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 time the email came in from ‘Matthew’ who was using an outlook.com address which had the words ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’ in it…! The subject was “1st Page ON GOOGLE !!” and went:
I analyse your website”www.jpc-design.com”?
You have very good product but because you are not on top page you are not getting traffic and orders so are you interested to be on top page.
If yes, let me know I will send you complete marketing proposal for you.
Thanks & Regards
Matthew [removed for privacy although I’m 100% sure it was fake!]
The quality of the English in this spam is pretty terrible, not a good start… Anyway, I replied and a few days later I go a reply from Shivani:
Trust you are doing well.
Further to your response to our associate Matthew, we analyzed your website, www.jpc-design.com to assess its performance on multiple search engine parameters. Turns out that the website performance is not up to its optimum, scoring only 64 on a scale of 100. I am attaching our analysis report here for your kind perusal.
In a nutshell, the report talks about the website’s on-page factors, its visibility on leading search engines, engagement on social media platforms, and the specific issues related to these.
As for us, we are a digital branding agency Desire Rankings specializing in online marketing through search engines, social media channels, and mobile technology. We also possess capabilities internally to handle development-related items, specific to the domain of online marketing (landing pages, on-page changes etcetera).
I would love to walk you through the report, explain the impact of the issues on your website’s search engine performance, how we can help you improve this all, and answer any questions you might have.
Please let me know a good date and time for us to connect over the phone.
Shivani’s email came in from a Gmail address which had her name and Desire Rankings in it – rather than a domain based one. This doesn’t seem very professional…
I’ve replied asking Shivani why they use spam to get business, but I’ve not had a reply to that yet!
Their Report & Recommendations
Their attached report (a PDF) gave my site a score of 64 (I’m guessing out of 100 although it didn’t actually say that!). There were 38 items which seemed to make up this score although no information was given about how they worked/were ‘rated’, etc.
The 38 items were given a rating of ‘Passed’, ‘To Improve’ and ‘Errors’. Let’s look at the ‘To Improve’ and ‘Errors’ items in the report.
Sitemaps Validity (Errors)
They said that the xml sitemap on my site isn’t valid. However, I’ve tested it on a couple of sitemap validation tools and it passed! Odd (and I’m pretty sure not sure correct).
Tap Targets (Errors)
They said that one link on my site had a small ‘tap size’ on mobiles. They also say to use Google’s Lighthouse tools to check this, so I did. Lighthouse says I have NO Tap Target errors (we’ll look more at Lighthouse things later…)! These sort of errors are sometimes thrown on auto scanning tools for no good reason. So again odd (and I’m pretty sure not sure correct).
Twitter Card (Errors)
They say the site doesn’t have a Twitter Card (used to help Twitter know how to display a site when shared). This is WRONG! A very quick look at the site’s code and you can see the Twitter card code. (Also not have a Twitter Card set-up WILL NOT directly affect SEO – it’s an added niceness.)
They say i don’t have DMARC set up on my emails. This is true. Talk about timing, I was actually in the process of doing this when their report came in. Now this wouldn’t be an error for my domain!!! DMARC is one of several tools to ‘authenticate’ emails. However, I find it odd that this is the only email authentication tool they list. You have to have ones called SPF and DKIM also set-up before you can do DMARC. I’ve have SPF and DKIM for years. Checking their site, they don’t have DMARC – and they don’t even have SPF set-up correctly – oops! (This is also NOT a direct SEO issue. It’s more to do with stopping baddies pretending to be ‘you’.)
Asset Minification (Errors)
They say one file could be made smaller with minification (which helps to load a page faster). Again Lighthouse says all my files are minified just fine. But guess what, their site hasn’t got ANYTHING minified!
Backlinks Score (To Improve)
It says this needs to be improved, yet the item beneath it is ‘Backlinks Counter’ which is ‘passed’. So that’s also odd. You’d have thought that if one needed improvement that both would!
There are many tools to check backlinks and they all tend to give you different answers. Desire Rankings say I’ve got 1.92k backlinks. Using some free online checkers, I got 5.5k, 1.6k and 1.4k. Using those same three tools, Desire Ranking’s site gets 179, 31 and 75 (not k, in single figures…). That’s really incredibly low! So if there’s a site that really needs some help getting backlinks it’s their site! (And I’m not sure I’d trust an SEO company who can’t even get basically any backlinks to their own site…)
Traffic Estimations (Errors)
They say my site has very low traffic – and it probably does. However, it still ranks highly for the searches I’m aiming for (i.e. web design in Minehead & Somerset) which is actually what matters!
Social Media Engagement (Errors)
They say that my site isn’t being shared my on social media (they only list Facebook). Again, this is probably true and, again, I wouldn’t expect it to be!
Facebook Page (Errors)
They say I don’t have a FB page – and I don’t! (Well actually I do but I never put anything on it as I’m really not a fan of FB!) Being on FB can really help, but how much, and where, you engage with social media is really a personal thing…
Twitter Account (Errors)
They say they can find my Twitter account (it’s in the site’s footer) but can’t see it in the code. Well, it is – just like the Twitter Card that they couldn’t find! So this is WRONG.
Instagram & LinkedIn Accounts (Errors)
These are listed as two errors but I’ll put them as one item. It’s true, I don’t have accounts on either Instagram or LinkedIn. This is simply because I don’t want them! They might help, but again social media is a personal thing.
But Desire Rankings don’t appear to have a Twitter account and the links to their FB, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts are only on their contact page. They are NOT anywhere in the code of the site (you know, what they gave me an error for).
Out of those 12 ‘issues’, 3 are very wrong, 2 are basically wrong, 3 are down to what social networks I want to engage with, and several others are what I’d expect and aren’t really things that need ‘fixing’ as such.
So the report is somewhat of a mixture! It’s got some useful information in it. However, other bits seem to contradict each other and some parts are just wrong. Also much of it is about things that won’t directly affect a site’s SEO…
Desire Rankings also seem to have pretty much all of the same ‘errors’ that they’re giving me – but in most cases they’re also worse! There are also some items on the report which my site ‘passed’ and their site certainly wouldn’t (more on those below)!
Taking that all together, the ‘score’ of 64 is rather misleading as it really doesn’t give an accurate picture of the SEO state of the site!
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 https://desirerankings.com/
For HTML Validation, my site has no errors. Their site has 12 errors.
Using the ‘WAVE’ Accessibility Testing Tool, their site has 2 errors and 27 contrast errors. My site has no errors of either kind!
Using the GTMetrix speed test tool their site gets:
Overall Grade: E
My site gets:
Overall Grade: A
So my site is rather better!
GTMetrix uses some of the Lighthouse tools for its rankings, but they’re primarily based on ‘desktop’ usage.
By default, Lighthouse itself is based on ‘Mobile’ usage. So, as they mention it several times in their report, I thought it would be worth running the sites through Lighthouse directly…
Using Google’s Lighthouse Tool their site gets:
Performance: 22/100 (really not good!)
Best Practices: 79
(Lighthouse also showed that their site is running some old versions of software which could cause security issues.)
My site gets:
Best Practices: 100
So, yet again, my site is already better than their site across the board – yet Desire Rankings want to help me with my site, hmmmm!
Their site has nine heading 1s and no heading 2s, going directly to heading 3s. Neither of those is good. You should only have one heading 1 and then should have heading 2s and heading 3s as appropriate.
On their about page they say they’ve been “A Global Leader in Digital Transformation Since 2014”. However, their domain was registered in late 2016 (their LinkedIn Page says the company started in 2015 and their Facebook page was created in February 2017), so that doesn’t seem to quite add up!
Their site doesn’t have a meta description tags. This is quite astonishing for an SEO company as it’s one of the most important things you can have on a site for SEO!
Desire Rankings are (yet another) SEO spammer who hide behind random email accounts to send out spam.
Desire Rankings are (yet another) SEO spammer which is missing some very basic SEO features on their own site, yet wants to tell me how to run my site!
Remember the title of the original spam from ‘Matthew’ (1st Page ON GOOGLE !!), well Google has something to say about companies who make claims like that:
Beware of SEO companies that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google.from Google’s “Do you need an SEO?”
So if Desire Rankings want to ‘help’ with your site, I might well take Google’s advice…
But, as ever, the choice is yours.