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 Ashu who spammed me via the contact form on this site (I guess they’ve not checked the blog with my calling out SEO spammers…!). A subsequent reply came from Sandeep, although the email header code said it came from someone called ‘Pinky’!
Here’s the initial email from Ashu:
Do you want more clients and customers?
We will help you by placing your website on the 1st page.
I will be happy to send detailed Proposal.
Please email us for full proposal.
I replied asking what company she worked for and also if they could take a look at my big Christmas site – www.whychristmas.com.
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’…
Here’s the reply from Sandeep:
We have analysed the website and sending you the recommendations with maximum keywords please find the attached PDF file
Please check and advise
For this website, we will charge as per below mentioned
1st month you need to pay us one time setup fees $300 and monthly $99 means total $399
2nd month $99
3rd month $99
And we assure you front page rankings in your local area in 90 days’ time maximum.
For better communications if you will add me over Skype it would be nice my ID is [removed for privacy] And Whatsapp number is [removed for privacy]
Their Report & Recommendations
The report which Sandeep mentioned was a 12 page PDF.
After the title page there’s a page which gives a score ’76’ (I assume out of 100, but it doesn’t say that anywhere on the report…) and then a number of passes (17), warnings (8) and failed items (0). Those added up must also somehow make up the ’76’ score, but again this is not explained…
It also lists some things like the loading speed of the site, etc.
At the bottom of this page is a list of “Organic Keywords”. I have NO IDEA where they got these from because, as you can see below, they are a very odd selection of terms! They are related to Christmas and things on my site but are mostly somewhat odd.
Next to the items are where they say my site currently ranks for these items. I also don’t know where they got these ranking from as they are VERY different to my testing! I did my tests using a VPN placing me in the USA (as that’s where most of my site’s traffic comes from) using a private/incognito window so no other previous searches would effect things.
Here’s the list of their “Organic Keywords” with their ranking and what my tests on Google showed.
- ‘mary and joseph going to bethlehem’ They say: 19; My test: 1
- ‘what do the french eat at christmas’ They say: 18; My test 1 (in a featured snippet)
- ‘end of christmas the three kings arrive’ They say: 17; My test: 1 (in a featured snippet)
- ‘why is it called la misa de gallo’ They say: 18; My test: 1 (in a featured snippet)
- ‘when we celebrate christmas’ They say: 16; My test: 1&2
- ‘who told joseph to name the baby jesus’ They say: 18; My test: 1 (in a featured snippet)
- ‘how do people in the philippines celebrate christmas’ They say: 19; My test: 1 (in a featured snippet)
- ‘who made up christmas’ They say: 15; My test: 1 (in a featured snippet)
- ‘christmas cucumber ornament’ They say: 15; My test: 1 (even though it’s really a pickle!)
- ‘the meaning behind christmas’ They say: 17; My test: 1 (in a featured snippet)
Next was a page of ‘Inbound Link’. OK nothing special here…
Then there were lots of items which made up the passed/warnings/failed from the front page. Let’s look at those ‘warnings’ in more detail…
Meta Keywords: – Most search engines will completely ignore the keywords meta tag, and it is the opinion of many that it is best to not have any meta keywords at all.
This is true but they also will not ‘hurt’ a site and some smaller search engines (and some in other countries) do still use them. My rule of thumb is: if I’m doing a new site I won’t add them, but this site is 20 years old leaving them in is fine. So this is NOT APPLICABLE.
URL keywords not found in title or description: This section compares the URL you provided with the title and the description tags to check for keyword matches. If you’re checking a domain, it’s ok for this check to show a warning. If you’re checking a full URL, you might want to make adjustments.
This is rubbish. My main keyword is ‘christmas’. The site’s url is whychristmas.com. Christmas is also in the meta title and descriptions a lot. This is simply WRONG.
Twitter Cards not found: While not necessary, Twitter Cards are used to show the images and other data associated with your page when shared via tweets.
This is true, but I do have ‘Open Graph’ code in my site which Twitter can also use when sharing tweets. Their site doesn’t have any Open Graph or Twitter Card code!
Social links not found: Search engines pay close attention to how much interest there is about your website on social websites. It’s important to make sure your pages are well connected through social websites.
More utter rubbish! There are links to my social media accounts in the site’s footer ON EVERY PAGE OF THE SITE! So this is very WRONG.
So out of the 8 warnings, two were WRONG, two were NOT APPLICABLE and one (about the Twitter Cards) could be applicable – but isn’t really! But that only adds up to five out of eight warnings!
Two of the other three items are listed along with the page speeds, etc. and they are the Moz Domain Authority and Page Authority figures (being 68/100 and 53/100). (Moz is an SEO company and site which gives info on some ranking things and has excellent SEO advice.)
Google used to use similar terms to help understand how much they liked a site. However, they stopped using them several years ago. Moz now has their own version of how much they think search engines might like a site. But they are just a guide. They actually play no part in how a search engine actually ranks you. (Moz makes this very clear on their site.)
They can be helpful tools, but you need to view them in context and also understand that both are ‘logarithmic’ (meaning that 40 IS NOT twice a score of 20 – it’s much ‘higher’ than that). Moz have some excellent pages about their Domain Authority and Page Authority numbers and what the mean, but of course Rank India don’t explain them at all! (Respona also have a very good and in-depth post on all things Domain Authority.)
So that adds up to 7 ‘warnings’. But I CANNOT see where the eighth is coming from! So that’s helpful then…!
Next up is a list of 310 (yes really!) ‘Suggested Keywords’. Some were sensible, many were not. I won’t inflict the full list on you, but here are the first 15 and where the site already ranks:
- advent traditions around the world – 9 (I’ve got a page about Advent, but I’m surprised it’s that high with ‘around the world’ on the end!)
- african christmas traditions – 2
- all around the world christmas – 1
- american christmas celebrations – 1 (featured snippet)
- american christmas traditions – 1 (featured snippet))
- american christmas traditions list – 1 (featured snippet))
- around the world at christmas time – 19 (it’s the title of a song, so lots of the results above me were about that song!)
- around the world christmas – 1
- around the world christmas ornaments > 30 (I don’t sell ornaments so wouldn’t expect my site to rank for this…)
- australian christmas customs – 2
- australian christmas tradition – 2
- baby christmas traditions > 30 (I wouldn’t expect my site to rank for this somewhat off search!)
- best christmas celebration in the world – 23 (I don’t do ‘best’ things on my site, so I wouldn’t expect to rank highly)
- best christmas eve traditions – 23 (I don’t do ‘best’ things on my site, so I wouldn’t expect to rank highly)
- best christmas traditions > 30 (I don’t do ‘best’ things on my site, so I wouldn’t expect to rank highly; but it ranks very highly for just ‘christmas tradition’ – not one of their terms and ‘christmas traditions and customs’ – was one of their terms!)
So as expected, my site ranks where I’d think/hope it would and not where I wasn’t expect it to. Many of the suggested keywords were along the lines of XXXX for families/singles/couples/toddlers, etc. – items my site simply isn’t about. If you’d taken a good look at my site, this would be pretty obvious…
Some other random suggested keywords included:
- cool family traditions (what no Christmas?!)
- cute family traditions (erm?!)
- sing the christmas story (that’s a different one!)
There was then a list of 22 things included in the ‘setup’ (which they charge $300 to do). Pretty much all of them were things which the site ‘passed’ for (so why should I pay for those?!) and there are also some things which are completely pointless for my site (like setting up Google Maps and Google Local search – my site isn’t a ‘local business’).
One of the 22 setup items would be of no use to anyone now. It is ‘setup dmoz linking’. The problem with this item is that dmoz (a former web directory) CLOSED IN MARCH 2017 – so over 3 1/2 years ago. So Rank India want you to pay them for adding your site to a service which hasn’t existed for over three years!
There was then a list of all things they’d do monthly. This includes posting one blog and one article a month – but you have to write it! It also says 1 search engine submission a month. So is that one search engine a month which they add your site to? (considering there are only really two main search engines, that wouldn’t take long…) or is that a monthly check that your site is on that search engine?!
Hmmmmm, not exactly an impressive report 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…
The site which Ashu had in his email address from the contact from to me is: https://ranksindia.net/
For HTML Validation, my site has no errors. Their site has 9 errors and 22 warnings. That’s actually rather good for the site of an SEO spammer! And 8 or the 9 errors are missing ‘image alts’. Something which can affect SEO and Accessability.
On Google Pagespeed their site gets:
Desktop: 63/100 (that’s ok)
Mobile: 30/100 (that’s not so much)
My site gets:
Mobile: 99/100 – so both considerably better using Google’s own speed testing tool!
Using the ‘WAVE’ Accessibility Testing Tool, their site has 31 errors and 24 contrast errors – that’s really not very good. My site has no errors of either kind!
Their home page meta title, meta description and meta keywords (which aren’t really used anymore – see above!) are all just ‘Ranks India’. That’s rather rubbish – especially for an SEO company!
The alt text on the logo is ‘site logo’. Not very good for SEO or accessibility – it should be ‘Ranks India’.
The ‘Heading 1’ on the home page (also very important for SEO) is ‘About Us’ and is halfway down the page – that’s simply bad.
There are two tags loading different Google fonts – you can (and should) easily combine them into one…
The copyright in the site’s footer is 2016 – oops. (Rather humorously on their home it states “An updated advanced website creates the best impression for the customers to stay with you and to screen the company.” Shame they’ve not updated their copyright for the last four years then…)
There are also social media links in the footer – including a link to Google+ – which closed over 18 months ago… (You’d have thought an ‘Expert in Digital Marketing’ would have known about that!)
Interesting the social links go to profiles for a company called ‘Ranks Digital Media’ and they also have a link to a different site at https://www.ranksdigitalmedia.com/ (Code wise this site is even more of a mess…)
They don’t appear to have posted on their social media account for well over a year.
Their site has got and can use HTTPS/SSL. However, it’s not set-up to redirect to this version from the ‘non’ HTTPS version correctly. Not very impressive.
On the Ranks India home page, there are eight screenshots of sites in a portfolio section. Rather oddly, two of these are other web design companies (what decent web designer would get a dodgy SEO company to create their site for them!?!?!?)! One in the USA and one in the UK.
From Googling the phone number on the UK one, it seems that the business is no longer in operation. And it’s domain expired in June 2020. Also interesting, the .co.uk domain of that now dead site was registered in India. Hmmmm….
The site for the web company in the USA currently looks quite a bit different to the screenshot on the Ranks India page.
Of the other items in the portfolio, one is a youth football (soccer) program in Australia. But it’s site is now suspended – and on SquareSpace!
Another portfolio site in Australia, a wedding video company, is also dead as the domain expired in 2019.
Visiting another site, for an air conditioning company, it just shows a ‘404’ (nothing there) error – so that site no longer appears to exist either!
Another is for a car repair business in Las Vegas. Visiting its site, the site is completely different from the one on the Ranks India site and seems to have been made by a design/marketing company in Las Vegas.
Out of the eight sites, I can only find one site that’s still live and actually looks like the screenshot on the Ranks India page!
It’s for a company which does trekking and adventure holidays. (Although on the Ranks India site it’s called ‘web.com’ which is rather odd!) Its copyright is 2016, just like the Ranks India site! Sadly the site is also full of basic HTML and accessibility errors (the logo’s alt is ‘logo’, there’s no Heading 1, etc. although there is a meta description!)
Rather laughably on their site they claim “We are the leaders in Word Press development services”. Erm… no they’re not (and it’s WordPress – no extra space). They also say their sites have “100% Clean W3C Compliant Code”. Well not from anything I’ve seen they don’t! (Their own home page has 9 errors and their sister ‘Ranks Digital Media’ site’s home page has 62!)
If you Google the phone number on Ashu’s email spam, the phone number is also on an amazingly dodgy looking SEO site called ‘Limo SEO’ on a free blogspot site. This site seems to have been created in 2013 purely for spamming their phone number on a load of junk pages. Rather amusingly, now it’s just full of SEO spam comments from other SEO spammers!!!
Ranks India visited my site to spam me through my contact form; yet seemingly didn’t see all the many posts I’ve got taking spammy SEO companies apart…
They also don’t seem to know some of the very basics of SEO and accessibility.
And they also seem happy to charge you for doing things which aren’t needed and/or could not actually happen!
So if you get an email from Ranks India, the delete button might be the best option.
But the choice, as ever, is yours.