SEO scams happen more than you know – especially in the roofing industry. As a matter of fact, chances are that many of you reading this post have been scammed by SEO companies before.
That’s why I decided to open this subject and delve a little deeper into it – so that it doesn’t happen to you again. And for those of you who have been lucky enough to avoid this type of problem in the past, this post is to make sure you don’t run into it the future.
I’ve heard from many local roofers how they got burned by SEO companies promising them placement on the first page of Google, just to leave them with empty pockets and no results whatsoever.
What these scammers do is take your money, pretend to do a little work, and, when push comes to shove, they have nothing to show for it.
So how can you set these scammers apart from verified professionals?
Read on to find out the answers.
Just to Clear Things Up
Just to clear things up before we get into the scammers and their M.O. – expert SEOs are an endangered species but yes, they do still exist . And once they get down and dirty, you can expect tangible results.
You see, SEO is a complex process. Things don’t happen overnight. So all those phone calls and emails you get on a daily basis from SEO “gurus” guaranteeing instant results and top Google placement, are plain and simple – crap.
But when done by the right person who will get down and dirty, SEO does work. Not by some magic but by grabbing and keeping the attention of people from your area.
You see, in the past, people used phone books and yellow pages to find local contractors to help them with their roofs, windows, etc. Today, they just flip their phones and use Google instead.
Say I need a roofing contractor. I’ll take my phone, google roofing contractors in my city, and go through the first few results that pop up (I rarely go beyond the first page, do you?). If they have enough positive reviews, a neat website, and all in all looks great and professional, I’ll give them a call.
That’s what SEO is about. Putting you right there in front of the customers by increasing local exposure, increasing visibility, optimizing your website, and ranking you higher. The truth is, if you’re not on the first page of Google, you’re done.
If you look at the diagram below, you’ll see that almost nobody checks out the second page in the search results. There is even a saying that “the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google”.
Now that we’ve made it clear why and how SEO works, let’s go back to scamming
How Do Roofers Get Scammed?
SEOs: From Newbies to Seasoned Professionals in One Course
Every day, there are more and more people getting into the SEO game. The threshold for entering the SEO and marketing business is set quite low. People take a short online course and think they’ve learned all there is to know about SEO.
The next thing they do after watching the course is starting to hammer business owners with phone calls and emails offering expert SEO services. And one of their main targets happen to be roofers.
I hear you saying: “Why roofers?!”
Well, the majority of local SEO courses that are currently available take roofing as the main example. Sometimes it’s dentists or lawyers, but in most cases it’s roofers. The roofing niche is presented as fairly easy and at the same time very profitable.
They say that since an average price of a roof is around $10,000-$15,000, you only need to get roofers one lead, and your SEO services have paid off.
This, of course, is very far from the truth since the profit margin of that 10-15 thousand is only 20-30%. But – they don’t know that.
Seeing the roofing industry as an easy target, the majority of the SEO rookies find their victims there. In the dental or lawyer industry, the competition is very stiff and things are simply too difficult for them to handle.
Affordable Price, In-credible Value (Pun Intended)
Another card these rookies are playing on is affordability. That’s why they’ll win you over with wordy pitches and some REALLY great prices.
I mean, who would turn down $500 or $1,000-dollar deals that promise to bring you tens of thousands of dollars in revenue?
What you don’t know is that they’ll do just a couple of hours of very basic SEO and tell you (this is the true part) you’ll be able to see the results in a few months.
So you’ll keep paying them for the next 3-6 months and wait for the results to start showing. But – [SPOILER ALERT] there won’t be any.
Of course, once you realize you’ve been scammed, you’ll fire them. But they won’t really care because they’ve already taken your money and probably moved on to the next client.
And that’s how the scamming circle continues.
How to Recognize an SEO Fraud?
As much as 75% of SEOs are scammers, wannabe gurus, and inexperienced beginners. About 15% are high-level, globally-oriented agencies that don’t deal with local contractors.
That leaves you with only about 10% of dedicated SEO professionals who know how to work with local roofing contractors and how to do SEO.
The trick question is: how to tell whether your chosen agency belongs to the above mentioned 75%?
Here are the three main things that tell them apart:
1. They Offer SEO Services for a Couple Hundred Bucks a Month
Scammers will offer their SEO services for as little as $500. While that might look like a great deal, you first need to understand the amount of work that goes into SEO and compare the work with the price.
On average, a solid SEO campaign, done by a real marketing company, will require somewhere around 50 to 150 hours of work a month, even when the competition is not that tough.
You can’t expect someone to do any kind of quality work working for 5 bucks an hour. That’s not even minimum wage, which means it’s a scam from the get-go.
If working at a minimum wage, it already amounts to somewhere around $1,000 or more. This is still too low because you can’t expect a person who is supposed to increase your income to work for the same wage (or less) as the person flipping burgers at McDonald’s.
2. They Offer Predefined SEO Packages and Plans
Another thing you should steer clear from is SEO packages and fixed prices. Why? Well because every niche is different, every industry, every city, every market is different, demanding different approaches, techniques, and amounts of SEO efforts.
Professional SEO agencies will never have fixed prices and packages because they know how SEO works.
They know they have to make an estimate, strategize with the client, research their market, define long-term goals, understand what the client wants and needs, define a strategy and dive into the project. It is only then that the price can be defined.
Those who have predefined $500, $1,000, $1,500-packages, clearly don’t know how SEO works.
I mean, how can you know how much work an SEO campaign will require, what you will need to do for the client’s specific market, to rank them for their specific keywords, if you haven’t talked to your client, if you haven’t had a meeting, if you don’t know what their goal is for the next 12-36 months?
3. They Don’t Have Case Studies or References on Their Website
If the SEO agency doesn’t have case studies or references from previous clients on their website or in the offers they’ve sent you – make sure to ask for some.
Many roofers tend to overlook this, but it is extremely important and also one of the best ways of determining whether the company is legitimate or they’re certified scammers.
You need some proof that they have experience in your area, that they have successfully managed other SEO campaigns, and that their previous clients were satisfied with them.
So look for some case studies, or ask them to provide you with contacts of at least one or two former clients that you can call, and that will confirm and verify the SEO agency’s credibility.
What to Look for Then?
Look for a roofing SEO company that offers complete marketing services. A company that will take care of every last detail and manage all the marketing efforts for you, from building the perfect web page, to creating the perfect ads.
Look for a company that provides results and reports them to you regularly. A company that adapts to the changes in the market, to the changes that Google frequently implements in their algorithms, and a company that understands the need to constantly adapt and improve.
A Few Examples of SEO Scammers
1. Use Our SEO Services, You’ll Get a FREE Roofing Website
First of all, I’d like to mention a company that often comes up in my correspondence with roofers.
They claim to be “talented local search experts” and “webmasters”, but they’re also talented in scamming local roofing business all over the US.
This company offers a FREE website to anyone who subscribes to uses their SEO services.
Fast forward a few months later when you decide you no longer need their SEO services and you want to finalize the cooperation.
That’s when you get burned with an unexpected surprise: you are not getting your website until you pay them the activation fee that was supposed to be free – $1,500 to be specific.
Hey, that’s $1,500 for something that was originally FREE, according to the contract and the deal you made.
So there you have it – you either pay them to get your website, or pay someone else to build you a new one. Either way – you are losing money, and these scammers just move on to the next victim.
2. We Have Very Transparent SEO Packages that Provide Real Value
Here I will give you an example of a pricing structure I found, which I believe is complete nonsense.
(Remember: The package offer is already a warning sign in itself.)
This company’s SEO pricing structure is 6 mouse scrolls long. If you know nothing about SEO, the sheer length of the chart and the number of items it contains will make you feel confident that their packages provide real value for your money.
But let’s just stop for a moment and look at some of the items (commenting on all of them would make for another, separate blog post):
Pricing: On the one hand not enough to manage a real SEO campaign, on the other hand too much for the things included in the package.
Number of keyphrases optimized: Why only 80/150/300? Why not all of them? You can’t know what people will type into Google. You’re paying for more clients each month, not for rankings.
Google Analytics Setup W/ Conversion Tracking: You can set it up in 5 minutes.
Creation and registrations of sitemap.xml: Sitemaps are automatically generated by any of the available online tools in a matter of seconds.
Optimization of robots.txt & GoogleBot crawls: Done in a few minutes by adding or removing a few lines of text.
Ongoing Quarterly Keyword Reporting: You can track keyword rankings yourself completely free.
Keyword Rank Checker Access with Weekly Updates: Once again, you can track keywords yourself completely free.
I could go on to cover at least half of the items on their list, but it would be a separate blog post so I’ll just stop here.
3. We Have Plenty of Real Customer Testimonials
Now, this SEO company claims to offer “professional services” and “proven results”, and their Testimonials page is supposed to back up these claims.
But when you have a look at it, it just screams: Run, run as fast as you can.
Fake names, no surnames, no business references, poor English… A picture is worth a thousand words so I’ll just leave this here:
Final Piece of Advice
Finally, roofers, never hire agencies that don’t have experience in the roofing industry, that don’t know the difference between different types of roofs, between commercial and residential roofing, the types of roofing leads you are after, and where you can make the most out of your money.
They need to know about certain aspects of roofing and the services you offer in order to rank for the right keywords in the right location, and to get your money’s worth.
If you need any help, advice, or additional information on the subject, or have some suspicions about the agencies you are working with, feel free to contact me, or let me know in the comments below. I’ll be glad to help.
Matt Jacob has been in the marketing business since 2008, working exclusively with roofers for more than 5 years now. He has come to know all the tricks of trade inside-out and he is committed to helping roofers by sharing some of the most important ones. Find out where your best opportunities lie, as well as which challenges lurk out there for roofers – all in his detailed blogs.