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 an Andrew who was using a digitalmarketingline.com email, although a subsequent replies have come from Bibhu and Pratyush from Zentryx Tech Solutions with zentryx.com emails. (My last SEO spam email post also started from a digitalmarketingline.com address but then it was ‘Runexe Solutions’ that said there were issues with my Christmas site (there weren’t…). So it seems like digitalmarketingline.com are the initial spammers for several ‘real’ SEO spammy companies…
Also digitalmarketingline.com forwards to a yet ANOTHER SEO company [usseoexpert.com] who claim to be from Michigan, although that domain was registered in India, just like digitalmarketingline.com, and it was registered exactly 14 days after digitalmarketingline.com, hmmmmm).
Here’s the initial email from Andrew:
Hope you are doing fantastic.
I am Andrew Sr. Web Analyser having 9+ years of experience in Search Engine Marketing, Social media Marketing, Content Marketing, Pay-per-click, Video Marketing etc.
While analysing your website, we tracked some pitfalls for which your website doesn’t show up within top search results on search engines including Google. In addition to the same, we found that whyeaster.com is not able to achieve appropriate traffic/visitors for a couple of months
I am quite impressed with your website – Business Concept, Content, Call-to-Actions and others. As a web analyser, I can recommend few things to improve the website performance and I hope my suggestions will help business & your website.
• Publish Relevant Content (Blogs, Micro blogs, Article, Business Bio and etc.)
• Update Your Content regularly for quick crawling
• Go for variation keywords and website optimization
• Update Best Title Metadata, Description Metadata, Keyword Metadata
• Go for Social media marketing for more engagement and social media traffic
• Work on Page Loading speed and fix it to load within seconds
• Go for Content marketing and Video marketing
• Implement Latest Industry Specific Schema so you stand out as compared to your competitors’
not sure, if you can understand all above technical terms or not. Not to be worried, I will help to make you understand about the above points with brief descriptions.
If you have a technical team then I will wish you to go ahead and work on the above factors or if you prefer then I can help you to work on the above points.
If you are comfortable to go for a online meeting then please let me know. If you need to know about the cost then please revert back to my email and I will be happy to send you the quote with brief recommendation.
Thanks, I look forward to your reply.
Caution: This is our marketing strategy that we use the Gmail. If you want to receive detailed plan of action, please feel free to reply. Yes, we will get back to you with details.
This is basically identical to the email that Jessica sent me about my Christmas site in my previous SEO email post! Even down to the fact that it says they use Gmail for initial contact but it was from a digitalmarketingline.com email! (I guess they forgot to edit their spam template…)
You’ll also see that Andrew was spamming me about my Easter site (whyeaster.com). However, as we will see, I actually ended up getting a ‘report’ about my business site (jpc-design.com). Andrew has spammed me about my Easter site via my ‘normal’ business email and that’s the one I replied from. So I guess some spammy wires got crossed somewhere!
Anyway, I replied to Andrew and I got a reply from Bibhu.
Greetings of the day!
I hope you must be doing good. I really appreciate your time and patience as well as the willingness to learn more about our products & services. I would like to take the opportunity to give you a brief insight to what we do and who we are. Zentryx Tech Solutions was incorporated with Govt. of India on 01/11/2019 with an aim to provide world class service at affordable price, keeping in focus on the customer delight factor. We are a team of extremely passionate like-minded professionals working for simple solutions for your complex digital marketing requirements.
We specialize in providing services which are follows,
Mobile App Development
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank you for showing interest for further discussion regarding different services we have to offer. I would really appreciate if I can get an appointment with a best time for a phone/ Skype meeting to understand your current business requirements.
To be more precise and briefer let’s get connected and discuss more about the opportunities.
Kindly share your best time and date to get connected.
Awaiting your swift response.
Bibhu [surname removed for privacy]
I replied to Bibhu asking why they thought my site needed help, as his email hadn’t actually told me… I got a reply from Bibhu saying they would send an audit.
And they did. This time the email came from Pratyush and it was about my business site – not my Easter one! Oh well. Let’s see what their report says about my site shall we..?
Their Report & Recommendations
The report/audit I received from them was in the form of a PDF. I’ll explain what was in it below.
The first section covers “Technical Errors”.
First there are screenshots from the free HTML and CSS online validators.
For the HTML they rightly say that my site has 0 errors and 1 HTML warning. (Although rather confusingly in their explanation it says “It is not good practice to use valid HTML/XHTML markup”. No, IT IS good practice to use valid HTML – oops…).
That one ‘warning’ annoys me – it’s that there’s an extra bit of code in one file. It doesn’t hurt anything, it’s just not strictly needed in HTML anymore.
If we do an HTML validation test on their site (https://www.zentryx.com/), it’s got 6 errors and 3 warnings. Those 6 errors could well cause accessibility issues! And 2 of the 3 warnings are for the same thing as on my site!
For CSS validation, again they are correct in saying that my site has 3 CSS errors and 147 warnings. Having valid CSS is less important than valid HTML, but it’s still a good thing to have!
All 3 of the errors are part of the CSS built into WordPress – 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).
Pretty much all of the ‘warnings’ are for ‘browser/vendor prefixes’, which again are used to help display things to ‘old’ browsers (again they won’t hurt anything).
Running CSS validation on their site shows it has 37 errors and 835 warnings! Of their errors, many are from CSS being written incorrectly or outputting bad values. These could stop a site from being displayed properly. And pretty much all their warnings are also from browser/vendor prefixes.
Lastly in the technical section are ‘Canonical Errors’ (about the www and non www parts of a site/domain).
Firstly they say the IP doesn’t match the site – which could cause errors for Google. 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/ My site uses a service called CloudFlare for extra speed and security. That IP belongs to CloudFlare (which you would think a decent SEO company would be able to find out – it takes about 30 seconds to learn that…)
Then they say that the www and non www version of the site don’t go to the same place. This is WRONG – they do (the non www version).
Next in the report are two items on “Security Details”.
The first item says that I have a ‘plain text’ email in the code. This is correct. 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 my email. I have a decent spam filter which catches pretty much all the spam I get (including the SEO spam for this post – I replied because I wanted to!)…
Next they say that the site’s SSL (the padlock) isn’t using ‘HSTS’ (an extra step to help stop people bad guys). This is WRONG – the site does use HSTS! (Unlike their site, which doesn’t…)
Then in the report is a list of 13 “On Page Details”.
These cover some things on sites which help search engines to like them. It’s not always clear in the report if what they say is on the site is ‘good’ or bad’. I think you would actually need to know about the items to understand what they’ve got on the report – not exactly user friendly! I’ll briefly go through the items.
- “No Structured Data Markup is found”. This is WRONG. The site has this as and when it’s appropriate…
- No alt attribute is missing – This is a GOOD thing!
- Title tag is of 60 characters which are up to the defined length – This is a GOOD thing!
- Meta description is found – This is a GOOD thing!
- No keyword meta tag is found – There’s a very good reason for this. The major search engines haven’t used the keyword meta tag for at least eight years!
- Text to HTML ratio is 5.58% – ‘Text to HTML Ratio’ is about how much ‘real text’ there is on a page. Having lots of content is normally a good thing! However, in this case although it’s the home page of the site, it’s a portfolio… The rest of the site has lots of great info (like this post!).
- Headings are found – This is a GOOD thing! (In their explanation they say “The <h1> tag should hold the title describing the content of a specific page therefore only one h1 tag is needed per page.” this is correct. But they also say “The <h3> <h4> tags are used to define HTML headings.” this is NOT correct! Sub headings on pages should be <h2>, sub sub headings <h3> and so on…) Interestingly, their own home page has three <h1> tags, so they arguing against their own (correct) advise!
- XML sitemap is found – This is a GOOD thing!
- Robots.txt file is found – This is a GOOD thing!
- Favicon is available – This is a GOOD thing!
- Google Analytics is Not found – This is WRONG. The site uses Google Analytics!
- Schema.org not Available – This is WRONG. Like with the Structured Data Markup, it’s used on the site, where appropriate.
- Custom 404 error page is found – This is a GOOD thing!
So out of those 13 items, my site is ‘good’ for 8 of them, 3 are wrong, one is no longer relevant and one is a possible issue but not really…!
The next section in the report is on “Google Presence”.
This is about the keywords they seem to think my site should be ranking for. It’s by far my favourite section in the report; because as we’ll see, it’s just strange/odd/weird!
They list 7 keywords/phrases and say I’m not on the first page of Google for any of them. These are (remembering I’m a web designer/developer…):
- jpc charities
- jpc marketing
- jpc london
- jpc shoes
- classic tv themes ringtones
- channel 4 tour de france ringtone
- James cooper
They really seem to like ‘jpc’ but it’s really not what anyone would search for… Of the 4 ‘jpc’ ones:
‘charities’, many of my clients are charities, but no one will ever search for ‘jpc charities’!
‘marketing’, web sites are marketing and the word marketing does appear on some blog posts – but only on ones about SEO spammers who claim that can help with website marketing! And of course no one would search for ‘jpc marketing’!
‘london’, I don’t live in London. London isn’t anywhere on my site. No one would ever search for ‘jpc london’!
‘shoes’, the word shoes is on one blog post, about ME Awareness week. So yet again, no one will ever search for ‘jpc shoes’!
The next two are probably because I have a post about getting the Channel 4 ‘Tour de France’ tv theme tune as a ringtone. The ‘classic’ search one is rather strange and I wouldn’t expect anyone to find this post using it. However, if you do a search for ‘channel 4 tour de france ringtone’, my post is #6 on Google! (Pretty impressive considering that post is only just over a week old) Also the #1 entry on Google is the old site where the ringtone used to live – and which now points to the post!
And the last keyword/phrase ‘James cooper’ is my name. But I’d not really expect anyone to find me via Google-ing my name as I go under a business name (JPC-DESIGN) rather than my actual name…
So out of those 7, 1 (maybe 2) are relevant to what’s on the site and that’s on the first page of Google!
With my site, being a web designer and all, and living in Minehead; if we actually do a relevant search like ‘web design minehead’ – guess what, I’m on the first page of Google!!!
It makes me wonder if they actually ever properly visited the site and if they did, whether they really checked to what I did… (and if they had done that, they would have seen lots of blog posts about how lousy SEO spammers are…!)
Next in a report is a “Domain Overview”.
This consists of a single screenshot which is meant to show how ‘organic’ traffic comes to the site. However, it’s pretty much meaningless. You would need to be someone who really knows how to read web usage charts, etc. to understand any of it! It might look pretty, but it’s useless to the average person. (You can also see an ‘SEMrush’ watermark on it. SEMrush is a site which offers tools for getting info about sites – it’s for web professionals – its data will likely not be understandable by non web savvy users.)
Then in the repost is a section on “Backlinks Overview”.
They say I have “a very low number of quality backlinks” but they don’t actually say what backlinks are (helpful… backlinks are links from other sites to your site which can help Google like your site). Again there’s a screenshot about this from SEMrush.
From their SEMrush data, they say I have 9,700 backlinks. However, a different (and free) backlinks checker says my site has 21,600 backlinks!
(And looking at backlinks for their site, SEMrush says it has 1,300 backlinks and the other site says it has less than 1000! So if my site has “a very low number of quality backlinks” theirs must be completely terrible!!!!)
The final part on the report is for “Social Presence” i.e. social media.
They say I have a Facebook page (with one follower) and no Instagram or Twitter accounts.
They are right about me have a business Facebook page. However, it’s NOT linked from my site as I never use it (hence the 1 follower!) as I’m not a Facebook fan…
And they are right about Instagram. I don’t have an account on there and I don’t want one!
But for Twitter… I’m a big Twitter user. My Twitter account IS linked in the footer everywhere on the site (I don’t know that could have missed this if they’d actually visited the site and reviewed it properly…) and I have about 850 followers. (My Twitter account is also linked to in the ‘Schema’ code that they couldn’t find either…)
Overall the report is a mess and not really worth the PDF it came on. It’s full of errors, jargon, SEO myths and misleading and confusing information. And to really understand it you would need to know how to sort out all the things it talks about anyway!
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://www.zentryx.com [edit Jan 2021 – it seems that this site is no longer online!]
For HTML Validation, as we saw above, their site has 6 errors & 3 warnings. My site has no errors and 1 warning!
On Google Pagespeed their site gets:
My site gets:
Mobile: 83/100 – so both considerably better using Google’s own speed testing tool!
On GTMetrix their site gets:
F (0) / D (65%) – I never seen a site that manages to get a 0 before…
On GTMetrix my site gets:
A 95% / B (85%) – so again much better!
Using the ‘WAVE’ Accessibility Testing Tool, their site has 12 errors. My site has no errors!
Their site takes over 5.4 seconds to load – my site takes 1.5 second to load!
There’s also several bad code practices. They have several <H1> tags one their home page; best practice is to have one with other sub headings tags as appropriate. And they ‘miss’ levels of headings in the page structure (going from an <h2> to an <h5> with no <h3> and <h4>, etc.).
In their meta tags, they say “Zentryx Tech Solutions Pvt.Ltd is a premier, full-service Digital Marketing Agency in USA…”. However, the only address is in India. There is a US phone number. The dialling code is for parts of southern California, but it seems that it’s also used by many ‘VOIP’ (internet) phone numbers. Also the email from Pratyush would have been sent at 2am Californian time, but mid afternoon in India. And remember that in Bibhu’s first email to me he said “Zentryx Tech Solutions was incorporated with Govt. of India on 01/11/2019”. So I’m highly suspicious that Zentryx has any connection to the USA at all…
I have nothing against web companies based in India. However, I don’t like it when companies aren’t truthful about things!
Oh and they also seem to be office neighbours with ‘Runexe Solutions’ (who also spammed me via digitalmarketingline.com and claimed to be based in Miami). Zentryx’s address is “DCB 322, 3rd Floor, DLF Cybercity, Bhubaneswar…” and Runexe are at “DCB 312, 3rd Floor, DLF Cybercity, Bhubaneswar…” – I mean what are the chances of that?!
Yet again, I find it disconcerting when companies use a fake domain to spam you (and this one is especially odd in that it forwards to yet another SEO company AND another SEO seems to get ‘leads’ from it as well…), rather than using their actual company name.
They also initially spammed me about one site and then sent their report about a different site – that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence does it?!
The Zentryx audit report was really rather unhelpful and confusing to ‘normal’ web users; as well as being full of grammatical and factual errors. And their ‘keywords’ analysis was frankly laughable (and as this is the ‘bread and butter’ of SEO companies, it’s also rather worrying…)!
So if you get an email from a digitalmarketingline.com or zentryx.com email address, then I would think very seriously about hitting that delete button.
But the choice, as ever, is yours.