When Did You Think that SEO Scams?

The Summary of Discussion 2: When Did You Think that SEO Scams?
I've spent enough time in this sub to feel compelled to write this message to all business owners and aspiring SEO users.
First off, it's great to see so many different viewpoints on what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is, what it does, and who is passionate about it. Great! But really, what I see most, is that nobody has any idea what SEO really is (myself included) and are all forgetting some very basic principles.
SEO sucks. That's the truth of the matter. There's no surefire formula to get your site to rank, there's no quick tips you can incorporate to magically make millions, and there are thousands of people out there all saying to do things differently.
SEO Is a HUGE waste of your time. Not arguing the value of it, it's really important. But it's way too easy to find yourself staring at a screen for days on end to identify why your rankings slipped 2% and your competitor went up 2%. Those days could have been spent going out and cold calling, writing good content, having a beer and enjoying your cat, or whatever. All more productive than trying to lay out your page just perfectly to squeeze that little bit of juice. Once you get all of the basics covered, then move on to something that will have a better Return of Investment (RoI) for your time.
For business owners looking to hire, most SEO companies are a SCAM. If any company promises results, or sell you a blog network, or guarantee XX keywords ranking, etc., they will do more harm than good. They'll take your thousands of dollars, and as soon as your rankings tank (let's not get started on what happens if you let them touch your on-site stuff), they will disappear and you'll be left cleaning up the mess. I've seen this time and time again, and frankly, there's no real way to fix the mess without a scorched-earth policy.
If you are young, haven't had a marketing job, or are a full-career SEO or web person, go get a job in sales and/or marketing. Seriously, most people who call themselves SEO users miss all the basic marketing principles. Identify your audience, target them properly, cater to their needs, learn how to cold call, get rejected a thousand times, learn how to talk to people confidently, etc. Only then can you take the knowledge you learned and apply it in a technical sense.
There are a lot of smart people in this sub, and a handful of good SEO users that have good advice, but a majority of what I see are people grasping at ideas, trying to find ways to manipulate the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) and really miss the core of what SEO is really about. Sure, you can rank your site, but if a customer doesn't feel compelled to establish a relationship with you, it's pretty much wasted effort. There's no magical variable you can plug into a formula to suddenly become rich and successful (especially nowadays).
We've all forgotten the most important thing, and the end result of what we're trying to achieve and cater to: people. The whole "forest for the trees" thing.
Edit: Definitely love the discourse, and know that I am not singling out any particular person, etc. A lot of you guys are awesome professionals who really work to keep your clients' best interests in mind. This was more directed to those who have no real SEO experience, own a business, or are focused on manipulating the SERPs and frustrated with the results (i.e. a majority of posts here in r/seo).
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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is difficult, but the basics are simple to understand:
β€’ If a keyword isn't in your content, Google won't find it.
β€’ If you want a page to rank well, it needs as many high-quality incoming links as possible.
Not all SEO companies are a scam. However, I agree with @slippernator that a company that promises you a particular rank for a keyword is lying. There's no "first page of Google" any moreβ€”everyone has at least a slightly personalized experience, if only by geography.
What must under-gird successful SEO is a thoroughgoing knowledge of marketing concepts. At their most simple: know what people want, and give it to them. SEO is just a tool, not a strategy.
First bold: Correct, Google would not publish their Search Engine Result Page (SERP) algorithm. That is why there is diversity in the field, why there is no certainty and there are no short cuts.
Second bold: Increasing organic search engine website traffic is not useful? I disagree, from my own experience the conversion rate and Return of Investment (RoI) for inbound internet marketing is far and away better than traditional direct marketing practices. Fixating on a small part of a problem is bad, correct, but calling your crop a failure because of one rotten tomato is a fallacy.
Third bold: Do research before hiring to avoid buyer's remorse.
Fourth bold: I fit your target audience for this point. My position is Internet Marketing/Sales/Customer Service Specialist. I love to continue learning be it through trial and error or research. I perceive my duty exactly as a modern hybrid between traditional sales marketing and customer service.
Conclusion: Slippernator is frustrated with bad SEO practices and practitioners.

slippernator ✍️
On the second point, you're right. My point is that people get focused on tweaking and tweaking, and all that time spent could better be used with a much better ROI. Most SEO users I've spoken with are overwhelmingly focused on squeezing as much juice out of a dry fruit as they can, instead of looking for new trees.
And yeah, definitely frustrated because, especially with small businesses, we see time and time again SEO companies taking advantage of ignorance. That, and web developers who say they do SEO actually doing more harm than good.

I agree that for most small businesses and companies that SEO can be a waste of time, but for large enterprises, SEO is big business and a must for e-commerce sites.
Also I'm an SEO specialist and would rather shoot myself than get into sales.

slippernator ✍️
Large enterprises, fortunately, have the budget to screw around and still find success. I worked for one that spent damn near a half million dollars on Pay Per Click (PPC) annually, and never spent a minute trying to narrow down targets, adjust ads based on performance, region, demographics, etc. They succeeded merely by brute force.
And yeah sales es no bueno. But, you actually learn a ton about how your customers perceive you, how they interact with the website, and what they really are after. I hated all my years working in a sales capacity, but it has helped keep me grounded and tied to reality when making a web-based decision.

I worked for one that spent damn near a half million dollars on PPC annually, and never spent a minute trying to narrow down targets, adjust ads based on performance, region, demographics, etc. They succeeded merely by brute force.
That's not a wise tactic, regardless of how big your business is. One of my current clients spends well over 15mill annually promoting just a single one of their products and they're constantly refining ads. It may not be as fine-tuned as with a small business, but that has more to do with profit/loss margins than anything else.


So I'm young, getting a degree in marketing in a few months & probably an MBA down the road, but social, SEO, web dev, and design are my self-taught fortes. Guess what? I can apply my skills in both a marketing specific and technical sense, and my job history proves that. You're overgeneralizing.
Yes, you can be a successful marketer without studying business or ever working in business. No, you don't need a degree or need to be good at talking to people. It gives you an advantage, but the landscape is shifting. That's a very old-fashioned view of digital marketing. Skills have begun to outweigh experience, at least at the entry level.
Seriously, most people who call themselves SEO users miss all the basic marketing principles. Identify your audience, target them properly, cater to their needs,
Isn't that the basis of all SEO? Research and customer-centric response? Every SEO (and digital marketer) I know would consider that the purest form of what they do.
The beginning is very true, but your career advice seems like you're ranting rather than making any real salient point.

slippernator ✍️
You're right, I am overgeneralizing when you look at the landscape of SEO professionals. But I'm not writing this to them – I am writing it to people in r/seo.
It's anecdotal, sure, but when you look at the majority of posts in this sub, they're people new to SEO or businesses looking to work on their SEO. They're spending countless hours trying to solve for a puzzle that doesn't have all the pieces.
Most of the posts I see are "how can I build these backlinks" or "how can I adjust my page to get better rankings" and so forth (not to mention the countless posts asking for advice on buying traffic and links). What they're forgetting is the customer experience.
I often ask, "if you get 1% of 1000 people to convert, or 20% of 100, which would be better?" Most people are so concerned with getting in front of the 1000, they forget what's really important.
This may show my age, but I really enjoy this clip from Back to School, and it applies here.

I personally have a portfolio of websites with traffic ranging from forum post , Pay Per Click (PPC), social and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You need to test every year on diffenrent websites a variety of variables to see what is working with SEO, but once you have the recipe, you can make mucho pesos. The ranking is based on a algo and all the data you need to analyse is public. The SERP. Just reverse engienere all that and you will have a good idea. Usually all this can be found after a change in the algo by scanning the comments on the forums. To say it is costly to do seo is true, but it is not useless.


I might be an example target of your post, and I overall agree with you. I have a web dev agency, so daily development is our main focus and SEO always a second priority.
But note this effect, I truly know and appreciate the big picture quality focus for SEO now, and conform to producing quality content and only aspiring for good links over quantity.
I did, however, ask in this sub the other day a narrow 'tweaking' question because it was a fine point we weren't sure about it.
Taken on its own, it might seem from a post like that that I was grasping at straws and missing the big picture, but really I was just looking for small input on a small question.
So I wouldn't judge everyone's SEO maturity just on the nature of the posts, they may just be a passing thought or question, and not reflecting their whole strategy or perspective.
Anyway you are right, cheers!

slippernator ✍️
No, I'm definitely not complaining about people asking for help, as I've done so many times in the past. I guess it's more an issue of web devs and entrepreneurs selling their SEO services, or focusing on their own, while actually doing a disservice to themselves and clients.
For example, I have a lot of loyal clients that I do web dev and SEO for, but when they ask me to do Pay Per Click (PPC), I turn down the offer and help them find a good firm that specializes in it. Could I do it? Sure, I have enough experience, but really, I am doing them a disservice as they could get it done elsewhere, better.
That, and this post was also directed towards business owners who get killed by hiring hack SEO firms.

Cool, same here, in our web dev firm I don't do any SEO work because it isn't our specialty, only on-page proper building, and refer the rest outside – with a healthy dose of cautionary advice that seems to be sometimes ignored.
I seriously don't know how it happens, in web dev stage clients are pragmatic and frugal, and once it gets to SEO something happens to the brain and they seem to just abandon reason. I might be in the wrong biz!
slippernator ✍️
You are definitely in the wrong biz. I worked for a company that pinches pennies when it comes to web developers and graphic designers. Then when it comes to SEO and PPC, open the floodgates!
You're also in the right business if you can leverage your development into SEO. Learn the heck out of it, generate leads for your clients, and you'll basically be their marketing firm for life. Most developers finish a project and leave, not realizing that the sites they build can be a great source of ongoing income.
Not that you're asking for any advice, but I'd find yourself a great SEO to partner with, and you both can profit from it, as well as service your clients the best way possible online.
Yeah, I can imagine, my team and I just love building websites though, quaint right? I will PM you and see if I can't send my clients your way perhaps for their SEO needs, Cheers!
slippernator ✍️
Cheers, mate. And I'd love to see your website – I often get projects that I have to sub out. Shoot me a PM sometime.

I wouldn't say SEO SUCKS. SEO is not just ranking your designated keywords, its about how you handle a site with their expected goals.
P.S : Hats off for those SEO GUY that converts Searchers into Sales

slippernator ✍️
Yeah, it's really, really easy to get discouraged for most people. How many times do we hear "I worked so hard and started to rank, then a competitor immediately took first spot with questionable tactics!"
It's happened to me a bajillion times, and it will continue to. It's the whole tortoise versus hare thing.
AND YES – Conversions are so much more important than generating visits!

well put. seo has become deluded with all this best practices crap and "hat" seo…people neglect that even if your bogus, fake-ass seo works, your shitty conversion funnel will kill the sale. i call them amateurs and/or snake oil salesmen.

slippernator ✍️
Seriously, who cares what "hat" you're wearing. You're just approaching the system differently. As long as you aren't misleading your clients, or their customers, who cares "how" you get them connected.
I choose "white hat" only because I've seen sites get hammered by Google for using techniques against their guidelines and don't want to have to go to a client and tell them that I screwed them. Most of my clients I try to keep a personal relationship with. I don't care about people who use different ways to get results (sometimes they even work better) as long as you are honest and upfront to your clients about it.
Hell, I worked for, and quit working for, a company that practically begged me to do link building, knowing the risks. If that's the case, I say go for it.

for realz. i have an ecommerce site that i've cloaked to show Google more shit on the page than is shown to users; it ranks higher than amazon for my products because of the keyword density…how do i know? i have like 5 links to the entire site. boom. it's all about what gets the job done, not what hat you're wearing.
and i absolutely agree, honesty and value are going to get us paid. i had a client that told me straight up, do shady shit because it'll work. ok, fine. you provide honest consulting and/or provide the value the client is looking for, no reason why you shouldn't have a job and a paycheck (if you're good at what you do).


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The Summary of Discussion 1: When Did You Think that SEO Scams?
SEO scams and how to recognize them a mile away.
1. Domain Authority (DA)-based Link Building
The Scam:
The seller will provide you a link or a guest post on their "high DA" website, claiming this will help your website rank better.
How It Works:
Obtaining a link from another "high DA" website will usually increase your website's Domain Authority, giving the false appearance of SEO progress.
Why It's A Scam:
According to both John Muller and Gary Illyes of Google, not only does Google not use Moz's Domain Authority (upper case) in any of its ranking algorithms, it doesn't use anything like domain authority (lower case) for ranking at all.
While Google has admitted to a few "domain-level" ranking signals, authority isn't one of them.
Despite this, people still love to point to the Domain Authority metric as a Key Performance Indicator (Key Performance Indicator (KPI)) for their overall link building efforts.
Sadly, the actual metric Google uses for page-level authority, PageRank, is no longer available to the outside world. While the page-level authority metrics available through Moz and other providers are based on some highly-educated guesses, they are still β€” well, guesses.
They can be somewhat helpful in a directional sort of way but don't bet the farm on their accuracy.
If none of that impresses you, just remember that buying links is a big no-no for Google and the other search engines.
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78 πŸ’¬πŸ—¨

Google DOES in fact use something that is "like" Domain Authority. It's called PageRank (PR).
The problem is complicated though.
Page Rank is actually a page level metric. Domain Authority is a domain level one. It actually came about based upon how the old Google Toolbar worked. In most cases, the toolbar only showed you the proper PageRank for the home page of the site. Sometimes an inner page with a lot of links and a page rank that was close to or exceeded your home page's PR would show, but otherwise, Google would just show you the home page PR minus 1 per slash in the URL. (This is also where the myth that /page-name was better than /category/page-name came from). That page would have it's own REAL PR, but Google didn't bother to show it to us. So really – what we were actually looking at 90% of the time was basically a domain score with some URL factors applied.
As such, Domain Authority (DA) DOES actually reflect that model fairly well.
BUT, DA is calculated in a way that roughly represents a 15-20 year old PageRank Formula. We were actually given the formula back in the day, but once Google realized that mistake, it stopped that. How PR is both calculated and applied has evolved greatly over the years – but we don't know how. So any tool that calculates it basically has to work with the old formula and then maybe add in a little sheer guesswork.
Another problem with DA is that there is no known baseline where it starts. We don't know the actual PageRank or value of anything as a starting point. We also don't know how that value is established or applied to the algo. We also don't know which links Google ignores and which ones it counts – so DA has to guess at that too. Because all those things are interconnected, one bad "guess" about something can send a cascading ripple of growing inaccuracy through it all.
DA also has the unfortunate problem of using "Authority" in the name. When it started it wasn't a problem, but with E-A-T and the word "Authority" coming into play, it has confused things greatly. DA has NOTHING to do with the Authority we talk about in E-A-T and, truthfully – E-A-T doesn't even talk about Authority. It takes about authoritativeness – and those are to very different things. So, the industry's idea of what this "authority" is – that's all messed up too, which compounds the confusion over what, if anything, DA is actually good for or might help you with.
Label it a scam or not, but from my experience, high Domain Authority (DA) backlinks have shown results for brand new websites that otherwise would not have outranked 5-8 year old competitors. I have ranked two brand new sites from scratch in the medical niche in the UK for extremely competitive niche "weight loss injections".
If it wasn't for credible, high quality backlinks, those sites wouldn't have made it in 3-4 months on the first page. I have got stats to prove it. Now one of those sites dominate #1 spot consistently outranking every single competitor who'd been there for way too long.

I don't think Domain Authority (DA) is a scam so much as that it is easily scammable. Just because a site has a high DA, it doesn't necessarily mean that a link is going to be valuable. First, Google may disagree for a reason that DA doesn't take into account. Second, because it's fairly easy to manipulate DA – people can create a site, artificially pump up the DA with relative ease, and then make money off you if you are willing to pay for a link from them – money that you'll spend and end up seeing no real value from.
DA is a great way to "start" looking though – in the same way that Keyword Research is a great way to "start" figuring out your content strategy. If you research keywords and simply create content to match those keywords – you're doomed to fail over the long run. Further study is needed to make sure they are the "right" keywords that are going to generate sales and leads, bring the right people to the site, and have an intent that you both can and will benefit from filling.
With DA, you can get an idea of a relative value of sites – but here's the trick… "high DA" is a relative thing. A site with a very high DA is likely going to be either difficult to obtain a link from OR it isn't worth getting a link from because it fell to scam. That's pretty easy to determine just by looking at the site a little bit.
But where you really make use of it is in a comparative analysis in a niche. I have a client with a DA that comes in at around 25. That seems like a fairly unimpressive number until you look at their competition and the niche they are in. There are two sites that we consider competitors with a higher DA. One is a HUGE broad niche distributor – think of them like the Amazon of this particular industry. The other is a more direct competitor and their DA is 45 – but their company is also about 6 times my client's size in terms of annuals sales and brand recognition. Everyone else in that industry comes in at 20 and below for DA
With a scenario like this, I don't need to go after DA 70 links to move the needle. I can go after easier things and things that are actually going to help in other ways besides just passing PR value. They are easier to get and because I'm playing in a field with generally low low low DA's, I don't need as much to move the needle.
So – that's where it's useful. It helps me look at the niche and see where it stands and compare myself to others in the niche. If there's no one in your niche over 50, you can get more value getting a bunch of easier 20-30 DA links – and get them for free. If you're in a niche with a lot of high DA players – then it gives you ideas of who to look at and go after in your strategy.
DA is a "starting point" – and at that it can be valuable. But as something to drive or guide a strategy – it is garbage.


There's a lot of people out there making a decent living from manipulating Domain Authority (DA)… I personally wouldn't call it a scam.
… The biggest SEO related scam on social is Google My Biz (GMB)Google Business Profile (GBP) verification!… I'd go as far as to say that 99% of verification providers offering this service on FB are scammers at the moment.
I actually tested out one of these freelance vendors on Legiit I think it was for a bit of fun, that claim that they can improve DA metrics from literally 0 to 50!… I think it was at about a DA of 6 when I ordered…
… I tested it out on a spare site that I was playing around with and did make a few other test orders but the DA service had the biggest needle move by far in maps and pushed it into 3rd place in the map pack in a 500k population lol.

Hussain Β» Holgate
You are right

Mike 🎩
I've been saying it for a long time. Anyone selling links based on DA is either incompetent or a scammer.

Johnson Β» Mike
Okay. So if you think this is a scam. How do you, other than social media links, get 10 links per month from blogs to improve linking?
Mike 🎩 » Johnson
I would never target a specific number of links per month. I target relevant links on pages with strong link profiles. If I can get 5 this month, great. If I can get 25, even better.
Domain Authority (DA) is a domain level metric. Forgetting about the fact that it is highly inaccurate, especially on anything below 80-85, it does not tell you anything about the actual page your links are on.
That's why I say anyone selling links based on DA are either incompetent (because they do not understand this) or they are scammers (because they do understand this and are doing it anyhow).
Johnson Β» Mike
I understand. But you are not really helping in terms of how you get links. It sounds like you are dodging the root of my question
Lori πŸŽ“ Β» Mike
Is it possible that some selling good links use DA anyway to price out links but more importantly, because buyers demand that metric?
Mike 🎩 » Lori
If buyer's are demanding it, I think a seller should be educating them on why that is a terrible metric to use.
If you are going to use any crappy metric from Moz, use Page Authority (PA). At least it is trying to measure the strength of the page the link is on, which is what matters.


First and foremost, right now MOZ metrics are to give a pulse of the links we're getting. Because Google has hidden the PageRanks (PR)s from us we need a new measuring stick. It's not to say, Moz metrics is a good stick, but it is a decent one at the end of the day.
Have I moved sites with 0 metrics? of course. Using these numbers is there to help them sell. I use them when I explain the power of Amazon links and other cloud links. It's to give context.
A person that claims the metric meter is on a gig economy is trying to get work by any means necessary. SEO users tend to use them and will understand what it all means.
However, for normal client work, if a person is touting these numbers I would be skeptical.
The issue is not buying links. The issue is not knowing what links to buy. I have been buying links for a decade and never not been able to rank a site. Get off of the Google sponsored SEO blogs kool aid like Moz

Rick ✍️ » Kureishi
Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.
Buying and selling links is fine when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Question: Are you right now or have you ever been in violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines?
Kureishi Β» Rick
Never had a problem. Been doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for 14 years and I buy links all the time. Every website I manage is sitting on page 1 and some for years. But yes it takes more analysis and thought now to know what to buy compared to before.
Rick ✍️ » Kureishi
You side-stepped the question. So the answer is "yes" you have been violating Google Webmaster Guidelines for 14 yrs now and acknowledge that it's more difficult to continue violating their Guidelines as they are getting smarter with their algo. Thanks for your testimony…you may be seated. ;>
Kureishi Β» Rick
You seem to know all the answers. Guess the only thing you don't know is how to have a respectful conversation. Get well soon. And don't forget your meds
Rick ✍️ » Kureishi
I have a lot to learn so I sure DON'T have all the answers. The facts are neutral and not an attack. You have been in violation of certain guidelines around paid links. That's a neutral fact. Then you play the victim and throw out an ad hominem with the meds. I simply asked a few questions and you answered. If you feel 'outed' and 'embarrassed' maybe you can ask yourself why.
Kureishi Β» Rick
You clearly don't know anything about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). And you resorted to personal attacks with your "you maybe seated" comment. Go and earn some SEO stripes and come back in a decade when you have actually achieved anything. And please don't forget your meds
Rick ✍️ » Kureishi
To be fair…I do know a bit about SEO. I know about paid links and I know what constitutes a violation. To help you understand the phrase: "you may be seated"…that's a reference to a courtroom setting in which the bailiff swears in somebody who is about to take the stand with a "do you swear to tell the truth, the whole, truth and nothing but the truth".. and then ends with a "you may be seated". You see, that's funny. Also, fwiw I have been doing SEO since 1999 and have a few stripes. At present I am not on any meds but after a few more discussions with you I suspect I will be looking into some. What medication do you reccomend?
Kureishi Β» Rick
So in your mind you are a judge in a courtroom or are you a lawyer representing Google 🀣🀣 This is the point I realize I'm talking to someone with a room temperature IQ and stop wasting my time in replying to his comments. And for the record I don't give a jack about Google's so called guidelines for as long as I can help my clients make money and succeed online. And I have been doing it for over a decade and will continue to do so for another decade. I have a hundred test domains on which I test linkbuilding strategies and that's why I have never had a single case of being reprimanded by Google. Anyway good luck and adiós
Rick ✍️ » Kureishi
Thanks for your testimony. The court is now adjourned. ✌️
I have a degree in Psychology and Law so you're spot on. Well done….you're getting better at this.

The scam is based on perception, not the metric itself.
High Domain Authority (DA) doesn't necessarily translate into better rankings (either increases the recipient DA's as a standard).
And it's mostly a metric to determine power (based on links).
The "scam" is based on the lack of power of the link itself even though it comes from a high DA website.
That usually happens when you get a link from a high DA website but the page the link is placed on doesn't have power or authority.
– Page without links (internal and/or external) –> no power.
– Page without traffic –> no authority.
People usually confuse web authority with domain authority.
One is related to traffic, the other one is related to power.
Both work when used appropriately.
A strong Private Blog Network (PBN) with little to no traffic will help a website increase its ranking by adding a link on its homepage with relevant content.
A link on a website without strong Domain Authority (DA)Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR), but on a page that has traffic for relevant keywords will also help a website improve rankings.

Kiddis Β» Meca
Exactly what I said after you.


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