Pittsburgh SEO: 21 Scams You Need To Watch Out For

The search engine optimization industry has received negative press because of a small percentage of scam artists who manipulate and persuade business owners because of a lack of knowledge. We’re super sick of seeing this happen to businesses because it gives the entire SEO industry a bad name! Most SEO companies are honest and good, but there’s a small percentage you need to be careful of when you’re in pursuit of finding a qualified Pittsburgh SEO company.

1.) “We submit your site to hundreds of search engines!”

Back in the day, people used to submit their websites to search engines. But in 2015, Google and other search engines can find new websites because of their web crawlers. Anyone offering this type of service is actually stealing, so make sure you don’t fall for it.

2.) “Your META information is super important!”

Changing your META information is important for increasing the relevancy of any given page on your website. However, if it seems that the company is placing a big emphasis on it, it’s probably because they aren’t experienced.

3.) “Mobile friendly sites doesn’t matter!”

Nearly 50% of web searches are performed through a mobile device or tablet. Mobile matters. A good SEO company will audit your site and find ways to improve the mobile friendliness of your website (if it isn’t already).

4.) “Content isn’t necessary!”

Any SEO company that isn’t talking content or content marketing, is living in the past. Content is the sustainable strategy for online marketing because you’re actually build evergreen assets for your business. It is the foundation of any good SEO campaign.

5.) “We will get you indexed within 48 hours!”

Google and other search engines index new websites very quickly without intervention. Watch out for services that will “get your site indexed” because it’s completely unnecessary.

6.) “You’re going to get “x” amount of links per month!”

The only SEO companies that can offer a specific amount of links per month are those that are probably buying or building links with automated tools. An SEO company that is actually doing white hat tactics, will have variation in the quantity of links they acquire per month. Why? Notice that I said “ACQUIRE.” White hat link building is the process of reaching out and acquiring links from relevant sources. Not building them with a tool or just buying them.

7.) “It’s all about quantity of links, not quality”

Quantity of links is now one of the weakest factors in ranking, so you have to watch out for these claims. The only factor that truly matters when it comes to links, is quality. Quality is defined by the relevancy of the linking site + its authority. The more relevant and authoritative a link, the better it is for your SEO results. Good companies focus on quality over quantity.

8.) “You don’t need to diversify anchor text”

If you’re trying to find an SEO company, then there should be a discussion about anchor text. Over-optimized anchor text was the biggest target in the first Google Penguin update and it continues to be targeted with every new update. Responsible companies make sure they’re being safe by not over-optimizing your anchor text.

9.) “We build article directory links!”

Article directories are practically useless at this point and may actually harm your website more than help it. Avoid any search engine optimization company when they’re whole link building strategy is predicated on getting links that require no editorial process. That include directories, web 2.0s, press releases, profile links, and article directories.

10.) “Social media is just a fad… you don’t need it for SEO”

Social media is the NOW and it DOES have an impact on SEO. Google uses social signals to validate links you’ve acquired. For example, it’s much easier to acquire a social signals (Tweet, Facebook like, Google + share) than it is to acquire a link. If your site is getting a ton of links, but no social activity, then it’s very suspicious. A genuine SEO / marketing campaign will generate links AND social activity naturally.

Generally, social activity will outweigh links. So, be weary of any company that isn’t including any type of social media marketing component within their SEO campaign.

11.) “We can’t show you our work (to protect our top secret strategies)”

If you’re working with a company that is doing genuine work to increase the visibility of your business and build your brand online, they will have no problem showing you what they’re doing. Sketchy companies do sketchy things that you probably wouldn’t approve of because it’s more than likely hurting your brand’s reputation online.

Some sketchy activities include using spun/scraped content, building low-quality links, spamming anchor text, or using link schemes that will eventually land your website a penalty by Google.

You’re paying the company to promote and build your brand online. You deserve to see what they’re doing!

12.) “We only track rankings”

Tracking search engines rankings for specific keywords is necessary, but there needs to analytic analysis of other metrics. Companies that consistently produce SEO results, are focused on improving specific keyword rankings, improving user metrics on site, increased conversions, and overall organic growth. Only tracking specific keyword rankings in problematic because of factors like personalization and geo-located results.

Personalization is when Google tailors the results based on your search behavior. So if you always visit Gotch SEO, then you’re going to see my results much more than others. Geo-located results are based on your IP address. So, someone who is searching for “SEO companies” and has an IP address in Pittsburgh should see SEO companies that are located in that specific city.

13.) “Buy NOW!!” (The unsolicited offer)

You probably get unsolicited calls and emails all the time offering SEO services and “top placement in Google!”. Avoid these offers. Think about this: if a company is good at SEO and inbound marketing, why would they be pushing services using traditional outbound sales techniques? From a business perspective, inbound leads and much cheaper than outbound, so you can conclude that these aggressive, car-salesman like companies are not getting qualified inbound leads.

14.) “We know a Google insider”

Ugh… just like on Wall Street, never trust any company that says they have an insider. Also, watch out for the guys that claim they worked for Google. If it sounds too good to be true than it probably is.

15.) “We guarantee page one results!”

No company can guarantee page one results because they don’t own Google. Google and other search engines decide what websites rank based on their propriety ranking factors. Companies can estimate and predict rankings based on competition, market analysis, and through experience, but no company can guarantee anything because they don’t own the search engines.

16.) “30 day free trial!”

Companies that are confident in their abilities would never need to offer free trials. Free trials are a way for new/inexperienced companies to break into the market. I’m pretty sure you want to work with experienced, proven companies. Don’t waste your time with these silly offers.

17.) “We don’t use contracts…”

Contracts protect both parties in a service-based agreement. Companies that are professional and legitimate will use contracts because they understand the importance of rights. On the other hand, companies that don’t use contracts are super sketchy. Are you going to give some guy your hard earned money, website login, and personal information without signing a contract to make sure that the work is fulfilled and your information is protected by law? I certainly hope you wouldn’t do this! Contracts are protect YOUR business from scam artists.

18.) “We are the cheapest in town!”

In SEO, you truly get what you pay for. Companies that are confident in their ability to get you results would not charge bottom of the market prices. Please keep in mind, if you decide to use a cheap SEO provider, you will probably end up spending more money than you would have ever anticipated.


Because cheap SEO requires cheap tactics that typically involves strategies that violate Google quality guidelines. When your site violates these guidelines you will either get an algorithmic or manual penalty on your site.

You will then have to fire your SEO company and hire a better one who won’t even be able to work on your site until the penalty is removed! That means you’ll now be paying a more expensive company to get the penalty removed and THEN begin the process of a quality SEO service. You could have avoided this headache and saved money if you just hired a more qualified in the beginning.

19.) “We don’t have referrals (just trust us)”

As a business owner, you know that companies that are actually producing quality work will have referrals, testimonials, and case studies to back up what they’re saying. Don’t ever just take a companies word for it. Ask for proof of results.

20.) “We’ve been featured on…”

Notice those little badges that say “We’ve been featured on…”? While most businesses who place those badges on their site are being honest, there’s a small percentage of SEO companies that lie and use the tactic to generate social proof. If you ever see an SEO company saying they’ve been “featured on” a website, you should ask them to see the publication.

21. We have trade secrets (that we can’t tell you)

Another way to describe “trade secrets” in SEO is manipulation. Any company that says they can’t release certain elements of of their strategy to protect “trade secrets” is really just telling you that you wouldn’t approve of what they’re doing. Google companies are transparent.

We created this guide because we know choosing an SEO company is hard.

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  • Your company can’t be a startup
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