One of the biggest challenges that digital marketers and Search Engine Optimizers (SEOs) have had to deal with over the years is the low barrier of entry into the industry. The general public’s understanding of search marketing has become so simplified that nearly anyone with a knowledge of industry buzzwords (and little else) can convince consumers that they are a credible SEO. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the annoying spam emails that we receive daily, otherwise known as “unsolicited solicitations for SEO services.”
Many of these claims express imminent doom for your website and its ability to remain relevant within Google search. And, of course, they position their service as the only way to solve your problem.
Below are four commonly made claims and reasons why they are most likely untrue.
SEO False Claim #1: We can get you ranked on the 1st page of Google today!
This phrase is a complete oversimplification of the SEO process. It doesn’t give you any indication of what you would rank for. Just simply that you can rank on the first page of Google. The SEO process requires a great deal of time and effort and there are no guarantees that you will land on the first page of Google search. “Without doing the proper competitive landscape research and doing an analysis of your site, it’s very difficult to understand how much effort it requires to get you to rank for a certain term,” said Alfred Goldberg, president of Absolute Mobile Solutions. “This claim also doesn’t take into account which keywords that you would like to rank for, which words you already rank for, or what’s the effort required to do it. It’s just a claim made to appeal to your desire to rank high on Google.”
SEO False Claim #2: We can increase your website visibility!
In concept, this is not an erroneous claim. The purpose of an SEO is to increase the visibility of your website and it’s simply being stated in many email solicitations. However, not knowing the ability of the particular SEO making the solicitation, you must take the claim at face value. “Only work with SEOs and digital marketers that are willing to meet with you, get an understanding of your business, have a comprehensive plan to help you rank”, said Goldberg. “It’s critical to work with people who are willing to show how their efforts are leading to an increase in visibility for your website.”
SEO False Claim #3: Your titles and content are incorrect!
Business owners often receive email solicitations stating that an SEO company has “read your website” and noticed that “the titles and content were incorrect.” It will go on to say that “if content and titles aren’t changed immediately that Google will start penalizing your website to the point that it will no longer appear in search results.” As Goldberg explains, this is flat out not true.
“In general, Google doesn’t penalize websites unless they flagrantly and continually violate their standards. Usually when we see a website penalized, it’s for unnatural link building activities. They also penalize companies that purchase links or receive links from high spam websites (sites that only contain links). Google has Search Console (formally webmasters tools) in place to help website owners. They usually notify you if you are in violation.”
Companies may see their rankings go down when Google makes changes to their algorithm. Google’s primary focus is providing the best search results for their consumers. If your website doesn’t mesh well with a particular algorithm update, you could go down in rankings without notification. “It’s important to make sure that your SEO stays current with all Google algorithm updates and has to the tools to track and respond to any sudden changes in rank,” said Goldberg.
SEO False Claim #4: You website is not in compliance with a Google algorithm!
Google makes algorithm updates (large and small) a number of times throughout a given year. Some SEOs take advantage of this by sending unsolicited emails stating that your website is out of compliance with a particular algorithm change. In April 2015, Google began indexing mobile-friendly sites higher than sites that were not mobile-friendly. When “mobile-friendliness” became a ranking factor, many sites were left out of compliance, but not all of them. “We checked many businesses to determine if they had a mobile-friendly website. We also sent the link to Google’s audit tool so that these businesses could check themselves. Some companies sent the same emails saying that the business’ site was not mobile-friendly and thus they would drop in Google rankings, lose business, and maybe even go out of business. We saw lots of scary claims by marketers and, in most cases, the sites passed Google’s tests and were mobile-friendly.”
Unfortunately, this is a part of the SEO/digital marketing business. As long as people send these solicitations it will make it much harder for honest, hard-working, innovative professionals in the search industry. “When we talk to clients their expectations may not be realistic based on claims they heard others make. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. SEO requires a lot of effort, a lot of knowledge and a lot of tools. If it was easy to do…. Never mind,” said Goldberg.