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.
The initial spam emails came from a ‘Priyanka’. I got two pretty much identical emails from Priyanka within six hours of each other. But funnily (well not really, she’s a spammer…) they came from two different random gmail accounts. One had a ‘western’ man’s name in it and the other seemed to be trying to look like a bank… Subsequent replies came from ‘Abhay’ who was using a @frcoder.com email address.
Here’s the one of initial emails from Priyanka:
Hope you’re doing great!
I was wondering if you are interested in web and mobile application development.
We have a team of experts with us who help us in development.
Let me know if you are interested. Also, I can share a few examples for your reference.
Anyway, I replied to BOTH of Priyanka’s emails. In the first email, I asked her to look at my Christmas site (www.whychristmas.com); in the second I said that I’d already replied to her and copied in my first email!
During each December my Christmas site gets millions and millions of visits and is #1 on the whole of Google for a huge number of Christmas searches – so any SEO advice about the site is always ‘interesting’…
I got an reply from Priyanka introducing me to Abhay and then 20 mins later, I got the below reply from Abhay:
A Very Good Morning.
How are you ?
Thank you so much for writing us back to Ms. Priyanka in her last email for knowing our working location and company name.
We are located in the Capital city of India, New Delhi and working for clients globally. You can have a look onto our website through – https://frcoder.com/ as the name of the Company is FRCoder Pvt. Ltd.
Yes, I had gone through the website https://www.whychristmas.com/ of yours and had analyzed it completely and If we talk about the designs and attractiveness of the website where it is superb and attractive too with all the 3rd party integrations with it.
So, I would request you to share your thoughts to help you with it ? As you want to get the website redesigned or you want SEO Campaign to be performed on your website which will help you to have more Users, Visitors, traffics onto the website because Christmas celebration is on its way to come where we need high marketing of the website for new businesses.
Waiting for your thoughts James.
We can also discuss this on Whats App Chat/Call at [number removed for privacy]. Else, We can also discuss this on Skype too at – [Skype ID removed for privacy]
Good day and Please be safe !!!
Thanks & Regards,
Abhay [Last name removed from privacy]
I replied saying that I was interested in SEO and what was ‘wrong’ with my site and then got this reply:
Thanks for the email.
No Worries, We can discuss this here over email and if needed in the coming future we can have call too.
Yes, We are ready to help you with the SEO Campaign onto the website – https://www.whychristmas.com/ of yours and can sort each other needed modules if needed into the website under our SEO ON page activities. Please share me below details to take the discussion ahead and can provide you best team support and services –
Target Location –
Competitors name –
Please revert me back with your thoughts and details as it will help me in providing the best SEO Campaign onto the website of yours in best monthly rate.
Enclosed document is having all the task and activities mentioned into it which will be performed in our SEO Campaign on your website on daily basis.
Waiting for it James.
Good day and Please Be Safe !!!
Thanks & Regards,
Attached to this email was a PDF of what they would do for SEO. It included all the ‘normal’ things which SEO spammers offer including ‘Meta Descriptions’, ‘Image Alts’ and ‘Heading Tags’. I only add this now as it will become interesting when we look at their own site later…
Anyway, here’s my reply saying what I’m looking at:
Thanks for this. Here’s the info you asked for:
Target Location – Global
Competitors name – I’m not sure there is one?
Keywords – Christmas, Christmas Traditions, Christmas around the world, The Christmas Story.
I asked for those keywords/phrases as the site is already #1 on Google for the last three and is on the first page of Google for just ‘Christmas’…
This is the next reply from Abhay:
Thanks for the email and thanks for sharing the details for the SEO Campaign onto the website of yours.
For the keywords, We can share you the list of suggested keywords as per analyzing your website with the competitors website too for SEO Campaign on your website – https://www.whychristmas.com/
Can I know for how many keywords do you want this SEO Campaign to be performed on your website ?
As the prices of SEO Campaign depends upon the number of keywords performed on your website. Please advise.
Erm, I just gave them the keywords, so I said so…
Can we just go with those four keywords/phrases I gave you? I thought that’s what you wanted!
And I got this reply next:
Yes, We can go ahead with suggested 4 keywords for SEO Campaign onto the website of yours.
The best price for it on a monthly basis is 75 GBP which will also include – 2 blogs, 1 Article and 1 Press release posting too.
Please let me know the payment method of yours to take it ahead and to get started with the campaign.
Wow they want money really early! So I said I wanted to know more about what they’d actually be doing…
Sorry but I’m not willing to pay until I’ve seen what you say is wrong with my site and WHY it needs your SEO help.
I know your SEO PDF said you’d do lots of things, but what if my site is already OK and doesn’t need much help?
Then I’d be paying for nothing!
So can you tell me what’s wrong with my site first?
Here’s the reply to that one:
Thanks for your email and thanks for your concern to get SEO Campaign performed on your website.
Yes, Your website is absolutely perfect in the terms of designs, flow and functionalities but let me help you with the SEO Campaign that, SEO Campaign is going to rank your website on several search engines like – Google, yahoo & bing.
We will be working onto the suggested keyword of yours which will help to get the best online presence and topmost ranking of website as it is going to help you with regular new Users, Visitors and traffics onto the website of yours as to have more Businesses and sales.
Hope the Google analytics and webmaster will help you to trace the activities of us which will help you to track the performance of keywords.
So, Please let me know your thoughts to take it ahead and can get started with the campaign to help you in providing the best performance of your website.
If needed, We will make some changes into the tags and metatags of website which will be under our ON page activities to help you with it.
The investment of 75 GBP per month can help you with more business else it is your decision to help you with it and I am here with my team to provide you best team support and services.
Well it’s nice to know that my site is ‘absolutely perfect in the terms of designs, flow and functionalities'(!) but they’ve still not answered my question about the SEO side of things. So I asked again…
Thanks but that hasn’t answered my question! What is ‘wrong’ with my site at the moment that you think needs fixing to help with the SEO?
That’s a simple question. I just want to know what exactly I’d be paying you for. Just saying you’d “make some changes into the tags and metatags of website” doesn’t tell me much!
Have you checked how my site is already ranking to see what help it might need!?
And that got this reply:
I had already informed you that your website is perfect and won’t need any such changes into the terms of SEO but our campaign and activities will update the regular tags and metatags of website after analyzing the competitors ranked website keywords too.
The answer of all your simple questions are, We will be working with all our ON page activities as the regular updation of each activities as mentioned into my PDF document needs to be done which helps to maintain the ranking of website and our regular new contents and blogs will help to do blogging of your website on several blogging portals, blogspots, etc..
Yes, The website has been checked by our team and we are ready to work more onto other keywords of your website where we will also recommend you more keywords at the initiation of campaign.
We will also be providing you SEO audit reports on each 15th day of the month which will help you to trace and track our each activities which will be performed in our SEO Campaign onto the website of yours. Each SEO audit report will have initial ranking status with the current ranking position status for your perusal which will show you our efforts and results.
Please let me know your thoughts and confirmation to take it ahead and to get started with it.
WOW! So now my site is ‘perfect and won’t need any such changes into the terms of SEO’!!!
I’ve never actually had an SEO spammer say my site was perfect before! (And as we’ll see below, I’m surpeised from the quality of their own site they know what a perfect site looks like…) But they still want to get me to pay money for services which I didn’t ask for!
So I replied saying that I probably didn’t need their help…
I also explained that I reply to SEO spammers and they they’d broken at least two international anti-spam laws by spamming me in the first place.
If my website is already perfect, it must be beating it’s competitors, so it doesn’t need any changes – GREAT!
Also, if you’ve already checked the site, you will have seen that the site is already #1 on Google for three out of the four keywords/phrases and is on the 1st page of Google for the other one.
So I guess I don’t need your services…
I’ve been a web designer and developer for 20 years. I like to reply to SEO spammers to see what ‘services’ they offer and the things they say and use to get clients.
My Christmas site www.whychristmas.com has also been on the web for nearly 20 years. It had well over 20 MILLION pageloads last year – so it’s doing pretty well!
Your initial spam emails from Priyanka broke several international spam laws including CAN-SPAM in the USA: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business (where you have an office) and PECR in the UK: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/electronic-mail-marketing/ (where I am located).
Your site also claims that you love ‘clean code’. However, sadly, there’s little sign of that on your own site!
So I won’t be using your services.
Please do not spam me again. Thanks.
But I’m now quite sure that Abhay understood what I was saying, as her final reply was:
Thanks James for all your nice words.
Hmmmm. Either there’s some big understanding on Abhay’s part, or they’re actually quite happy being called a spammer and told they’re happy to break international laws…
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…
There site is https://frcoder.com/
For HTML Validation, my site has no errors. Their site has 90 errors which is really not good.
On Google Pagespeed their site gets:
Desktop: 71/100 (that’s OK…)
Mobile: 37/100 (that’s not very good…)
My site gets:
Mobile: 99/100 – so both better using Google’s own speed testing tool!
Using the ‘WAVE’ Accessibility Testing Tool, their site has 74 errors and 28 contrast errors. My site has no errors of either kind!
Throughout their site, there are big ‘calls to action’ for a ‘Clean Code Challenge’ where they claim:
We value clean, simple code across all interfaces, development languages, and devices. Take advantage of our offer and have our analyst team scrape and clean any faulty code on your site today.
It’s just a shame that they don’t seem to have bothered with this on their own site.
Frankly, it’s code is a complete mess. It’s full of very basic code, accessibility and SEO mistakes.
There are two copies of many meta tags (you don’t want that) yet no ‘meta description’ tag (a fundamental SEO item and what they said they’d add as part of their SEO services!).
They don’t seem to know what ‘alt’ tags are for images – including having no alt on their main logo (again this is one of their main SEO services…).
Their home page has SEVEN ‘heading 1’ tags. (You only want one…)
There are also many cases where they’re using invalid HTML attributes on basic items like images.
The theme they’re using is a ‘child theme’ of the ‘Twenty Sixteen’ which comes with WordPress, so they are responsible for the code on the site – and it’s not good.
They list an address in Noida (on the outskirts of Delhi) and also one in Chicago.
They seem to operate as part of ‘FR Content’, a marketing agency in Chicago. The CEO’s of both companies have the same asian looking last name, so it might be a family run thing… (They also seem to trade under the name ‘Forthought Realistic Coder Pvt. Ltd’.)
Through this agency, it seems like they have done work for some big clients. Which makes it even more strange that they have to use such lousy and spammy methods to get clients…
On their home page, there’s a ‘What Clients Say’ section. There’s a quote from a CEO of a ‘client’ in it. Next to the quote there’s a photo which gives the perception that this person in the photo is the one who gave the quote. But it is not. A reverse image search shows that the image is a stock photo. I also can’t find that anyone with the name given as the ‘CEO’ has any connection to a company with name given either. It’s normally pretty easy to find out the names of company directors and people like CEOs. But not for this one!
There’s a blog page on their site. Only there isn’t. ALL of the five entries are dummy ones with demo filler content and aren’t actually real blog posts! Oops!
There’s a fancy looking portfolio where you can select different areas they’ve worked in. But it seems rather broken. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
Looking at the first four sites on their portfolio (which strangely are none of the ‘big names’ they claimed to have worked with), I’m afraid that there’s no sign of their beloved ‘clean code’ in any of these sites either…
Three out of the four sites don’t use HTTPS/SSL (which is not good) and all of them have pretty much all of the same basic coding, accessibility and SEO issues of their own site.
NONE of the fours sites I looked at have a meta description (I thought they did those as part of their SEO services!?); and only one of the site had any alt text on their main logo (and that included the word ‘logo’ – which isn’t ideal…).
Sadly the site of the marketing company they’re linked with in Chicago also has many of the same issues including duplicate meta items (but they do have a meta description!), no alt on their logo and invalid HTML attributes on a number of items…
From looking at their own site, and ones they’ve made, I’m not sure that FRCoder would know what ‘clean code’ was if they tripped over it.
FRCoder are the first SEO spammer who have spammed me twice in the same day, from the same person, but hiding from different generic email accounts.
They claim to offer SEO services, yet haven’t put many of them into practise on their own site.
They also claim to love ‘clean code’ but their own site has some of the worst code I’ve seen in a while.
So if FRCoder offer any services for your site, then I’d probably give them a miss.
But the choice, as ever, is yours.