Almost everyone who has access to a company phone or email has received an unwanted sales call or email. Historically an overwhelming majority of these calls would come from IT related industries such as telecommunication companies but the new kids on block seem to be SEO companies using some pretty serious scare tactics in order to sell their services.
SEO sales calls and emails offering ‘Guaranteed Rankings’ and the likes, have started to come through thick and fast. The sales pitch will generally go something like this:
“Hi [Business Owner]
My name is (blank), I work for ‘SEO Guaranteed’ and I wanted to let you know that we’ve run your website through our rigorous checks and tools and discovered the following:
- None of your top keywords are ranking on Google.
- Your website contains 500 SEO errors.
- Your website is not compliant with Google’s algorithm.
All of the above could be detrimental to your website and its ability to be found on Google. I have attached the reports stating our findings.
Please let me know the best time for me to call you to discuss and help you improve your SEO.”
These type of emails can often by recognised as spam but many business owners who are less than savvy in the world of search can easily be duped into thinking they are on a sinking SEO ship, particularly when they see a document with their domain name in the heading.
Usually these reports are automated and sent out in bulk to a paid list of recipients and sometimes may even show positive results (as they haven’t been vetted before sending out). However, because they are sent with no customisation or thought, recipients often just read the intro email, see their name at the top of the report and without any context or understanding of the data go into panic mode.
However, do not fear, they are often empty threats made specifically to scare you into signing a contract that will probably be impossible to ever get out of! Just remember:
No SEO Company Can Guarantee Rankings
Many of these ‘SEO’ companies have no idea about the clients’ industry, business needs or objectives so it would be impossible to create a report that would be of any substance. It’s fair to say that no reputable SEO company would ever guarantee rankings and here are just a few reasons why:
- Many of the companies who do still offer guaranteed results will always choose keywords and phrases they have selected, which are most likely to be non-competitive and irrelevant so have a high chance of success.
- It clearly states in Google’s guidelines on search marketing that no one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
- Rankings aren’t always the best indicator for success. The best metric should always be traffic; rankings do not always mean high levels of traffic. The job of a SEO is ultimately to increase traffic and conversions, not necessarily to get a range of keywords and phrases at the top of page 1.
- Rankings are also volatile and can be different for each user depending on their geographical location, their search history and may other factors – so not every keyword will produce the same search results.
- Overall it's unethical for these supposed SEO experts to offer you this result. No one can guarantee rankings. The best SEO companies can do is to guarantee an increase in traffic.
Error Reports are Unsubstantiated
Another popular scare tactic that SEO sales reps tend to thrive on, is producing reports that highlight multiple website errors. If you are a small to medium business, so haven’t spent millions on a fancy pants website, the chances are that yes, it probably will have some errors; very few websites don’t! The errors they might refer to could be that your title tags and descriptions aren’t completed or that you have some broken links in your content.
Whilst you might have a few title tags that aren’t filled out correctly, something like this is not going to make Google penalise you into SEO oblivion. Google generally only penalise websites that frequently violate their guidelines. The most common reason that Google will penalise a website is for unnatural back links (that might be either bought in bulk or from spammy sites that only contain links). You can check if your website has any major errors through Google Search Console.
Your website will undoubtedly go up and down periodically when Google releases new algorithms throughout the year. You should always keep in mind Google’s primary focus, which is to deliver the most relevant, good quality search results to its users so that when an algorithm occurs you aren’t penalised too heavily.
They Won’t Know if your Website is Compliant with Google’s Algorithm
Google are well known for dropping algorithm updates throughout the year. Some of these updates are more noteworthy than others. Again aggressive SEO sales people like to jump on the bandwagon and use them as a way to intimidate people into entering rigid SEO contracts.
Firstly, take into account the fact that they, again, will be sending out the same email out to mass businesses so it’s unlikely that they have taken the time to properly look at your website in depth to substantiate any of these claims.
The two main historical algorithm updates are Panda and Penguin. The Google Panda was introduced back in 2011 and aims to promote sites with good quality content and demote thin sites that lack quality and substance. For any SEO company to categorically determine whether your website has been affected for sure, they would need to have access to your analytics, or at very least use a paid tool to scrape your website data. It’s fair to day that most are sending these emails or calling out in bulk so they haven’t put thorough research behind their claim. If you have been using a reputable SEO company who only used white hat techniques, chances are you will be fine and it will simply be a case of asking your SEO company to review your website, and not the car crash that SEO sales people might predict.
Please keep in mind that a legitimate SEO company will always take the time to properly research your business, your top competitors and produce relevant keywords that have high search volumes. When a genuine SEO company looks at an audit report they are able to determine which errors will have a negative effect on your SEO strategy and are also able to prepare for a Google algorithm by practising only white hat SEO techniques.
If you have any concerns about your website’s performance or would like any further information, please feel free to contact one of the team here at White Chalk Road and we’d be happy to put your mind at rest.
By Kate Black.