Get Your Website on Google’s First Page – An Email Exchange with a SEO Specialist, or Not?

Last updated on August 31st, 2018 by Robert Abela. Filed under WordPress Security

spamLike every other website owner, I receive a lot of spam and scam emails. Most of them are from shady SEO specialists who promise more traffic, number one position in Google search engine results, and of course, more sales, in exchange for a small monthly payment. From time to time I do reply to some of these emails, to see what their response is and what they have to offer. This is not a security exercise, although somehow it is related; I am trying to understand how these scams operate and what why website owners fall for the tricks employed by these shady businesses.

Introduction

In this article I am documenting the longest email thread I had so far with one of these (non) SEO specialists, who was willing to help me rank my website in Google’s first page results. It all started on the 12th of May 2016, when I received an email from David Cameron, who was using a free Gmail address, with the subject Several Ways to Get Better Sales & Revenue from the Site. Our discussion took almost 2 months, during which we exchanged around 80 emails. Watch out for my notes through the email thread as well. Here it is:

Email Thread with a (Non) SEO Specialist

Note: I removed all the email and physical company addresses since this article is not a direct attack on a company, but it should be used for educational and awareness purposes.

From David Cameron:

Hello Dear www.wpwhitesecurity.com Team,

I hope you are doing great. You were very interested in using our services for improving the online visibility of your website as well as for getting more organic traffic.

As per your interest, you can go ahead for 1 month and see the improvement. We do not have any contract period for our clients all our plans are on a month to month basis. You will see the improvement from the very first month itself.

Within 30 days my team will rectify all the technical issues from your website to make your website error free and search engine friendly and deliver you the perfect and clean website. At the same time we will also doing SEO as well as SMO for your website.

At the beginning of the campaign you will get the Website Health Report and after every month you will be updated with the Monthly Progress Report which would highlight all the work done and improvements on your website, so that you will have a clear picture on our work.

Regarding cancellation of payment let me update you that whenever you want to cancel the subscription, you can do so from your side. Or else you can ask my team to do the same for you.

  1. Plan-1: $150/month (Ranking, Traffic)
  2. Plan-2:$190/month (Ranking, Traffic & Reputation)
  3. Plan-3: $230/month (Ranking, Traffic, Reputation & Conversion)

As per the deliverable we can put together a list of tasks for your website for a given month, and my technician will work accordingly.

More questions are appreciated. Have a nice time

Notes and Observations

Let’s start with the basics. This is clearly a spam / scam because:

  • I receive loads of similar emails,
  • It is not personalized,
  • It is from a free email address (no professional, especially SEO specialist will contact you from a free email address),
  • They immediately talk about money, trying to showcase their low-cost strategy

My Reply:

Hello David,

Thank you very much for getting in touch. I am not interested since you do not even mention your company’s name in the email. This means that this email is obviously spam.

From David Cameron:

Dear Robert Abela,

Thanks for responding to my email. I represent   xxx.xxxxxx.xxx (email address)

We are located in  XXXXX XXXXX XXXXXXXXX,XX XXXXX . but our support office is in INDIA.

Our goal is to improve the relevance of your website so that it is indexed and well positioned by the search engines in the Google SERP for your preferred key searches and you get very good traffic improvement. we will target the website globally.

You know how people search for the products they are looking for. They enter the keywords and Google comes up with the list of websites matching the keywords description. So you can guess how your site will make more business, only if your website comes up in the first page of Google when people type the keywords relevant to the products on your website.

Very few people go down to page 2-3 and no one goes beyond that. We will make sure your website reaches that landmark where you will get good number of visitors to boost your sales.

Social Media Optimization: Our SMO team will do the social media promotions of your website over the major social media sites like Face Book, Twitter, Linked In, Google+ & You Tube video Submission to attract more referral traffic from those sources.

To stay updated with our work and check the progress on your website, my Team will send you report at the end of every month so you won’t lose track of the developments on your site. You will get guaranteed improvements, and you can get a hang of it from the First Monthly Report after the 30 days of the campaign.
More questions are appreciated and waiting in anticipation for your positive response.

Notes and Observations

Nothing against India (I was there for a few months and it is a wonderful country) but someone called David Cameron who works from India? Very hard to believe. Notice also how the names of social media sites are wrong (Face Book instead of Facebook, Linked In instead of LinkedIn). These are all signs that this is not a legitimate business we are dealing with, but more of a scam; a group of people trying to get money and deliver the least possible value.

My Reply:

Hello David,

So how come you are using a Gmail address?

From David Cameron:

Dear Robert Abela,

Frankly, speaking we use G mail account only to know the response from our client end. Once we receive/get positive interest towards our service then after we only communicate with them by using our corporate email id: xxxx@xxxxxx.xxx .

But if we get negative response from the client end then we stop the communication from this primary stage.

It’s our ways & process of business policy.

So don’t be worried about it. you can get in touch with us over the skype, phone, email, live chat etc…

Hope you will understand my honesty.

Please let me know your interest regarding the  promotion & on-line marketing of your website. so that we can proceed and start the organic listing of your website in the first page of Google.

Notes and Observations

At this stage I had already concluded that this is a spammy / scammy business deal so as you can notice from my response below, I started asking for results before paying for anything, to see if they can really deliver something of value or that does not employ some sort of fake SEO tricks.

My Reply:

Hello David,

Of course I am interested, but first I need to see some results before committing to anything.

From David Cameron:

Hello Dear Robert Abela,

Thanks for your interest in our service.

I really appreciate that you are gentleman & intelligent  who is able to understand my honesty.

But I am sorry to say that our company’s protocol doesn’t allow us to accept any project without any payment confirmation.

Only for our long term good business relationship, I can suggest & recommend you please start the campaign with the minimum plan & am sure at the end of the first month you will see good improvements in results that is guaranteed.

let me tell you It’s important to not really gauge the amount of work being done, but to gauge the type of work being done and the quality of that work. Some  companies spend the same amount of time we do, but they don’t see the same results because they put the emphasis on quantity and not so much on quality. We have an extremely efficient team that not only does a high quantity of work in a small time, but they also do high quality work.

We truly do believe in delivering high quality work which is why the vast majority of our clients stay with us in the long run even though they aren’t under any sort of contract.

For shake of few dollars neither we want to make any false commitment nor want to loose our reputation as well as brand. So be rest assured that you will get the guaranteed improvements in results from the first month of our work.

Again, I would like to thank you for your feedback. Allow us one chance, we will do our best to make sure that you will trust our company and be confident with our services.

However, if you have any more questions in your mind then feel free to ask me. I would love to solve all your queries happily and honestly.

Kindly let us know  your preferred selected plan. So that we can get started right away.

Notes and Observations

One can’t help but notice that David’s English is very weak. Nothing against that, and I am not Shakespeare but you would expect perfect English from a sales person in a SEO company. Again, another sign that we are dealing with scammy / spammy businesses that unfortunately put real SEO professionals in a bad light.

My Reply:

Hello David,

Ok no worries. To get an idea of how good you are, can you please at least send me a list of technical issues that there are on my website? Just a brief list, to see what type of work you can do.

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

I am glad to say that I have checked your website in SEO technical point of views and found your website is in perfect condition.

There are no major technical issues so you don’t need to be worried about it.

The only thing required for your website is the online marketing & the promotion of your website which would help to increase the website visibility, ranking & traffic instead of your competitor’s website.

What we will do

Keyword Ranking Improvement: The first step to drive traffic to a website will be to review the effectiveness of the keywords being used. A keyword should not be so specific that it is rarely used as a search query. On the other hand, use of generic keywords can lead to poor results due to competition with perhaps a large number of other websites.

We will promote the keywords for your website in major search engines like Google, Yahoo & Bing so that whenever these keywords are searched, your website will be found in the First page. We will promote the keywords done though manual theme based link generation process.

Back-Links Generation: Link building involves arranging links to your website to be listed on other websites. The greater the number of linkages established, the better it is for your business. You will get theme based and quality back-links generated to your site from Article submission, Bookmarking, Forum Posting, Directory Submission, Blog commenting and PDF submission for better positioning of your website.

Traffic Generation: The primary requirement of any online business is traffic. I am sure you would not like to stick to just the Organic keyword rankings for getting the visitors to your website. SMO has emerged as a major factor to boost the incoming traffic volume. Here we will promote your website in (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) so that you get the referral traffic from those websites, which in turn will also enhance your Brand reputation and Brand awareness.

We do not use any sorts of automated tools or software. All our works are done manually, so that your website will never be spammed by Google and will not hamper your rankings.

Please share your feedback on the above details.

Notes and Observations

In the email above David immediately switched from on-website SEO to outbound SEO because he did not notice anything wrong on my website. Mind you, there are a gazillion SEO issues on this website that I would like to fix though never had the time to deal with them. This is another sign that these guys are in for a quick buck; they are now talking about the outbound SEO techniques they will utilize to make my website more popular, basically just trying to hook me into their monthly retainer fee.

My Reply:

Hello David,

Makes sense. Can you please tell me more how can you achieve those?

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

Please find the process to achieve the success.

Steps for optimization:

  1. Our First step is to choose effective keywords for your website. As professionals, we recommend using some “long tail” keywords (ones that contain more precise description about the product/ service your website offers) as they permit speedier positioning. We will include these keywords into your page’s Meta Title, Description, Headings, Meta keywords etc.
  2. Second step is back-links generation. We will generate high PR back-links for your website by posting contents/relevant description about your products. The postings include off-page submissions such as Article submission, Bookmarking, Forum Posting, Directory Submission, Blog commenting, classified Ads, yahoo answers, video sharing, business listing and PDF submission for generation of permanent, theme-based and quality back-links  that would aid in accelerating the first page ranking procedure. So when Google crawls your site and it finds your site being connected to other relevant sites with great PR values, your side will ascend to the first page of the internet searcher.
  3. To further enhance your traffic rate, we will promote your website in Social media sitessuch as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ on the grounds that social networking gives the ideal stage to promote your products/website. We will keep your social media platform  The idea is to develop a business page for your website with the most relevant information about your products/services and effectively promote in major social networking sites for higher number of hits to your website. We will share blog posts, videos and other content from your website, you give your audience a reason to navigate and visit your site. From there on, you have the opportunity to inspire those visitors to take action by inviting them to sign up for your mailing list, make a purchase, or call to schedule a free consultation. With our commitment to social media efforts, you will clearly see that social media brings traffic.

My Reply:

Hello David,

Thank you for your description but what you are telling me is just theory. Can you give me some practical examples on:

  1. How would you choose a keyword for my website? Can you give me an example of a keyword or two?
  2. Can you give me an example of what articles you could write and where you would post them for backlinks?

Notes and Observations

At this stage I am expecting a decent reply. I do not expect anyone to expose their trade secrets but something tangible. For example we will use the long tail keyword monitoring user activity on WordPress  in a guest post on a website related to either WordPress or web security, such as xxx.

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

Thanks for your query.

As per your concern, I have forwarded your website information to our support team for the detailed keyword analysis.

I mean which keywords can give you the better ranking & traffic improvements than your competitor’s.

I will get back to you with the detailed answer to your question  within a couple of hour.

Hopefully, you will co-operate.

My Reply:

Hello David,

Thank you very much and I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

From David Cameron:

Hi Robert,

As per your requirement, I received the details from our technical team.

Please find the below details:

List of suggested keywords that we will target geographically  for the website: https://www.wpwhitesecurity.com/

WordPress Security Consultancy
Professional WordPress Support
Wordpress Technical Support
Wordpress Tutorials for Beginners
WordPress Security Plugins
Professional WordPress Security Services
WP Security Audit Log
WordPress Security Blog
WP White Security

Regarding the article our content writer will write the quality & unique article/content within 300-400 words for your website depending upon the selected keywords.

That content will sent to you for your review & verification once that will approve by you then our team will promote & submit or post  that article in different article submission sites like:

Article Domain:-

apsense.com
articlesxpert.com
idleexperts.com
123articleonline.com
articlespy.com
basearticles.com
storeboard.com
ezinearticles.com
examiner.com
hubpages.com
artipot.com
amazines.com
articles.org

Please let me know if you have any more question sin your mind. so that we can proceed.

Be rest assured that you will get the first page ranking of your selected keywords with guaranteed quality traffic improvements.

Notes & Observations

Anyone who has even the most basic idea of SEO, or better of how to make a keyword research know that anyone can come up with the above keyword list from this website in less than a minute. They also used branded keywords, such as the name of the plugin and the website which as I highlight below are of no use in an initial keyword research. And we haven’t even talked about the list of websites he has sent, which are not even remotely related to WordPress, let alone WordPress security. Another sign that we are dealing with someone who is just trying to sell a scam service.

My Reply:

Hello David,

I have two questions at this stage:

  1. Can you send me a sample article using the keywords “WP Security Audit Log” so I can get an idea what type of content you can generate and its quality?
  2. How does the posting of articles on websites such asezinearticles.com help our SEO when Google states that posting on such websites (article listing) will actually harm your SEO and not improve it?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

From David Cameron:

Hi Robert,

Thanks for your reply.

To be honest let me tell you, to show up you the sample article content for the keyword: WP Security Audit Log” our content writer will need at least one business days.

Once I will receive the details info from my team then immediately I will get back to you .

Looking forward to your co-operation.

My Reply:

Hello David,

No problem, I am more than happy to wait. I’d like to see the quality of the article.

Notes  and Observations

The above email was sent on the 18th of May 2016. By the 31st of May 2016 I still haven’t heard from David Cameron, so I thought of chasing him.

My Email:

Hello David,

Since it has been 13 days since we last got in touch. I thought of touching base again, in case you did not get it. Do you have a sample article for me to review?

Notes  and Observations

By the 7th of June I still haven’t heard from David Cameron, so I sent him another followup email.

My Email:

Hello David,

I haven’t received anything from you, which means you do not want to provide us with your service. It is a pity.

From David Cameron:

Hi Dear Robert,

I am extremely sorry for the delay in response.

The exact reason is that I was admitted in to a Hospital due to my illness. That’s why, I was on leave.

Today, I resume my duty  & had already spoke to the content writer about your requirement.

She is right now preparing all the details. Hence I will send you the sample details in my next email very soon.

We want an honest client like you for our long term good business relationship.

My Reply:

Hi David,

No worries.  I will wait to hear from you.

From David Cameron:

Hi Robert,

As per your requirement, Please find the attached file of  sample article for the keyword: WP Security Audit Log.

Please let me know your thought on the same to move forward.

Notes  and Observations

David sent me the below article and I would have thought; most of the content have been scraped from the plugin’s website and they tried to somehow put it up together. If you read the article you will notice incorrect information, reiterations and not so good grammer. This is another sign that we are not dealing with professionals here.

Why your WP needs Security Audit log?

If you have an online business, security is one aspect that you can’t overlook. Website such as yours, especially, the WordPress websites are favorite targets of hackers. WP Security Audit Log is the solution that will help you keep track of visitors and users to your site.

WP Security Audit Log is a plugin that keeps a detailed record of whatever changes have been made to the website by the users. If you suspect a security breach or are concerned about what users are doing when logged in to your site this plugin will record every activity. It has been developed by WP White Security, a European Company that provides security consultation and audit services to WordPress.   

WordPress is widely used in developing websites. It is popular for its user friendliness and interactive UI. Security, however, remained a concern for WordPress for long. Recently, there have been serious efforts to heighten the security level for the WP sites to protect them from malicious and hacking activities. WP Security Audit Log would add a layer of security feature that will help the website admin maintain and monitor user activities on his/her site. Here is what the plugin is supposed to do.

  • The plugin works for both WP and WP Multisites
  • It generates real-time audit log for all activities at admin and user level
  • Initiates alert for any change and malicious attempts to breach security
  • For WP Multisite user activities can be logged for the entire network
  • The default log viewing right is given to the admin but this can be modified and given to other users too
  • The audit log can be manually cleaned after specific period of time
  • Alert types can be managed by the user based on the types of alerts one wants to receive
  • It is easier to troubleshoot when you receive prompt notifications

My Reply:

Hello David,

Thank you very much for the article but it is of very low quality, hence we are not interested in moving forward.

From David Cameron:

Hi Robert,

To be honest let me tell you, That was some of the sample article.

But Most of the time our clients they provides the unique article content & blog content to do the promotional campaign for their website.

Because they are well know about there business/product & services.

So, We are here to get your website in to the first page of SERP as well to promote your brand & service all over the major social media sites like : Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc..

Kindly share your thought on the same.

I would like to request you just give us a single chance to taste the quality of our service & the results.

Hopefully, you will understand my honesty.

My Reply:

Hi David,

So if I give you the articles myself, what techniques will you be using to improve the ranking of my website? And if I do not give you good articles, that do not rank well, how can you still take my website to the first page on Google?

From David Cameron:

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the reply.

As per your query, let me clear your doubts about the process:

To increase the ranking of a website for the selected keywords doesn’t  depend only upon the quality  article content.

We will perform the various Off page work to increase the ranking which includes: Article submission, Bookmarking, Forum Posting, Directory Submission, Blog commenting, classified Ads, yahoo answers, video sharing, business listing and PDF submission for generation of permanent, theme-based and quality back-links that would aid in accelerating the first page ranking procedure. So when Google crawls your website and it finds your website being linked to other sites with good PR values, naturally your side will rise to the first page of the search engine.

So for the article submission & Blog posting, we need the unique & quality article content apart from this we don’t need any article for other process.

Hence, If you will provide the quality article then we can do the Article Submission & Blog Posting. But if you will not provide the article or else if the quality of the article is of below standard, then also we can take your website into the first page of Google.

Be rest assured that we will definitely give you the first page ranking  guarantee.

Notes and Observations

Almost all the activities that David mentioned in his email (article submission, bookmarking, forum posting, blog commenting etc), if done in a mass produced way are what in the normal world of SEO considered as spam activity. I have my own blogs  and hundreds of comments are automatically marked as spam every day. Definitely I do not want my website to be on any of those comments. So move away from anyone who promises you backlinks and any of the above activities, especially when done blindly.

My Reply:

Hi David,

Thank you very much for your detailed explanation. Though I still have some questions about your service.

  1. What is bookmarking and how will it help the ranking?
  2. According to Google directory submissions are not beneficial for SEO.
  3. Classified Ads: who will be paying for these ads and on which network will you be advertising?
  4. Video sharing: videos of what? And where you will be sharing them?
  5. PDF submissions; PDF including what? And where will you be submitting them?

As regards the quality content, can you please let me know where will you be posting my articles should I provide you with the content?

From David Cameron:

Hi Robert,

I Apologize for delay in response.

As per your concern please find the details:

Bookmarking: Social bookmarking is a great SEO tool that can help you drive targeted traffic to your website. It can also increase social signals and make your content easier to share. By bookmarking your content what you are doing is increasing your visibility and, at the same time, improving the chances of being better ranked.

How it is Helpful In ranking:  It is helpful in several ways in the SEO campaign for a website.

  1. Boost Your Page Rank
  2. Targeted Traffic
  3. Do-Follow Links
  4. Send Social Signals
  5. Fast Site Indexing
  1. No, I am not completely agreed with you that Directory submissions are not beneficial for the website SEO.  Directory links are still counted as valid, if obtained from quality directories.
  2. Once you will make the payment for the selected plan then after we will never take any extra charges for the campaign. we will be responsible for that Ads.

We will do the classified Ads in following sites:

classifiedads.com
mixmarket.com
1emirates.com
dozaq.com
ustings.com
usnetads.com
expatads.com
targro.com
ukadslist.com
innetads.com
adskorner.com
adsriver.com
backpage.com
usadsciti.com
expatriates.com
expatads.com
anunico-ca.com
canetads.com
spotclassifieds.com
mowersmarket.com
expatriates.com

  1. Video sharing not applicable for your website. However, if you provide any videos clips that related to your website service or product demo then we can publish & share that videos in several ways.
  2. PDF submission means promote your content as PDF format for your website and promote it online.

PDF SUBMISSION SITES:

issuu.com
scribd.com
box.com
mediafire.com
dropbox.com
2shared.com
4shared.com
docs.zoho.com
datafilehost.com
filefactory.com
docs.google.com
member.thinkfree.com
pdfcast.org
edocr.com
freepdfhosting.com
filesave.me
authorstream.com
adrive.com
slideserve.com

If you will provide the content(Optional) then we can do the Article posting in different sites like:

Article Domain:-

apsense.com
articlesxpert.com
idleexperts.com
123articleonline.com
articlespy.com
basearticles.com
storeboard.com
ezinearticles.com
examiner.com
hubpages.com
artipot.com
amazines.com
articles.org

However, if you have any more questions in your mind then feel free to ask me.

Be rest assured that we will deliver you the guaranteed first page ranking of your website for the selected keywords.

Looking forward to your reply.

Notes / Observations:

So basically at this stage we can conclude that what these guys are offering is not an outbound SEO service, but a service with which they try to spam other websites with links to your website. Also, the fact that they are referring to websites which are not even remotely related to our line of business, is another sign that these guys are simply trying to scam their victims.

My Reply:

Hello David,

Sorry for the delay in replying. I have very limited time to work on marketing and SEO hence why I am looking for companies that can help me.

Though I have some questions about what you’ve written in the last email.

I noticed that most of the advertising websites are not related to the subject of my website. For example why adverts on sites such as expatsads.com, expatriates.com and mowersmarket.com would work for a business like mine? It is like advertising a sports car in an antiques furniture magazine.

As for the rest, it looks interesting. Can you please send me some prices of the different services that you provide?

Can you also let me know if there are any discounts if I pay in advance?

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

Thank you very much for the explanation.

Frankly, Speaking When we work for a website we advertise them in the relevant advert sites which can be more effective for your business.

But in my last email I sent you the over all advert sites list.  So you don’t need to be worried about it. We will take proper care about it.

We are providing different web services with different plans.

  1. For SEO service our minimum plan starts from $200/month
  1. For SMO Service our minimum plan start from $399/month
  1. For Reputation management & CRO minimum plan starts from $499/month
  1. For New website design, development & customization the quote depends upon the clients exact requirement .

Yes, of course you can get flat 15%, 20% & 30%  discount on the selected plan if you pay for a no. of months in advance.

Please let us know the selected plan, Accordingly we can proceed.

Be rest assured that you will get the guaranteed first page ranking of your website with quality traffic improvements.

Looking forward to your response.

My Reply:

Hello David,

I am willing to pay for one of the services but I still have some concerns. On the 13th of May I asked you why are you using a gmail email address and on the 14th of May you told me that once you receive a positive interest towards your service you only communicate via the corporate email address.

Yet, you are still contacting me via the gmail address. How can you prove to me that you are not a spammer and your services are not a scam?

Notes and Observations

And finally, after this email I was contacted from a business email address rather than a free gmail one.

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

Thanks for your reply.

It’s a good question for us.

I apologize for this mistake.

However, let me tell you It’s important to not really gauge the amount of work being done, but to gauge the type of work being done and the quality of that work. Some SEO companies spend the same amount of time we do, but they don’t see the same results because they put the emphasis on quantity and not so much on quality. We have an extremely efficient team that not only does a high quantity of work in a small time, but they also do high quality work.

We truly do believe in delivering high quality work which is why the vast majority of our clients stay with us in the long run even though they aren’t under any sort of contract.

For shake of few dollars neither we want to make any false commitment nor want to loose our reputation as well as brand. So be rest assured that you will get the guaranteed improvements in results from the first month of our work.

To be honest with you  in working with international clients, We provided them the quality and guaranteed results for there investments.

If we will provide you the quality & guaranteed results as per the commitment so that in future you may provide us some other project. Then why we will not deliver the good results.

Again, I would like to thank you for your feedback. Allow us one chance, we will do our best to make sure that you will trust our company and be confident with our services.

Sincerely,
David Cameron
Sr. Manager

Ph: x-xxx-xxx-xxx

Skype: xxx.xxxxx
Web: xxx.xxxxxxxxxxx.xxx

Email: xxxx@xxxxxx.xx

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

As per your concern, I have forwarded all of  our previous email communication to our corporate sales id: sales@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx.

I have also replied back to you from the corporate sales id.

Kindly check that email & get back to me with your confirmation to get start the campaign from JULY.

My Reply:

Hello David,

Thank you for your response.

I have checked your website, and the latest post in the blog is from August 2015. Also, the Alexa ranking of your website is 30,493,200. So if your website is not performing well, and you are a marketing company how can I trust your work?

Is the company still active or this is a scam? Please explain.

Notes and Observations

Checking their website is always another good test to confirm if the person contacting you is legit or not. A website of SEO professionals that has not been updated in a year? Definitely not a good sign. An SEO professional without a good website is like an experienced plugin developer with no plugins to his name. SEO professionals are good at SEO, so their website should rank very well and should be updated. That is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other things you can look out for when checking their website, such as spelling mistakes & grammar problems (you don’t want that on your website and guest posts), missing meta information such as titles and descriptions etc.

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

Thanks for the reply.

Frankly speaking our development team are just customizing our website, It is under modification.

However regarding the popularity & active let me tell you, if you have any doubts about our existing website then we can send you the proof of the payment that we are normally receiving from our honest clients by our website.

Simply thought the goods who looks beautiful from outer side they are not good from the inside.

If we only advertise our website without providing any quality service then no one will give us a single project.

The main Imp point is that we always give focus in our clients website rather than our website.

Hence, it’s my request to you don’t think negative that we are scam. for few dollars we don’t want to loose our brand & reputation.

Notes and Observations

“I can send you the proof of payment…..from our honest clients”. That was the nail in the coffin for David. Not that I needed confirmation that I am dealing with scammers but no professional will send you this. A reference, I’ll ask a customer to contact you, a testimonial, yes. Proof of payment? Definitely not so I’ll take David for a good ride now.

My Reply:

Hello David,

Sure, can you please do send me the proof of payments? I just want to be sure. Most probably you’d do the same when dealing with someone whom you’ve never worked with before

Looking forward to hearing from you.

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

As per your request, let me tell you, we are receiving so many payments.

But not possible to show up all of those lists for you with a screenshot.

I just received a screenshot of the payment proof from our accounts team.

Here I am sending you with the attached file.

Kindly see the file. Hope you can understand my honesty.

Notes and Observations

David actually sent me a screenshot of a PayPal payment they received from a legitimate company, including their address etc. So much for compliance, privacy and professionalism! At this stage, after I confirmed they are scammers I tried to see if they are willing to commit to do some work and I pay them after. As you will notice further down I also recommended an Escrow service, which they refused. I am not saying a professional business should expect such business terms, but at this stage I am just trying to find out how far these guys are ready to go to get me hooked on their monthly retainer.

My Reply:

Hello David,

Thank you very much for your prompt response.

The prices quoted in yesterday’s email were $200, $399 and $499. How come in the screenshot there is of a payment of $150? Do you have any other services that you did not tell me about?

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

Frankly speaking Our plan starts from $200/month.

But that was a customized plan based as per the clients exact requirement.

We don’t have any hidden cost. we always maintain transparency since we are dealing with the web services all across the world.

Hope you understand.

Please let me know the confirmation. So that we can get start the campaign for your website.

My Reply:

Hello David,

I would like to start working with you, can’t wait till I have my website on page one on Google.

Though I am still a bit skeptic about the payments. So how about the following; you create a list of recommended keywords for me and start working on my website. As soon as we see we are ranking on the first page of Google I will back pay you for all the months of work. This should not be a problem since you sound pretty confident and you will surely achieve your targets. Also, you said that within the first month we should start seeing the results, so you won’t be risking any money.

Can you please send me the first list of keywords we should focus on?

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

As per your requirement please find some of the suggested keywords list for your website: https://www.wpwhitesecurity.com/

WordPress Security Consultancy
Professional WordPress Support
Wordpress Technical Support
Wordpress Tutorials for Beginners
WordPress Security Plugins
Professional WordPress Security Services
WP Security Audit Log
WordPress Security Blog
WP White Security

Be 100% sure that you will get the guaranteed ranking improvements from the first month of the campaign.

But as per our company’s protocol all our plans are prepaid & months to month basis. we don’t have any contract.

Once we received the project confirmation from your end then we will forward your project to our technical support team to get start the campaign.

There will be a project manager who will take the responsibility of your website will update you the progress details through the Bi-monthly & Monthly Report.

Please let me know your thought on the same.

My Reply:

 Hello David,

Thank you for the keyword list but I want to focus on other keywords.

People will not search for WP Security Audit Log and WP White Security unless they heard of the plugin or the company, in which case I would not need SEO. Also we focus on WordPress security mostly, so WordPress Tutorials for Beginners does not work for us either. That works more for a website such as WPBeginner.

Can you please send me a list of 10 keywords which are WordPress security related and that your team can work on?

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

Thanks for the prompt response.

As per your reply, I understand your thought.

Here find the list of keywords which are WordPress security related:

wordpress security plugins
best wordpress security plugin
WordPress security Provider
WordPress Security Blog
Professional WordPress Security
WordPress Security Assistance
WordPress Security Glossary
WordPress Security Services

Please let me know your response.

My Reply:

As per my previous email I’d like to focus on ten keywords. The list you’ve sent me contains eight.

I hope you read my emails attentively.

From David Cameron:

Hi Robert,

Find the 10 which are WordPress security related.

wordpress security plugins
best wordpress security plugin
WordPress security Provider
WordPress Security Blog
Professional WordPress Security
WordPress Security Assistance
WordPress Security Glossary
WordPress Security Services
wordpress technical support
wordpress security consultancy

Please let me know your thought on the above details.

My Reply:

Hello David,

The list is looking good. Now on which country are we going to focus?

From David Cameron:

Hi Robert,

We will target these keywords globally. We will work for Google.com SERP RESULTS.

So that you can get the best ever results from all over the world.

My Reply:

Sounds like a plan to me. Last two questions;

In which time zone you’re working from? It seems you’re available 24×7.

And how can I confirm / double check your work please? For example if you say my website is in position one for a keyword, how can I check that?

From David Cameron:

Hi Robert,

We are working as per the MDT Time zone, New Mexico.

We are working 24*6 in a week.

My team will update you the details of the ranking progress of your website through the Bi-Monthly and Monthly Report. So that you can have clear picture and idea about our work. we always maintain transparency in work.

So be rest assured about the results.

Looking forward to your confirmation for the great success of your website.

Notes and Observations

At this stage I am trying to see what type of reports they present their victims with. It is easy to create a report in which they say that my website is ranking first for keyword XXXXX, but many people do not know how to check and verify these findings. So I’d like to see if he does explain to me how I can verify their reports.

My Reply:

Hello David,

Can you please tell me more about the process your team uses to check the rankings?

I’d like to be able to check the results of the work for which I’m paying.

From David Cameron:

HELLO Robert,

As I have mentioned earlier we do all the works organically.

Hence our team uses manual process to check the ranking status of your website for the selected keywords.

Simply,  If someone types: wordpress technical support or wordpress security consultancy in google the Google search page will show up your web page first instead of your competitor’s website.

Hope you understand.

My Reply:

 Sounds like a plan to me and I would like to go ahead. Though before I would like to change the keyword list. I just checked and our website already ranks for the below keywords:

Professional WordPress Security – position 5
WordPress Security Assistance – position 2
WordPress Security Glossary – position 2
WordPress Security Services – position 3
wordpress security consultancy – position 7

Since we are already on the first page for these keywords, can you replace these keywords with some other different ones?

Notes / Observations:

I did not hear from David Cameron in more than 24 hours, so I thought of chasing him.

My Email:

Hello David,

Trust this email finds you well.

Thought of touching base since I did not hear from you. Do you have an update for me so we can kick-start this project?

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

Thanks for your reply.

I apologize for being late in responding due to the weekend.

As per your last response, I have already checked the below mentioned keywords & their current position in SERP.

Professional WordPress Security – position 5
WordPress Security Assistance – position 2
WordPress Security Glossary – position 2
WordPress Security Services – position 3
wordpress security consultancy – position 7

Hence you can provide us the other selected keywords, so that we can get started the campaign today also.

Looking forward to your reply.

Notes and Observations

Now we are at a stage where I have to provide the content, do the keyword analysis and my site has no SEO issues. So will I be paying just to allow them to spam other websites with links of my website?

My Reply:

Hello David,

Ok here is the list:

prevent wordpress hacking
hack wordpress website
evading wordpress seo spam
hardening wordpress security
wordpress security tools
wordpress security plugins
best wordpress security plugin
WordPress security Provider
WordPress Security Blog
wordpress technical support

Would you be able to work with such list? If so, once I recruit you how quickly can you start delivering? How quickly will my website make it to the first page on Google?

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

Thank you for sending the list of selected keywords.

Yes, We are able to work on this list of keywords.

As you know, SEO is the organic & natural process. Hence it will take couple of months to list your website in the first page of Google for the selected keywords.

But from the first month of the campaign you will see very good improvements in ranking results.

So please let me know the confirmation to get start the campaign.

However, More questions are appreciated.

My Reply:

 Hello David,

You have my go ahead, let’s proceed.

I propose to pay you after seeing the improvements. After all since within the first month I should see very good improvements then it should not take long until I start paying you. Therefore none of us would be risking or losing any money. Ready to proceed?

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

Thanks for your prompt response.

But as per our company’s protocol our management doesn’t allow us to work on post pay basis.

As you know, I have already mentioned about our service. All our plans are prepaid & month to month basis.

So for 10 keywords at least the minimum plan would be $350/month.

for more details please visit the pricing plan link: xxx.xxxxxxxxx.xxxx

Please let me know, if this sounds good to you.

But be 100% sure that you will get guaranteed ranking improvements from the first month of the campaign.

Notes and Observations

In his original email David only mentioned three packages; $150, %190 and $230 a month. And nowhere in the thread he mentioned that the prices depend on the number of keywords they will be working on. And suddenly the price is increased to $350? These are all signs that these are scammers and not a legitimate business that have some sort of plan, pricing list etc. They just want to get as much as they can from the victim.

My Reply:

Hello David,

It is very easy to say that you are the best and that you will improve my website. If you really mean that, if you are really that good you should not have any problems accepting my terms. Also considering you can deliver results within just a month, there is nothing to lose for you. If you want I am also happy to sign a contract in which we can specify what the targets are and how you should be paid etc.

Please advise.

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

Frankly speaking , we are not giving you the promise that within a month we can give you the first page ranking results.

But you will see the improvements in ranking at the end of the first month campaign.

Because like others we don’t want to give any false commitment.

My team working on those projects only who have made the confirmation of their project.

If you would be at my position then what you can do for us because I am working as a full time employee.

I am working here as per the company’s guidelines & instruction given by them.

Hopefully, you will understand my honesty.

Notes and Observations

At this stage I am trying to see to how far these guys go and how well structured their operations are. I am offering them to sign a contract with easy to reach targets and to pay via escrow. I am also going to ask to talk to David’s superiors, to see if I can get this approved but to no surprise, there are no superiors. Though David does not admit it, he just plays with some words.

My Reply:

 Hello David,

I am not expecting to have my website on the first page within a month but we can come up with some targets for the first month. For example if at the moment our website ranks 36 for the keyword “WordPress security” within a month it should rank somewhere higher than 26. If your company can really deliver results, then accepting such a contract should not be an issue for you.

If you cannot get such go ahead, I’d like to speak to your superiors.

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

I understand your point.

As per your concern, let me tell you, what happens exactly.

For example: your website current rank 36 for the keyword “WordPress security” & we have given you the commitment that you will get guaranteed ranking improvements.

Hence after a month you can get the rank for the keyword: “WordPress security” 30, 20, or may be 34 or 28.

But if we will do more optimization & promotion for a particular keyword forcefully without guidelines then it will give bad impact to the website.

we will feed as much as required for a website to get it higher ranking within a prescribed time frame.

Please let me know your thought.

My Reply:

Hi David,

I understand how you work. So can we come up with a number of targets to be listed in the contract? Else if this is not working for you, as I already asked for before I would like to speak to your superiors.

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

We can sign up the contract for 10 keyword.

As I am the first appellate authority to all your queries. So first of all I should take care of this.

If anything comes up other than pricing/deliverable/time frame & the matters beyond my capable then in that case I can forward the message to my superior.

I have already shared everything with you also the confidential matter that payment proof.

If you wish then I can also show today’s payment receipt. There are so many client’s making the initial payment.

So please let me know if you are comfortable to make upfront payment in order to start the project.

My Reply:

Quite frankly my decision is not based on other people’s payments, because even if you get one million payments a day, it does not guarantee you will give me a good service, and it does not guarantee I will get the best ROI.

Hence why I would like to pay once I see results. When you hire a designer to design a website, you pay him once the website is ready. The same applies when you go out to eat in a restaurant, if someone builds some furniture for you, develops a web application and a million other things. So I do not see why I should pay you up front for something that is not even guaranteed.

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

I understand your thought.

As per your query, finally I have discussed with my team & they have updated me that. If you can make at least 60% upfront payment then we can accept the project & start working on it & the rest 40% at the end of the first month after getting the progress report.

Please let me know, if sounds good to you.

My Reply:

 Hello David,

60% is too much of a risk. Please keep in mind that while I am risking money you won’t be risking anything if you can really deliver. Else I have another proposal; how about we set some targets, I pay you in full but instead of paying you directly we use an escrow service. Should you reach the targets you will get the money, should you fail to deliver I will keep the money. How does that sound?

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

Honestly, let me tell you, we accept the payment via world’s safest payment gateway i.e is PayPal.

I believe you are concerned regarding  amount for that reason you are giving a second thought to our proposal. I can understand, your worries are absolutely genuine, infact if I would have been at your place I would have also given a second thought. But the one thing that’s common between us is, you are into an online business and so as we. If you will not have trust on us do you think your customers will trust you.

Atlast, I would say that trust us you will definitely get fruitful and guaranteed results.

We will be sending you weekly and monthly reports mentioning the details of the work completed throughout the week and the time allocation for individual SEO activities. In the report we will also show the improvement in keyword ranking & link-popularity. And as all our plans are monthly and prepaid basis you can judge the quality of our work from the first month itself and then if you are satisfied with our job you can continue for more couple of months to get the desired results.

So I would like you to give a thought to our proposal and discuss with your management regarding the same. Looking forward to work with you.

Notes and Observations

Clearly David has no idea what an escrow service is. A simple Google search would have answered his question. He is focused on winning the monthly retainer. This is yet another sign that these people are scammers and not in it to do actual business.

My Reply:

Hello David,

This is not a matter of security of the payment gateway, but it is a matter of getting what I paid for.

As an online business, once our customers pay we give them the plugin. If they pay for a service to clean up their website, we give them a clean website. There is no beating around the bush. Your business is different. You guarantee me a better search engine result position but cannot guarantee me how better it will be. You cannot guarantee me that I will get more than $350 a month back in terms of ROI when investing in your service.

Hence why I am recommending an escrow service, it is not about using a safe payment gateway. An escrow is a third party who keeps the money, making sure I pay for your service. Though they won’t release the funds unless what we agreed on has been achieved. So we can agree on some targets, start using an escrow service and once you reach the target you will get the money.

That should work for you, no?

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

I received your last email.

According to you, my management has decided not to move with the campaign without any payment confirmation.

But I can help you only if you can make at least 60% of the upfront payment than i can convince them to accept the project.

My Reply:

Hi David,

I am sorry to hear. This proves my point that your company is indeed a scam because it is not willing to commit to delivering the service I am paying for.

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

As per your concern, let me tell you.

Our company doesn’t allow us to work on post pay basis because we have so many running projects for which clients has already paid.

Hence due to the flow of prepaid confirmed projects our team not willing to work on your project on post paid basis.

Hope you will understand.

There is nothing in my hand to do anything more. We are working for sales dept. once we got the confirmation from the clients & their requirement our job is to forward the same to our technical team & they will responsible for the next.

My Reply:

Hi David,

I am going to ask again, can you please forward my request to your superiors? I would like to speak to them directly.

From David Cameron:

Hello Robert,

One more thing you should keep in mind.

We have communicated over the Gmail is #35 & with this corporate id #43.

The most IMP point is that we have started our discussion from 13th of May 2016.

Till now we have communicated over the 73 times.

Hence you decide we are professional or scam ?

Notes and Observations

At this stage David indirectly confirmed to me that there are no superiors, but we are dealing with a scammer (or a team of scammers) who are simply trying to hook people on their monthly retainer as a payment for them to:

  • post comments with back links on other websites, blogs and forums
  • Post cheap and scraped content on articles websites (most of which are available for free)

My Reply:

Scammers tend to be persistent, no?

The Lessons We’ve Learnt from a Two Months Email Exchange with a (Non) SEO Specialist

As we’ve seen in the thread above, many of these scams are backed by real operating company which have paying customers. They typically employ an army of people who can generate or scrape cheap content and post gazillion of comments randomly on other websites and forums in the hope of generating a good back-link portfolio and much more. So even if it sounds like a legit business, these companies are in it just to get as much money as they can, and in return they will deliver a mediocre service just to keep their victims paying them every month. Their approach clearly shows that they are not in it to provide a genuine service, and definitely they are not looking into improving their skills, hence why they are classified as a scam.

Unfortunately these type of scams are putting the real professionals in a bad light, hence why we should all be aware about these type of shady businesses, so we don’t get bitten and get the wrong opinion on thousands of legitimate professionals. Through the email conversation I pointed out several things that proof that this business is a scam, and to recap below is a list of the things you should be on the lookout for:

  1. They contact you from a free email address such as gmail.
  2. You are promise you quick SERPs and a lot of back-links.
  3. They are not willing to explain in detail what they plan to do and how (you should always ask for more details about the service they are offering).
  4. Offer you submissions to thousands of search engines, articles, bookmarks and listings website.
  5. They do not even have their own website in a working order.

If you are ever in doubt, feel free to ask around. There are many WordPress groups on Facebook, Google Plus and other social media outlets with thousands of professionals who are willing to help. Use them and never commit to any sort of service unless you are 100% sure.

WordPress Hosting, Firewall and Backup

This Website is:

10 comments

Rebecca Gill 16/08/2016

Awesome read! I’ve never replied to suck inquiries, but now I want to for discovery and entertainment both.

The world does have quality SEO consultants. Sadly these spammers and emails overshadow the work of real consulting companies and degrade their ability to truly do good.

Buyer beware – especially with SEO.

Quality consultants don’t troll email. They show up on page one and have clients come to them.

Robert Abela 16/08/2016

Hello Rebecca, thank you for your feedback. I am currently updating the article with more comments to highlight exactly what you just said; even though these businesses come around as legitimate businesses they aren’t. They are spammers / scammers who are after a quick buck by simply scraping content and posting links in blogs’ comments.

Frederic Sune 16/08/2016

Very interesting Exchange! Thank you for sharing. As a web agency, we received like hundreds of email like this every week, most of them are catch by Google as Spam but time to time, one get trough… Love the exchange and how you react. Very informative too!

Robert Abela 16/08/2016

Thank you Frederic.

Petra Blankwaard 17/08/2016

Great post! 1 tip: I noticed a link to Davids company in 1 of the displayed emails, forgot to remove?

WP White Security 17/08/2016

Hello Petra. Thank you and yes that was a mistake. Thank you for pointing it out. I just removed it.

Dave Rodenbaugh 17/08/2016

I’m impressed that you took it that far, Robert! I wouldn’t have had the patience to dig into it like you did here, but it was a very entertaining read. Thanks for doing that. Confirmed what I suspected every time I get cold contacts sending me “SEO promises” on my contact form. LOL

WP White Security 17/08/2016

Thank you Dave. Yes I can confirm that they are all the same. I did contact several others and have more emails though I need the time to document them first.

John Locke 04/11/2016

Hi Robert:

Just want to say thanks again for appearing on the podcast, and I really enjoyed this article. I actually learned a lot about the process of how these spam companies work. It took a lot of work to keep stringing them along. I thought it was insightful what you shared on WP-Tonic, about the investigative reporter that tried to physically track a spam network and got his family kidnapped.

No doubt there is a lot of money in scams like this one,and many others. People should be aware of how these things work, and I applaud the effort you put forth to document this exchange.

Thanks,
John

Robert Abela 24/11/2016

Thank you John. I enjoyed being on the podcast as well and will gladly join you again.

Yes spam / scam networks are a big problem and many people do not see that. Unfortunately many people only see this “poor lad” and “he is just trying to earn a living” side of things, which in reality things are totally different. I wish I had the time to do a bit more of these. If I manage to do some more, I’ll definitely publish them here.

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