We get a lot of questions from people who have had their ear bent by heavy sales tactics relating to Search (SEO and PPC) and Online Marketing in general. I thought I’d jot down some of the answers I normally trot out in these situations. Plus, I’ve never done a ‘top 10’ blog post before, and I thought I best before the human race shuns me for good.

1. If they use unsolicited marketing to reach you, steer clear. Even with the economy wobbling around, good search professionals, agencies and the like are extending their network through solid working relationships and word of mouth.

2. Beware the link experts. I cant even begin to describe how much damage can be done by someone charging around placing links that promise to “appear natural” on your behalf. As Matt Cutts says here, your links either ARE natural, or they are not. A natural link is nothing about SEO – its good old fashion business common sense, online or off.

3. “We can guarantee you the number one spot on Google.” There are only two people on Earth I can think of that could offer this guarantee, and even less people I can think of who they would offer it to.

4. Talking about SEO, but meaning PPC. Always annoys me this one – it’s related with No. 3 above, and also the phrase “hey, they’ve turned off my SEO”

5. Talking about PPC, but meaning SEO. OK, I admit that this is a new one I have made up, but I thought it would be good to debut it here. Even though I cant see how this would work in the favor of unscrupulous con merchants, it’s always good to get into the enemy mind-set early on. Let me know if you here of this one out in the wild!

6. Favor the individuals, beware the companies. Hands-on guys and gals that actually do the job well are unlikely to be bothering you with sales pitches anyway. These are the people you need to seek out. Yes I know Goldladder is a company, but there’s only a few of us here, we are all hands on types and have been since 2001. No sales team, telemarketing, contacts dept or fleets of shiny black German cars tearing up and down A roads looking to ‘close off those deals’.

7. Guaranteed Fast or Quick SEO. Deeply amusing to hear these claims. Usually it’s a variant on No. 4.

8. “I’m from Google”. This is the same as hearing “It’s BT calling, do you want us to lower your call costs?”. Closely followed by No. 3 and No. 7 above.

9. Domain/ Account takeovers. This is not funny but it still goes on. We meet plenty of people where, under some thin excuse, they have given away control of domains and accounts (such as Adwords etc) as part of an online marketing agreement. This never ends well, and the reasons are always sinister.

10. Contracts and sign ups. Straight up, don’t do it. It’s often linked to No. 6 and 9 above, and is an extremely unpleasant way of becoming entangled with something that will not provide the goods. At Goldladder we only expect ongoing custom based on performance and have never thought to question this in our worldly 8 years.

OK there are some serious issues above, and I’ve treated some lightly, but I hope this helps people realise that these calls are serious and commonplace, especially here in the UK. We get them all the time. I think the majority of people are aware of bogus claims and such, but like all scams, the thorns tend to be among the flowers.