I know I should put my phone number on the Do Not Call List, but I actually find it interesting to see who ends up calling.  My wife of course finds it incredibly annoying.

But it blows my mind that by far the majority of sales calls are from people trying to sell me SEO services.  I just got another one today.  The guy opened by asking me if I’d like to get in on the “exclusive” arrangement they have with Google, Bing & Yahoo to get me to the top.  I asked him to describe how in fact he could do that and he again mentioned this very special exclusive arrangement.  I told him to look at his lead list and read me back the name of my company.

The fact that these guys are selling complete bullshit is troubling enough.  But how could you ever trust a company that tries to sell worthless local SEO services to a company called “Local SEO Guide”?

This wouldn’t have even set me off so much except that earlier today I spoke to a potential client who told me he was talking to me and another guy who guaranteed he could get him to rank #1 in Google for a number of very competitive keywords.  Of course you had to pay a huge fee upfront, but everything after that was guaranteed.

Perhaps the US Attorney’s office could divert some of its resources from harassing legitimate small businesses and do something about this particularly irksome form of chicanery that is doing real harm to our SMBs?


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40 Response Comments

  • Edwin Hayward  October 21, 2011 at 12:52 am

    I get a lot of similar approaches (by email – unlike you, I do block the phone) from “SEO” companies – note the quotes – claiming to be able to get one or other of our sites into the top 10 on Google. Inevitably it’s for a site that’s already in the top 10 for the keyphrase they’re talking about, so not only do they sell fluffy services, they don’t even spend 15s (or automate) to check whether what they’re pitching passes the first and most obvious test.

  • Chris Silver Smith  October 21, 2011 at 9:31 am

    The naivete of these companies is astounding sometimes. The paying upfront for services guaranteeing something they can’t reasonably be certain of is such a pain.

    Perhaps it’s time for all of us to put out yet another round of articles on how keyword rankings cannot be guaranteed and to run away from anyone who says they can.

  • Andrew Shotland  October 21, 2011 at 9:34 am

    We need some kind of Occupy Google Places rally or something

  • Duane McLennan  October 21, 2011 at 10:14 am

    It’s really unbelievable how many calls we get. My wife and her staff at the flower shop always ask them to call me on my cell and it’s always 2-3 each week. Mostly my response is “Have you even Googled that search term?”.

    What really irks me is that I got a call from my sister in law on more than one occasion in a panic and saying “should I do this? They say I’ll be the only one and it’s going to go quickly so I have to decide today!”

    The answer is always no!

  • David  October 21, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Andrew I lived in California for 10 years North Carolina for 5 and back in my native England for two.

    Believe me it is just as bad here.


  • Drew  October 21, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Seriously…making a local SEO sales call to someone who is obviously involved in the bIz is just stupid. Funny. Not a day goes by that a client doesn’t forward me an email from someone promising the same bullshit. It’s out of hand.

  • Mark Carter  October 22, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I get endless emails offering me seo services. Surely they check who they are emailing? Perhaps they just do a keyword search on the web, and then mail anyone who is vaguely in that area. It makes no sense whatsoever.

    Now I’ve moved to Singapore I’ve been interviewing local SEO companies. Amazingly most of them offer guarantees, and pitch the most unrealistic claims based on 5 or 6 year out of date techniques. Oh boy!

  • james ascot  October 23, 2011 at 10:16 am

    i get this all the time, it would make me laugh but for the time if makes you waste having to explain to customers and potentiality customers why these company’s are lying.

  • HAPPY Technologies  October 25, 2011 at 5:04 am

    we get this all the time, and is quite funny, they also prob found you on Google. Ha

  • Tiggerito  October 25, 2011 at 6:06 am

    Just today I was chatting in a shop (I’m a regular) and the owner was saying how he regularly gets spam emails/calls about SEO.

    This is why our industry gets such a bad rap and such a low trust level.

    The funny thing is, I often reply to these emails and never get a response. As most of them only have a gmail account and can’t even set up their own websites, I assume they themselves have been conned by some one day course in “Make money fast being an SEO”, just send us $1,000 and you can make millions, no skill required.

  • Bill Enross  October 25, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Amen. I get at least 3 calls a week from these idiots, and like you get quizzed by my clients as well. “They guaranteed…”. I used to respond to these jerks with, “Tell me the name of your company, and if I find you at the top of page 1 for SEO, I’ll talk with you”, they always hang up. Thanks for the post.

  • Jim Rudnick  October 25, 2011 at 7:43 am

    …sigh…and just as bad here too! coupled with the huge cold calling that is done by our YPG folks for inclusion in next years printed yellow pages – this is one of the sorest points that we run into…ie if you do NOT take a yellow page advert, then you wont be in google. honest. firms call us and ask us why that is…and what they can do to still get into google but not spend the big $$$ for a yellow page advert….sigh…. 🙁

  • Dave Durbin  October 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Glad you put this out. I got a call yesterday asking to perform seo services for us. We Do SEO. Then I was asked who we do it for. Seriously? Have A Nice Day 🙂

  • Justin  October 26, 2011 at 7:25 am

    I hate these spamming SEO companies. Here in the UK we get them hassling our clients all the time.

    The issue is that a lot of people don’t realise they are complete rubbish. Often amuses me when the SEO ‘expert’ says they can get the client number 1 for search terms, and leaves it as vague as that in their sale pitch!

    We recently had a client use one of these companies and they pretty much did nothing so the client eventually got us to take over.

    As others have suggested, all these companies are irritating because they tarnish the whole SEO industry to the point that a lot of people are now very wary of getting a company to help them SEO wise.

  • Jim Froling  October 27, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I have been getting calls from a similar company this past week. Same spiel: calling from Google Data Center; “unique opportunity” for 1st pg placement; hold for our account exec…”.

    Guy comes on phone, I question how they do what they do. “Meta-tags, optimized landing page (on their domain), etc. etc. I found it entertaining.

    Then he asks me what we do. “Marketing consultant”, I answer.

    Next day he calls back after finding my website. “What is the primary service your company offers? You seem to be in a similar business as us.”

    I replied, “No, I don’t rip people off making unrealistic claims based on methods that have been irrelevant for several years.”

    And then he proceeded to attempt to close me on a deal. Unbelievable! But at least it was good for a laugh.

    Andrew, you should get a seperate phone line for your home. Your wife would appreciate it.

  • Andrew Shotland  October 27, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Classic Jim. I used to have a separate line but since I use my cell most often it didn’t seem like a worthwhile expense.

  • Inverter in Chennai  October 28, 2011 at 2:41 am

    how the Google consider SEO is not a spam work?

  • Vik Chhabra  November 2, 2011 at 7:25 am

    I’ll do it for 1/2 the price….no guarantees.

  • Chris Mo'e  November 2, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    I think its especially funny when its an obvious cold caller from another country like India reading a SEO script. The way i look at it is these companies are spreading the awareness then not providing, and in the long run will bring more business to the legit and honest companies.

  • Duane McLennan  November 3, 2011 at 5:50 am

    @Chris Mo’e
    That’s actually a very good point to make. As annoying as it is for everyone, and the bad taste it leaves in some people’s mouth it does bring some level of awareness to the industry at the local B&M level. Those who chose to do research and get referred by happy clients will find us.

    If someone gets burned, it doesn’t change the fact that they need local and social marketing advise and services.

  • Nick Stamoulis  November 3, 2011 at 6:43 am

    I’ve had this same experience! Not only am I getting calls but I’m also getting spam emails from SEO firms. It’s just ridiculous that they don’t have any clue who they are sending these messages to.

  • Steven Anderson  November 3, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    I think a lot these Online marketing courses have been farming out there LEADs for Non-buyers that got on there list and didn’t buy anything from them.

    It’s a BIG recycling game, by saying SCREW You for not buying my “Junk” in the first place. So I’m selling your info to the highest loser.

    I know of a company named iPas.com that Farmed me out to these type of list buyer’s and I’ve been receiving calls from “SEO or Website Build offers” ever since.

  • Geraldine R. Weinstein  November 7, 2011 at 1:58 am

    This part made me smile, “The fact that these guys are selling complete bullshit is troubling enough. But how could you ever trust a company that tries to sell worthless local SEO services to a company called “Local SEO Guide”?”

    Well, I cannot blame those SEO sales representatives because it’s their job, although I admit, it’s kinda annoying. I guess the best thing to do is to turn their offer down the moment you learn that they are going to offer you their SEO service, you know, just to save time and effort of both parties.

  • Mike Lamothe  November 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    What do you think is the best way for a start up Local Marketing company to contact small business owners?

    I am starting up and I want to do things right. I am launching a new business and I do White Hat Seo and I certainly don’t want to bother anyone. I legitimately want to help small local businesses.
    Should I start out and help a couple businesses for free? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.


  • Andrew Shotland  November 12, 2011 at 8:20 am


    Even though I find it intrusive and annoying, telesales can work and it’s often the best way to get to a potential customer when you want to reach him. Just don’t try to sell the customer on bullshit.

    That said, I am a much bigger fan of creating a product/service that draws customers in because it is great. Not saying I am great, but a big reason I was able to build up a successful consulting practice is this blog. I have never cold-called a client ever. And if you are trying to build a big agency, you presumably will have more resources than I do to create and market great content.

    If you really have a great service and are good at marketing, there should be no reason why you can’t practice what you are selling. If you can’t do this, then you are doomed to living and dying on telesales conversion rates and you are no different than most of your competitors.

    So give away free services in your market and tell potential customers every detail about how you succeeded. Pick freebie clients that have a lot of connections in the markets you want to be in and encourage them to talk you up.

    Word of mouth is in fact the best form of marketing, right?

  • Tiggerito  November 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Totally agree Andrew. I built my business in the same way and have never had to hunt for a client.

    Do some free work and use it to learn and start getting a good reputation.

  • Jim Froling  November 13, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    I confess…
    I was one of those guys calling folks all over from a “bullpen” of telemarketers. However, unlike most of my associates who were only looking for a payday, I truly believed in the service.

    I’m all about customer service and always have been, will be. So I gave clients my personal cell# if any dissatisfaction arose. I got a LOT of calls. “I’m not on Page 1 as you promised and I can’t get through to your customer service and I can’t stop the automatic debits to my credit car and…”.

    My thoughts? “What the f*%$? What is so difficult? I could do the ‘ back office’ work!”. So I did.

    I started with a friend’s new site and had him on Page 1 in G-Places within days (this was a few years ago). I promptly quit the telemarketing gig and started doing this myself.

    My clients learn to trust me. I meet them through various local networking venues, follow up by phone, do my homework, and approach them from the angle that I want to help them and their business/lives. What a concept!

    But it takes time to earn trust. And I’m convinced that most of the battle is overcoming the perceptions of me and our business as a bunch of scammers.

    Last week I was at a networking mixer and ran into “newbie” reps from the same scammer I worked for years ago. I’ve lost count of how many times the company has changed its name. Same owner, same business plan (scam), and (ugh!) same neighborhood.

    However I do owe them the insight that this service is valuable and that I could do it myself.

    So, its not all bad 😉

  • Andrew Shotland  November 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Thanks for sharing Jim. Curious in your previous gig:

    1. How did they source the call list?
    2. How many sales per hour were you supposed to make?
    3. What was the avg. conversion rate (i.e. how many calls did you have to make to close a sale)?

  • Shefiu  November 15, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    What an interesting SEO story! I know where you are coming from. The dodgy self-proclaimed SEO experts are littered everywhere and as pestering as ever! There’s no magic wand to quickly get top ranking position. It takes a lot of hard work for sure! The scammers are certainly out there like vultures, one just have to be careful not to fall victim.

  • Blake Denman  November 16, 2011 at 6:03 am

    I get at least 2 of those calls a month. Sometimes it’s an automated system asking me “Would you like to update your FREE Google listing? Press 1 now” to be then transferred to a sales rep. They always claim they have a “special” relationship with Google, Bing & Yahoo!

    I use to work for a company like this that ran on Auto Dialers before starting my own company in early 2009.

    It’s a shame that these companies still pop up so frequently.

  • Tim Love  November 18, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Oh this is so funny! The phone goes a little quiet, you can almost hear the cogs in their brains turning as they try to work out from their ‘crib sheet’, what answer they’re supposed to give when someone replies SEO Services to the question of ‘what does your company sell?’

  • Duane McLennan  November 18, 2011 at 8:44 am

    I subscribed to this thread and see that everyone is having similar experiences with this annoyance. I found a new one the other day on my wife’s ecommerce website. SEO services being sold through product review comments? Really? These guys must be paid on a CPM basis, because no matter how good your comment looks on my product review, your spam is never going to turn into a lead. #fail #getlost

  • Brad Jordan  November 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    SEO service providers are giving us all a bad rap. I own and operate multiple businesses; one happens to provide online marketing services to local businesses. We promote lead capture in conjunction with higher rankings. But we never promise page rankings with Google.

  • Gail  February 29, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    My friend has a home based business and she gets the calls once a week. How to stop them? Thanks in advance…

  • Spammy Author Name  April 13, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    I have a similar experience, a telemarketing girl from a local marketing company called me. She introduced herself as she is calling from Google and offered a package and promised to place my site in first page of google. I was surprised because someone from google speaking in the local language(India). I asked her to connect to his higher official and spoke to him and he told me that they are not from google and they are authorized partners for Google adwords. But i don’t know whether its true or not. But the local marketing companies are trying to cheat the people to earn money.

  • The_Game  June 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    I live in NC and just had TWCBC installed today. The great thing about that is I was able to “forward” these solicitation calls to my competitor through TWC’s website.

    LMAO…let my competition deal with these shitheads!!!

  • Jared Smith  September 25, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    I am sick to death! We have just relisted our business on Adwords, this has opened the flood gates of SEO and AdWords Google partners to call, averaging 5 a day from international call centres.

    So they click you Ad, call you and wonder why your budget is blown! they run their systems through local servers so Google thinks India is Australia and shows local Ads..

    Crack down GOOGLE!

  • Russ  March 4, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    Hilarious comments above. I had 4 calls today alone. It’s relentless. Do they largely target small businesses??
    Always promising me first page Google, Bing Yahoo ranking.. I ask for their name and phone number every time, so I can add them to my block list.
    I ask ‘Have you even googled key search terms for my service in my area?’
    I can hear them all frantically typing in search terms as they say the same thing ‘yes of course and we can help you get on the first page.’
    I then say ‘ And what do you see?’
    They all reply with ‘ahh you’re already on the first page, how much are you paying for that’ I reply the same way.
    ‘Nothing, its organic ranking based on years of me doing my own keywords, metadata and SEO.’
    I always leave the conversation with, ‘Try googling the businesses you are cold calling before you call.. some of us know what we are doing.’ Click.
    Can’t wait for a solution to this.. so far “it’s Lenny” is the most amusing.