Author: Eric Brantner

Internet Content Writer

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog about how I was sick of ignorant people typecasting the SEO industry as a bunch of snake oil salesman.  Not long after the piece was published, I felt dissatisfied. I wanted to dig deeper to prove my point. So, I set out on a study to compare our industry to others.

I feel the Better Business Bureau is one of the most reliable sources for providing information on customer satisfaction with an industry. I think we have all heard of companies and industries that are flooded with complaints to the Better Business Bureau. These are typically the people you do not want to do business with.

Now, if the SEO services industry was full of bad people like some claim, you would assume it would rank toward the top of the Better Business Bureau’s annual complaint list, right? Well it doesn’t. Now, it is worth mentioning that the BBB does not have an industry label for SEO, but it does fall under the umbrella of internet marketing. Of course, we all know SEO isn’t the only component of internet marketing, but this is how the BBB classifies it.

Getting back to the complaint rankings, internet marketing doesn’t even make the top 50 list of industries most complained on.

BBBscreen.jpg BBB SEO Screen picture by eabrantn

According to the Better Business Bureau, internet marketing is only the 69th industry in complaint rankings. That hardly sounds like a trade full of dishonest people to me. Some notable industries that receive far more complaints that internet marketing are cell phone services(#1 on the list,) banks, home builders, financial services, insurance companies, department stores, real estate agents, and dentists. Have you ever heard anyone refer to their accountant as a snake oil salesman I sure haven’t.

Where Does it Come From?

For the next part of my study, I wanted to determine where this negativity toward SEO was coming from. Where are the people coming from that are trying to paint the industry with such a broad stroke? Do they have hidden motives?

It appears the answer is yes. For all of the searches I ran to find people badmouthing the SEO industry, I noticed that the overwhelming majority of people doing the bashing were trying to sell a product. Most of these remarks were actually coming from companies offering SEO services that were trying to scare their customers into paying for their product.

Here is the basic approach that I saw repeated time and time again. SEO Company X says that the industry is full of cheats that will steal your money. However, rest assured they are the lone, bright and shining light in this industry full of darkness. They tell you that they are the only company you can trust to handle your SEO needs. Now hand over your credit card, please.

It’s the classic fear based sales approach. Make the customer think everyone is out to cheat them, but you are the hero that can help them.

Don’t Let One Bad Apple Spoil the Bunch

A Seattle based SEO company recently made the news for ripping off a large number of their clients. They lied about their ability to help customers improve their search rankings, and received nearly 100 complaints as a result. The courts decided that they must give all of their clients the opportunity to void their contracts, and they must create a refund program for these clients.

This story is being used by these fear based SEO companies as an example of an industry that is out of control. It is another piece of information they can use in their sales pitch. However, it is necessary to look at this from a realistic perspective. You can’t blame an entire industry for the actions of a few companies.

The SEO industry is like any other; there are a few bad apples, but the vast majority of companies are ethical and want to provide a quality service to their clients. Customers need to approach purchasing SEO services like they would anything else. In other words, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. All you need to do is use common sense, and don’t let these companies use scare tactics to get your business.

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