SEO Email: BrandFold Digital Services

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.

Read some simple explanations of some of the SEO terms used on this post…


This time the email came in from a ‘Mark’ who was using a Gmail account with the company name in it. The spam email subject was “Re: Renovate your website-whychristmas.com” although I’ve never been in contact with Mark before, so it looks like he added the ‘Re:’ at the start to make it look like we’ve already been in contact – not a great start! The email went:

Hi whychristmas.com Team,

Hope you are doing well!!

I was wondering if you are looking for a Design/Development partner. However, I have prepared a Website Design/Development proposal for your business keeping in minds the “must have” factors which could potentially help you to expand your business without the financial strain of hiring staff locally. Those are as follows:

First of all design factors, an appealing design and interactive layout to increase user experience.

Quality banners with auto sliding feature to make it more attractive.

Glossy menu bar with roll over buttons.

Clear navigation to all the pages to improve the user experience and make it search engine friendly.

More informative in terms of contents to reduce bounce rate.

Auto sliding album section and useful video integration.

Blog section to keep your website updated with your thoughts.

Social media business pages integration.

Full contact information with a query form and a spam filter to keep away spammers and internet bots from your website.

Interactive Google Map integration. (Store Locator)

Google Analytic Tool to know about the amount of traffic, traffic sources, keywords, bounce rate and so on.

XML Site Map for major search engines to index the pages of your website properly.

Fully responsive with call to action elements (Mobile Friendly Website).

Integration of Content Management System (WordPress) to have the flexibility in terms of control over the website, ease of updating etc.

Please let me know if you are interested to know more. I can send you details or schedule a call to go over the potential partnership with you.

Alternatively, you can simply drop me an email stating all your requirements for which I can help you in a much better way and can come up with the best solutions to them.

Best Regards,
Mark [Name removed for privacy even though I don’t think it’s a real name!] | Digital Marketing Advisor

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’…

So I replied to Mark and he replied with the following:

Hello James,

It is a pleasure to hear from you a nice response like this. Please visit our website at www.brand-fold.com.

Suggestions:
Your website layout & design architecture is awesome but it can be more modern, brand new look/appealing, user friendly, adaptive in nature, and call to action one. It can be more modern & functionality friendly when you choose to have a CMS platform and you would be happy to know WordPress is the most popular CMS(Content management system) in today’s world marketplace.

Deliverable:

Present logo can be upgraded by customized way(If you wished to change)

Your current website can be modernized on the WordPress platform.

Header section can be improved.

Search functionality needs to be updated.

Footer sections can be implemented with call to action elements.

It can be improved to the contact us query form with a Captcha code to prevent online spammers & internet bots.

Online payment options can be integrated for having a user friendly business.

Cost: It is an one time cost of $600 to fix the above stuffs.

Timeline: The whole items will be executed within 15-18 business working days.

Please reply me back, If you have any queries on the above shared suggestions so that we can discuss further.

Sincere regards,

Mark


Their Report & Recommendations

So let’s have a look at what they say about my site (and what’s ‘wrong’ with it) in their email (complete with their grammatical errors)…

Let’s look at the items which Mark listed in his initial spam to me:

First of all design factors, an appealing design and interactive layout to increase user experience.
I think my site is very appealing – and many visitors to it also say so!

Quality banners with auto sliding feature to make it more attractive.
I think he’s rating to say a carousel. These are generally a BAD idea. See: https://shouldiuseacarousel.com/ (the generally answer is no.)

Glossy menu bar with roll over buttons.
I’ve got a good menu bar. I don’t think making it ‘glossy’ will magically make it better!

Clear navigation to all the pages to improve the user experience and make it search engine friendly.
My site has VERY clear navigation.

More informative in terms of contents to reduce bounce rate.
My site is pretty much 100% content!!! It’s also got pretty low bounce rates. There is also NO WAY that Mark (or anyone) could know what the bounce rate on the site is…

Auto sliding album section and useful video integration.
Ahhh, so another carousel then.

Blog section to keep your website updated with your thoughts.
The site could have a blog, but it doesn’t need one. Any updates are posted on social media…

Social media business pages integration.
There are BIG icons linking to the social media accounts for the site in the footer (which is more than their site has, see below…).

Full contact information with a query form and a spam filter to keep away spammers and internet bots from your website.
There already is a form with spam protection…

Interactive Google Map integration. (Store Locator)
If Mark had been on the site for more than two minutes, it would have been VERY obvious that this isn’t a site that has a ‘location’ or that needs a map!

Google Analytic Tool to know about the amount of traffic, traffic sources, keywords, bounce rate and so on.
I use privacy friendly analytics tools, so I’m very aware of the site’s stats.

XML Site Map for major search engines to index the pages of your website properly.
It’s already got one (which they could have easily found).

Fully responsive with call to action elements (Mobile Friendly Website).
The already is fully responsive (which is really easy to tell) and had lots of call to actions.

Integration of Content Management System (WordPress) to have the flexibility in terms of control over the website, ease of updating etc.
The site doesn’t need a CMS.

So out of all those points, it’s pretty clear that Mark had never been to the site before (because of course he hadn’t he’s a spammer…) and several of his suggestions aren’t great!

And now what Mark said about my site in his follow up email…

Present logo can be upgraded by customized way(If you wished to change)
OK. But I like the logo. He’s called Bruce the Spruce (he’s a Christmas Tree!).

Your current website can be modernized on the WordPress platform.
It doesn’t need it. I use WordPress for my own site, and for many of my clients. It’s a great option for some sites. However, my Christmas site isn’t one of them. If their own site is any indication of how they set-up WordPress sites, I wouldn’t want them going anywhere near my site!

Header section can be improved.
Well that’s subjective but I don’t think it does. There are very clear navigation links to the main pages/sections of the site and to pages like the Contact page.

Search functionality needs to be updated.
It doesn’t. There’s a very good search system on my site.

Footer sections can be implemented with call to action elements.
Call to action(s) generally go in the main contents of a site, not in the footer. That’s just odd.

It can be improved to the contact us query form with a Captcha code to prevent online spammers & internet bots.
There is an anti spam system in place already. It’s built into the form in a user friendly format (unlike Captchas).

Online payment options can be integrated for having a user friendly business.
Ermmm, if they’d have spent more than two minutes on my site it would be VERY clear that it’s NOT a business that sells anything. So there’s clearly no need whatsoever for a payment system!

So out of all of those ‘deliverables’, they’re all either not needed or inappropriate for my site. Oh dear…


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://www.brand-fold.com

For HTML Validation, my site has no errors. Their site has 5 errors and 33 warnings. Not a very good start…

Using the ‘WAVE’ Accessibility Testing Tool, their site has 11 errors and 52 contrast errors. My site has no errors of either kind!

Using the GTmetix Tool their site gets:

Overall Grade: F
Performance 20%
Structure 68%

My site gets:

Overall Grade: A
Performance 100%
Structure 100%

So my site is perfect!

When you start looking into their site more, things get even worse.

There’s no privacy policy on the site – that’s not good.

There’s no ‘Heading 1’ or ‘Heading 2’ tags on the home page – those are pretty important or SEO!

What’s also really important for SEO are meta description tags. So of course BrandFold don’t have any of those!

None of the email links on their site work as links – again that’s not good.

BrandFold claim to be based in New York, but their domain was registered in India and their site is hosted in India!

The time that ‘Mark’ emailed me would have been 4am – that seems unlikely – but it would have been 2.30pm in Bhubaneswar (the biggest city in Orissa, the state where the domain was registered and the home of many SEO spammers…). Hmmmmmmm

There’s an address on the site, which is a New York one. However, the address doesn’t exist! There’s no street of the name they give in the area of New York in which they say they are… There’s also no Zip code on the site – which is odd. Any real US based company would have their Zip on the site!

Their phone number is for the ‘right’ area of New York. However, it also seems to be a code that’s used by A LOT of robocalls and other iffy businesses…

On their about page, they claim that they are “one of the leading website and software development company in New York”. There’s three main problems with that.

  1. It’s not very good English (which is also true of their emails and also the copy on their site).
  2. Being ‘one of the leading’ companies would be amazingly impressive considering their domain was registered in January 2020 (so less than a year ago).
  3. I REALLY don’t think that they’re based in New York! All my SEO spammer detective senses tell me that they’re based in India.

There’s no social media accounts listed on the site (remember they said I needed that…) and you’d have thought the leading design agency in New York would have a strong social media presence… (There are links for Twitter and Facebook in the header, but they aren’t actually linked to anything!)

Their site uses an off the shelf WordPress theme with next to no modifications. Again, you’d have thought that a leading website company would want to design their own site – but apparently not…!

The blog posts on the site are all full of dummy (latin) content. They’re also clearly imported demo posts as they’re dated two years before the domain was registered!

So overall, it’s not exactly impressive from “one of the leading website and software development company in New York”!


Conclusion

BrandFold Digital Services are yet another SEO spammer using a gmail account, rather than a domain based email.

ALL of their recommendations or ‘deliverables’ are either already on the site; or are completely inappropriate to my site (it’s almost like they’ve never actually visited it and just have email templates…).

They claim to be based in New York but I suspect they have nothing to do with the USA at all.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have no issues with Indian based web companies; but I do have issues with any company that flat out lies!

So if BrandFold Digital Services say they can help with your site, I might hit the delete button instead.

But the choice, as ever, is yours.

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