Australian Owned & Operated

SEO Horror Stories

| Janet Camilleri | ,

SEO Horror Stories

| Janet Camilleri | ,

SEO is scary.

There, I’ve said it.

I might be an SEO Consultant myself, but I am the first to acknowledge that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be quite scary for your average business owner.

SEO horror stories are scary

The Mechanics of SEO

It’s bit like when I take my car to a mechanic. While I don’t know how cars work, I do know that for optimal results they need to be serviced regularly. (A funny story for the more mechanically minded: When the brakes on one of our cars started squealing, I asked my husband if they needed oiling …  yes really …! )

As a customer, I am trusting my mechanic with a valuable asset (my car), and hoping that they will do the right thing.


  • They could literally do nothing, and I would be none the wiser.
  • They could use inferior or shoddy products.
  • They could charge pretty much whatever they wanted, and even with an itemised bill, I wouldn’t know enough to query it.

Just as there are some dodgy mechanics out there, unfortunately, not every SEO consultant or agency has your best interests at heart.

There is currently a lack of regulation in the Australian SEO industry, which means that fraudsters can flourish.

Working in the industry for the last seven years, I’ve come across some real SEO horror stories – from business owners paying a fortune for what essentially amounts to “nothing”; to others who are blissfully unaware of what is being done to their site AND their business’ reputation, all in the name of SEO.

Parasite Hosting

One practice that I’ve come across is called “parasite hosting”. It’s where extra pages are set up on the website, without the business owner’s knowledge. These extra pages have nothing to do with the actual business; they have been added by the SEO agency for their own nefarious purposes.

There was the women’s accessories website, where I noticed their top ranking keyword was along the lines of “viagra and cialis in powdered form”.

Or the health clinic site which hosted several pages of content relating to gambling, and linked to various gaming sites.

Bogus Backlinks

If you are considering outsourcing your SEO, make sure that you are kept informed of the backlinks being built on your behalf. Do you really want your business linked to sites offering Russian mail order brides, or with explicit content or images like this one (which I’ve cropped but you get the gist!).

SEO horror stories where your site is linked to porn

There are also some agencies still using “black hat” SEO techniques. They might get your site ranking faster but it’s only a matter of time before Google finds out, and punishes you – by taking your site off their search engine results pages altogether!

Haunted by Dodgy SEO

Even if you terminate a contract with a dodgy SEO, the experience can haunt you for months or even years to come. I’ve heard of some disreputable companies which have:

  • locked a business owner out of their own website;
  • removed all the links they’d built for a client, when the business owner switched to a new SEO agency.

In the last couple of months I’ve seen a couple of new “SEO consultants” pop up in my own area. The funny thing is that their previous businesses had little or no relation to SEO – so I’m not sure where or how they’ve learned enough to offer it to others. Needless to say their new websites perform poorly in an SEO audit!

The moral of all these SEO horror stories is clear: let the buyer beware.

Find a Decent SEO Consultant

Here are three tips to help you find a decent SEO consultant:

  1. Does your potential SEO consultant or agency share their expertise via workshops, newsletters, social media, blog posts, or e-books?
  2. Are you able to contact or talk with some of their current or former clients?
  3. Make sure their own website has a Domain Authority that is higher than 1!

The world of SEO can be dark and murky, but there’s no need to be frightened. My free e-book “What Every Business Owner Should Know About SEO” will equip you with the knowledge you need: click here to order your copy now!

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