10 Top SEO Scams & Cons (Plus How to Avoid Them)

Historians can hint the primary rip-off again to 300 B.C. when a Greek service provider named Hegestratos sank his boat for insurance coverage cash.

I’m certain if Hegestratos have been alive in the present day, he could be sending out mass emails attempting to promote “high DA links” to suckers.

If you personal a web site, you might have undoubtedly encountered a number of of the various SEO scams this text will evaluation.

And in the event you personal a digital company of any type, you’ll little doubt keep in mind these biggest hits from when your shopper forwarded them to you, asking why they have been paying you a lot.

Without additional ado, listed below are the highest SEO scams and the way to acknowledge them a mile away.

DA-based Link Building/Guest Posting

The Scam: The vendor will present you a hyperlink or a visitor put up on their “high DA” web site, claiming this can assist your web site rank higher.

How It Works: Obtaining a hyperlink from one other “high DA” web site will normally improve your web site’s Domain Authority, giving the false look of SEO progress.

Why It’s A Scam: According to each John Muller and Gary Illyes of Google, not solely does Google not use Moz’s Domain Authority (higher case) in any of its rating algorithms, it doesn’t use something like area authority (decrease case) for rating in any respect.

While Google has admitted to just a few “domain-level” rating alerts, authority isn’t one among them.

Despite this, individuals nonetheless love to level to the Domain Authority metric as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for his or her total hyperlink constructing efforts.

Sadly, the precise metric Google makes use of for page-level authority, Web pageRank, is now not out there to the surface world. While the page-level authority metrics out there by way of Moz and different suppliers are primarily based on some highly-educated guesses, they’re nonetheless — effectively, guesses.

They may be considerably useful in a directional kind of manner however don’t wager the farm on their accuracy.

If none of that impresses you, simply do not forget that shopping for hyperlinks is an enormous no-no for Google and the opposite search engines like google and yahoo.

Furthermore, when it comes to weblog posts on these so-called “high DA” websites, simply do not forget that together with content material on a web site with a bunch of different pages with authority doesn’t mechanically equal authority.

With uncommon exceptions, Google ranks internet pages, not web sites, which implies that a brand new weblog put up on some random .edu web site received’t begin passing any authority of notice till the put up itself positive aspects its personal authority.

This isn’t highschool; you don’t look cool simply since you begin hanging out with the cool youngsters.

The Outcome: Sure, shopping for “high DA” hyperlinks from these jokers may goose your DA rating for some time. But in the long run, it should have zero impact in growing any of the essential metrics from the natural search channel (visitors, gross sales, leads, and many others.).

Google just about ignores paid hyperlinks nowadays. And in the event you use this one loads, Google will simply throw your web site out of the index totally. Please don’t threat it.

The Alternative: Look, I get it – hyperlink constructing is difficult. If you need my recommendation, rent a publicist whose efforts will generate hyperlinks with precise authority in publications individuals really learn.

Can’t afford a publicist?

There isn’t any finish of articles, books, and courses on the positive artwork of public relations you possibly can learn, then roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Variations: Private weblog networks, shopping for/promoting hyperlinks of any type.

Link Bait and Switch

The Scam: During hyperlink constructing outreach, the hyperlink requestor is knowledgeable the present hyperlink to a competitor web site was bought and may be switched for a payment.

How It Works: This is a detailed cousin to widespread hyperlink promoting scams designed to lure hyperlink builders into buying a hyperlink by making it seem {that a} competitor can be shopping for hyperlinks.

These hyperlinks are normally found whereas researching competitor hyperlink profiles of focused key phrases.

A hyperlink builder will attain out to the web page proprietor to get the present hyperlink to a competitor modified to their content material for no matter cause (damaged hyperlink, out-of-date content material, and many others.). The content material proprietor will normally reply shortly and fortunately change the hyperlink, for a small payment, after all.

Why It’s A Scam: Buying hyperlinks is shopping for hyperlinks. It doesn’t matter in case your competitor is doing it or in the event you assume your competitor is doing it; it’s nonetheless an enormous no-no and needs to be prevented in any respect prices.

The Outcome: As acknowledged beforehand, Google just about ignores paid hyperlinks nowadays, and if Big G catches you doing it sufficient, they are going to simply throw your web site out of the index totally.

If your content material isn’t worthy of legit hyperlinks, then possibly it doesn’t belong in your web site.

The Alternative: Hire a publicist or do the legwork your self, however stick to the protected facet of city.

Variations: Some of those people will attain out to you first and give you the spot for a payment. No disgrace.

Guest Posts for Your Website

The Scam: A author will present you a “totally free,” on-topic weblog put up in your web site.

How It Works: The scammer takes the type of a author “just trying to get their start” within the enterprise who will fortunately write you some unique content material in your web site that they’ll “add to their portfolio” whereas they try to get some paid work.

Why It’s A Scam: I would like to watch out right here as a result of there are some legit writers on the market who actually are attempting to get some samples of their work out on the planet. So, be cautious with this one.

This pleasant providing turns into a rip-off is when the so-called author embeds a hyperlink to one other web site that has nothing to do with your corporation within the offered weblog put up or, in a while, asks to make a number of of the phrases within the put up a hyperlink.

The Outcome: The scammer has simply made your web site a part of their “private blog network.” Your pleasant copywriter bought that hyperlink, and also you’re now in violation of Google’s phrases and situations.

Google normally ignores these hyperlinks however may kick you out of their index in the event you do it sufficient occasions.

The Alternative: Write your individual weblog content material or rent an actual author to write your content material. I do know it’s onerous – belief me, I write as a part of my dwelling, and even I’ve a tough time creating content material for my company’s web site.

But belief me, having no content material in any respect is healthier than letting this rubbish sit in your web site.

Variations: Some posts embrace hyperlinks which have some relevance to the article and your corporation. But more often than not, they’re nonetheless a paid hyperlink – it’s simply that the hyperlink vendor is healthier at discovering related hosts than most of those fraudsters.

Guaranteed Rankings

The Scam: An SEO “expert” will attain out and provide their providers with assured rankings.

How It Works: The SEO firm may really do some work in your web site – updating just a few tags, constructing just a few hyperlinks, writing a little bit of content material.

After just a few months, they’ll present you “results” within the type of a report exhibiting an online web page out of your web site within the primary place for a number of key phrases.

Why It’s A Scam: The “guaranteed rankings” will likely be for key phrases that seem related to your corporation, however in actuality have little or no worth.

During the method of touchdown you as a shopper, the scammer will do exactly sufficient key phrase analysis to discover a good assortment of related however low-competition and low visitors quantity targets that give the false look of success.

Meanwhile, your corporation sees no actual enhancements in visitors, gross sales, or leads from the natural search channel.

It needs to be famous that there are authentic SEO corporations on the market who do present a money-back assure for his or her work. However, in the event you determine to use them, make it possible for the assure is predicated in your objectives, not theirs.

The Outcome: Your firm finally ends up rating for a bunch of ineffective key phrases, and also you’re out a bunch of cash. As a bonus, you now mistrust all SEO corporations, and probably the whole discipline of SEO.

Additionally, there’s the real chance that the hyperlink constructing or different efforts utilized by the scammers to rank you shortly for these ineffective key phrases might additionally get your whole web site kicked out of Google’s index.

The Alternative: Do your homework. Don’t rent an SEO agency that obtains new enterprise by the use of spam emails. Insist that the assured rankings are for phrases which have actual worth to your organization.

The Google Partner

The Scam: An SEO agency exhibits their legitimacy by claiming they’re a “Google Partner.”

How It Works: This rip-off is normally buried within the preliminary outreach e-mail and may be mixed with just a few of the opposite cons on this checklist, akin to Guaranteed Rankings.

The implied endorsement from Google makes them seem authentic when they’re normally removed from it.

Why It’s A Scam: Google doesn’t have a associate program for SEO. Google does have a certification program for Google Analytics, Google Ads (and all of its offshoots), and some different applications; nevertheless, it doesn’t matter what they inform you, there isn’t one for SEO. The agency may need some certifications for the opposite Google merchandise above, however they’re of little worth for SEO work.

“But, but… we use Google Analytics for SEO, right?”

Come on now, everyone knows that’s not what you meant.

The Outcome: Your firm hires a considerably shady firm that fools individuals into giving them cash primarily based on a false endorsement.

The firm is likely to be able to doing actual SEO be just right for you, however chances are high, in the event that they’re keen to con individuals with a faux Google badge, they’re able to absolutely anything.

The Alternative: Some SEO device corporations have began certifying individuals and firms for SEO-related subjects. You could make your thoughts up as to whether or not this holds any worth for you and your organization.

Variations: Many web sites on the market will place an SEO agency on the “top” of their checklist for a payment that additionally offers some implied legitimacy with little to no certification or proof of efficacy.

Search Engine Submittal

The Scam: An organization provides to assist along with your search engine rankings by submitting your web site to any variety of search engines like google and yahoo, together with Google.

How It Works: Usually, the corporate will declare they’ve proprietary software program or another methodology that enables their agency to bump your web site to the entrance of the road.

Why It’s A Scam: Again, I would like to watch out right here as a result of there are nonetheless some search engines like google and yahoo that enable the submittal of pages, together with Google by the use of the Search Console. However, this isn’t the identical factor.

In actuality, Google and most different fashionable search engines like google and yahoo index new webpages from web sites by crawling hyperlinks found throughout the indexing of different webpages.

Therefore, you don’t want to submit your webpages to Google. The search engine will discover you when they’re good and prepared, and no service can bump you to the entrance of the road.

The Outcome: You simply wasted a bunch of cash.

The Alternative: If you’re impatient, sure, you possibly can submit your new webpage to Google within the Search Console. There are authentic providers that can assist you to with submittals to native directories and the like, however you are able to do this your self (that’s what interns are for!).

Variations: Any firm that claims they’ve a way for getting you to rank “faster.”

“We Noticed Your Website Isn’t Ranking for…”

The Scam: An organization sends out a pleasant e-mail claiming that they “noticed your company isn’t ranking on Google for some of the important keywords for your company.”

How It Works: For some corporations, there may be nothing scarier than not exhibiting up on Google for key phrases they assume they need to be rating for, even when they haven’t finished any work to earn that rating within the first place. This rip-off goes proper to the center of that worry.

Why It’s A Scam: For starters, it’s a mass spam e-mail despatched to an enormous checklist of corporations almost certainly obtained by way of shady strategies.

Second, you’ll discover that the opening e-mail doesn’t specify the so-called key phrases your web site isn’t rating for on Google.

That’s as a result of they don’t know, and so they don’t care. They received’t till you reply in a panic.

Legitimate SEO corporations hate this rip-off probably the most as a result of their purchasers love to ahead it over to them with a panicked, “What the heck are we paying you for if we’re not ranking for important keywords?”

The Outcome: You find yourself hiring an SEO agency that makes use of scare ways to acquire new clients. Again, they could possibly be a store that gives sincere SEO providers, but when they’ve to use strategies like this to purchase new purchasers, do you really need to give them your cash?

The Alternative: Once once more, do your homework. Don’t rent an SEO agency that obtains new enterprise by the use of spam emails.

Variations: On uncommon events, I’ve seen corporations do absolutely the minimal of analysis and checklist key phrases that is likely to be of curiosity to an organization. But in the long run, it’s nonetheless a bit slimy.

I’ve additionally seen variations that skip the key phrase half and spotlight technical SEO points however deliberately hold it imprecise

“Hey, as you have heard, Google is using Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal now and we noticed your scores are very low!”

When you reply, they’ll really run your scores and in the event that they’re fortunate, the scores actually will likely be low, and BOOM! New shopper (or on the very least, a panicky e-mail to their present SEO agency asking what they’re paying them for).

“This is Google. Your Listing is About to Expire…”

The Scam: Usually within the type of an automatic telephone name (AKA, a robocall), a voice, generally claiming to be from Google, will inform you that your “listings” on Google are about to expire.

How It Works: If you’re studying something right here on Search Engine Journal, generally it’s simple to neglect that most individuals, together with enterprise homeowners, don’t know how Google works.

To them, it’s only a magical web site that tells them sports activities scores or the place to purchase pie. And in the event that they’re a enterprise, they’ll see their title within the native outcomes.

This rip-off takes full benefit of this lack of expertise and for that, it’s further skeezy in my e book.

Why It’s A Scam: Google doesn’t have “listings.” Not actually.

Look, let’s not get into semantics right here. Your Google My Business (GMB) account isn’t what they’re speaking about after they name.

However, your organization’s GMB account is exactly what these people will both set up or replace in some minuscule manner.

The Outcome: You find yourself paying anyone for one thing you simply didn’t want as a result of there is no such thing as a menace of your web site or enterprise “expiring” on Google.

The Alternative: Register for a Google My Business account your self and hold it up to date.

Variations: The technique of contact could change, but it surely’s all the time the identical rip-off.


The Scam: An SEO or SEO agency exhibits its SEO prowess through the rank of its web site.

How It Works: During the preliminary outreach or gross sales course of, an SEO skilled or agency will fortunately level out that they rank primary for a selected key phrase as proof that they know what they’re doing.

Why It’s A Scam: The key phrase in query is normally so hyper-specific that placing within the very minimal of labor would trigger anybody to rank on the high spot for that time period.

Many occasions, it’s for a “local” key phrase that doesn’t mechanically set off a set of native outcomes, however I’ve seen this trick used for absolutely anything.

The Outcome: You find yourself hiring a rip-off artist for SEO providers. Again, they may find yourself doing a little wonderful be just right for you however frankly, in the event that they want to resort to this kind of factor to get purchasers, can they actually be trusted?

The Alternative: Once extra, for a budget seats, do your homework. Don’t rent an SEO agency that obtains new enterprise by the use of spam emails.

Variations: I’ve seen a few of these jokers use screenshots of them rating for a given key phrase. Amazing.

Prices Too Good to Be True

The Scam: You’re promised knowledgeable SEO work for terribly low costs.

How It Works: Usually, in a poorly worded e-mail outreach, an SEO agency provides all kinds of SEO providers – every thing from content material creation to technical updates to hyperlink constructing – for costs which are simply inconceivable.

Why It’s A Scam: It’s a bit cliché, however you get what you pay for — particularly in SEO.

The Outcome: The agency performs downright shoddy work, if any in any respect. More typically than not, the corporate begins sturdy however then disappears after some time.

The Alternative: If you’ve ever learn any of my different work, you recognize I’m an enormous fan of treating SEO like the gathering of ways from numerous disciplines that it’s.

If you want high quality content material in your web site, rent a copywriter, not some hack that leads with their SEO expertise.

If you want technical updates, many web site improvement corporations will resolve the technical web site problem that can be inflicting the SEO points in your web site

If you need high quality hyperlink constructing, rent a publicist.

Variations: The supply of the shoddy work may fluctuate. But in the long run, if it seems to be too good to be true, it most likely is.


In my over 25 years in digital advertising, I’ve seen my share of scams when it comes to SEO work (primarily, thanks to purchasers forwarding them to me asking if it was legit).

You can keep away from most scams by merely not hiring anybody who sells their providers through mass e-mail lists.

However, in the event you’re nonetheless involved that one thing won’t be on the up and up, there are tons of SEO boards on all of the social media platforms.

Even an enormous cry for assistance on Twitter will normally get you a fast reply.