I'm pretty sure this *was* a scam, but what kind?

Looking for ways to try to raise the profile of my website, I signed up (using a disposable email address) at a site purporting to be able to help with Search Engine Optimisation and other such things…

I got a series of emails, starting with a simple one telling me to validate my account, then it went like this:

So I visited the site, the forum, the blog - and it just appeared to be a fledgling project - a handful of members, a couple of forum posts, a few blog entries and a few pages of waffle about ‘marketing miracles’, along with some fairly obvious advice about social networking, etc.

Busying myself with other things, I had no real time to pursue or investigate further, but emails continued to arrive:

Well, I pretty much recognise that as the kind of pep talk designed to make me spring, guiltily into action, but in fact, my response was “OK, fuck you then, you pushy tosser.”, and I’ve blocked further emails. My mother always told me not to give in to bullies.

So, what does this smell like to you? My guess is that the guy running it hopes to profit from building a network of people he can push around in order to promote his own traffic, rather than helping them with theirs.

Pushy, rude, and probably not worth the time, but maybe not a scam.

I hate SEO. For our business, we get emails requesting reciprocal links and “New Wedding Directory site - sign up for a discount now” requests all the time. And many seem to be hastily cobbled together sites which only exist to make a quick buck for the owner. And you can’t figure out if their claims for “advertising in print media” are true or worthwhile. But you can’t afford to ignore places you can get a link up. <GAH>


I’m pretty sure his little spiel about wasters must be copied and pasted straight out of some bullshit sales closing course somewhere. It has that sociopathic high-pressure-salesman smell about it, doesn’t it?

Yep, but it only works if delivered in person with a firm handshake and eye to eye. In an email - it just sounds wrong.


I don’t know why they are generating the emails you quote, but I think your problem may stem from this claim. IMHO, search engine optimization is borderline scam, at least the ones I have run across.

I was in a company that paid such a firm $300 per month to “optimize placement in search engines”. After a year of this, we did some checking and found out that the service was approximately as good as another site that did nothing special to optimize, that is, expensive efforts equalled no efforts at all.

And in yesterday’s mail, I got an unsolicited letter from “Internet Corporation Listing Service” (ICLS.NET) – a bill (that said “not an invoice”) for $40 for a year’s subscription to “Domain name submission to 25 established search engines, quarterly search engine position and ranking reports for eight keyword/phrase listings from 25 major search engines”.

Crooks, all of 'em.

I once had a disgruntled customer post my and my work colleague’s email addresses into one of those “sign me up for this marketing shit” system websites, and all we got for about six months afterwards was 1000x more spam, interrupted by useless people trying to sell us legitimate marketing bullshit.

It sucked, and even if we had signed up legitimately it would not have helped us one iota.

The “scam” in things like that are just that they’re a big waste of everyone’s time.