So you got an email: $99 Website – Search Engine Optimization – Mobile Friendly

by Dave Curtis on 08/24/2014

in Mobile, SEO, Small Business SEO, Spam Offers

Dave Curtis - SEO

Dave Curtis – SEO

The email comes in as unsolicited spam.

Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000, so non-compliance can be costly. Here goes with that SPAM letter:



Did you know that your website is unusable on smart phones? My name is Joe Blow, owner of Fairy Story Web Design. Here is my direct phone number: 555-555-5555 As of right now, your website when viewed on mobile phones is driving away your potential customers and costing you money. Don’t believe me? Look at the images I’ve attached and placed below:

[shown in the email are two images side by side – one of your own site “zoomed in” (not the way it looks naturally, but zoomed in onto one of the photos which doesn’t resize, instead of on the text which does resize) – and then one of an unidentified mobile site which looks nice – but without an address for you to check out yourself – and no claim that it was either built or managed by the Joe Blow who sent you this offer]

The first image is what I see when I open your current site on my iPhone. The site is very zoomed in, the menu doesn’t work for me, and I can’t find the information I’m looking for at first glance. The pictures don’t show up either. If I were in a car, I would have closed your site and went to another <your product or service here> website that is easier to use. The second image is a mobile site that is “phone friendly” or mobile optimized. Not only is it fully functional, but it is also easier to navigate. I can make your current website look like this on any smartphone. You don’t have to go with me – There are other companies that can make you a mobile website. It is important that you have a mobile website for both your business and your customers. Your business is a leader in <the city closest to you> – and there is more we can do to make it draw in more customers looking on their phones. You deserve better a better website than what you currently have.

If you are interested in getting this problem taken care of, give me a call at 555-555-5555 or respond to this e-mail as soon as possible.

I’ll be waiting to hear from you soon!

Joe Blow 555-555-5555



  • Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:

    I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”

    Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for “burn fat at night” diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.

  • What are the most common abuses a website owner is likely to encounter?
  • What are some other things to look out for?There are a few warning signs that you may be dealing with a rogue SEO. It’s far from a comprehensive list, so if you have any doubts, you should trust your instincts. By all means, feel free to walk away if the SEO:
    • owns shadow domains
    • puts links to their other clients on doorway pages
    • offers to sell keywords in the address bar
    • doesn’t distinguish between actual search results and ads that appear on search results pages
    • guarantees ranking, but only on obscure, long keyword phrases you would get anyway
    • operates with multiple aliases or falsified WHOIS info
    • gets traffic from “fake” search engines, spyware, or scumware
    • has had domains removed from Google’s index or is not itself listed in Google
  • No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.



So you click on the spam link and go to Joe Blow’s website and (if your computer isn’t immediately infected with malware) check out his site and see that the mobile site will cost you $500 – except Joe Blow’s own site really sucks – it just looks terrible on your computer – it’s skinny, undetailed, and … if you go to Domain Dossier and check it out you notice that the “four year freelancer” only activated their business website four months ago! YIKES!  So then you go ahead and check out some of the sample sites – a few offered – and see that they too have major issues. One of the proudly displayed mobile sites is out of the box with non-specific text that describes neither products nor services offered. Ok – maybe that’s what the client demanded. Page two though shows us another picture. Under “Products” it says:


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Quisque elementum porttitor velit, in blandit sem posuere nec. Aliquam sagittis sollicitudin tortor, sed porta quam. Curabitur id vestibulum nibh. Sed ut arcu malesuada est placerat vestibulum. Suspendisse vulputate venenatis consequat. Phasellus fringilla lectus a vestibulum imperdiet. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Quisque elementum porttitor velit, in blandit sem posuere nec. Aliquam sagittis sollicitudin tortor, sed porta quam. Curabitur id vestibulum nibh. Sed ut arcu malesuada est placerat vestibulum. Suspendisse vulputate venenatis consequat. Phasellus fringilla lectus a vestibulum imperdiet.

Gee. I haven’t ordered any of those in a while, but hey, everyone has different needs, right? I take the name of the site I just visited and go to Domain Dossier again and look – it belongs to yet another webmaster and was registered in 2013 – yikes again! Your business on hold selling “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet” for over a year. Guess they must have answered one of the $99 or FREE WEBSITE ads below (which I located only after over an hour of searching! – see the good and famous SEO community is pretty small – we don’t always like each other, but we pretty much all know each other, and each other’s reputations): Here’s Joe Blow’s ad on Back Page – ( – but it could just as easily be on Craig’s List (and is probably there as well). At the end of the $99 ad there’s a reference to another ad that says “we want to build your website for free”:

“My name is Joe Blow and I am a website designer & developer based in , with over 4 years of freelance experience. For a full description of my experience and past work, please visit my website. I will design and develop your website for $99. Get a Professional Website Layout, Google Analytics (SEO) Account, Robots & Sitemap. (Get indexed by Google) Basic S.E.O. 1st Search Engine Submission.

I will work with you to create a design that is suitable for you and your needs. My Skype ID is fairy_story Their address, Zip Code google map | yahoo map • Other ads by this user: We want to design your new website for FREE!”


They almost always not for real. They’ll take you for $99 or $199 and count on you not to go through the trouble of chasing them down for a refund. Here’s why. I use several paid services to do my own research, and, with MOZ PRO Standard starting at $99 per month for server access to a specific set of professional SEO industry specific diagnostic tools. Another pro tool server time access service starts at $49 per month: MajesticSEO (adequate for a few sites). A third service at $69 monthly is WordTracker which has a historic keyword database about 1/10th the size of Google’s. That’s $217 for server database access services alone before I can take a penny for myself if I use all three (and sometimes the numbers don’t agree between them, and while some services overlap, not all services provide everything required, depending on how in depth the analysis and reporting needs to be). Good experienced SEOs are $125 per hour. Great ones are over $500. So any kind of serious SEO for $99 or $199 just isn’t happening.

Spammer SEO offerers aren’t skilled in SEO and make it evident with offers: “Get a Professional Website Layout, Google Analytics (SEO) Account, Robots & Sitemap. (Get indexed by Google) Basic S.E.O. 1st Search Engine Submission.”

Let’s look first at the offer:

#1) There is no “submit first search engine” – that’s automatic in WordPress and has been for years (If you have a site already, Google knows about it – and every other search engine combs Google for Google’s results “powered by Google” – so they have it too).

#2) “Google Analytics (SEO) Account” is meaningless unless someone mans it and provides *analysis* (hence analytics) and produces reports and recommendations to move the site in the direction the trends are showing it should go based upon user activity. Google no longer provides keyword information on about  90% of searches since they went https on almost all searches in 2013 – so what good is the analytics account if nobody uses it and Google provides no keyword information? The only way Google now provides keywords is if a client uses Pay Per Click – and that’s a paid campaign where he has to pay for clicks and pay someone to do the job of managing the keywords to click on – and all of that is a big waste if the client also doesn’t have someone manning the Google Analytics account to make the site permanently perform better month by month, year by year, forward and upward. See what I mean? That’s why I don’t make these stupid above claims  – they’re nonsense. They’re already included automatically in every site. They’re like telling someone buying a car that they’ll get a steering wheel, a gas tank, and four tires.

3) Robots.txt & Sitemap.xml – The Robots.txt tells the search engines “Don’t look in this folder” “Don’t include this file or folder (like a PDF or the images folder) and where the sitemam.xml or sitemap.php is etc …but go ahead and search the rest of the site.” The Sitemap is pretty much there just in case your links can’t be followed. They’re not for people, though some people use them, and most SEOs create them by default by installing a simple plugin. Some WordPress SEO plugins even create a virtual robots.txt file – so there’s nothing being done by the spammer there either – it’s automatic. Any sort of a real SEO will manually create the robots.txt file and give it specific instructions and not allow the plugin to overwrite his file with a virtual robots.txt


Check your original agreement with your webmaster designer or developer and SEO. If it’s an older site taken over by the SEO at a low cost and nothing specific is in the agreement regarding mobile then it’s likely because the offer made for standard upkeep was low and rewriting and re-arranging the old original bulky code and doing a new theme made mobile out of the question for under another few hundred dollars worth of work. There are times when the site owner wants a brand new site and won’t hear of not having certain “babies” (things he or she simply refuses to give up having) which don’t play well on mobile platforms. These things tend to be costly, and an inexperienced spammer snake oil salesman for $99 or even $500 could wreck your site and mobile business because the Google Map won’t work (clicking on it may demand an API – Application Programming Interface). Don’t fall for it, and if you do, unless you have deeper pockets than the initial offer you’re probably not going to like it.

If you want to set your site up as a mobile site and your webmaster can’t do it yet, or if you’re a webmaster and want to do it for your client – read my story on building a mobile website the easy way here.

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