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Is SEO scam? How to avoid being scammed by SEO service

What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a legit practise to bring organic online traffic to your website by ranking higher in search engine results. The ultimate gain is to achieve certain marketing goals, such as increase in sales, subscription, and/or brand promotion. Since Google is the most popular search engine in the world, with more than 80% online searches are through Google, SEO performance is usually measured by the ranking on Google search results.


What do SEO technicians / experts/ sepcialists do?

Google have its algorithm to index and rank webpages, and that algorithm has gone smarter over the years that dirty yet simple tricks such as ‘keyword saturation’ and ‘link farming’ will not help but harm your ranking. In fact, Google is like an artificial intelligence that think like a human and rank your webpage base on relevance instead of  mere appearance of the keyword, readability in both desktop and mobile devices and tons of other favtors. If you have done some research on SEO, you would have heard lots and lots of terms such as “keyword research”, “SEO code optimisation”, “domain authorities” that may have made your head go spinning.

SEO is a profession just like web designers, and a seasoned SEO technicians can perform tasks that optimise those ranking factors systematically in order to provides greater results in shorter period of time. Additionally, unlike web design where poor works may only mean poor appearance and/or user experience, but still functional; poor SEO work can harm your ranking and traffic which can make you completely fine webpage blacklisted by Google and never see the light again. It is worth hiring a professional to do the job when it comes to SEO.

How do I know I am hiring someone to do quality work?

Depending on the scale of your website, what you want to achieve and how much you want to be done, SEO service can range from a one-off payment of few hundred dollars to monthly subscription of few thousand dollars a month. Choosing the right services and a provider that is not overpricing is another topic on its own (Read “How much does SEO cost”). It is hard to judge if it is a scamfrom pricing asit varies a lot depending on the services you required.


However, lets say you decided to hire the service from someone, how do you know if the “SEO expert” you hired, or going to hire is adequate, or in fact, a scam? While every SEO technician would have their own routine and methods, there are some rules and procedures that every SEO technician needs to perform.


We have listed things you should notice or received both before and after acquiring their service. Assisting you to judge if the SEO service provider is seasoned, inadequate, or even a scam.


Before hiring service:

1. They do not have a website or blog

I know SEO technicians are not web designers, they do not need to showcase their website to show they are capable of SEO, but SEO technician work with website, and if they are serious about their service, they would have a website or a blog to advertise themselves or their business.  In this digital age, you should not even trust professional such as accountants or lawyers if they do not have a website , because it reflects that they are not serious about their business enough to invest into a website.

Hiring SEO agencies without a website is like hiring mechanics who do not own a car – while it is possible that he is capable or even a good mechanic, do you want to bet on it?


2. They should ask about your business and goal

Online traffic to your website means nothing if it does not convert to your goals, and the strategy can be very different depending on what you goals are!


For example, as a local hairdresser, it may be more valuable for people to find you when they google “hairdresser” when they locate in your area, in compare to people who are searching for “best hairdresser” 2000 km away from you. “Best hairdresser”, however, can be valuable to an established celebrity hairdresser or hair salon chain. Your SEO provider should know about your goals and the nature of your business in order to properly quote or provide service. If they don’t ask you about your business and rush you into signing contract or to pay, you know something is fishy!


3. Initial report & quote

SEO without proper keyword research is again, worthless. Some keywords may have low traffic (ie no one search for those terms) and therefore has no value, and it needs to match your goal as mentioned above. Your personal trainer business gain no benefits from ranking high in “Thai restaurant”, nor does a metal smith business ranking high in “heavy metal”. A keyword report provides information including keywords your website is currently ranked on, valuable keywords that you should focus on, as well as estimation of traffic increase when SEO milestones are reached. This outline and estimate benefits you get from the service, and so you can judge and decide if the service is worthwhile.

While it is common practice in SEO industry to provide such report only after you sign a contract, it is in our opinion that the report should be provided in initial consultation for free. That is why we provide SEO audit report with short keword research to all inquired businesses, FREE!

In the case it is a one-off service and a keyword research is not provided, the service provider would at least ask you what keywords do you want to focus on, so that is something they can work on. Again, if they don’t show any paper that they have done some research for you, you know they are either inadequate or scammer, and should be avoid.


4. BIG numbers and unrealistic price


“We have connection with Google that no one else does” –  no SEO would have connections with Google that makes them have any advantage in the SEO world. If anyone can have an edge in ranking its page it would be Google itself.

“We will build 10000 links to your website for just $xx” – quality of links are what matter most, not the quantity. If it takes even just 2 minutes to build one link it will takes >300 hours, either they use a bot to do it which always do more harms, or they are scamming you.

“We guarantee your website will ranked Page 1 in no time!” – No one can guarantee your site would rank in Page 1 in a defined time frame, and if they take your full payment beforehand, what are they guaranteeing anyway?

In Vinli SEO Adelaide, we adapt a progressive payment schedule, which you pay when we reached agreed milestones, so you can put your mind in peace that we are not scamming you, but providing quality SEO service.


After hiring service:

1. Asking for access

SEO is not magic, and we can not improve the ranking or traffic to your website by a magic whistle. Most SEO techniques require some form of access privileges from you, such as access to your website, hosting, Facebook or Twitter accounts, etc. So we have things to work on such as optimising the code,  generating content, or managing  your social account. If they never ask you for any access at all, they are very likely a scam, or a ‘link building’ service which do more harm than good most of the time, and you should discontinue their service as soon as possible.


(P.S. Never give your password away! It does not mean to give away login detail to your main account. It only means a moderator user for your hosting created, or assign admin right of your Facebook page to them. Your SEO service provider should provide detail instruction to you, or assist you in creating those while in person)

2. Action items

Every month they should give you a list of what planned to be done on your website – writing original articles, submitting guest posts, directory submission, content optimisation,etc… They would have plan it all out at the start of the month and execute it over time. As I said, SEO is not magic but hard work, and like everything else, the difference between excellent and mediocre work is on preparation.


3. Regular reports

It takes time for Google observe the changes we do for you change the ranking accordingly. Since ranking is not permanent and requires maintenance work, SEO service are usually charge on a monthly subscription basis. Therefore, a regular report stating the work they have done for your site, your current ranking and history, data on traffic to your website, etc. should be provided. A regular report should be given in monthly basis for you to know the value of their service, and decide if it is beneficial to continue on acquiring their service.

Bottom line

SEO requires knowledge and practise to be perfect, hiring a SEO expert to optimise your site is a worthwhile investment and should be part of your digital marketing strategy. There are range of SEO technicians in the market and black sheep exist in every industry. We hope this list can help you find a quality SEO company provides excellent services – like what we provide here in Vinli SEO.

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