You can never overdue the discussion of SEO scams. No matter how many times companies hear it, these scams are still running loose and fooling those hoping for a better ranking on a Google SERP. Falling for one of these scams will not only lose you money, but you could find your website dealing with months, even years of damage. If the SEO company that you hire uses black hat SEO tactics, you will find yourself penalized by Google and then have to dig yourself out of a hole.

The way it works is this: It is possible to fool someone long enough to take his/her money and run when it comes to SEO because SEO results fluctuate so much. If a company were to use black hat tactics—keyword stuffing, duplicate content, spammy backlinks—it might take Google a little while to realize that your website is doing these taboo things. Therefore, you see results go up, you give the company your money, the company leaves, Google penalizes you, and then you have months of cleanup work to do.

Knowing the types of scams out there will help make sure that you can avoid falling into this all-too-common trap. Below are five SEO scams that continue to thrive:

1. Rankings guaranteed by a certain time.

This is hands down the most popular SEO scam. If a company guarantees results it is very likely that they are going to do whatever they can to get those results fast, and this includes using black hat tactics. There should never be any guarantees when it comes to SEO because if done right, it takes a long time to see results.

Buying a bunch of backlinks usually means that these links are going to be on spammy sites that make it easy to earn a link. You want to get backlinks on reputable sites if you want your rankings to improve, and that takes a long time. In other words, links should be about quality more than quantity.

3. Offer free SEO trial services.

This is a scam that gets a lot of people. After all, it’s free so what could go wrong? Unfortunately, when it comes to SEO companies need a lot of information about your website including your username and password. It is never a good idea to give this out until you know that the company is one you can trust. Even then, a free trial service does not make much sense because it takes so long to see results in SEO. This makes this a sure-fire scam.

4. Any mention of knowing someone from Google or having the algorithm they use for rankings.

This one has always sounded a bit obvious to me, but companies fall for it all the time. First, knowing someone from Google does not mean that you are going to get an edge when it comes to rankings. Rankings are determined by an algorithm; not a person. Second, there is no way that one SEO company has the algorithm or that company would have every client in the world. Google changes this algorithm all the time, and few know what it is.

5. They don’t tell you how they get their results.

Some companies prey on company owners that don’t understand SEO. It’s important to always ask how the company will help your SEO before hiring (even if you know nothing about SEO). An SEO agency or expert should be clear about how they are going to help your website rank, and they should avoid terms like “guaranteed.”

Have you ever been the victim of an SEO scam? What happened to you and how did you find out that you hired a fraud? Let us know in the comments!

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