How to Spot Search Ranking Scams and Other Search Engine Enigmas

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By Hector Cisneros

The Internet is an amazing and wonderful tool. You can access an unbelievable amount of useful information. However, at the same time, it is a perilous, deceptive minefield fraught with traps, lies, fraud and all manner of criminal activity. As a professional in the digital marketing arena, I have a particular distaste for SEO scams. Search Engines are the heart of the internet. We use them to constantly filter and find all the things we desire. 


Unfortunately, the internet is also like the wild wild west. It can be a lawless place where just about anything goes. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, I will tackle various page ranking scams and provide useful information that will help the reader understand the big picture so they can avoid these and other scams. By reading this article, you will learn about other options and be able to make wise internet marketing and search engine usage decisions. So, let's dig in and explore the scams and options that make up page one ranking and other search engines enigmas.

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One of the principles my business partner Carl and I have always agreed upon is; “Never chase the latest and greatest search ranking technique or trick. Yes, some of these new techniques will work in the short run. However, we believe that chasing these shiny objects is a waste of time in the long run because the ranking system is not fixed. It’s constantly changing. The principles that have not changed over the past dozen or so years are these. Most Search Engines reward; strong traffic, authoritative backlinks to your page, paid position, relevance to the search term, timeliness of the search content, quality of the search content, how often the content is shared, is the content authoritative, does the content have a positive reputation and are visitors providing positive comments on the content of that specific page. Being consistent is another principle that factors into the execution of these elements. Writing a great blog or producing a good video every once in a while will only get you part way and it will only work for a short time unless your content is extremely evergreen and of the highest quality.  Also, it never hurts to have a strong positive reputation as well. There are a multitude of myths about succeeding on the Internet, check out our article called, “7 Myths that Entrepreneurs Often Believe That Lead to Big Mistakes” for some further insights.

Here's what Google has to Say about hiring & SEO Vendor

There are hundreds, if not thousands of page ranking tools. Many of these SEO purveyors claim that they will help you with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but in reality, they at most, only provide one or two of the above pieces needed to achieve strong rankings. A few are legitimate. In most cases, however, many provide deceptive tricks that eventually trigger search engine retaliation that ends with your website, blog or social site being sandboxed or even delisted.

For example, some of the sites I have seen profess to show you your current ranking position, except they never ask you what keyword/phrase you're ranking for? Others profess to post you to tons of backlinks, but never show you the actual links.  Many just spit out lots of meaningless marketing babble in hopes to impress you and get you to throw down your hard-earned money.
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These scams are not just relegated to being on the internet websites listed in SEARCH. These marketing fraudsters can come at you via email phishing scams, (read; How to Avoid Being Caught in an SEO Phishing Net). They can come via cold calls on the phone (read: Is Google Calling? Or is it Someone Else?). And they can come at you with content marketing scams (read: To Autoblog, or Not to Autoblog? That is the Question). To make matters worse, your competition can even attack you by engaging in black hat techniques in your name, getting you sandboxed or delisted, (read: Dirty Tricks Can Deep Six Your Business). Reputation management is a relatively new factor in search ranking. Knowing this should arm you with the understanding that if your reputation is tarnished on the web, you’re done, game over. No amount of great marketing can undo the damage. Read:” What's in a name? Reputation Management in the Digital Age”.  On the flip side of this argument is the fact that as you build a strong positive reputation as an expert in your field by providing high quality, useful, timely, relevant and evergreen content, you can own the competition and the page one position that goes with this achievement.

Be wary of any product or service that promises quick results, sensation or fantastic page one position in a short period of time. Black Hat techniques are poison to your ranking position. Often, they may taste sweet, but eventually, they kill your position. (Read: Who Wears a Black Hat on the Wild, Wild Web?). Many of these tricksters offer cheap SEO help as a subscription, only charging you $5 to $50, so the cost is low and easier to swallow.  Most of the people who fall for these tricks don’t realize they have been had until they have spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars and someone finally shows them that these services aren’t doing anything of value. There are a few that offer legitimate products, but they don’t make outrageous promises. If an SEO product or service sounds too good to be true, it’s a scam. 

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Sometimes the scams are more subtle, offering a glimmer of truth thrown in to convince you. For example; they could offer a service to get you on page one for your company, your URL or an obscure keyword or phrase. The fact of the matter is, that in all three of the above-mentioned instances, should automatically rank high. You should show up on page one automatically for your company name and URL because of the high relevance and uniqueness of both of these ranking factors. Also, getting on page one for an obscure word or key phrase that no one is searching for is a relatively easy task. Yes, you will show up when the obscure keyword or phrase is entered in Google search but if no one else is searching for that phrase, you will receive little or no benefit from that result.

Googles Search ranking is not a single thing. It’s not one thing at all, in fact, it is an ever-changing and evolving process! We have written about Google’s obsession with changing its ranking factors to the detriment of millions of websites across the globe. Examples of
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articles that talk about the algorithm chase are; “
Hummingbird is Nothing to Hum About!”, “Holy Algorithm, Batman, the Penguin Strikes Back!” and “Has Google Given Everyone the Bird with its Pigeon Update?”. We have further written about some of the more recent changes that show how Google is constantly manipulating the search results to increase their profits from advertisers and other paying clients. Read: “Google’s Secret Ranking System - Harder for You, More Profits for Them.” Also check out: “Google is Playing Musical Chairs with Ranking, and it will Cost Us Billions” and “Can Internet Giants Google & Facebook, Steal the Election?”. If you read these articles, you will see that Google is not just a benevolent player here to help all of humankind get the best from the internet. They are here to make money. And that’s OK. I just wish they were more forthright about their methods. Now I don’t want you to think we are anti-Google, we’re are not. We have also written several articles about how to make Google happy so that you can rank well on their system. Check out: “How to Make Google Your Best Friend” for some useful insights.

Today, achieving a page one Search Ranking is a very complicated, convoluted and laborious endeavor. Google has stated on many occasions that they have literally as many as 600 ranking factors. No one, (other than Google) and I mean no one, fully understands all of Google’s ranking factors. The ranking factors listed at the beginning of this article are all the generally accepted factors that Google has professed on various occasions. This means that if you want to rank at the top of page one, you must engage in many different but synergistically integrated ranking factors simultaneously. The only search page factor that will get you on page one without lots of work is Pay Per Click. I suggest you read our article called “Making Pay Per Click Pay Big Dividends” for a more detailed understanding. 

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However, this is a rigged game where Google totally controls how AdWords works. You can’t directly see what others are bidding for the keywords or phrases. It's common to see the bid prices constantly creep up on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. This often results in bid prices racing out of control where you end up in a bidding war that results in a loss of ROI or worse and unprofitable page one position. I have seen clients who started out spending $5000 a month on AdWords and in a few years, find themselves spending $20,000 a month while losing money hand over fist and wondering what the heck happened. Besides, there are other pay per click platforms out there worth checking out. These include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others.

There is, however, a light at the other end of the internet marketing tunnel. Google Search (or any search engine), is not the only game in town. In fact, the only real game on the internet is finding, growing, and captivating an audience for your product or service. Search is a wondrous service, but if you spend time, money and energy building your own audience of social followers, blog readers, podcast listeners and video viewers, you won’t be dependent on using search as your only means to web traffic nirvana. On top of that, being on page one is not the be all end all in the first place. Achieving conversion from web traffic is the real goal of any smart internet marketer. Yes, you must be found first, but being found and making the cash register ring are two different things. Today you can build an audience with blogging, vlogging (video blogging), podcasting (internet radio and other recordings posted to the internet). Check out our article called “Does Internet Ranking Really Matter?”. 
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You’ve probably heard the phrase Content is King? Well, the truth is, high quality, authoritative content marketing is king. This is a subject we have written about many times. It is a subject that can fill whole books. In fact, we wrote one called Working the Web to Win in 2013. I suggest reading “Top 18 Tips That Can Maximize Your Content Marketing” and “Internet Marketing: Lessons Learned and Best Practices, Part 2 – Website and SEO Principles” to get a jump start on this topic.

To further help readers get the most from our blog, I have provided a short list of articles we have written on this subject. The following list is organized into sub-categories to make it easier for you to choose what you want to learn more about or research. Check them out and tell us what you think. Feedback is always greatly appreciated.

A Partial List of our Articles on SEO and Obtaining Search Position

Articles specifically about Scams

Article about understanding on-page ranking factors and conversion

Articles about other ways to win on the internet

Article to help you understand What SEO IS, and is NOT

Articles about Google and How It Constantly Changing

If you want to be a successful internet marketer today, you have to jump through a lot more
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hoops, engage in more laborious marketing techniques and have a more diverse portfolio of marketing elements to make the page one grade in search. If you have a budget of at least $2000 or more, you can easily play in this arena. However, if your budget is smaller, you must be very selective and also willing to do some real-time guerilla marketing with your own two hands. We believe that anyone can be successful on the web today if they understand four things. First, where are they now, their current web presence position. Two, what is their target market. Three, what is a win, and number four, what is their budget. Once they understand these things, they can develop a plan to achieve success.  

If a company feels it needs help understanding these four essential elements, they should get help. Working the Web to Win was founded on the principle of helping clients achieve internet marketing success, not just selling internet marketing services. We always start out by doing an analysis of the prospect's current marketing position. Once this is understood, we look at cost factors and help them select marketing elements that fit their budget and objectives. Most of our competitors start by trying to sell you a product or group of services way before they really understand where you are and what you want to do.

We hope this article has helped you understand a complex marketing arena in a way that will bring you success. We urge you to read our article as a way of vetting our methods. We also want you to know that we are here to help companies be successful. That's why we named our company Working the Web to Win.

That’s my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

Get your FREE copy today.
In this article, I have discussed many of the SEO, search, and page one scams used to bilk businesses out of their marketing money. This article covers a wide variety of SEO and content marketing factors, including Google’s ranking factors, pay per click, and more than a dozen ranking factors needed to get on page one of Google Search. This article also provides alternative methods that can be used to achieve internet marketing success along with links to more than two dozen relevant articles.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091 or fill out the form in the sidebar of this blog, we will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family, and co-workers. You can find other articles on our blog by typing in “Scam,” “SEO” or “Marketing” in the search box at the top of this blog. If you have a useful comment or opinion related to this article, leave it in the comment section of this blog.  Also, don’t forget to plus us, on Google+.



Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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