Common Local SEO Scams and Trickery

Common Local SEO Scams and Trickery

I have been doing local SEO and digital marketing for over 8 1/2 years now. I really had no intention of staying in this field. I took a job at a company that was selling local SEO because I could type fast.

I needed the job to pay my bills, but also so I could go to school at night to go into what a field I thought I was suppose to get into. You can read more about how I started out here.

I worked with a lot of great people, and built some relationships that I will forever be grateful for.

When I founded RicketyRoo, I wanted to be authentic and transparent with the clients that we work with. That holds true to this day.

A lot of small businesses still get swindled by scammers pitching local SEO.

How does this crap still work in 2015?

Lies, Trickery, and Lack of Ethics

Most small business owners know that they need to get found online. But they haven’t the slightest clue where to start.

Most don’t know what “local SEO” is or how to pick a company that does good work for that matter.

Here are common methods scammers use to prey on uneducated small business owners

Auto Dialers

auto-dialerThis is usually the first tool in a scammers belt. Auto dialers are exactly what they sound like. They auto-dial phone numbers from a predetermined list of businesses or “cold lead lists”. When someone picks up the phone, an automated message begins with “Your Google listing is in danger of being deleted. Please press 1 to speak to to a Google Local Specialist.” You press 1 and then thats where the scare tactics come into play.

Usually the script will talk about the dangers of the listing being deleted, and how for a small monthly management fee, they will secure and rank your website on Google for all of your desired keywords.

Sidebar: Google HIGHLY recommends being leery of businesses that promise or guarantee page one rankings.

This kind of garbage works, and its unfortunate. Canceling is a nightmare, and usually results in filing disputes with credit card companies.

What to do: Just hang up on auto-dialers. You can press 1 and ask to be put on the Do Not Call list, but you’re depending on them to actually add you. Just hang up and go about your day.

Traditional Telemarketing

telemarketingDialing for dollars is what is the name of the game. Telemarketers follow a script that is designed to get past the Gatekeeper and talking to the business owner or whoever is in charge of making marketing decisions. If by chance, you end up talking to one of them, find out the name of the business. If you want to hear this person out, go ahead. They will want to tell you the amazing value and blah blah blah.

What to do: If you have the name of the business, and are interested in seeing if they are a fit for your business, do some research of them online. Head over to google and do a search for the business name and add reviews at the end of it. Be careful, some of these companies have added pages and pages of fake reviews to bury the bad ones. Do a quick search on and too.

Email Marketing

emailA good amount of these emails will automatically go into your spam folder. Every now and again one will pop through and get to your inbox. They normally promise that they have prepared an online evaluation of your business and to schedule a consult.

Funny why they never provide the evaluation in the email. Nor do they reference the owner’s name or website.

What to do: Report it as spam. If you do happen to get an email that is very personable and actually has something of value in it, do some research on the company and see if they are a fit for you. Not all email is bad.


envelopeThis one really gets me going. Every 6-9 months or so I get a letter from the Yellow Pages Directory (not affiliated with Inside the letter is all of my business information. The letter asks to verify that the information is correct and mail it back for inclusion in their directory.

It sounds great but you have to read the fine print. By signing the document and sending it back, you are agreeing to a one-year contract with this directory for the fee of $395.

I remember the first time I personally got one of these. I made sure all of my info was correct and was ready to send it back. Then I read the fine print.

Pure trickery.

What to do: Rip it up to shreds, don’t sign up with them.

This covers most of what I have personally come into contact with, or heard from other clients over the years.

It really sucks. I take a lot of pride in the work that we do, and a lot of people associate local SEO or SEO in general as snake oil salesman.

Can you blame them?

The best thing anyone can do is to educate anyone and everyone they know about scams like this. It will deter scammers (or they’ll find new methods), and small businesses can get quality work from a quality company.

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Blake Denman

Blake has more than 14 years of local SEO and paid search marketing experience. He founded RicketyRoo in February 2009. Outside of running RicketyRoo, Blake enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and Goldendoodle, June, hiking throughout Central Oregon.
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