/cheapest alternative which often result in being ripped off as explained above.

Takeaway – Find the genuine SEO and pay him/her the actual fees. My old post on seochat may help you here: Beginner’s Guide to identifying the Genuine SEO


You have unrealistic expectations

Many webmasters have unrealistic expectations from their online businesses. They set up websites with little to no industry knowledge and budget, and then look for SEOs who can make them millionaire overnight or get them rankings for keywords which are worth million dollars at rock bottom price. Experienced and genuine SEOs estimate the true value of ranks and don’t accept the project. This gives dodgy SEOs the opportunity to cash in on the unrealistic expectations of business owners. Since their only aim is to collect money and move on, they are ready to promise the moon.

Takeaway – Gain industry knowledge and understand competition. Get basic knowledge of SEO and how search engines work before you start any marketing campaign or hire a SEO


You can’t differentiate between marketing risk and Scam

You hire a SEO. He worked on what he agreed to work on and bring your site in top 10 for money keywords. Nothing much happen sales wise and you screamed ‘ripped off’. There can be ‘N’ reasons for top rankings and negative ROI. Your product sucks to begin with. It has no market value or just no market at all. You are overcharging for your products. You are expecting more sales than the actual market. You have bad reputation in the market and the list goes on and on. All these factors are beyond the control of a SEO and therefore you can’t accuse him of scamming you. If you want a SEO to also share your marketing risks then you are looking for a business partner and not SEO.

Takeaway – SEO is a marketing risk just like any other form of marketing. You as a business owner must be willing to take this risk and accept the consequences.




How to spot a SEO Expert

Genuine SEO Expert


Look for his/her contributions and reputation on seo forums, blogs and industry events. Often he likes his ideas to be scrutinized and challenged by other SEOs and has overwhelming urge to heavily contribute to the SEO industry. Often such guys are known to other well known SEOs. These guys really know what they talk about. Another good way is to ask for references from creditable sources.


How to spot a SEO Noob


Get ripped offThese guys are rarely found on seo forums or blogs. Even if they are found, they are generally busy in spamming there. They claim of getting high ranks through links from forums and blog comments. You can often find them selling ridiculous links packages (1000 links for $9.99) or submission services (submitting your site to 1000 search engines, 5000 directories) in the name of SEO. Another good way to spot them is through their bid on your project. If you know the true value of your rankings, you will find out instantly that the bidder has no knowledge of your industry and competition. They are often reluctant to sign any seo contract as it will make them legally responsible for their deliverables.




Other Posts you may find useful:

Subscribe to my blog
Join my free newsletter and learn to avoid the analytics mistakes everyone seems to be making over and over again.


About the Author:

My business thrives on referrals, so I really appreciate recommendations to people who would benefit from my help.Please feel free to endorse/forward my LinkedIn Profile to your clients, colleagues, friends and others you feel would benefit from SEO, PPC or Web Analytics.



  • http://Website Charles

    Great post. SEO industry is full of scumbags and it is really hard to compete with them esp. when they promise number 1 rank in $5/hr rate.

  • http://Website Andrew

    Thank you so much for this info. I am presently looking for a seo company. Do you offer seo services?

  • http://Website David

    I have been scammed so many times that now i have give up on the so called seo experts and starting doing my own seo.

  • http://Website Joshua

    Can you recommend any seo company? I like your beginners guide.

  • http://Website SJBDH

    Couldn’t agree more. I run an online retail store and i bought those worthless link packages :(

  • http://Website eric

    Excellent post about snake oil seo. Many seo companies are scams, promising 1st rank in 24 hrs. These scammers are really a pain in the a**

  • http://Website Sam

    Thought provoking post. The number 1 reason you cite is the most common for getting ripped off. Yet surprisingly very few people are aware of it.

  • http://Website fatburnhds

    I just book marked your blog on Digg and StumbleUpon.I enjoy reading your commentaries.

  • http://Website governmentauction3678

    Awesome Blog. I add this Blog to my bookmarks.

  • Moosa Hemani

    What a Necessary post you actually come up with!…Honestly I have discussed in many conferences and events that SEO is actually like any other marketing channel so risk is always there…and if one think that he invest few hundred bucks in SEO and now they are can sit and relax and money will come their way…Hello NO!

    It’s not a like genni is going to come at night and take your website on the top of the Google listings against your desired terms… it’s a hell dirty long process and you should consider time and possible outcomes in mind…
    I super agree on your point that there are ‘N’ numbers of reasons why you are not getting sales out of your website… that can be your product, your prices, your offline reputation, public reviews about you… People often think that reputation management also comes under SEO… which according to me is not true…

    Another way you can get the Real SEO is when you are going to talk to them… they will never going to say YES! At the 1st spot and they will completely analyse the website, market, keywords and then they will come up with a complete report that they can present and then will quote a price.. Usually REAL SEOs quotation can be justified by the result and plan they come up with!
    Very Interesting Post!

  • Personal VPN

    This is the good post which make difference in SEO Expert and Internet Marketing Manager. Most of the companies Totally relies on SEO Experts they dont think that the only work of SEO’s is to grow up your keywords ranking not to generate sells.
    Thanks for sharing this precious information.