SEO Scammers – and they’re *still* in business

Edit: It appears that this company later did business as “findyoursearch.com,” which now redirects to “qualitysiteprofessionals.com,” also an SEO outfit. I can’t speak to what this company does, but just be careful.

In March of 2011, I posted this over at my Livejournal. I happened to come across the relevant website again as a result of another search, and finding that the “company” is still in business, I thought it best to put another heads-up out there. More exposure means more forewarned consumers.

liar-350x273

———————

Several years ago I had a very unpleasant experience with an outfit called USA SEO Pros while working on increasing exposure for my online business. Subsequently I found a writeup, which I attach below, verbatim – it’s no longer coming up on Google, so I’m not sure who the author is. However, it’s spot-on – just about fact for fact a mirror of my own experience.

I’m posting this because there are still people out there being taken advantage of. If even one person reads this and saves their money, it will have been worth the effort.


SEO Scams and Snake Oil Salesmen

Author Unknown1

A friend of mine in the Real Estate business came to me a few months ago to ask for some advice on SEO. I went out to lunch and gave her some pointers, then got back to being busy and simply forgot to ask her how it was going. On Saturday she called me asking if I could help out with her desktop machine, as it had become badly virally infected. While working on that, I asked her how the her site was doing.

“Oh, I hired a company to do that for me” was the reply. Then she turned round and handed me a manila folder with some documents in it. “Here’s what they did for me”.

I pulled out the first document. It started off with screen-shots of submissions to the major search engines – Google, Yahoo, MSN & Alexa?… ok, not a great start, but I continued through this document… there were submissions to directories. Ok, let’s take a look at those… hmm, never heard of the majority of them, and quite a few aren’t even in English , this looks like a default directory submission from some tool…

Ok, next document. It’s the invoice for $1750, with “no refunds, no cancellations” typed on it. I ask if she has a contract, or even an email outlining their work, the reply was negative. From the sounds of it, she was cold called, and promised the earth, or #1 rankings in G, Y & M for local Real Estate terms, which amounts for the same thing. The salesperson obviously did a good job, because she gave them her credit card details and sat back. Well, she didn’t quite sit back, she kept calling them to see why she wasn’t #1 yet, and their response was “It’s organic, give it a little more time”.

The next document was a copy of the code on the website, but it looked a little strange, so I went to her site and looked at the code. They didn’t match. This was puzzling, had they only given her recommendations and not implemented them? Then I noticed the URL at the top of the page… it was for a different site.

Yes, a different site. So I asked her if she owned that domain? “No, they did that” was the reply. I reviewed the code. The title tag contained her name, and her name alone, none of the keywords that they were going to magically get her to the #1 spot for, just her name. The same was true of the H1 tag. (Note: this new site doesn’t even rank in the top 50 for her name).

Content on the site was terrible, with keywords stuffed, more strong tags than you could shake multiple sticks at, poor look & feel, all on an extremely long home page. The sub-pages were even worse. In order to save time, given that theirs is obviously a volume business, they had scraped content using the title of the page. Yes, this could potentially work for unique terms, but when you sell Real Estate in a place with a name like Sterling, you may want to check the results…

171034_original

What else did I notice in the code? Well, the most interesting thing was a nice big ad on the page for USA SEO Pro’s, which wasn’t the name of the company that she had hired. Since I can’t imagine that they’d altruistically put a link and an ad on for a competitor, it must be the same company (in fact the testimonials on their website refer to the initials of the company that she hired, so they are the one and same company), but why didn’t they use their own name? A quick search for usaseopros reveals why…

171303_original

Now, wherever they have a negative listing, such as on the Real Estate Blog, or on Ripoff Report, you can see that they’re actively going into those sites and responding to the criticism. Of course, the responses that show up are from ’satisfied customers’ and ‘proud employees’ both of which, based on my experiences with my friend’s site, are false. NoteThis is important. Many disreputable companies follow this practice to try to minimize the impact of negative feedback from dissatisfied companies.

So where does this leave my friend? She paid $1750 with no contract, and no defined deliverables. They ‘did some work’ and ‘delivered some documents’. The site they’ve ‘worked’ on doesn’t belong to her, they can take it down at will, there’s no guarantee that they’ll transfer the domain to her if she asks them to (which is what I’ve asked her to do, despite the fact that it shows not one incoming link, I guess those Lithuanian directories really take time to register). As for their #1 ranking promises, all verbal, nothing in writing. What can she do? Most likely not much, except warn others about her experience, and take this as lessons for the future.

  1. If something sounds too good to be true… it is
  2. Get everything in writing
  3. If you know someone with experience in that particular industry, drop them a quick note to get their opinion, and find out what questions you need to ask.

I’ve told her that I’ll give her a hand when I can, and that in the meantime she should read and learn from real SEOs who have experience in the Real Estate market, not scammers.
End of Quoted Article


My own experience was quite similar. These people created about 15 different websites and loaded them with scraped data without editing a single bit of content. As a result, my fine business (selling MSM, or Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane, a nutritional supplement that provides elemental sulfur) was pointing to sites advertising “MSM: Men who have sex with men”.

What was even more scary – in order to allow them to work on my website, I provided them with my FTP password. As a result, someone at their extremely disreputable organization loaded my site with links to the vilest of pornography, as well as Javascript malware exploits which are still being flagged by AVG in some of my backup files.

The very bottom line was that my $1,500.00 bought me absolutely no increase in business, and interminable headaches getting my website cleaned up.

This all went down before I became educated about the worthlessness of keyword-stuffing and doorway pages in general, but be alert – these people are still out there. They still have an active website. If anyone from this sleazeball outfit calls you, hang up at once – but be extra careful, because like all liars and thieves, they may be hiding their name behind a shell outfit.

Some good advice for avoiding bad SEO companies and what to do instead can be found at Portent.com

The Old Wolf has spoken.


[1] If you out there see this, please leave a comment here, and I’ll give you full attribution.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s