Why are so many residential solar installers falling for scam emails offering search engine optimization?
Maybe it’s because they’re not computer geeks and SEO is confusing. Or maybe because they’re in such a hurry for results that they put aside their common sense when somebody promises them what they want to hear.
Whatever the reason, you don’t have to know much about SEO to protect yourself from an email SEO scam. Since these are increasingly common, you can save money and protect your business if you can tell how to spot an SEO scam and then if you know why you shouldn’t fall for it.
Nigerian Money Transfer, Anyone?
You already know that an email like this one I got a couple days ago is a scam:
I am Mrs.Deborah Paul, my husband deposited 8.2 Million Pounds with a Bank when he was alive. I’m suffering from esophagea cancer, my last wish to see this money distributed to charity organizations anywhere in the World. Because relatives and friends have plundered so much of my wealth since my illness,I cannot live with the agony of entrusting this huge responsibility to any of them. Please,I beg you in the name of God to help me, Stand-in as my beneficiary. you can email to my personal email@example.com.
Of course, you delete it right away.
Just like all the messages you get from widows in Lagos offering to transfer US$50 million from the State Bank of Nigeria to your personal bank account.
Or the one from Svetlana in Minsk who’s looking to start a friendship with a nice American man and even has some photos of herself that you can check out on Instagram.
You hit delete. Or maybe you smile first, make a wry comment about idiots to your office mate, and then delete it.
Get #1 Position in Google Now!
So when you get an email like this other one quoted in Forbes, do you do the same thing, just delete it right away?
Hi, I am Amit, SEO Consultant…We are a Leading Indian Based SEO & Web Development Company and one of the very few companies which offer organic SEO Services with a full range of supporting services such as one way themed text links, blog submissions, directory submissions, article writing and postings, etc.
We are a team of 85+ professionals which includes 28 full time SEO experts. We are proud to inform you that our team handled 180+ SEO projects and obtained 100000+ manually built links in the past 3 year.
Delete it, right? Or maybe…hmm…you start thinking.
“I wonder if these guys could get me to the top of Google. I’d sure like to beat those other loser solar installers when people search for ‘residential solar.’ Maybe I should just reply to this email to check it out. If they’re in India, I’m sure they’re affordable. What’s the harm?”
Oh, how I pity you.
Signs that an SEO Email is a Scam
Marketing agency Vital Design tells you to be wary whenever you get an unsolicited email that sounds anything like this:
- An “SEO expert” or “online strategist” emails you with news that he or she has analyzed your website and noticed that it is underperforming. (Note: You also may have noticed shady SEO pitches showing up in the comments section of your website.)
- They often mention unspecified “problems” or “errors” that are causing your website to underperform – but don’t worry, there’s good news.
- They say they can easily rocket you to the top of Google search results for your most important keywords.
- You’re told you’ll gain more traffic and more online customers if you just reply to the guy or gal from Australia (not always, but Australia seems to be a popular fake address because people there are thought of as friendly – “G’day mate!”).
I’m sure you’ve gotten one or all of these types of emails in the past. If you haven’t yet seen them, I’m sure you will. So, I want you to be prepared.
How an SEO Scam Could Harm Your Business
Why shouldn’t you buy SEO from a cold email pitch?
First, it’s probably a waste of money. Even if the labor is India-cheap, you’ll likely get poor results for your money, if you get any results at all.
Second, bad SEO could actually backfire. That’s right, doing cheap scammy SEO might be worse than doing no SEO at all.
For the last few years, it’s been Google’s policy to punish SEO tricks that they consider deceptive. These include “black hat SEO” tactics like stuffing keywords into your text or buying links.
But more importantly, bad SEO could make you look bad to humans, the solar buyers who come to your website. If they see that your website is littered with awkward and ungrammatical references to “Best residential installer NY” in your About Us page, then you’ll lose credibility fast and scare off business. You’ll also hurt your brand. And once you lose trust, it’s very hard to get it back.
Follow this Simple Rule
Business author and genuine marketing guru Seth Godin gives a piece of advice to recent college grads just entering the business world:
Never buy anything from a cold email.
I’m sorry if you’re with a residential installer that still tries to sell solar panels through cold calls or cold emails. Good luck with that. Meantime, you may want to start checking out Monster.com for better jobs just in case that doesn’t work out.
But at least you can protect yourself from SEO scams that will probably waste your money at best. At worst, SEO scams could hurt your business by making your company look untrustworthy to both solar customers and search engines.
If you want help with SEO, get it from qualified people. It helps if they know something about the solar industry. But at least they’d better know the difference between black-hat SEO tricks and content-based SEO that really works.
Our page on SEO for solar companies will get you started with the basic concepts, whether you want to work with us or not. We’re happy to talk to you. Or you can search Google for SEO companies in your area.
The credible ones won’t make big promises about getting you to the top of Google. They’ll just offer good solid programs to help you optimize your content so that humans want to see it and search engines can recognize that it’s good.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group