10 Signs the Unsolicited Email You Just Got About SEO Is Probably a Scam

10 Signs the Unsolicited Email You Just Got About SEO Is Probably a Scam

If you own a website, you undoubtedly have gotten more than a handful of offers from SEO companies hoping to sell you their services. Not that they’re trying to sell you something, of course. No, they’re trying to double, triple, quadruple your business! And they’re going to do it for rock bottom prices! What a great day and age to be a business owner.

Luckily, you are at least a little bit tech savvy, and you know that anyone in the world can send an email. Unfortunately, some website owners get sucked in by these unsolicited SEO promises. Oftentimes, these websites end up getting burned, either by Google penalties or wasted money for no results.

So how can you tell if the email is selling snake oil or a legitimate service? Here are ten ways you can usually spot an SEO scam in your inbox:

1. There’s no personalization.

Dear Website Owner,

I’ve looked at your site, and I’ve determined you aren’t ranking for the most important keywords in your industry. With my help, you will be ranking number one for everything in the world!

If you’re going to take the time to try to win someone’s business, you should at least put in a little effort. Maybe try using the company name or listing some of those important keywords. Show that you care about me at least a little.

2. There’s personalization, but it’s excessively impersonal or even wrong

Dear Minnesota Business/Website Owner,

I’ve looked at your Minnesota business website and see you are not ranking well for your keywords related to your Minnesota business, such as "Minnesota Stuff" and "Buy Stuff in Minnesota." We can help you get to number one so people all over the state and country can buy stuff from you or request your amazing services or whatever it is you want them to do when they get to your site.

Even worse than no personalization is when the email contains extremely vague or even inaccurate information about your site. In the former situation, they’re just being lazy. In the latter, they just aren’t good at their job. How do I know you’ll ever give my site any real attention?

3. They promise TONS of visitors.

Dear Website Owner,

Did you know you are missing out on thousands of visitors every millisecond? With my help, you can reach millions of people a day! Don’t miss out on over a trillion searches per year on Google.

Hypothetically, let’s say it’s true that this SEO genie can bring in millions (or even just thousands) more visitors a day. Notice there is no mention of "qualified" visitors. How many businesses would actually benefit from such a huge boom in traffic? Imagine if your dental office or law firm received a thousand more phone calls a day. Wouldn’t that be great? Of course, that’s not exactly what you’re being promised.

4. The "proposal" is filled with typos.

Deer websight owner,

Do you no you are missing on out of thousands of visiters everyday? Let’s us help you get to numbers 1! on searching engineers like Googl, Bong, and Yeehaw!

Nothing reeks of professionalism more than blatant errors, right? Where do I sign up for your SOE servises?

5. They Make Constant References to Things They Don’t Do

Dear Website Owner,

Want to be number 1 in Google? We can get you there with our amazing SEO services. Unlike every other SEO company ever, our services are all legit. We never do any of that black hat stuff like link farms and other things that will get you kicked out of Google and put you out on the streets forever. We don’t do anything that isn’t on the up and up. You can trust us not to get you penalized with bad links or duplicate content. Nope, no black hat or black magic from us.

Cool. I’m glad you don’t do any of that "black hat stuff." Of course, that should go without saying. I’d rather know what you actually do. When I taught creative writing years ago, I emphasized to my students that you should never describe a character based on what he or she doesn’t look like. Why waste your time telling us what something isn’t?

6. They Discuss Their Proprietary Technology or Closely Held Secrets

Dear Website Owner,

Why aren’t you number 1 in Google? Oh, it’s because you aren’t using our state-of-the-art proprietary technology that’s guaranteed to get you to number 1. We have all the secrets to get you to the top. While other SEO companies battle to figure out Google, we own the special sauce that will help you master the search engines.

Wait a second. There is no proprietary technology that helps you rank better in Google—other than Google’s algorithms. "Closely held secrets" should read as "We don’t want to tell you what we really do because you (and Google) wouldn’t approve." There’s a reason they are keeping it secret, and it’s not to get a leg up on the competition.

7. They Offer Rock Bottom Prices!

Dear Website Owner,

Did you know you could be number 1 in Google for less than the price of a cup of coffee? That’s right. For less than $3 a day, we’ll get you to the top and keep you there forever! Don’t pay other companies thousands of dollars when we’ll do the same work for practically free. Trust us!

You get what you pay for. An SEO service that costs less than a cup of coffee will bring about as many new leads as an old coffee pot.

8. They Don’t Link to Their Own Website or Tell You the Name of Their Company

Dear Website Owner,

We are a Minneapolis-based SEO company that does great SEO for businesses like yours. Email us back with your name, contact information, website URL, Google and FTP passwords, and the social security numbers of all your employees. Our Minnesota SEO company will get you to the top today.

Who are you again? Why won’t you tell us the name of your company? Oh, well. I’m sure you’re trustworthy. Here’s all my confidential information.

9. They Claim Connections to Google

Dear Website Owner,

Your site isn’t number 1 in Google, but we know how to get you there. We work closely with Google to get you to the top. Our company is a certified Google SEO partner, and we’re qualified and trusted by Google.

Nope. Google doesn’t do that. In fact, Google disapproves of your email.

10. They Sent You Unsolicited Email About SEO Services

Dear Website Owner,

I found you randomly on the internet while searching for your industry. I desperately need clients. Please send me a check so I can become rich. I’ll try to get you to the top of Google. I promise. Please, I’m begging you!

Most companies that send out these unsolicited emails are doing it because they don’t have the skills to reach you through real marketing. Why would you trust your business in the hands of someone who doesn’t really know SEO or internet marketing? You might as well call the guy who posted the "SEO Your Biz - $99" sign on the side of the road.


This doesn’t mean a company that emails you out of the blue can’t provide a quality service. The important thing for a website owner is to know the facts and not be blinded by some pretty amazing—and unbelievable—promises. If you don’t do your research and choose a qualified company to provide your marketing services, you might find yourself sending out desperate emails of your own in the future.

Written by

Nate Tower

Nate Tower has over 10 years of digital marketing experience and currently serves as the President of Perrill. He is a creative expert gifted in pinpointing our clients’ realities, goals, and audiences and turning that information into a captivating and never-before-heard brand story. With roots in digital marketing, education, and creative fiction, Nate’s an Old Faithful-caliber fountain of knowledge.


Nate Tower

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Feb 25, 2015