Ineffective SEO E-Mail Campaigns

  |  September 26, 2005   |  Comments

Spotting false or ineffective SEO offers.

Much of the email I receive from SEO (define) firms is quite amusing. I even keep some for entertainment purposes.

Recently, a few clients forwarded some email messages they received as well. Sometimes, they’re genuinely concerned, asking, "Why would this SEO firm write about this strategy? Is it a legitimate strategy we should try for our site?" Almost without fail, the strategies are search engine spam, which I never recommend.

Today, a selection of my favorite ineffective email messages from SEO firms.

Aggressive PPC Campaigns

This email begins on the right note with "Good morning, Steve" (which is my client’s first name). It shows a personal touch rather than a generic, "Hi there."

It goes on: "I recently reviewed your Web site and note you are running an aggressive PPC campaign to increase your sales, but you have NO FIRST PAGE natural, organic rankings on any of the major search engines."

Normally, I would see this as a bogus, standard sales pitch many SEO firms use in their email, even email to Google employees. The sales pitch might have worked, except the first sentence was wholly inaccurate:

  • My client doesn’t run any PPC (define) advertising whatsoever.

  • He relies solely on organic SEO to drive traffic.

  • His site gets over 1 million qualified page views per day.

Clearly this SEO firm didn’t review my client’s site. The lesson? Don’t say you’ve reviewed a site when you haven’t. Not only will you not close the sale, you’ll also create a very poor branding experience.

Single Keywords

Another SEO email uses one keyword from a meta-keywords tag list as evidence an SEO campaign isn’t working. That email often states: "We noticed your site isn’t ranking for the keyword [fill in single keyword here”..."

Any educated, experienced Web marketer knows to use Web analytics packages (e.g., WebTrends, Omniture, HitBox, ClickTracks, etc.) to monitor how people find a site. She also segments incoming traffic into content groups and sales funnels to measure conversion rates along clickstreams. I’ve measured ROI (define) for single keywords since 1997. All too often, the conversion rate is extremely low for single keywords and the cost per customer acquisition is extremely high.

No one knows your company’s sales conversions without measuring and analyzing your site’s metrics. Unless you give people access to your Web analytics data, no SEO rep can truthfully claim your marketing campaigns are unsuccessful.

I take the time to listen to many of these sales pitches because I want to hear the inaccurate information other SEO firms are spreading. With this knowledge, I can better educate my clients and prospects and even the general public. I wouldn’t hire an SEO firm that doesn’t know much about Web analytics and how to measure search-related conversions.

Link Development

The following excerpts are from messages sent to me, personally. All are link requests:

  • "You probably know that linking our Web sites will benefit both of them. Our Web site has a very popular resource directory and your site would fit perfectly in our theme! We’ve already placed a link to your site in our Web Designers - Wisconsin category on this Web page." Very good, except our company’s location is Illinois, which is stated on every site page.

  • "I was looking around the Internet for helpful resources and came across your Web site. I thought it would make sense to exchange links with your site. My Web site is a tremendous resource for information on arthritis, glucosamine and joint pain." Only problem is our site doesn’t provide any medical information whatsoever.

  • "I only seek links to sites that will be beneficial to my visitors and your Web site looks great. Please add our Web site without code modification." If they think we’re such great designers and developers, why are they ordering us to not modify their code?

Again, these SEO firms didn’t personally research and evaluate the site. I appreciate the value of targeted email marketing. However, these email messages clearly were not targeted. If an SEO firm doesn’t target email well, how can you expect it to create targeted link development campaigns?


Many SEO email messages make bold claims about optimization techniques and strategies. Some messages outright promote search-engine spam techniques, such as getting over 1,000 links pointing to your Web site for only $39.99. Some come from SEO firms that claim to specialize in search-engine-friendly site design, even when they clearly doesn’t have any information architecture or site architecture professionals who understand search. And some come from SEO reps who never looked at your site. Put these email messages where they belong -- in the trash.

Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.

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Shari Thurow

Shari Thurow is the founder and SEO director at Omni Marketing Interactive, a full-service search engine marketing, Web, and graphic design firm. Acknowledged as a leading expert on search engine friendly Web sites worldwide, she is the author of the top-selling marketing book, "Search Engine Visibility," published through Peachpit Press. Shari's areas of expertise include site design, search engine optimization, and usability.

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