This month we managed to save one of our clients from an online scam that was almost believable. Some loser with a British accent rang up and said he could offer them the top spot on Google for a certain amount of money. He claimed that his company was officially certified by Google to sell the top ranking for their industry, and that if they didn’t pay the money quickly, he would sell it to their competitor and they would miss out.

Thankfully this client got in touch with us first, and we were able to step in. The scammers knew we would be on to them, so initially refused to speak to us. But after a little persuading they gave us a call. They tried to tell us this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and that we’d really be missing out if we didn’t act now. They even tried to persuade us to get the rest of our clients on board too.

But we told them we weren’t buying it, and after letting them know that we knew they were obviously trying to scam us, we didn’t hear back from them. We’ve since reported them to Google, who are promising to take some action against them.

But these scammers got us thinking about a few other Google scams and shams we’ve heard over the years. Here are just a few:

1. We can guaranteed a #1 ranking

Many SEO scams center around some sort of guaranteed rankings. Providing estimates or goals is one thing, but promising to get someone onto the first page of Google, or even the first ranking, is impossible. Google themselves say to “Beware any SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings”, because it’s something no one can guarantee.

2. We know someone at Google

We’ve heard this one a few times, and it stinks. No SEO company has an “inside man” at Google, and Google certainly doesn’t offer special information or favours to particular SEOs either.

3. We have secret SEO strategies

Hmmm, a magic potion? A crystal ball? Is Harry Potter involved? Any legitimate SEO company should be able to explain the work they are doing on your site to achieve higher rankings. SEOs who reference “SEO trade secrets” are likely to have something to hide, and are probably planning to use black hat SEO techniques that will get you banned by all major search engines.

4. We’ll get you 500 links for $50

Link building is important for SEO – the more links to your website, the better. But link building is also really hard. So when someone comes along offering you 500 links for $50 you might think it’s a good idea. But stop and ask yourself: if you were Google would you want it to be this easy for websites to achieve top rankings? Just drop $50 here or there on a few links and bam!, you’re at the top? Of course not.

Often companies who put a monetary value on links like this will just take your money and run, but there are some that will legitimately get you 500 links. The problem is, they won’t be good links, and could end up hurting your website’s rankings.