This is one in a series of posts reviewing and looking at how some of the SEO companies which use bulk emails/spam with ‘we can help your terrible site’ type emails really can (and actually mostly can’t!) help your site.
This email came from a William who was using an @gmail.com email, although a subsequent replies came from Jessica from Multinational SEO (using an @multinationalseo.com email address).
It’s a Pleasure to get in touch with you.
There are multiple ways to stand high against your competitors, with our alliance we can overcome the shortcomings of your website to compete and acquire maximum web visibility.
Our Analytic Team has gathered few points which will be beneficial foryour online business. By implementing new strategies we can help your business grow and reduce major obstacles which you might be facing to promote your website worldwide.
In order to have high SERP ranking and vibrant social media presence, you must overcome technical errors that prohibits search engine to index your website with accurate and fitting keywords for better optimization.A fully furbished website with high quality content based backlinks is necessary along with active updates on social media portals to increase the popularity and brand awareness.
Apart from the above activities, we offer many other additional improvements for your website. I would love to present a detailed Analysis Report along with errors that your website poses and steps to improve your ranking.
This e-mail provides you a glimpse of services which we offer. If you require any sort of assistance then kindly contact us back on my email address or contact number mentioned below. Alternatively you can also provide us with your phone number and best time to call you.
Digital Marketing Analys
So I replied to William and got a reply from Jessica.
Thanks for showing your interest in our digital marketing services.
Let me give you a quick introduction about Multinationalseo. It is a leading digital marketing agency with over 8 years of experience with 2500+ clients all across the globe. Our headquarters are in Miami, Florida however; our delivery center is in India. We expertise in digital marketing, content marketing, online reputation management, pay per click, web design, development, branding, social media promotion among other services. For more details about our services please visit our website: http://www.multinationalseo.com/
My technical team has already prepared the analysis report containing all the technical issues of your website due to which Google bots are not able to crawl through your website and get the visibility on Google SERPs.
I would request you to kindly acknowledge the receipt of my email as part of our standard procedure so that I can share the FREE analysis report on minehead-baptist.com prepared by our technical team. Please understand my obligation because of the confidentiality that the report carries.
Kindly update me with your online marketing requirements like the number of keywords which you want to promote, which geographical area do you want to target, who is your targeted audience and your monthly budget so that I can devise an SEO proposal for you.
It will be great if you can share your direct contact number, WhatsApp or Skype id for a quick conversation.
Looking forward to your acknowledgment for the needful to be done.
Jessica [surname removed for privacy, even though I’m sure it’s not their real name..!] l Senior BDM
So I replied with the following:
I can confirm that I have got your email!
Have you visited the site yet? If so you will see that we’re a Church in Minehead, Somerset, so we are targeting people looking for that!
We don’t really have a budget (being a church and a charity). I was interested in the report that William talked about to see what errors we have on the site. It sounds bad if Google can’t see the site!
I’m sorry but I can’t do a call at the moment, email is the best way to contact me about things.
I look forward to seeing your report.
And I got another reply from Jessica…
Thanks for acknowledging the email.
We analyzed your website and observed that your website is not driving much traffic and your page ranking is poor. These are the essential factors to boost your business. Apart from that, there are technical issues in the backend which prevents Google spiders to crawl in your website.
As per your request, our expert team has developed a detailed website analysis report of minehead-baptist.com. You can find it at the attachment below with this mail. This report provides actionable suggestions to achieve the business objectives of your website. Some of the aspects covered in this audit report are:
1. How your site is performing in search engines.
2. What are the technical errors you have on your website?
3. How popular your site is on social platforms.
Hence, we will advise you to subscribe to any of our SEO packages where we will fix the technical issues (on-site and on-page optimization), promote your keywords on Google (will target keywords relating to your business for the target geographical markets), and optimize your social media accounts, and more.
I understand that you must be busy and its completely fine to have a conversation over emails.
We can definitely work on and target the audience looking for Church in Minehead, Somerset.
In terms of your budget, our base packages start at USD100/month where we promote 4 keywords, fix all the technical errors of your website, perform on-site and on-page optimizations and we will send you a monthly report at the end of the very first month where you can see the improvements which we have done on your website and understand the projection for the next month.
Kindly let me know if you have any more queries. I will be happy to answer them.
Awaiting your swift response.
Jessica [surname removed for privacy, even though I’m sure it’s not their real name..!] l Senior BDM
I’ve run my Church’s site (www.minehead-baptist.com) for about 15 years. It is VERY well ranked on Google and has even been a finalist in a ‘Church website of the year’ award in the past!
Their Report & Recommendations
The report/audit I received from them was attached as a PDF to Jessica’s 2nd email. It’s the shortest report I’ve ever got from an SEO spammer!
Let’s look at the errors it says the site has…
HTML Validation [2 Errors] – Well the site actually has one error and two warnings. These really annoy me as I like 100% proper code. However, the error is a stray <style> tag that a plugin on the site is putting in and the warnings are for attributes that are no longer needed on a certain html tag but don’t actually hurt anything.
CSS Validation [4 Errors] – This is true and it also really annoys me! Having valid CSS is less important than valid HTML, but it’s still a good thing to have. Three of the errors are part of the CSS built into WordPress (which powers the site) – so nothing I can control. 1 of the errors is a typo in a font weight (this won’t hurt anything) and the other two are ‘old’ CSS values, which are not used by ‘modern’ browsers but will help older browsers display the site (this won’t hurt anything). The last error is some old CSS code which helps old versions of the Internet Explorer browser display the calendar on the site properly – so again it’s not hurting anything.
IP Canonicalization Error – This is an old SEO myth which says you need to have a ‘dedicated IP address’ (which costs you quite a bit!) to stop a site being associated with other ‘bad sites’ which might be on the same server or causing ‘duplication’: https://www.seoblog.com/2017/09/dedicated-address-improve-rankings/
Email Address Obfuscation – Some people will say that you need to ‘obfuscate’ email addresses on sites, using special code, to stop spam harvesters. The problem with email obfuscation is that is basically doesn’t work very well! Bots are so clever these days that they can break most obfuscation. It can also cause big accessibility issues. So I’ve deliberately chosen NOT to obfuscate emails on that site. The church also had a good spam filter.
9 out of 21 Image Alt tags are missing – This is true and yet wrong at the same time! Yes, 9 of the images have ’empty’ alt attributes – but this is because they don’t need them and so that is the correct way to code things! Those 9 images are all icons and so having an alts on them would actually be confusing to those using screen readers, etc.
Keywords Meta tag not found – Well technically they are correct with this. There are no ‘keywords’ meta tags used on the site. But there’s a very good reason for this. Goggle stopped using meta keywords as a ranking factor 10 YEARS AGO!!! (and Bing hasn’t used them for years either) So this is completely irrelevant.
Text to HTML ratio is 1.95% – ‘Text to HTML Ratio’ is about how much ‘real text’ there is on a page. Some people also call having not much text ‘thin content’. Having lots of content is normally a good thing! However, in this case although it’s the home page of the site, it doesn’t need lots of content. The ‘meta’ description and titles are optimised and the information people want and need is on the home page! Also much of the content of the home page are “What’s On” images (which of course have appropriate ‘alts’ on them). I’m guessing they didn’t include any of that in their calculations…
Accessibility Check: FAILED [19 errors] – I have no idea what accessibility checker they used but using the ‘Wave Webaim’ tool the site does have 6 errors (all of which are for an image lightbox and aren’t in the code that screen readers would see, so are ‘ok’ as errors go). And the ‘Achecker’ tool and Google’s Accessibility checker give the site a clean bill of health accessibility wise!
Indexed pages by Google: 390 is low. Needs urgent improvement – Well that’s about what I’d expect on that site. It’s a church site with some pages about what happens at the church, etc. and then a few years worth of sermons posts. So saying it need ‘urgent improvement’ is WRONG. Simply having lots of pages doesn’t make Google like you more… (and running the same test on their site, they have 41 pages on Google, so by their logic, their site must be terrible!!!)
Your Social media presence is very low! – Well this is odd. They say that the church has a Facebook page and a Twitter account – which it does! The church posts very regularity on both of those platforms, so I would say it’s got a pretty good presence!
They then say it should be listed on: YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Stumbleupon, Google+ and Pinterest.
Well, I guess the church could have an account on YouTube, Pinterest and Pinterest, but the church doesn’t NEED them, so it doesn’t have them! (Just having accounts doesn’t help Google like you…)
As for the other networks… LinkedIn is for businesses (so not appropriate) and Stumbleupon and Google+ no longer exist!!! (You would think that ‘a leading digital marketing agency’ would know that those two networks aren’t around anymore wouldn’t you…?!)
So overall, not exactly an impressive report. Apart from the validation errors, it’s basically all wrong…
Jessica also said they could help the church’s results for the term ‘Church in Minehead, Somerset’. Well if they had actually done a search for that on Google, they would have seen that it’s already #1 on Google in both the map/local listing and in the search results! (So no help needed with that search term then!!!)
Looking at Their Site
With SEO spammers, I also like to look at their sites, to see if they practice what they preach (I mean would you trust a plumber who had leaking and rusty pipes all over their own house?!); and also to compare their site with a site they say they can help…
Their site is: http://www.multinationalseo.com/
For HTML Validation, their site has 3 errors (bad ones which would affect how people use the site…) & 23 warnings. And for CSS Validation, their site has 72 errors – oops!
On Google Pagespeed their site gets:
Mobile: 3/100 (that’s the worst I’ve EVER seen!)
My church’s site gets:
Mobile: 93/100 – so both considerably better using Google’s own speed testing tool!
On GTMetrix their site gets:
D(64%) / E(59%)
On GTMetrix my church’s site gets:
A 97% / B (80%) – so again much better!
Using the ‘WAVE’ Accessibility Testing Tool, their site has 25 errors and 59 alerts alerts that’s REALLY not good… My church’s site has 6 errors (all for empty buttons which aren’t empty when a lightbox is used – so nothing serious) and 4 warnings (again nothing serious)!
Using the AChecker Accessibility Tool, their site has 58 known problems and 470 potential problems! My church’s site has no problems at all…
Their site takes over 4.6 seconds to load – my church’s site takes about 1.5 – so over 3x faster!
Also looking on their site, they DO NOT currently use SSL/HTTPS – which is now a ranking factor, as well as being a security issue. A good SEO company should really be using SSL – there is no good excuse not to these days.
They still have a link to a Google+ Social Media profile in their site’s header and footer – only Google+ closed several months ago. But as they recommended that the church also needed to be on that now closed service, I guess that’s not too surprising!
And for an SEO company, their site is VERY badly set-up for SEO! The <title> tag is just “Home – Multinationalseo”, which is pretty terrible and they have NO meta description. These are about the most basic SEO things you can do on a site!
In Jessica’s email it says that the company has been operating for 8 years, but on the site it says 5!
Jessica also says “Our headquarters are in Miami, Florida however; our delivery center is in India.” This is just like ‘Runexe Solutions‘ an SEO spammer who I’ve reviewed before (in fact that spam also came from a Jessica using a rather similar spam template…) and just like Runexe, I also don’t think that they are based in the USA at all. There’s no address in the USA listed (only one in India) and the US phone number on their site has an area code for southeastern Louisiana. There was a different number on Jessica’s email and report. That one is for an area code in California (and seems to be for a mobile number) – and if you Google that number, it’s listed on an ‘Escort Agency’ website from 2018!!! The time Jessica emailed me the report was at 8.22am UK time (which is 3.22am in Miami and 12.22am in California but 12.22pm in India). I have nothing against web companies based in India. However, I don’t like it when companies aren’t truthful about things!
And speaking about be truthful about things, that leads me to the most worrying part of the Multinational SEO site – the testimonials. I’m 99% sure that they are all fake! Certainly none of the four people giving the testimonials are real… (I think you could even say this is fraudulent or identity theft…)
‘Emma’ is actually ‘Laurie De Armond’ a Managing Partner and National Co-leader of BDO, a global accounting network. https://www.bdo.com/our-people/laurie-de-armond
‘Henry’ is ‘John Polito’ an actor who played Det. Steve Crosetti in the TV series ‘Homicide: Life on the Street’ https://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/news-photo/season-1-pictured-john-polito-as-det-steve-crosetti-news-photo/138416861
‘Jack’ is ‘George C. Howell, III’ a Partner and Chair of the Executive Committee at Hunton Andrews Kurth, an international law firm. https://www.huntonak.com/en/people/george-howell.html
‘Emily’ is from a stock photo from a Russian fashion magazine website!
Although the report was about the shortest I’ve received from SEO spammers, it still managed to be among the worst, full of errors and mis-information.
As for their site… It looks [sort of] pretty but it’s very badly set-up, has some big accessibility and speed issues and appears to have flat out lies as testimonials – really not good.
So if you get an email from a multinationalseo.com email address (or someone using a random @gmail.com offering SEO advice), the delete button is probably your best option.
But the choice, as ever, is yours.