A Warning against Cold Calling SEO Companies
This isn't a new problem. Search Engine Optimisation companies have been cold calling small businesses for years. After a few recent issues that have arisen caused by disreputable SEO companies, I thought I would publish this article to serve as a warning to small businesses in the hopes that scams like this won’t catch you off guard.
First off, not all Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) companies are bad. There are some very well put together SEO companies who excel at leveraging your website and helping you get the most out of your online presence. These businesses exist in Australia, and have real, physical offices. These companies will never cold call you and won’t spam email you.
That said, I believe that there is growing number of shoddy SEO companies every day, many of whom will cold call or spam email you in an effort to sign you up. Companies who need to resort to these strategies can’t be that great at what they do, and usually don’t even operate from a real physical location.
As a web business, I am often surprised that even I am targeted by these cold calls from SEO companies. Upon asking more in-depth questions, I have often found that the caller’s actual knowledge about SEO is very poor and that their key strategy is normally just to use Google’s paid advertising offering called “AdWords” (which you can do yourself anyway).
Main things to look out for when you are approached by an SEO company
- Outrageous Promises or Guarantees - if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The truth of the matter is, no-one can control the search engines, and anyone who thinks they are smarter than the very highly paid software engineers at Google, are kidding themselves.
- Ask to call them back – this goes for cold calls in general, most of the cold calls you will receive will not even be from a real business, let alone one that is based in Australia. Offer to call them back; if they try to avoid this, then I think your conversation with them is over.
- Ask to see their website – you can tell a lot from looking at a business’s website and branding. If you get the feeling that they’re sketchy, walk away. A company who specialises in (and is good at) SEO, should also rank well for their niche. Ask them what keywords they show up for. Also, look for signs of a physical location – most disreputable ones will only put up their PO Box address.
- Beware of SEO companies who email you out of the blue – any SEO companies approaching you from a generic email address (i.e. a Gmail or Hotmail address), are definately not worth your time.
- Ask how they are going to get you ranked – how transparent are their SEO strategies? If they try to hide anything or aren’t forthcoming with their techniques, then you are probably ready to walk away. The reason for this is that if they aren’t comfortable to share this information with you, then they are likely using some “black hat” tactics, and this will probably result in your site being blacklisted by Google.
- Ask how soon you will see results – if the results are promised within a day or so, then the SEO company can’t be using sustainable or legitimate tactics to rank your site. A proper strategy to search optimise your site can take a couple of months to implement and to see real results.
- Google them – It can’t hurt to give a company a quick “Googling” to see if you can find any reviews or scam warnings about the company in question. By searching “xyz company scam”, you can uncover a lot and get some good insights. As with anything you read on the internet, take it with a grain of salt and check your sources before making a decision.
- Seek referrals – with an investment such as SEO, where your brand and money is on the line, it always pays to work with someone you trust. My suggestion is to either work with a company you already trust, or companies referred to you by someone you trust.
Just like any form of marketing or advertising investment, you should always do your homework before spending any serious money and try to get a second opinion. If you are considering doing an SEO campaign with a company, it pays to do some research into the industry to see and also to ask your industry contacts for advice.« Back to Lab