How not do to SEO/SEM, lesson #1

By Stephen Kellett
30 August, 2011

Today we received this wonderfully attractive offer for a company to improve our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with their Search Engine Marketing (SEM) services.

I reproduce this in full, edited to change the phone number and icq number to random numbers. What strange things about this communication do you notice?


- SEO - website optimization;
- Banners;
- Context advertising;
- Mass email distribution.

Any type of payment.
Detailed statistics in a personal cabinet.
Great results.

Minimal order starting from $ 100.

please contact us:

Phone:  +1  (2 3 4) -5 67 -8 9 -0 1 
icq: 123 456

The email title was Business Promotion, the sender was Glen.

For a company that claims to demonstrate that it is capable of helping you they do some interesting things.

  • Unsolicited email communication to a non-existent email address at our company.
  • Generic Email title
  • No business name to identify who is contacting you.
  • No website URL for you to visit to view the quality of their work.
  • Anonymous contact name (Glen). Even if the person is called Glen you still don’t know their name.
  • Generic email address (in this case gmail) preventing you from identifying the company using the email domain.
  • Telephone number provided with multiple dashes, presumably added randomly to try to hide the number from spam detectors.
  • Various claims of competence but zero way for you to verify that by visiting their website.

Doesn’t that email just inspire you with confidence that the sender of the email can and will do a good job and will do it without using tactics that will damage your business?

This email did in fact get past the email filters, which is how I came to see it. Totally clueless marketing of their service. Although the email inspires me with zero confidence that the purveyors of this service are worth hiring, what if they are worth hiring? Perhaps they can do a good SEO job but just don’t know how to do other marketing properly? Its easy to dismiss them on the grounds they must be clueless based on the email, but if they are good at SEO they are seriously messing up.

Lamb not spam

At the very least in the UK, you need to do the following:

  • Email communication to a real email address at our company. If the email is on topic and relevant then it may not be considered spam by the recipient.
  • Informative, non generic email title
  • Include your business name to identify yourself.
  • Include your full name to identify yourself. Not just your first name.
  • Website URL for your prospective customer to visit to view the quality of your work.
  • In the UK, email communication must also include the business trading address (not the registered address), by law. You also need to list your registered company number if in England or Wales.
  • Optionally include your telephone number.
  • Lastly and most importantly, a relevant message for the recipient.

I’m not suggesting that you spam anyone (far from it), but I am suggesting that if you want people to respond to your email, you need to include a few minimum items in your email. The more things you omit or try to hide (as in the example above) the more red flags you raise that will result in your email being rejected.

BTW. Even if this particular email had been presented to me properly it would have received short shift because it is not relevant for what we want to do. But I thought it was interesting as an example of how badly email communication can be done.

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