The SEO Rip Off

Dishonest dealings abound in the world of marketing, more so in digital marketing. While you are reading this, some poor soul is getting ripped off by some dodgy SEO professional or agency. How can you avoid falling victim?

Many legitimate search engine optimisation (SEO) professionals are having their business taken away from fly-by-night scammers. In the same breath, many business owners, either physical or virtual, are targeted by these dishonest people.
With something as non-empirical as marketing or traffic generation, the only weapon you have is diligence.

Real Money Displaces Real Money

The reality of the matter is that SEO cannot be done cheap- many businesses don’t see the value of getting desired rankings especially in competitive markets. Those websites which are in the top ten for highly competitive keywords have been spending vast amounts of money in content creation and marketing for years. They didn’t come up on Google search results’ first page in a single day or with limited marketing resources.

For instance, if a business is spending R5 000 every month on SEO for three years running, that equates, R180 000 just so they can stay in the top ten number of competitive keywords.

Businesses with difficulty adjusting to the value of getting desired rankings often fall into the trap of SEO scammers who sell them their dream rankings for a flat rate of R5 000.

The SEO scammers themselves don’t know the true value if desired rankings and the true amount of effort and skill required, leading them to make unachievable promises and place the lowest bid on every type of project regardless of the industry or competitive landscape.

Experienced SEO professionals know that getting desired rankings will require efforts and budget, so they place the actual bid for the project. You need to understand the value of getting desired ranks in your industry and pay accordingly.


Anyone can claim to be an ‘SEO Expert’. There is no qualification requirement, certification or regulatory body. This has resulted in an explosion of so-called industry experts around the word. The challenge for new business will be to find the right marketing tools and genuine individuals experienced in SEO.

Manage Your Expectations

In life, as in business, you are going to have to be realistic about your challenges. Many webmasters have unrealistic expectations of their online businesses. They set up They set up websites with little to no industry knowledge and budget, and then look for SEOs who can make them a millionaire overnight or get them rankings for keywords which are worth million of dollars at rock bottom price.

Experienced and genuine SEOs estimate the true value of ranks and don’t accept the project. This gives dodgy SEOs the opportunity to cash in on the unrealistic expectations of business owners. Since their only aim is to collect money and move on, they are ready to promise the moon. Gain industry knowledge and understand competition. Get basic knowledge of SEO and how search engines work before you start any marketing campaign or hire an SEO.

Marketing Risk Vs Scam

If your investment in an SEO and even though you were constantly in the coveted 'top ten' real estate, your business didn’t result in the sales you anticipated, the natural instinct is to declare it a ‘rip-off’. In reality, there could be a number of reasons why your rankings resulted in a negative return on investment.
Ranging from product market value, unrealistic expectations, negative goodwill, or a distorted view of the market including many other operations factors that are beyond the realm of SEO. If you need your SEO to share marketing risks, then you need a business consultant and not so much an SEO professional. SEO is a marketing risk just like any other form of marketing which a business owner must be willing to take this risk and accept the consequences.

Identifying an SEO Expert

The best SEOs share on forums and have a healthy portfolio of blog entries and industry events. A good SEO expert prefers their ideas scrutinized and challenged by other SEos and has an overwhelming urge to heavily contribute to the SEO industry.
Another good way is to ask for references from credible sources.

If you know the true value of your rankings, you will find out instantly that the bidder has no knowledge of your industry and competition. The snake oil salesmen are often reluctant to sign an SEO contracts as it will make them legally responsible for their deliverables.

What situations have you found yourself having to navigate with fake SEO professionals? Do you think SEO is still a fair marketing practice as most services have them automated? Share your thoughts in the comments section below Thank you for visiting Base64!