I was having a very nice Valentine’s Day, having received a special “good morning” from my dog (yes, I know I’m pathetic), when I was reminded of how un-Valentine’s-Day-like it is to have to sift through all the spam email that winds up making it past the various filters in place on both my personal and business email addresses. The team at SMS does an incredible job of keeping the spam to a minimum, and my personal email arena is pretty good at sending spam to the junk folder, but there’s still a lot of that makes it through. One type bothers me more than others — the emails that makes our industry look bad.
As I went through the comments awaiting approval on the site this morning, a couple from readers regarding a recent post of an article from our Winter issue on spammers selling supposed SEO services and the damage they are doing to the industry brought that issue right to the top of my mind Jonathan Hochman wrote the article for our last issue, which you can find here. Basically, his opinion piece concerns those emails that claim to be able to increase your ranking beyond your wildest dreams, get you unheard of numbers of links, spin gold out of straw, and all for pennies and no time needed on your part. Obviously, I’m exaggerating a bit on what they propose, but suffice it to say that the expectations are pretty outrageous and the statistics they provide about your current status (you only have 12 backlinks and an SEO score of 35%!) are not based on fact. What the heck is an SEO score???
If you already subscribe, you can read the entire article. If you are not (yet!) a member, here’s a paragraph from the article that summarizes Jonathan’s argument:
To combat marketplace disinformation, legitimate SEO firms need to support and uphold standards for marketing SEO services. SEO spam gives all of us a bad reputation and reduces our opportunities. I am disappointed that our national and international search engine marketing professional organizations have failed, for nearly 10 years, to publish ethical standards. If we had standards, clients would use them to distinguish between legitimate search agencies and scammers. I could point to the standards whenever a client forwarded me one of these dubious SEO emails, and say, “This sort of communication is not allowed by our industry’s ethical and professionals standards.”
Two reader comments in particular stand out:
“I cannot do anything but wholeheartedly agree with you because man is there a lot of disinformation out there! I’m not kidding when I say that, typically whenever I do customer acquisition? I have to battle disinformation for like half an hour before I can actually get down to business! I mean they ask me why I don’t do bulk directory submissions, article spinning, and all that other crap that simply doesn’t work. And agreed, it’s not about the color of your hat but about separating the good from the bad and the ugly.” – Dennis Miedema
“Jonathan gotta totally agree with you over the disinformation part. Its like a war every single time I am working with a new clients and sometimes even the older established clients get lured by the Black hat route. Also the point you mentioned about SEO being considered a scummy profession, is so true. Every few weeks I end up meeting somebody who thinks; I’m buying rankings on Google ( If only I could or that I’m a mumbo-jumbo guy.)” – Shashank Gupta
What do you think? Do you get these type of emails promoting SEO services? If you are currently looking for help with SEO, have you been tempted by such promises? If you are a practitioner of SEO/SEM, have you had a client ask you why you aren’t able to promise such lofty results at bargain prices? How can we, as an industry, fight this? Should we work together to set some standards?