Is SEO a Scam?

banner of seo scams

I have been pondering this topic for a long time. Is SEO a Scam? But, what finally made me sit down and write this article and training on the topic was a brief conversation I had with a friend. My friend is an influencer and we were talking about influencer’s marketing products for companies. Of course, this conversation led into digital marketing and since I am a SEO Director and have been doing search engine optimization for over a decade.

Right as we got on the topic of SEO and organic traffic, she immediately stated “SEO is a Scam!” And, I responded, “Yes and No!” I immediately began to explain that I do agree with her on one point because a lot of people have been scammed by marketing companies who promote  SEO services, which I like to call – “SEO scams and newbies of gullibility.” But, on the other hand, ‘REAL‘ search engine optimization is not a scam. The bad part is that nowadays it’s really hard to find qualified companies and people who know real SEO Strategies rather than just marketing gimmicks to scale their companies. 

Is SEO a Scam or Not?

Austin power seo ranking scams

Since I answered my influencer friend with a “Yes and No,” let’s begin our discussion with the word ‘Yes.’ Now, on one point the reason why I think search engine optimization is a scam is we have to dive into a little history. Do not worry. I will get to the point quickly. I promise.

When we think about SEO scams, I remember about twelve years ago, companies would hire an SEO expert only for their company. Let me put in this way! That’s 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week ONLY doing SEO for one company. It’s a full time job, period! But, within the last 5 years, digital media and digital marketing has sky rocketed in popularity. Even today, I.T. Companies, Digital Media & Marketing Companies, Hosting Companies and even an array of different companies who have a marketing department will offer SEO Services.

What makes it even more confusing is that the popularity of digital media has broaden the aspect of what services are offered within a SEO package. Meaning, most of the time, an SEO package is all the digital media services (crazy, huh). Plus, what people are not aware of, companies have interns or people very green working in the SEO Department. So imagine, you are paying $2,000/month for search engine optimization and an intern is working on your stuff. And, this happens way more often than you think, especially in marketing. 

Do I Smell SEO Scams?

do I smell a scam picture of talking fishesThe main issue with marketing or SEO departments is that companies are trying to scale more cliental. Companies want more clients as an increase of clients equals more money. Common sense, right? The problem with SEO is that it is time-consuming. Like a stated previously, SEO is a full-time job for only one company and now all of a sudden, you have 20 clients with SEO services. Are you seeing the issue?

It is very hard to scale real SEO services and duties. For this reason, when companies try to scale, they focus on services they can get done rather quickly. Like email marketing, Google and Facebook ads, ect. 

Is SEO a Scam: An Inside Look

Let me tell you a little story. Almost a year ago, I contacted Hostgator because they always marketed their SEO services and I had an advanced SEO question. So I called, asked for the appropriate department. I then proceeded to ask the agent my question. He listened patiently. Afterwards, he said,

“Well, Chad, let me take a look at your domains. After reviewing your domains, I feel that you don’t need SEO, you need ads. We can do Facebook Ads for you. That way, you will get a report every week on the performance of your campaigns.” The agent even stated, “you know, SEO takes too much time to propagate changes, ads are the way to go.”

The agent just went around my main SEO question and try to sell me on Hostgator’s Facebook ads. And, he never did answer my question.

You see, from my simple experience above, most marketing, digital media and I.T. companies are falling into this trap. Let me give you another example.

I use to be the SEO Director at Island Technologies and the whole SEO department was literally Google Ads, Email Campaigns and fancy reports. They spent more time creating client reports than actually doing any SEO work. Almost no technical SEO work was done for the clients because they kept the clients focused on Google Ad Reports. The question is…Do you want to get Organic Traffic or Inorganic Traffic? Further, their SEO Department staff new nothing about search engine optimization. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in Action

picture of a math student failingThe question remains, “Do I really feel that SEO is a scam?” The answer is “NO!” But, with a big BUT, of course. Only if the SEO practices are done the right way and in the best interest of the clients. This is easier said than done. What you will start to realize is that SEO is very time consuming so whatever you are paying a marketing company, you can do basic math to find out if they are working on your stuff or not.

Let’s break down the 3 Main Areas of the SEO: On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

First let’s look at the search engine optimization definition from MOZ “SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”

On-Page SEO

On-page and Technical SEO are very similar depending upon certain task but to keep it basic, On-Page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. This refers to both the content on the web pages and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized.

I found a fantastic image, please review below. I found this on Neil Patel’s website on SEO. This is a terrific resource to follow if you are interested in learning the the “How to” in the areas of search engine optimization. 

picture of on page and off page elements

Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO” refers to all of the activities that you and others do away from your website to raise the ranking of a page with search engines. Remember, off-page search engine optimization mostly refers to digital marketing strategies. 

Further, review the excellent resource image below to get an in-depth idea of all the factors that go into Off-page SEO. Don’t let this section fool you, there is a lot of content that is immensely time consuming and can increase your rankings as well. Some areas include: content creation and strategy, blogs/articles, YouTube (videos), social media, and so forth. 

picture of on page versus off page

Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website for the crawling and indexing phase of your website. With technical SEO, you can help search engines access, crawl, interpret and index your website without any problems.

picture of technical tactics


How Does On-Page, Off-Page and Technical SEO relate to each other?

picture of all the stages of seo

If a picture is worth a thousand words; well then, the above image is says it all. We have briefly discussed the “what is SEO” and the 3 main areas that relate to SEO; and all the 3 areas are integrated with one another. In other words, if I am doing on-page SEO for a client, it is probably 100% certain I will be doing Off-page and technical SEO as well.

The issue at hand is always going to be companies that offer SEO Services. Especially companies that cater to small business owners and regular consumers. For example, when writing this article, I was searching on google for images. I typed in “what is on-page SEO” in the search bar. Guess what popped up? An ad…stating on-page SEO Services for $350. See the photo below. 

picture of a SEO ad

Lets dissect this ad, shall we!

First of all, this is a real ad on Google. I purposely hid the website and business information. No need to expose that information. There is so much wrong in this ad. It makes me angry even writing and thinking about it. Totally just taking advantage of clients. Lets see…

    1. We will discuss the SEO Services for $350 in the next section below, but it’s nonsense. They are not doing SEO, period! Plus, if you realistically think about it…
    2. What are they actually doing for $350?
    3. How many hours are they really working on your SEO?
    4. Then very first sentence states, “First page rankings guaranteed.” First off, run! Run far away! Second, no SEO professional is EVER going to make such guarantees. Did I say, “Run Forest, Run…

picture of forest Gump running

In the second line, they state, “Start Ranking in 15 days.” Are you serious! Just to rank for low authority keywords, it can take 3-4 months to rank, and that is not guaranteed. Higher authority keywords can take up to a year. Further, I was just working on a client’s e-commerce website and they had 7,000 redirects. Yes, I said, “7000.” We were deleting a ton of them but even deleting a redirect page and making a new 301 redirect, the old redirect or page can stay indexed on Google for up to 6 months. Where in the world are they getting this 15-day crap. And, Yes! It’s crap.


Is SEO a Scam? On-Page SEO Services for $350

First, let’s start from the beginning. There are a few basic things I do when I access a client for SEO services. First and foremost, with experience, I keep it super simple.

    • I look at their website for overall user friendliness, copy/sales copy, duplicate content and so forth.
    • I then run a Site Audit to see the On-Page and Technical issues. See below.

picture of SEO AUDIT picture of seo audit


So, this is a simple photographer website but even for me to do all their SEO Services, it would probably take me one week. Yes, one week. That’s 8 hours a day for five days with a total of 40 hours. With any experience SEO professional, they would agree. More than likely, it would take longer because remember we are doing all the on-page and technical search engine optimization along with the off-page SEO (blogs, social media, email campaigns, ads and so forth). Time consuming, indeed!

The question is “would you work 40 hours for $350? Let’s go deeper, that’s $8.75 per hour! Probably not. Even in Los Angeles where the average company charges a small business between $1200 – $2000 per month, you probably still would not do it. Because, SEO is an on going process. Literally, I could take this one client and work on her stuff the entire month.

Plus, what you don’t know is that when companies charge $2,000 per month for SEO Services, the client thinks you are working non-stop on their website. The opposite is occurring. The company really charges $200 per hour. So, a $2000 per month client will only get 10 hours of actual SEO work. Then it gets even more disastrous. Out of this 10 hours of work, this includes meetings and emails with the client, SEO reports and all the fancy client presentations. For most companies, this takes up most of the time. In essence, for little work is being done. 

The SEO Wrap-Up

image of the vicious cycle of bad habitsDo you see the issue that companies face? Companies try to scale their business by increasing new cliental but the main issue is that SEO and Digital Marketing services are very time consuming. Then the companies usually have inexperienced professionals working with clients (interns). Furthermore, in my experience, a lot of companies focus more time on running reports and creating client presentations to “WOW” them, only to spend less time increasing ranking for their business. And, the vicious cycle continues.

For example, it probably took me 8 hours to write this blog and that is only the first draft. Now granted, the first draft was close the 1400 words but it still took eight hours. Think about it this way: 

  1. I wrote it from scratch. It’s all my content. I did not copy and paste from other blogs, information or ect.
  2. I searched all the pictures and downloaded and uploaded.
  3. In the beginning, I am doing basic SEO to make sure the blog is SEO-friendly.

Afterwords, I probably spent another 8 hours on this blog.

  1. Proof reading to find little grammar errors.
  2. I added another 500 words.
  3. I added couple more pictures.
  4. Double checked SEO.

Then I am still not completely finished. Later on, I will do keyword research to find relevant keywords and long-tail keywords to integrate into the blog with tools like Ubersuggest​, ​Keyword Tool​, ​Keywords Everywhere​, ​and Moz Keyword Explorer.  

Let me ask you a question. No matter what you pay a marketing company to do for your business, you have to think about it from the example I gave above. Whatever you are paying a marketing company for your digital marketing and SEO services,

“Would you do the same amount of work for the money?”

picture of a google ad offering 249 website servicesIf the answer is an obvious “No!” Well, they are not doing the work either and they are taking short-cuts. These short-cuts are detrimental to your business, brand and ranking. Just like the ad for a $249 Professional Website. You have to think about how much time and hours these companies are putting into your business and websites. Other than just creating a cookie-cutter website or marketing services.  

Keep Up-to-Date with More SEO Scams

If you want to keep up to date with more SEO Scams, stay current with our is SEO B.S. Blog. Our main purpose is to give you information to help grow your company and business Organically. All this SEO B.S. out there, just holds you back, wastes you’re hard earned money and takes too long to get results. Enough in Enough.

Checkout some related articles on the subject: Social Media Management Scams and the category on Search Engine Optimization

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