SEO Horror Stories
SEO is scary.
The cat’s out of the bag!
Although we are SEO Consultants, we are the first to acknowledge that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be quite scary for your average business owner.
The Mechanics of SEO
It’s a bit like taking your car to the mechanic. While some of us may not know how cars work, we can appreciate that for optimal results they need to be serviced regularly. (A funny story for the more mechanically minded: When the brakes on Front Page SEO Founder Janet’s car started squealing, she asked her husband if they needed oiling … yes really …! )
As the customer, we are trusting the mechanic with a valuable asset (our cars), and hoping that they will do the right thing.
- They could literally do nothing, and we are often none the wiser.
- They could use inferior or shoddy products.
- They could charge pretty much whatever they wanted, and even with an itemised bill, we 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, we have 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.
One practice that we’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 we have 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.
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 we have cropped but you get the gist!).
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. We have 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;
- set up the website on “their” platform, meaning that if the client left, they had the inconvenience and expense of building a new website.
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:
- Does your potential SEO consultant or agency share their expertise via workshops, newsletters, social media, blog posts, or e-books?
- Are you able to contact or talk with some of their current or former clients?
- Make sure their own website has a Domain Authority that is higher than 1!
The world of SEO can be dark and murky, but it’s worth facing your fear as it can be a valuable source of leads and customers for your business.