It happens to the best of us. It happens to everyone with an email address published on the Internet. No, really, it doesn’t matter who you are you are, you can’t escape those spam emails that all-too-often slip through your spam filters and right into your inbox. Obviously, as an SEO agency, we find it rather funny when we receive unsolicited emails from clueless individuals suggesting that our website is not doing its job. We laugh it off and get on with our day – but we get emails from our clients all the time. They very often say things like, “I thought you were taking care of this” or “Why is my site not doing well?”

This post is to set their minds at rest and explain how this spam works.

How Do SEO Spammers Get My Address?

I know it is easier to think that the person that sent that email went and looked at your website and is actually interested in your business, but it is not the reality. This is how they got your email address:

  1. Spammers will illegally buy lists of real people’s email addresses from unscrupulous list vendors.
  2. Spammers will use “harvesting” programs  – often called bots – that scour the Internet and copy any text that contains the “@” character. So if your email address appears anywhere, it is going to get harvested.
  3. Spammers will use “dictionary” (brute force) programs like hackers.
  4. You will unwittingly volunteer your email address to dishonest subscribe/unsubscribe online services.

You can read more about this in this excellent article on email spam from Lifewire.

So Should I Trust What The Email Says?

A word of warning to any businesses out there, don’t fall for it! It’s a no-brainer really; a reputable company doesn’t need to send these emails fishing for work and generally you can spot the offenders a mile off. They often make unrealistic promises like “Guaranteed Rank No.1 In Google”. Since we are badged Google Partners, we cannot make unethical claims about SEO – we risk losing our accreditation. Nothing in life is guaranteed, and especially not the number one spot on Google. And if it isn’t in the heading, it’s definitely in the pitch: lousy spelling, lazy English, poor formatting, jazzy “eye-catching” colours. And the fact that it comes from a Gmail address should also be ringing all sorts of alarm bells!

Even Google Gets Spammed

That’s right, even the largest search engine in the world gets told that it could improve its organic ranking. I can just imagine Matt Cutts (the former head of the Google web spam team) getting such a giggle every time he received one of these. Classic. If that doesn’t prove to you that it is not real people sending out those mails, nothing will.

If you want to know if your SEO agency is doing its job, look at things that really matter – is your organic traffic improving, are you getting more conversions from your organic traffic, and are your rankings for tracked terms improving? Are they better month-on-month and year-on-year? Then your agency is kicking butt and taking names. If not, ask your agency why that is – sometimes changes in your industry, the algorithm or your website may have played a factor. If they don’t have a logical answer, then maybe its time to rethink your strategy or change your agency.

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