Spot Fake SEO

15 Tips to Spot Fake SEO Agencies and Consultants

Discover the key indicators of SEO frauds and how to avoid them. Make informed choices in your search for trustworthy optimization services.

04th Apr 21 | 16th Apr 24 | 9 mins read

By Sannidhi

A woman appears stressed or frustrated while sitting in front of a laptop, with hands on her head.

Amidst the daily bloom of new websites and intensifying competition for rankings, the demand for Search Engine Optimization services has surged. However, this surge has given rise to a proliferation of scams, increasing the risk of encountering fraudulent SEO agencies and consultants. To help you navigate this landscape, consider these key points for spotting and steering clear of potential pitfalls in selecting Search Engine Optimizers, primarily tailored with reference to Google Search guidelines, which can often extend to other search engines as well.


A noticeboard warning against webpage rank guarantee scams and money-back schemes.

Beware of SEOs claiming to guarantee page rankings on Google. This is a classic Google page ranking scam. Refrain from any money-back guarantee schemes—they often result in unfulfilled promises and excuses. Many fall victim to this trap, losing valuable time, effort, and money. Be cautious and reject such proposals promptly. True success in the field involves strategic efforts and ongoing improvements, not baseless guarantees. Protect your online presence by understanding the realities and sidestepping these misleading fake SEO tactics.

SannidhiSEO transparently states that it cannot guarantee page rankings on homepage and further clarifying it on FAQs page. I take pride in steering clear of any covert money-back guarantee schemes, emphasizing honest practices over deceptive tactics.

2. Backlinks quantity over quality is a SEO scam

A common misconception revolves around the quantity of backlinks. While an abundance of shady/unnatural backlinks might yield short-term gains, it's a perilous strategy. Over time, such practices can lead to a drop in rankings and even harm your site's authority. Genuine service providers understand the importance of quality over quantity. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on backlinks. The key takeaway: If a consultant or an agency emphasizes amassing backlinks without regard for quality, it's a red flag for SEO scam. Learn how to earn quality backlinks from Google. 

I prioritize building your website's authority through natural, organic links, clearly emphasized on main page. Quality prevails over quantity, and I advocate for 100s of links from reputable sources rather than 1000s from questionable ones. My focus is on fostering your site's growth with top-notch backlinks.

3. Asset ownership not under your name is a big SEO scam

Insist on ownership of your digital assets. Genuine agencies or consultants prioritize registering domains, Google Search Console, Analytics, and other accounts in your name. Be wary of agencies that register domains or Google Business Profiles under their details, retaining admin rights. This unethical practice is a red flag for fake SEO agencies and consultants. Safeguard your online presence by ensuring you have full ownership of your digital assets and avoid potential complications down the line.

Empower your online journey with SannidhiSEO's commitment to your digital asset ownership. I advocate for your control in any account creation process, ensuring transparency and transferring ownership. Your digital property is safeguarded with my ethical practices.

4. Continuous ranking declines

A consistent decline in rankings over a quarter is a concerning sign. If your agency or consultant fails to provide satisfactory explanations, it's a red flag demanding immediate cessation of their services. This signals a lack of expertise in Search Engine Optimization, revealing their falseness. While minor fluctuations are normal, a continual drop in rankings over a quarter indicates incompetence. Genuine services ensure steady or growing rankings. Don't ignore this warning; terminate the consultation promptly to safeguard your online presence from potential harm caused by ineffective SEO practices.

SannidhiSEO has encountered ranking declines for clients due to external factors, not flaws in its strategies. The issue was a global adjustment in how Google treated content, impacting numerous websites worldwide and nothing specific to my consultation and clients.

5. Website traffic drops

A decline in website traffic can have valid reasons, such as temporary closures of businesses or seasonal changes. However, if there's a consistent, unexplained drop over an extended period (say about a quarter), and your service provider can't offer a clear explanation, it signals a lack of optimization expertise. In such cases, it's prudent to regard them as a fake SEO consultant or as a fake SEO agency and reconsider your partnership. Genuine SEO practitioners understand and navigate fluctuations, ensuring a strategic approach to maintain or improve traffic in the long run.

SannidhiSEO acknowledges occasional traffic drops due to seasonal variations, a common aspect in business. Aside from such instances, my expertise lies in consistently sustaining and enhancing website traffic. Furthermore, any unforeseen declines may be influenced by external factors, such as shifts in Google's updates and algorithms.

6. Fake reviews and shoddy backlinks

Beware of SEO scams offering fake review services and unnatural, low-quality backlinks. Providers engaging in such practices violate Google guidelines, posing a threat to your website's credibility and organic traffic. Genuine SEO efforts focus on ethical strategies, quality content, and authentic backlinks to build a sustainable online presence. Avoid service providers resorting to deceptive methods, as these shortcuts may lead to severe consequences for your website's reputation and visibility in terms of manual action notice by Google. Choose partners committed to transparent, ethical practices for lasting success.

Combat fake reviews and low-quality backlinks with SannidhiSEO. I do not provide fake reviews as mentioned on front page. I'm very cautious about backlinks and consider only genuine links that fetch optimal value to your site. My commitment to transparency for backlink selection ensures your website's credibility and visibility.

7. Transparency test

Genuine optimization practitioners communicate strategies and implementation methods clearly, both short and long-term. Beware of fake SEOs if: 1) They're unclear about their approaches. 2) They don't share reports on agreed-upon KPIs. 3) Surprise costs appear without reasonable explanation. A lack of transparency indicates a lack of expertise. Choose wisely and scrutinize these aspects before engaging with any Search Engine Optimization service agency or consultant.

SannidhiSEO prioritizes openness from the outset. My procedures are detailed in the Services page's "Implementation Strategy" section. Regular reports, as stated in the "Package #2: Monthly SEO" section on the Packages page, maintain transparency. Fees along with terms and conditions are openly mentioned on the Packages page.

8. Verifying credibility

If an SEO agency or consultant lacks any references on their website or other platforms and still claims expertise, exercise caution. Genuine providers, even if they prioritize client confidentiality, can offer convincing case studies or endorsements on platforms like Reddit, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc... Validate their reputation through tangible proof to ensure authenticity.

SannidhiSEO takes pride in client testimonials, on the home screen, voluntarily provided and showcasing a strong reputation on following platforms: Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Mastodon, and Medium. The tangible proof of my client satisfaction and online presence on various platforms speaks volumes about my authenticity.

9. Initial SEO outcomes

Within the initial three months of engagement, you should be able to witness, at least some, discernible progress in agreed-upon key performance indicators. While results may vary due to various factors, a well-executed optimization plan should yield noticeable improvements. If a service provider fails to deliver even modest advancements during this period without any genuine justification, it raises concerns about their competence in optimization as fake SEO. In such cases, swift termination of the contract is recommended to avoid further disappointment and potential harm to your online presence.

Being a super on-page optimizer, I demonstrated, many times, quick and noticeable results to the clients. My strategies ensure both short and long-term gains, prioritizing optimal results for your online presence.

10. Web development experience

Often overlooked yet critical, web development proficiency is key to effective SEO. Think of it this way: it is intertwined with web development. While some sites, like Terence Tao's blog, prioritize knowledge over rankings, it is vital for websites seeking visibility. Analogously, imagine two engineers optimizing a Formula 1 car. One understands surface tweaks; the other, the car's intricate design. Opt for providers versed in web development. They grasp site infrastructure, ensuring more effective optimization. Don't settle for claims; choose expertise. After all, the right hands on the engine will make all the difference.

With a robust background in web development, I bring a comprehensive understanding of web infrastructure to Search Engine Optimization. This hands-on experience ensures a nuanced approach to optimizing websites for Google Search, setting me apart from the competition.

11. Fake SEOs lack digital presence

Person wearing a LED light mask with X-shaped eyes and a stitched mouth design, emitting smoke against a graffiti-covered wall.

Lack of online presence signals a potential issue. Genuine Search Engine Optimization agencies and consultants maintain a website (with few rare exceptions of consultants that I know of) and engage on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Mastodon, Reddit, LinkedIn etc... While presence alone doesn't guarantee authenticity, it's a red flag if they lack any digital footprint. Ensure to cross-verify across multiple platforms and consider additional factors to ascertain legitimacy.

SannidhiSEO stands out with a strong online presence. Not only do I maintain this website, but I'm also active on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Mastodon, and Medium. Expect regular updates, insights, and occasional blogs across these platforms for a transparent and engaged experience.

12. Contractual lock-in scams

Be cautious of service providers pushing long-term contractual lock-ins without a proven track record. If they lack industry recognition but insist on extended contracts, steer clear. Opt for agreements based on proven performance, allowing renewals after the initial quarter on more flexible terms like monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. Exceptional providers may warrant contract renewals every six months or even annually. Flexibility aligns with success, ensuring you can adjust the terms based on the delivered results.

I distinguish myself with a dedication to transparent, flexible agreements. Emphasizing open-ended consultations, I ensure all aspects, from proposals to implementations, align with your consent. Points covering about same are mentioned same on introduction page and pricing page.

13. Fake SEOs employ deceptive organic traffic tactics

Basing organic traffic on paid search is a deceptive tactic employed by fake SEO consultants and agencies. Claiming that paid search or advertisements will enhance organic traffic is misleading. While paid search may drive traffic, it isn't true organic traffic. Websites receive visits from paid ads, not due to effective optimization practices. When ads cease, traffic plummets. Those who rely solely on paid search for organic traffic lack genuine optimization subject knowledge. Recognize this red flag to identify SEO scam and avoid falling prey to misguided strategies.

I'm committed to cultivating your online traffic through robust strategies for sustained success. I refrain from Google's PPC model, emphasizing the organic growth of your traffic as a cornerstone of my approach.

14. Assessing outbound links for SEO integrity

Be cautious of links from your site to unfamiliar, unrelated sites. While websites may link to contextually relevant content for legitimate reasons, unexpected links can indicate shady practices by your Search Engine Optimization service agency or consultant. Recognizing these tactics is crucial, as such practices may have adverse effects on your website's performance and reputation. It's imperative to address and rectify any unauthorized or questionable links promptly to safeguard your online presence by such fake SEOs.

I meticulously catalog both internal and external links, ensuring transparency in the process. Regular communication and obtaining your consent regarding these links underscore a commitment to maintaining the quality and authenticity of your website's link profile.

15. Fake SEOs use jargon

Beware of SEO providers who drown discussions in technical terms, assuming client expertise. Clear communication is key. If they can't simplify complex concepts, reconsider their consultation. Don't hesitate to ask for clarity; if they can't deliver, they may prioritize showmanship over substance. A genuine expert simplifies, ensuring you grasp every detail. But if they dodge simplicity, they are not worthy of consultation.

Coming from diverse backgrounds including software development (interacting with clients right from requirements gathering to maintenance phase) and entrepreneurship, I prioritize clear communication. I ensure you understand by simplifying complex concepts, drawing from my experience. Questions are encouraged to reinforce clarity and trust in my consultation.


Beware of deceptive tactics used by fraudulent SEO service providers. Without genuine knowledge or experience, they are doomed to fail. It's crucial for you to recognize these scams to avoid fake SEO agencies and consultants. If you lack expertise in the subject, seek recommendations from your network or explore reputable platforms like Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for genuine Search Engine Optimization professionals. At SannidhiSEO, I offer authentic, high-quality and transparent services. Choose wisely for your optimization needs and avoid falling victim to misleading practices.