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 a “Maryann” who was using an @gmail.com email address with her name, and a bunch of random numbers and letters in it (always a good and trustworthy start… not).
The subject of the spam was “Pricing”. Just one word. Again not at all iffy… The spam went:
We are an online marketing company with specialization in SEO. We have helped over 200 businesses achieve their marketing objectives by helping them rank higher on Google search.
If you want us to assist you in optimizing your website and help you improve your online presence, just respond to this email with your contact details, phone/Skype.
If you want we can share with you an SEO audit report of your website. This report will give you a good idea about areas that need improvement.
We look forward to a positive response.
I replied (as I do) asking them to take a look at my (very highly ranked and SEO upped to the eyeballs) Christmas site.
I can’t do phone at the moment. But if you could look at www.whychristmas.com and send a report, that would be great.
The next day I got a reply from an @bestseoserviceindia.com email address and it went:
Hope you are well and Healthy.
Greetings from BSSI Technologies.
Our team has gone through your website www.whychristmas.com and prepared an SEO analysis report, sharing with you along with this email.
Please go through the attached files and have a look.
There are some On page issues that need to be fixed.
We offer customized SEO packages based on keywords number.
Here is the SEO Packages Details
[List of their plans removed for brevity.]
You may choose any plan so that we can share a detailed SEO proposal and action plan with you.
Looking forward to working with you.
About two minutes later, another email arrived from them:
Due to some technical issues, the attachment was failed.
Please find the attachment In this email
Oops! Well, we’ve all done it… Interestingly there was no name on the email and the email is a generic business type one before the @.
It was time to ask them the important questions…
I’ve been a web designer and developer for 20 over 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 over 20 years. It had well over 20 MILLION pageloads last year – so it’s doing pretty well!
I have some questions.
Please can you tell me why you think it’s ok to spam people, from random email accounts, to get business?
Are you happy breaching multiple international laws?
Your initial email was IN BREACH OF ALL the pieces of anti-spam legislation listed below (and many others from around the world).
For the UK (where I live) you are not allowed to sent marketing emails to an individual without their permission – you did this: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/electronic-mail-marketing/ (Under UK law, I am an ‘individual’ as I’m a Sole Trader, not a Ltd Company.)
For the USA, you are breaking several aspects of CAN-SPAM compliance: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business
For CASL in Canada, you need consent to send electronic marketing – which you did not have: https://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/00008.html (You also need other business identifiers in the emails, which your emails do not have.)
The Anti Spam Act in Australia has similar conditions for consent and identity, which your emails also do not meet: https://www.acma.gov.au/avoid-sending-spam
In South Africa there is the Protection of Personal Information Act, which says you have to have consent to send people marketing emails, which you did not have: https://ispa.org.za/spam/
In France the Trust in the Digital Economy Act says that you have to have consent to send marketing emails, which you did not have: https://www.culture.gouv.fr/en/Thematiques/Industries-culturelles-et-creatives/Dossiers-thematiques/Le-spam/Le-cadre-juridique-La-legislation-francaise-en-matiere-de-spam
For The Netherlands, the Dutch Telecommunications Act says that you need consent to send people marketing emails, which you did not have. It also says that the true identity of the party should be disclosed up front, which you did not do. https://sherloc.unodc.org/cld/document/nld/1988/telecommunications_act_of_the_netherlands.html?
I look forward to getting your answers to my questions.
Often, it just stops there with communication with SEO spammers, but within 10 minutes I got a reply:
Thanks for your email.
We understand the spam laws but we are not a scammer.
We generally do email marketing to send email and get business.
We also do website design and development work.
Sorry if we disturb you.
Just mark our email or any type of email as spam.
Hmmmm. So they know about spam laws, they just ignore them?! Well, I thought I’d ask. And I also explained that I wasn’t exactly impressed with their ‘findings’ in their report:
You say you understand the spam laws – so why are you then breaking them?!
Email marketing can be a good thing – if done within the law…
I never said you were a scam – only that you’re breaking anti-spam laws – which you are!
I do mark emails like yours as spam – but if you didn’t spam I wouldn’t need to…
I’ve also had a look through your review and I’m afraid I’m not impressed.
You said ‘Need to optimize Meta tags’
THIS IS WRONG. All the pages on my site are very optimised! Next to this was a screenshot of the code for my page about The Christmas Story. On the screenshot of the code from my site, you’d underlined Open Graph tags NOT meta ones. You do know the difference right?!
Oh, and the page you picked, it’s normally #1 or #2 on Google for ‘The Christmas Story’ out of well over a billion results. So it’s doing pretty well already…
You said ‘We found many pages targeted keywords are missing’
THIS IS WRONG. 1. No they’re not. 2. How would you know what keywords I’m targeting, we’ve barely had two email exchanges!
You said ‘URL structure: We need SEO-Friendly URL structure’
THIS IS WRONG. It already is. My structure is IDENTICAL to your example of a good structure!
You said ‘Back button is missing on https://www.whychristmas.com/christmasstory/’
THIS IS WRONG. There’s a line of text “< Go to the Christmas Story section on Why Christmas!” directly under the cartoon – I guessed you missed that?! (And the browser back button works just fine.)
You said the site is missing the files such are robots.txt (although you missed an s of it in the report…) and urllist.txt
THIS IS WRONG. There is a robots.txt file: https://www.whychristmas.com/robots.txt
There is no urllist.txt because basically no one uses it anymore! Yahoo did use it, but will happily use an XML sitemap. And if a urllist.txt is so vital, why doesn’t your site have one!?
You also say that the site is missing ‘heading’ and ‘image tags’. I don’t know what that means!? All the pages use correct HTML headings and all the images have appropriate uses of alt tags.
So I’m afraid that basically all the issues you listed on the report are wrong!
It’s been well over a week now I’ve not heard back from Best SEO Service India / BSSI Technologies. So I guess, they too, don’t actually like answering any awkward questions…
[UPDATE – 12th October 2022]
I got an email! Here it is:
Hope you are well.
I noticed that you reviewed our conversation on the SEOSPAM.xyz website.
I know that Vivek has done a wrong analysis about the website
You ask about email law, i said sorry but you post the review with full chat
I dont know what your intention was at that time , There was no need to do the review, we did work together. after bad results you could do that.
You did not make a mistake anytime in your professional career? Did you make all website errors free?
There was a mistake done by Vivek, i accept but for his mistake why all companies should suffer.
Any way thanks
Seems they’re not keen on this post! So I replied:
I’m sorry but who is contacting me now?
You are correct that Vivek was in error. However there was not ‘a mistake done by Vivek’. EVERYTHING he said was ‘wrong’ about my site was incorrect. Yes, I’ve made mistakes, but not a range like that..!
I did indeed post a review with a full chat. However, I made sure that none of the information could be traced to an individual (i.e. I didn’t use Vivek’s full name)
I only know about your company, and had any dealings with it, because your company spammed me – breaking multiple pieces of internal anti-spam legislation.
You said “Sorry if we disturb you. Just mark our email or any type of email as spam.” I’m afraid I don’t count that an apology. In my perception it’s simply an excuse as to why you spam people.
As I said in my previous email “I do mark emails like yours as spam – but if you didn’t spam I wouldn’t need to…” which is true.
Google, on developers documentation page called “Do you need an SEO?” (developers.google.com/search/docs/fundamentals/do-i-need-seo) says:
“Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that email you out of the blue.” and “Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for “burn fat at night” diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.”
Do you have a response to those statements from Google?
A few minutes I got a reply:
I am Vishal [name removed for privacy]. This is my firm.
Vivek is a part of my tSEO team.
We use email marketing to reach the clients.
I checked this analysis document and found all was wrong so, we didn’t email you back.
We have many clients of SEO, we are giving them the best results, yes of course some clients did not happy with our services. They have right to do any dispute/complaint
But for email communication, you made a complaint. Is this fair?
If this is fair, you can also submit this chat on the SEOscam website with no issues .
So I replied:
Yes I know you use email marketing to reach clients. However, as I’ve pointed out on multiple occasions, very many countries have laws which say you CANNOT send unsolicited emails without consent – you are doing this.
Google also says “Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that email you out of the blue.”…
I’m sorry I don’t understand what you mean by “I checked this analysis document and found all was wrong so, we didn’t email you back.” BUT YOU DID! How would I have got the report from Vivek if he hadn’t emailed me with the report containing incorrect information?!
You ask “But for email communication, you made a complaint. Is this fair?”
Yes, I think it is. The actions of your company are in breach of multiple laws from around the world and are doing something which Google says “to be wary of”. I think that’s enough to warrant a compliant!
Thank you for saying this I can put this conversation on my site. It’s good for readers to see how companies follow up these situations. I will take out your last name as that is web privacy best practice.
If you think you are right go do.
If you think you are the person to stop this type of email go ahead.
One question? You made all websites perfect with no issues you made?
I accept Vivek did wrong.
If you think you are the only person in this world to stop SEO email and want to serve the world. please go ahead.
Repeat- we are not a scammer. We have served more than 250 happy clients through our email marketing Sir.
we dont spam, for your information, i will keep the information with my signature now.
Lets see if the website made by you or your team is error free or not?
I did my best to respond to Vishal:
I don’t think I can ’stop’ spam, but I can help to raise awareness. Just like the page which Google has, where it says to be wary of SEO companies which email people out of the blue.
I’ve certainly made mistakes on sites I’ve made – but then I’ve fixed them to the best of my ability.
However, I have not send people unsolicited emails without consent, out of the blue (which many international laws class as ’spam’) and then gone on to tell people their sites have issues – when they don’t.
It’s my perception that there’s a very large difference between those two things!
I have also NEVER said that your company are scammers. I’m sure you can offer good services.
However, my main issue is with your sending of unsolicited commercial emails without consent. That is the definition of spam…
Although I’m sure we disagree over that!
I’m going to leave it here. I wish you and your company well. I also wish you didn’t send out unsolicited commercial emails without consent to try and get clients.
And I then got a final reply from Vishal:
Thank you for your understanding.
It’s nice to hear back from companies, even if we disagree! It’s also nice that Vishal admits that their report was wrong. I hope they now have a quality system in place so that reports like that are no longer sent.
Their Report & Recommendations
I basically dealt with all the things their report said in my email replies. Basically everything they said was ‘wrong’ with the site was wrong in itself!
Although there was no name on the emails, their PDF report/review says it was prepared by a Vivek.
The PDF/review had 5 pages but really very few words. It also feels very ‘templatey’. There are screenshots from the home page and the code from another page on it.
The most interesting bit on the review (at least to me!) was the bit about the meta tags. Where they’d got a screenshot of the code for my page about The Christmas Story. On the screenshot two lines of code were underlined.
They’d underlined ‘open graph’ (OG) tags NOT the meta ones used for SEO. OG tags are used by social media companies when you share things. I sometimes make the OG shorter/more punchy for social media.
So either BSSI don’t know the difference between OG and meta tags, or they deliberately underlined short ones to make it look bad – when it isn’t… hmmmm
Also, the fact that Vivek couldn’t find my analytics by looking at the code, makes me think he ran my site through a VERY basic SEO tool and might not have even bothered to properly look at the code on my site…
There was some nice text about my site on the review where they said it’s got good backlinks and domain authority. I’d had some SEO companies flatly lie about these, so I guess being honest is a plus for BSSI Technologies. But it’s a small + in a sea of -s!
But let’s look at their site and see what it looks like…!
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.bestseoserviceindia.com/
For HTML Validation, my Christmas site has no errors. Their site has 42 errors and 41 warnings – that’s not exactly a good start.
Using the ‘WAVE’ Accessibility Testing Tool, their site has 23 errors and 165 contrast errors. Not very not goodness!
Using the Google Lighthouse speed test tool their site gets (out of 100):
Performance: 11 (ELEVEN!!! That’s impressively bad.)
Best Practices: 83
My site gets:
Best Practices: 100
So my site is better across the board, and especially in ‘Performance’.
There are 15 (FIFTEEN) Heading 1s on the home page. This is terrible. You should only have one Heading 1. And why there’s fifteen is even worse! They’re part of a slider. At the top of the home. There are four slides. They have the same heading line. The lines are broken over two or three lines. The lines should used line breaks. They don’t. Each line is a separate Heading 1. (I deliberately wrote that in very short sentences!)
The heading is:
We don’t view SEO
through the same lens
as most online marketers
But each of those lines are separate Heading 1 – that’s not how you do it! And that’s repeated four times (except on one slide the middle line is empty…). Even if they’d used lines breaks, they still would have meant three identical Headings 1, which is also fairly terrible.
And there’s three extra headings ones down the home page for ‘Our Services’, ‘Pricing Plans’ and ‘Our Clients’ – but they should be Heading 2s.
There are also things that should be sub headings (at a level of 3 or 4) but are just bolder paragraphs. Sigh.
On their SEO Services page, there’s a bit about HTML validation. It says “BSSI Technologies check code errors and fix. Websites having code errors may cause to delay indexing by google and other search engines.” Yet they’ve not bothered to sort out the errors on their own site. Hmmmm.
There’s a section on their site where you can view some of their clients. If you view a category the title is broken displaying things like “Project Category: <span>SEO Service</span>”. Oops.
The icons of their clients are squished/stretched and generally mangled.
On the contact page, there’s an address in Noida. Well, they’re in India. But it’s very vague and just lists an area that covers about 20 blocks within the city of Noida.
There’s also an address for a ‘UK Office’ in Manchester, UK, which is erm, interesting. It lists it as being in ‘Suite One’ and then gives an address. I looked up the address on Google Maps. It’s an Indian Restaurant on a residential street on the outskirts of Manchester. There’s a flat/apartment above the restaurant – I guess this might be ‘Suite One’?! So could a relative of someone at BSSI Technologies runs the restaurant and are using their address as a ‘UK Office’ to make themselves look big and multi-national!?
The restaurant has a website – it’s made by a company who specialises in restaurant sites. Why isn’t it made by BSSI?! If you’re connected with the ‘Top SEO services company from India’ (as they claim to be), why wouldn’t you get them to make your site?! (The restaurant seems to have some very good reviews!)
There are also some social media icons on the contact page. Only they link to the main pages of the social networks, not to their accounts. Oops. Oh, and one of the links is to Google+ WHICH CLOSED YEARS AGO.
On the about page, there are some photos of people. But they’re all stock photos of very ‘western’ looking people. The company is called ‘Best SEO Service India’, and they’ve been in business for over 10 years, but there’s not a face or name on their site that looks like it comes from the Indian Sub Continent. That seems a real shame.
They said I don’t have a robot(s).txt file (which I do) and so do they. One thing that’s very much normally vital to put in your robots.txt file is a link to your XML sitemap (search engines look for a link to it in there). Can you guess who’s not got a link to a sitemap in their robots.txt file?! Yep – BSSI!
What they do have in their robots.txt file are four lines asking search engines not to index four urls. This is a good use of a robots file. However, two of the urls are active links on their site – for their clients list. WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS?!
And you know they said my site didn’t have a urllist.txt file and that was bad? WELL NEITHER DOES THEIR SITE!
They do have an XML sitemap – just like my site!
The initial spam from ‘Maryann’ said that Best SEO Service India had helped over 200 companies. Yet there’s a ‘numbers panel’ on their home which says ‘789 Happy Customers’ with ‘168 Website High Up’. Hmmm. Does that mean that they lied on their spam?
And does that mean that they’ve only had a 21% rate of getting their clients ‘high up’ – but that the other 79% are still happy?!
Another of those numbers is ‘100% Quality’. Well, the HTML validator, accessibility checker, Google’s speed tool and what we’ve found on their own site would suggest something rather different about the quality of their work…
Best SEO Service India / BSSI Technologies are SEO spammers.
They send out spam, from behind random Gmail accounts. They claim to ‘understand the spam laws’ but say they’re not spammers. [They. Are.]
They’ve been around for over 10 years, a novelty for SEO spammers. But they’re still spammers.
They might be able to do great things for your SEO, but none of the things above gives me great confidence.
So if Best SEO Service India / BSSI Technologies says your site needs their help, the delete button might be the better option.
But, as ever, the choice is yours…