How To Spot Crappy SEO Pitches You Can Ignore

How Much Does SEO CostJust like anyone, I get crappy SEO pitches. My advice to anyone who gets these out of the blue is to ignore them. A good firm isn’t clogging your inbox with supposedly awesome sounding offers. But as a guide to crap you can especially ignore, here’s the latest from my inbox.

The Pitch

Gloria C. Williams got in touch with me on June 25th, to say:

Hi, my name is Gloria C. Williams and I am an Online Strategist.

I’ve been tracking the success of while doing some research on your industry—I’m very impressed with your company, but there are some real opportunities for growth that you currently are missing.

Are you interested in several proven strategies to use content and social media to drive relevant traffic to your site? In 20 minutes I can show you how to fuel your brand and generate more revenue from search engines and social networks.

This is a $2,500 value free of charge.

I’d like to follow up about this with a quick phone call. Can I call you this week to discuss your campaign? Thank you

Best regards, Gloria C. Williams 4036 Walt Nuzum Farm Road, Naples, NY 14512.

Let’s go through the warning signs that you simply don’t want to respond to this crap

Warning Sign 1: Unsolicited

As covered in my intro, this was an unsolicited pitch. You are 99.999999999999% safe simply trashing these types of emails. Make it 100%.

Warning Sign 2: Company Not Named

Who does Gloria work for? Her company isn’t mentioned. Either she’s repping for some other company, or she doesn’t want to list the company until she’s vetted out that the person she (if it really is a she) is going to dupe.

Warning Sign 3: Pitch Demonstrates No Research Done

The pitch simply references a domain name I own. Anyone going to that domain would, in short order, realize I’m probably not the person to pitch SEO to. Given this, the pitch demonstrates that no real “research” about my industry or my company was actually done, as promised.

Warning Sign 4: Fake Address Provided

Who puts a physical address into an email? There’s only one reason to do that. To make people who aren’t familiar with the internet somehow feel like the pitch must be legit, because it’s associated with a “real” address.

That’s not actually reassuring, and it certainly isn’t after it turns out the address doesn’t even exist (or if it does, Google can’t find it).

Warning Sign 5: Same Pitch, Over & Over

All those reasons above are enough to ignore that particular pitch on its own. But if someone needed more proof, yesterday, I got the same pitch four times in a row, all supposedly from four different people:

  • Pamela J. Maness, of 3882 Goff Avenue, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • Patricia May, of 1906 Brassie Dr Saint Louis, MO- 63114-5730
  • Christine Allen, of 2590 Coventry Court, Baton Rouge, LA 70814
  • Melanie Cheek, also of 2590 Coventry Court, Baton Rouge, LA 70814

Warning Sign 6: Disposable Email Used

The email addresses used by all of these are another sign. One was a Gmail account, rather than using the domain name of a particular company. That makes it disposable, which it’ll need to be, because it’ll likely get flagged for spam and perhaps closed after this type of fishing expedition.

The others were all addresses. Not familiar with those? They’re provided to people who use a trial edition of Google Apps, making them also disposable. As Google explains:

The advantage of using a domain is that you can try Google products without affecting your business domain, or without purchasing a new domain if you don’t have one.

Handy. Maybe Google shouldn’t let anyone use these addresses, since this type of behavior should impact their business domain. But still, the people would just switch to a Gmail account. Or Hotmail. Or Yahoo. Or If the pitch is coming from someone using any of these domains, it’s almost certainly not coming from someone with a solid business behind them.

Junk The Junk Mail

By the way, Google gets these types of pitches too. Last month, the head of Google’s web spam fighting team Matt Cutts wrote about someone trying to pitch Google on how it might get more leads and rank better in its search results.

Hit delete on those pitches. You aren’t missing anything.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | SEM Industry: Outsourcing | SEO - Search Engine Optimization | Top News


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Sharanyan Sharma

    This is obvious and each and every hours webmasters, business peoples flooded with unsolicited email spam ( They called this as Email Marketing ) and of course there are some newbies may fall with this kind of mails!

  • Nick Stamoulis

    I have some client testimonials on my company site (old and current) and one week I think 7 or 8 of them all got the same generic pitch from some Joe somebody. My favorite is when they say how many backlinks your site has and what keywords you’re NOT ranking for—yes, you can get some of that information on your own but they don’t really know!

  • Andy

    I get these almost daily. It’s fun to read them to see what rubbish they’re trying to offer and scam you with. In the end they get marked as junk and that’s the end of it.

  • Matt

    Another common tactic used is trying to fool businesses with search volumes. For example: “You are missing out on 14,800 monthly searches for St Petersburg Beach Hotels” When in reality this is the broad search volume and not the exact search volume which is around 880. If you can’t use the keyword tool properly how can I expect you to understand the complexities of SEO?

  • Darren DeMatas

    Thanks for sharing. it is kind of funny to see these horrible pitches. I have a client who keeps getting an email that says “WARNING: Your Google Places Is Not Claimed.” Of course, her business listings are claimed, but it doesnt stop these people from lying. At one point, I responded to these spammy emails and was surprised how fast the person emailed me back.

  • Durant Imboden

    I don’t get too many SEO pitches, but I was receiving a ton of link-buying requests until recently. The latter have largely been replaced by “guest post” pitches, including some disguised as queries by freelance writers. (“I think your site about Europe is wonderful, and I’d like to write for you. I have a great idea for an article about vacation rentals in the Virgin islands.”)

  • Nathaniel Bailey

    I use to get these quite often for a few of my own sites/blogs, but some simply filters in my emails soon sorted that out!

    I just wish that general members of public would read articles like this, because its these fakers who largely give the seo industry a bad name!

  • David Foertsch

    Got same email this morning from, name was Summer Lauritsen, 4410 Church Street, Brooklyn, NY 11234.

    Also noticed the email subject is prefixed with “Re:” as if we’ve been communicating previously. Nice touch.

  • Jim Rudnick

    LOL! great comments here Danny….and yup, I got her pitch too! Best advice is your #1 item….I make all these 100% trash, eh! :-)

  • Mary Anne G.

    Gee those names look familiar! The best ones are the unsolicited seo spam for a parked domain.

  • Kev Massey

    i get 3-4 of these emails daily. “Due to recent Google algorythem (couldnt even be bothered to check the spelling!) your website is out of date. We can offer the below for $150 per month.” Then goes on to list 2000 blog comments, 1500 social bookmarks etc…

    I dont think anyone nowadays trusts emails from non domain addresses, eg, gmail, yahoo etc. I think people from any industry are pretty keyed up now on spam emails. My all time favorite was the son of a King who recently died and he needs my bank details to access his families wealth!

    Thanks Danny, Kev from SixtyMarketing.

  • Durant Imboden

    I got an e-mail yesterday that supposedly was from Apple, but the return e-mail address was mine. Since I didn’t remember sending out any e-mails on behalf of Apple, I assumed that it was either a phishing attempt or a sign that my memory is failing.

  • Kev Massey

    another one of my favorites is from eBay saying i have won a Rolex and i need to make a payment! They used the full eBay email template and looks identical….. but from a gmail address!

  • BennieStander

    Yeah! Now I can forward this article to some of my clients. At least one client every 2 weeks ask me about this type of email they received. It is quite amazing how gullible people can be. Thanks Danny!!

  • Tony Dimmock

    Great advice Danny. Both I and my clients get dozens of these per week. But here’s an idea: reply to one and give the email address of another as your ‘IT guy’ and leave them to their own merry-go-round ;)

  • Frank Means

    I always put physical addresses into Google Maps. One company showed their building on the site. When I checked, it was a three bedroom house with a kiddie pool in the back yard.

  • Steve

    Let me play devil’s advocate for the sake of discussion. I don’t see how these warning signs are always an indicator of a crappy SEO company.

    Warning Sign 1: Unsolicited

    This is called outbound marketing. People still do it. It’s how new businesses find new clients. Do all businesses start at the top? Not saying this is a good way to reach out, but it works once in a while.

    Warning Sign 2: Company Not Named

    But what if the person doesn’t work for a company? Maybe they freelance as an individual?

    Warning Sign 3: Pitch Demonstrates No Research Done

    Why would someone do research for a company when they haven’t even started a conversation? I wouldn’t invest hours of my time when I’m uncertain whether or not I will get a sale.

    Warning Sign 4: Fake Address Provided


    Warning Sign 5: Same Pitch, Over & Over


    Warning Sign 6: Disposable Email Used

    I know plenty of legitimate business people that use gmail or hotmail. They have their reasons.

  • Patrick Coombe

    pretty easy. unsolicited = trash.
    i dont know you = trash
    . has the word “sir” in it = trash

  • Shoplet Promos

    I wonder how that conversation would go if you actually gave “her” a call. I also wonder how much money they actually make off of this. I’m sure a VERY small percentage of people fall for it but is it really enough to make this scam worth it?

  • Stock Tips Network

    We have obviously appeared on some radar as we are getting 1-2 unsolicited pitches every day. Its hard to get the balance right, you try to promote a business online but at the same time, you also make yourself a target for spammers. Isn’t it always the same, a compliment fist “Hey I really like your site ….” followed by the pitch!

  • Johnny2009

    I have to echo this advice. I got a solicitation from a SEO company called Digitechinfo in my email. They said all the right things to get me to try them on a test project. Another red flag is that they insisted I pay a portion upfront with the balance at the end. They were slow to start and did very little before demanding full payment or they would walk of the job. Long story short – I had to force a refund via Paypal and hire a real company to do the work. I wish I had read this article earlier. Now I use marketplaces like oDesk to find contractors and am very happy (and safe).

  • disqus_W4KjfaOksA

    Excellent post, Danny. The scary thing is that the email pitch is well written and I think many people would think it was legitimate. I get really annoyed when I receive pitches from so called content writers – their grammar is terrible and as I’m a content writer, they obviously do no research what so ever.

  • neotrope

    Awesome. I had literally last week warned 3 customers about this exact same issue, and you nailed all the points and then some I had brought up. You’d think this would be common sense … but every time some sales wingnut calls and says proudly “we’re a data provider to Google” I have to bust out laughing. “Oh, you mean you have a website?”

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