On Search Engine Optimization, Rogue Web Designers And Integrity

Following on from my recent post called “Guess What! Google Hates Your New Business Website And Will Never Rank It!” there have been some further developments to the story.

If you haven’t read it I expressed my dismay – no not dismay, disgust! – about a New Zealand web design company which approached me about the 2,000 plus websites they had developed for NZ businesses.

As a search engine optimization consultant I let them know what I thought about their pretty but useless for SEO  Flash based websites and their claim that for an extra $100 the business could have the top Google result for the keyword of their choice!

Totally dishonest claims and I let them know in a reply to their email.

Anyway I received a follow-up phone call a couple of days ago and I think you will be blown away by the sheer mind-boggling audacity of this company!

“Hi Mike, just checking to see if you had looked at our website designs and to see if you are interested in perhaps purchasing a new website…”


I asked whether the caller had received my email reply and was told that the company director had probably got that one.

So I explained what I thought about a business which had built over 2,000 Flash based websites with the promise of being found in the top search results and how I considered this to be dishonest and misleading.

Flash websites look great to the human eye and have lots of cool audio and visual tricks but are invisible to the search engine robots which spider (visit and read) websites to decide whether to index them in the SERPs (search engine results pages). We have to remember that these are machines we are talking about here. Google is not hundreds of thousands of humans looking at websites to decide if they offer value or not. It is a highly evolved series of algorithms which dictate how the robot sees and ranks a particular website.

So a Flash website has a minimal amount of code or text for the search engines to read! The result? The site is judged to be poor quality and is ignored!

Of course the response from this guy was defensive to say the least. “We only sent you examples of our Flash sites because they are the most popular but we also build HTML/Flash sites as well.”

So, they mainly sell the invisible sites then?

I couldn’t resist asking about the “$100 will get your chosen keyword at the top of all the search engines including Google” claim. I said “You know we are an SEO company so how could you make such an outrageous claim? If you know anything about search engine optimization you will know that it is a complex strategic process that uses multiple platforms and formats to create hundreds of anchor text links to a carefully optimized website?”

I wasn’t ready for the answer.

“Are you near a computer?” (I am practically fused to one!)

“Type this keyword into your Google search bar. You will see that one of our websites is at number one for this keyword…”

I won’t give you the full keyword. If I was to optimize this post for the same keyword I would outrank the website they have built within 24 hours but the only people I would hurt is the poor business who had paid for these cowboys to create a site for them.

So lets just say “name of tiny provincial NZ town” diamonds or “name of tiny provincial NZ town” watches…

The first thing I did was put this keyword into the Google adwords keyword tool and…

Yes, you guessed it – the total number of monthly searches for this fabulous keyword is… zero!

So these lucky punters now have a fabulous invisible website which has the number one position in Google for a keyword that not a single person on the whole planet is searching for.

Wow! What a coup! Imagine the number of new customers they are getting for this piece of genius!

Talk about tapping into the immense power of the Internet!

And considering they are likely to be the only jewelry store in this tiny town – which you can see by the fact that they may be the top result but the rest of the results have nothing to do with jewelry retail.

I had a look at the website – cool! Wow! when you hover your cursor over the various pages it makes a tinkling noise – awesome! so clever!…

And the proprietor’s necklace glitters every few seconds – incredible!, and the music starts all by itself and keeps going in a loop… amazing! 

And it is TOTALLY USELESS for Internet presence!

Which is the main reason why a business buys a website isn’t it?

To gain the advantage that the huge numbers of people who use search to look for what your business sells.

This is not the first time I have come across snake oil salesmen like these ones. It seems there are an awful lot of businesses and individuals out there who suffer from a complete lack of integrity.

And it seems that there are an awful lot of smoke and mirrors operations out there when it comes to Internet related consultants.

I have identified a particularly dishonest website design company here but I have also seen search engine optimization companies and social media management companies who are also over promising and woefully under-delivering.

There seem to be an awful lot of “experts” out there – self-proclaimed of course!

Be careful!

Have you struck similar cowboys in your online travels?

Let us know in the comments (DoFollow links naturally! :))




About Mike Morgan
Mike Morgan works with innovative businesses in New Zealand and Australia developing custom web marketing strategies integrating SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media Optimisation. When not in front of his screens you will probably find Mike walking on beautiful Ohope Beach with wife Midge and doberman Cooper. Follow Mike on Twitter here and


  1. Good insight into businesses that don’t offer integrity and an honesty as a motivation to get their client’s dollar!! Keep up the good work High Profile Enterprises.

    • Thanks very much.
      I appreciate your visit. It seems to be an arena where anyone can SAY they are an expert, so therefore they ARE an expert. Look at the number of Social Media “experts” who are charging for social media packages and have less than 200 followers on Twitter – and they use the platform to repeat the same link over and over again with a slightly different wording – for weeks on end!
      And they are charging businesses for their expertise…
      One of my all-time favourites was a company that would post 3 status updates a week on Facebook and guess what? They would automatically (Wow! Really?) post these status updates to Twitter! Awesome – that’s gotta be worth the $500 they were asking…
      Thanks again

  2. MisterStinge says:

    Glad you didn’t let that one slip and actually held them accountable to their outrageous claims. Love how they were so proud of their “SEO” for “small town diamond shop” that has zero competitors – I hope they read your article and stop pretending they are “experts”.

    • Thanks for your comment,
      From the reaction I got on the phone they thought I was the one who had lost my mind! What? We have lots of number one spots on Google… (yes, for what?)
      The tragedy is that as a business owner you can’t know everything so you trust the web development company to do right by you. There are no real controls in this business – there is no equivalent to the “master builder” stamp of approval. And these companies know they are promising way more than they are delivering. Most of the time it is not until months later that the business realises that they have had absolutely no improvement to their revenue. ROI = Zero.
      All the best

  3. You got it right!>.like the 1/2 truth + 1/2 truth = lie!..

    • Thanks very much.
      It kind of summed up what people are doing out there. Tell enough half-truths and you can call yourself an expert.
      Cheers for the comment!

  4. I could say that I am so proud that i found this job where it have it pays my living and
    hopefully some people who read this will be able to ask some pretty important questions before they agree to purchase a new website. Thanks you for the very informative one!

  5. Oh, I do enjoy your post/rants. You describe what we have felt better than I ever could. And I love that you just come right out and say it.

    I sometimes despair at the cowboys in our industry. I can’t believe they had the gumption to contact you and debate SEO with you! Shows they didn’t even do their research first.

    Pity there are enough gullible people out there who prefer to buy into “YES WE CAN” rather than the reality of “IT’S HARD WORK”.!

    • Hi Sandra,
      Hahaha – thanks! Can’t help myself!
      I am disturbed by the cowboys out there as well. The problem is that if a number of designers or developers have very little knowledge of SEO then what chance does a business owner have of getting good advice in this area?
      Appreciate your visit.

  6. Hi Mike, it is a wonderful post and very informative as well. It is quite sad to hear people like these cowboys who sell false claims to people. It is because of some people like this the entire industry gets bad name. It is good that you wrote about these cowboys to alert the people

    • Thanks,
      Appreciate that! It seems to have struck a chord with a lot of people – as you say everyone is tainted by these cowboys. I guess at some stage there will have to be some sort of certified industry standard to filter out these predatory types.

  7. I look after a fairly big website in the b2b marketplace in the UK and there are a lot of good search engine marketers out there but some awful ones and some really bad sales people too, and they are the real killer.

    I often get a call from someone saying they are calling on behalf of google but when you quiz them they are not at all – they are just another seo agency I have never heard of.

    • Hi Dax,
      I know what you mean! I am seeing a rise in dangerously non-compliant SEO here at present and I feel for their clients. Once you have had your site banned by Google the road back is a long and frustrating one.
      Thanks for the visit.
      All the best

  8. Hi Mike,

    You nailed it here. If simple people knew how SEO works, seo services wouldn’t be so expensive. Ignorance of most people leads them to make mistakes and trust people and consultants that aren’t really able to deliver the value of the money they get paid for.

    That is why Knowledge is power.

    • Nice one Jack,
      Yes – Knowledge is power! Unfortunately as a small business owner you are usually too busy trying to keep your head above water to learn SEO.

  9. Hi Mike, thanks for the post; it was enjoyable reading. I’m sure the reason these ‘snake-oil salesmen’ get away with this dishonesty is because SEO can be so confusing. If you don’t understand it, you must to take a leap of faith. It’s like taking your car to the garage if you don’t know anything about engines. Hopefully as time goes by, people will gain a better understanding.

    • Hi Andrew,
      Yes, good analogy about cars. You rely to an extent on instinct about whether the business you are dealing with can be trusted. This is where referrals, testimonials and other trust factors are so important when dealing with any online service providers.

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