Even if you’re not a business owner, you’ve probably come across one of these gems in your email inbox by now: the common SEO spam email, usually from India.

We get a couple of them per week. Based on the number of clients that have complained to us, most of them are obvious frauds and sketchy beyond belief. Let’s analyze a recent one, just for fun (my comments in small text). But first, here's the full email unedited:

OK, let's break it down:

Dear itecwebdesign? Looks like they automate the [name] fields. Although they failed at getting the name right, good to see they’re way above the presumptuous and sexist “Hello Sir,” emails.

Ah, the American celebrity name, very common in India these days. “Julia Roberts” decided to go to India and represent. And don’t be fooled, she’s not a mass emailing robot, she is a “Business Development Manager.”

Right. You came across a web development company’s website and decided to do an analysis. Why thank you. And you concluded that you can redesign their website and make it more attractive and SEO friendly. Should I be happy or slightly insulted?

This is always my favorite part. More often than not, your “fastest growing team of 200+ ISO 9001:2008 Certified IT experts” is a small group of Indian guys in a sweaty Internet Café trying to make a buck off globalization.


Here we have Julia Roberts, our Business Development Manager, working at the fastest growing ISO 9001:2008 Certified IT Outsourcing company with 200+ highly skilled and certified in-house IT experts.

I’m sorry, If you’ve worked on Cocacola’s web development and marketing, you’re way out of my league. I probably can’t afford you.

Wow. It must be my lucky day!

So after a year, I’m assuming you’ll have submitted our site to 1200 search engines right? Amazing. To think that I always thought there were only 3 worthwhile search engines: Google, Bing and Yahoo. I must be living under a rock.

Besides the fact that most of these activities are nonsensical or redundant, “Submission to 100 Search Engines” is incredible, yet I see this one all the time. SEO scammers prey on misinformed and desperate business owners.

But obviously someone shared it with you without our consent.

As much as I want to respond to Julia Robert, I think I’ll allow them to save their valuable resources for a company that’s more deserving.

This added disclaimer is great - a very official and professional cut and paste job to show “We’re legit, and we mean business.”

Couple more notable mentions - the email came from a "hotmail" address, as if the fastest growing IT company cannot afford professional business emails. There was a link to their website: the portfolio links were broken and the English grammar was epic. Here are a couple golden nuggets of wisdom:

SEO Fraud Alert

Low cost SEO spells trouble and could easily get you banned from Google. Most of these "companies" buy email lists and use software to personalize the emails by tossing in your name (if they can get it right) and website address. They often pretend to analyze your website and suggest that you're not ranking well, which is often the case for many sites, so a small number of businesses will think, "Hey! you're right! I'm not ranking well," and follow up.

Then they proceed to outline a generic SEO plan or proposal for you, most of which will contain the most ridiculous technical jargon. I almost think - If you're going to invest so many resources, time and energy into this SEO scam, why not at least make it somewhat coherent? Probably because the people that fall for these are precisely those who don't understand SEO and are desperate for quick, low-cost results. Unfortunately, effective SEO doesn't work that way.

While there are reputable SEO companies, it's very unlikely that the good ones will email spam people. Here are some of the red flags to look out for:

  • A detailed description of poor performance or errors on your website.
  • Bad or awkward English and poor grammar.
  • No phone number or contact info other than email address.
  • Non-existent or poorly designed company website.
  • Generic email address like Gmail or Hotmail.
  • Exaggerated promises - "You'll be number one in Google guaranteed!"
  • Aggressiveness in trying to start project ASAP.

Anna Gondzik

Web Developer. Digital Enterprise Management, HBA - University of Toronto