How Not To Get Scammed By Bad SEO Companies

If you conduct a really simple Google search, you will notice the fact that there are literally hundreds of SEO services available at the moment. You do not need to go to school in order to call yourself an SEO professional. In fact, you can make that claim alone. If someone hires you and you are not able to offer a quality service, it is your problem.

The problem is that most of the SEO companies you find on the internet are really bad at what they do. In fact, they just do really small jobs for you and will make money while not doing much. It is a certainty that you do not want to pay someone to do nothing. In many cases the only thing that is guaranteed is that you will lose your money in the process.

Always Do Your Homework

Before we talk about the really common scams, we have to talk a little about research and about doing your homework. Believe it or not, this is what helps you out the most in making a correct choice. It is vital that you take a good look at all the options that are currently available on the market for you. Never hire anyone before you are sure that you actually receive what is promised. Scamming firms will always tell you what you want to hear and you end up losing a lot of potential income.

Let us now talk about how companies try to take advantage of you by analyzing the most common scams.

1. Free Services Offered

Be wary of companies that offer anything for free. Keep in mind that we currently live in a tough economic environment. Who would offer something without gaining anything in return? The free service is basically the oldest scam in the book and so many of the bad SEO companies will use this tactic.

You can receive rebates and low priced deals. You can even receive odd services from time to time without having to pay for them. The problem is that in most situations the people that ask just want information. They will take advantage of you one way or the other. Quality SEO work costs money. It is not offered for free.

In order to properly understand this fact, try to learn about how search engine optimization firms make money. SEO Hermit highlighted a good article about why SEO is expensive. Read it. Think about how much time is actually necessary to rank web pages and you will see that nobody can actually afford to give you something for free.

2. Submitting Sites To Thousands Of Search Engines

If you see that a company offers submission to 100, 200, 300 or no matter how many search engines, you should not work with it. I am not 100% sure that there are 300 search engines on the internet and in the event that there are, how many would actually bring you traffic? While the entire community talks about having your site ranking well in Google, Bing and Yahoo, some site owners still get scammed with hundreds of search engines.

There is no person in the world that uses 2 to 3 popular search engines. Most just use 1. If an SEO company tells you that they will submit to 100 search engines, ask for a list of the top 10 that they will submit to. You will laugh when you see that list.

Since we are talking about submitting to search engines, we should add that even submitting to site or article directories is not what you want to see as the center of the SEO work. The really bad companies out there will try to tell you that the more backlinks you have, the better the rankings you obtain. This seems like being logical but it is not actually so. The quality of the links counts the most. Submitting to search engines or directories does not showcase good backlinks.

The logic between submitting to many different search engines is that you gain more traffic as people would end up coming from different sources. This is false. Read more about this topic on this article by Bill Hartzer. You will surely like what is written there.

3. Guaranteed First Page Keyword Rankings

When I first started working with SEO professionals, I asked why they do not guarantee first page rankings since they managed to get a lot of great results. They told me that nobody can guarantee something like that and those that do are just scammers. After a few years I realized that this was 100% correct.

Any good SEO company will avoid promising guaranteed rankings. It will do all that it can in order to increase exposure and visibility so that you get more traffic. If you want to be sure that you hire a good specialist, make sure that you never work with one that makes such a guarantee.

Let us think about it this way. Wikipedia is currently a huge site that has millions of pages and tons of content added every day. The pages on the encyclopedia will naturally get many different web links. Can you actually compete with such a volume? How hard would it be to beat a page that keeps getting natural links? It is very hard and in most situations you will not be able to do so.

A serious firm will perform an analysis and will offer realistic estimation. It will never tell you that the first page is guaranteed. It will tell you how many chances there are that this will happen in the future. See the difference?

It needs to be added that there are also some companies that will agree to only get paid in the event that they reach and maintain the number one position. This is a much better type of guarantee. You can actually take advantage of something like this but you need to be sure that the firm will use good methods. Make sure that the companies will only use white hat SEO techniques. Ask for a weekly report of all that is done and do your own analysis at the same time. You always have to be careful with such deals.

4. Secret SEO Formulas For Success

We are faced with many companies that tell you that they have a guaranteed formula for search engine rankings. The truth is that there is no real secret to search engine optimization. Google does offer all the information we need to know. The trick is to use proper resources and do great work from beginning to end. Those firms that talk about secret SEO formulas will either not do much or will use black hat techniques. If you know anything about search engine optimization, you already understand the fact that black hat is not the way to go.

Successful SEO formulas do not exist. There is absolutely no secret. Think about KFC and the famous recipe for crispy wings. For a really long period of time the claim was that the recipe was secret. In reality, anyone with a lab could figure it out. Such secrets are just marketing scams. In today’s world it is normal to do all that we can in order to gain clients. The problem is that what is offered is not always what is received. Be careful with these formulas.

5. Claiming To Know The Google Algorithm

I will say the same thing that I always say when I hear such a claim: the people that create and expand the Google Algorithm do not actually know the Google Algorithm. How can a company do that? The truth is that this algorithm is very complex. It is obvious that some parts are known. You can even find information about this on the internet. However, when referring to knowing everything, this is impossible.

What SEO Companies Should You Consider?

So many things can be said about this topic. We would most likely need many other pages to be able to offer a complete guideline about what needs to be done. However, there are some basic things that can help you out a lot. Besides the fact that you need to avoid everything associated with the scams mentioned above, you should also look for signs that the company does really good work.

While portfolios are rarely highlighted since most clients do not want others to know who they work with when it comes to search engine optimization, many of the SEO companies that are very good also do very good work on their sites. In many cases you can be sure that the services are pretty good when their sites rank really well. That is quite logical, isn’t it?

Also, the conversation that you will have with the representative of the SEO company is very important. Make sure that you ask any question you may have. That person needs to answer and needs to do so in a way that you understand. Write down anything that seems weird. When you get back home, try to see what people say on the really big SEO blogs. You will quickly notice if what is offered is going to work or not.

It is impossible to actually recommend a company. Some are better than others when referring to some niches because of the fact that they have access to their own networks that can be used for the promotion of your site. They also have access to different analysis tools and know how to use them differently.


You need patience. There is no way around that. Also, in the event that the SEO company does not get the job done right, you need to seriously consider firing and getting a new one. It is vital that you think about the results you receive. While good search engine optimization work takes time to bring in great results, some results need to be seen.

The more you know about search engine optimization, the bigger the possibility of avoiding SEO scams! If there is only one thing that you should remember from this article, the statement before is it. I see too many site owners that literally know nothing about SEO and they end up paying so much money for services that do nothing for them. If your competition is moving up and you are moving down, isn’t it obvious that something is wrong?

Did you have any bad experience with an SEO company in the past? If so, let us know about it. Get involved in the conversation below. Maybe there are other common scams that you ended up noticing with some firms. No matter the case, we want to hear from you. We are confident that we can learn so much more about the business when this is done.

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  1. List of search engines:
    Most of them get their info from, though.

  2. Great article Laura. I share with you the strong desire to educate the unsuspecting website owner about how to choose a quality SEO company (especially with the latest Google algorithm updates). Anyone business looking at hiring an SEO provider needs to do their homework and demand full transparency, if the company isn’t happy with that then run, and fast!

    We’ve recently added a page on our own site to help make this process easy for business owners:

    I also don’t completely agree with the section about offering free services as being a bad thing. Everything in context. If a company is trying to provide some value and actually help a potential client by offering a free audit, report, consulting etc, this is often a great way for them to stand out from their competitors and be perceived as a trusted authority.

    Also while there may not be any “secret SEO formulas” there are definitely bad, good and quality ways of performing search engine optimisation and the more experience and expertise an SEO consultant has, the better the results should be generally speaking.

  3. I am happy to see someone speaks for “Good SEO” companies. Thanks for this article Laura. When competition is fierce, SEO vendors tend to provide false promises and it becomes a challenge to the “real professionals” who knows the limitations of working with search engines. “Guaranteed First Page Keyword Rankings” is a bait. Many of our clients asked why don’t you promise this when we charge all those SEO money, when another X is ready to offer them a top position.
    Another trap is secrete SEO formulas which are primarily nothing but, sales traps.

  4. Great tips! I especially like that you mentioned that it’s good to look for a company that doesn’t necessarily guarantee first page Google results. While that is ideal, the biggest priority should be placed on improving rankings. It is also important to choose an seo company that practices white-hat SEO tactics to avoid be penalized later down the road. You might use black-hat SEO to rank high, quickly, but it’s no good if it results in a Google penalty later down the line.

  5. SEO is not much popular in India so by cross checking particular aspect we can easily catch the bad seo companies/ scammed….can you please suggest us which are the tools we can use to detect scammed SEO profiles…

  6. I could not agree more. Everything you said is the truth, but unfortunately there are a few, that get us a bad name.

  7. I like this article.I was searching over search engines and found your blog and its really helps to us, thank you so much to sharing.

  8. Nice write up

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