SEO

Be Wary of SEO Companies that Contact You First

Google says it flat out in their SEO Webmaster Guidelines, “Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.” There are plenty of disreputable and black hat SEO practitioners that are scrounging for clients. They’ll say anything they want to get you to hand over your carefully allocated SEO funds. Some of them may actually do a small amount work, however shoddy or black hat it may be. Oftentimes you’ll find you end up hiring another SEO firm to clean up the mess of the first one. The really bad ones will just take your money and run without even faking an attempt at doing SEO for your company, disappearing into the void of online anonymity.

One of the biggest giveaways that someone is trying to scam you is when they contact you out of the blue. Hopefully, most people know by now that the Nigerian government isn’t looking to deposit $100,000 into their bank account and recognize those emails for what they are – a con. Unsolicited email isn’t considered a viable marketing tactic, so most reputable companies don’t touch it with a ten foot pole. Opt-in email marketing, like when you give your favorite store your email address so they can send your special offers, is a much more successful and respected approach. Just like you don’t trust random e-mails selling miracle weight loss pills, don’t trust an unsolicited e-mail from an SEO services provider.

Many of these less-than-scrupulous SEO providers (or SEO con men) find companies that already have a contract with a white hat SEO company. Their biggest selling point is trying to convince you that you are vastly overpaying for your SEO services. They’ll say,

“We can do the same things as your current SEO provider for less than half what you are paying now! And we don’t get paid until you are ranking first for all of your keywords! And we guarantee our results! And we’ll handle your social media! And…”

Like a smooth talking used-car salesman trying to pass a lemon off for a Ferrari, SEO con men will do whatever it takes to convince you to leave your current SEO provider for them.

The simple truth is that good, white hat SEO providers don’t need to go begging for business like that. Their business is built on a solid reputation, the satisfaction of clients and referrals brought in from happy customers. They don’t have to resort to unsolicited e-mails and underhanded tactics to win business.

Think about it this way. How often does your company randomly contact potential clients? Not those that current clients have recommended you reach out to, not people you met at conferences or tradeshows, not people who connect with you on social networking site. How often does your company reach out to companies or individuals that have no idea who you are or why you would be e-mailing them? Probably not very frequently, right? Being known as a “spammer” when it comes to getting clients severely damages your reputation and devalues your brand. You don’t want to annoy or anger potential clients, especially ones you have no business contacting. Why would good SEO companies and consultants behave any differently?

The bottom line is that you should treat any SEO provider that contacts you first –unprompted and uninvited – with some serious reservations. Google, the behemoth of search engines and the main reason SEO exists, even admits that they get spam messages saying “Dear google.com,

I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…” Clearly spammers don’t discriminate when they’re trying to get business.

If you’re looking to hire an SEO provider, you have to do your research. Talk to other businesses you work with and see who they use for their SEO services and why. SEO often has a bad reputation because SEO con men are waiting to take advantage of uninformed business owners. Read the Google Webmaster Guidelines about SEO. Those are the hard and fast rules of SEO and a reputable SEO provider should know that. Good SEO companies should be able to provide you with client referrals and recommendations. Do you own research on a potential SEO provider. See what kind of information pops up about them when you start digging around online. If you start to notice red flags, time to walk away and make sure you’re not missing your wallet.

ac4c7856380807c14afccbe70e0ce071 64 Be Wary of SEO Companies that Contact You First
Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing, a full service Boston SEO firm. With nearly 13 years of experience in the Internet Marketing industry, Nick Stamoulis shares his B2B SEO knowledge by contributing to the Brick Marketing Blog and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 160,000 opt-in subscribers.
ac4c7856380807c14afccbe70e0ce071 64 Be Wary of SEO Companies that Contact You First
ac4c7856380807c14afccbe70e0ce071 64 Be Wary of SEO Companies that Contact You First
ac4c7856380807c14afccbe70e0ce071 64 Be Wary of SEO Companies that Contact You First

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27 thoughts on “Be Wary of SEO Companies that Contact You First

  1. Nice Topic Nick… the title remember of my agency days where i see lot of emails on our clients email addresses that says ‘We see that you are not on top 10 rankings with your desired keywords and we can do something that will take you to higher rankings and blah blah blah… GUARANTEED’ :)

    I think by now most of the companies (at least ethical) companies understand that there email are not going to do wonders with your website but it is very much possible that they hurt your rankings and can kick you our of the search engines…

    I think by now Spammers should realized that this bullshit is not going to work any more…

    I really enjoyed reading this one! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great post! I have a particular spot in my heart for those who send you SEO spam email from a Gmail account. If you can’t at least go to the bother of registering a domain name, then I’m really not even going to think about it any longer than it takes my hand to hit the delete button!

    If you are looking at an SEO company, I think it’s always a good idea to see where they rank in Google as well as their clients!

    Mark.

    1. You’ve made more sense in that comment than the entire original post managed.

      If someone’s emailing you from gmail, they’re dodgy. If they’ve got a company email address leading to a reputable, well established website, they’re probably OK.

      1. I agree with most of the statements in the post, because the vast majority of the companies that contact us out of the blue are scam artists. They ask me questions like “how would I like to be number one on Google” and make ridiculous promises. One company wanted to charge us money for being on Google maps, which is free. I hang up on these people. While there may be some legit companies that do cold calling, I don’t think they are in the majority.

      2. I agree with most of the statements in the post, because the vast majority of the companies that contact us out of the blue are scam artists. They ask me questions like “how would I like to be number one on Google” and make ridiculous promises. One company wanted to charge us money for being on Google maps, which is free. I hang up on these people. While there may be some legit companies that do cold calling, I don’t think they are in the majority.

  3. REFERRALS!

    I don’t directly market my business, I don’t have sales people and I don’t care about my site’s search rankings. And guess what- we’re busy!

    That said, unfortunately, SEO email spammers are often successful. But any company who falls for that kind of BS probably isn’t one I’d like to work w/ anyway.

  4. Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

    “Unsolicited [contact] isn’t considered a viable marketing tactic, so most reputable companies don’t touch it with a ten foot pole.”

    Says who? I receive unsolicited messages from charities, banks and companies I trust – whether via email, telephone or post. Direct marketing like this isn’t a signifier of poor quality, any more than owning a Twitter account makes you an online marketing expert. I’ve worked for companies who use unsolicited email. Hell, I’ve spent months working on marketing campaigns for companies who know not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and they’ve all been reputable.

    “Hopefully, most people know by now that the Nigerian government isn’t looking to deposit $100,000 into their bank account and recognize those emails for what they are – a con.”

    Reductio ad absurdum. If I’d written a blog post about the time I spoke on the phone to someone dodgy and as such would advise clients to avoid anyone insisting on a telephone conversation, I’d be laughed out of town. The medium ISN’T important. The service is.

    “How often does your company randomly contact potential clients?”

    Every day, if you’re good at what you do. Passive marketing DOESN’T WORK. It’s not a matter of “if you build it, they will come.” Because they won’t come. So you need to reach out to clients. Through marketing. When you place an advert in a newspaper, run a TV or radio ad, pay for AdWords, call someone, email someone or write a letter to someone, you’re contacting potential clients.

    And how come that’s randomly contacting someone? You’ve just said all these sinister companies target existing SEO clients. That’s not random. That’s targeted.

    “Good, white hat SEO providers don’t need to go begging for business like that. Their business is built on a solid reputation, the satisfaction of clients and referrals brought in from happy customers.”

    That’s the sort of circle-jerk thinking that only an SEO can come out with.

    I’ve got friends in dozens of industries – from plumbers to lawyers. They don’t know what SEO is. And people in their industry aren’t passing on referrals. How often do you tell your competition how to drum up business?

    SEO isn’t in the public consciousness. Yet. So until it is, you need to aggressively sell your product. The same way every product in every other established industry has done.

    Or, Nick, do you honestly advise clients to sit back and hope that people will start actively searching for their products – when people don’t know that those products exist?

  5. This is a completely BS post Nick.

    So, what you’re saying is, just because we want to “grow” our business, we can’t do outbound calling, email marketing or any other form of “outbound prospecting” as that makes us look like a “used car salesmen”.

    Billion dollar companies were built on their call centers. Does that make their product bad?

    Cold-calling, email marketing or any other form of outbound prospecting has nothing to do with the QUALITY of the companies work. It has EVERYTHING to do with growing the business.

    Referrals are nice, but their gravy. We provide a great service AND we do outbound calling – that doesn’t make us snake-oil-salesmen. If I wanted to stay a one-man shop (so to speak), then just working referrals would be all I’d need. But I don’t, but that doesn’t mean the quality of my work fails.

    Having said that, and as you did state, you should always vet any SEO company you work with, regardless if they’ve contacted you or if they’ve been referred to you.

    1. There’s a little truth in the article: be cautious about anybody who contacts you out of the blue, but I wouldn’t dismiss somebody entirely just because they are reaching out to you. It’s a competitive industry and there’s nothing wrong with even a successful company doing what it can to drum up more business.

  6. Some good points in this article. Regardless of how the person gets in touch with you, if they start spewing too-good-to-be-true promises at you, that’s when you know to walk away. Most times those promises are in the e-mail itself, so that can save you some time…

  7. “SEO is one of the important factors that play a major role in building traffic to your website. In this competitive world, it is very important for an online seller to create an effective SEO listing to achieve the top ranking in online business platform. Thanks for the great post.
    We mail with our company email id to our clients so that a professional connection is being made with them.

  8. Ridiculous article, have you recently lost a client to an agency with a business development team?

    I don’t know what businesses you have been a part of, but it’s a competitive industry out there, if you believe that it’s possible to just sit back and wait for clients to come to you then you are very much deluded.

  9. I think it is important to use your judgement as a decision maker to distinguish between a crap email looking to pounce on your vulnerabilities and a reputable company looking to communicate their business message. I can see the argument on both sides of the spectrum here but the bogus SEO companies that send the ridiculous emails promising all the riches on Ft. Knox should be brought out to the pasture and…..

  10. While I agree with a lot of the comments about outbound marketing being a viable business development strategy, I also agree that many of these firms are shady – over-promising and under-delivering. And sometimes they do much more harm than good. I generally tell my clients that if an offer seems too good to be true, believe it! The white hat firms that seek out business should not be penalized for this and to make a blanket statement that they are all bad is just wrong. But I don’t think this is what Google is saying. They are saying to “be wary” and I believe they are right in saying this. I get enough of this solicitation to know that this is a fair warning.

  11. The truth of the matter is that no matter how legitimate a marketing tactic is, if a spam house uses it, it then becomes spam.

    In other words, cold calling or even “hot” calling was a legitimate way to get the word out about your company years ago. You could do well with it, too.

    Now because we are inundated with so much spam via these illegitimate companies we as consumers train ourselves to ignore those calls, put ourselves on “do not call lists” etc…

    Once we do that as consumers we are basically voiding any reason for legitimate marketers to use that tactic, which further saturates the strategy with more and more spam.

    We all know legitimate businesses who still use phone, email, snail mail marketing but you have to produce a lot of it to reap results. I think that Nick is making a great point, that 99% of what you’re going to get is spam then you should be aware of that, prepare yourself for it and expect it.

    If I knew that 99% of planes crash I’m probably not going to fly, same here. If I know that 99% of phone marketers are spam I’m not going to answer the phone.

  12. I don’t believe all SEO Companies that contact you directly are disreputable. Having said that, it is very important to use your judgement when it comes to what it is your company needs in terms of SEO and what these companies are offering.
    Bottom line, if it seems too phishy and not practical, don’t use their services.

    1. I am agree with you jess there are many company with very good repute and there market value is very good but you should take some information about any company from the market.

  13. I would not agree with you because there are very reputable SEOs that contact website owners to provide services. You cannot blame all of them very childish post!!

  14. I am glad I read this article. I get contacted by an SEO company almost every week. And although some of them sound really good at what they are offering, my mind still tells me to say no. Reading this will make me feel much better about not considering these people when they call me.

  15. I’ve noticed that most dodgy SEO consultants use names where the first name starts with the same letter as the surname.

  16. I couldn’t agree LESS. If you are a reputable SEO company you WILL actively seek out new businesses that you can help. That’s like telling people to watch out for Walmart, because they actively pursue different marketing avenues to push their products. Sure, you want to make sure you don’t fall prey to a scam, but 90% of business owners would never do SEO if someone didn’t actively seek them out. SEO makes the internet a better world!

  17. Nick wrote “The bottom line is that you should treat any SEO provider that contacts you first –unprompted and uninvited” I would love to argue also but what Andrew and Adam said about your post has everything I want to say. One great reason on how we acquire local clients in the Philippines is because we search for possible .PH businesses that needs SEO and give away free SEO audit to them. We tell them what is bad and what is good about their website. Now that’s where interest starts and they call us. If we are disreputable just like what Google said then same thing for people who post in craigslist and say “Looking for SEO Manager – US BASED Office”, oDesk etc wherein businesses post their projects. Heck! On my personal opinion, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. All we want is business. All you want is help. Now if you got great instinct then you wouldn’t waste your time reading junks.

  18. Sorry All.  But this is good advice. When you are good at SEO, then why do you really need to sell you service?

  19. While I agree with the sentiment (after all, when does unsolicited email ever work?), do you have a follow-up post for ways that new SEO companies CAN successfully market themselves? Word of mouth and reputation are great, later on, but what does it take to get things started in the beginning? Now that would be a post with some value.

  20. I work with a company that provides white hat SEO. There are no shady business practices and our services are fairly cheap. The reason? We just launched our SEO division after having sold SEO as an add on to websites that we design.

    In the competitive world of SEO, you need to go after new business. Just because I call and solicit people, doesn’t mean I’m going to do bad work for them, it’s a legitimate and good way to drum up business. Phone soliciting and door knocking in local areas is a tactic used by many reputable companies. Time Warner Cable, for instance, has a direct sales team. The big cell phone companies have B2B sales reps. That model works well for them, why would it be any different in the SEO realm?