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 we’ve got two SEO spammers for the price of one – as we’ll see below.
The first spam email in this tale came in from a ‘Venessa Wright’ (I don’t normally put family names in for privacy, but I’m 100% sure this is fake) who was using an @digiwebfirm.com email address. The email came into the account for my big Christmas site on the 2nd December 22.
The subject of the spam was “whychristmas.com We will fix it at least possible cost.” and the spam went:
Hope you are doing well.
I was looking for Keywords and found your website on page 3-4 of Google. If you were on page #1, you’d get so many prospects/new clients every day. Most of your targeted keywords are on pages #3-5. You’re so close! Do you mind if I sent an SEO Packages and Pricelist of your site to see why you’re not on page #1?
It’s totally free. I can send the audit report in a couple of hours. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me. I have more than 10 years of experience in digital marketing.
Can I send it over?
Look forward to your reply.
Venessa Wright | Digital Marketing Specialist
P.S: Reply back with us “Interested” and get the best SEO Proposal and quote your website.
P.S: Don’t want to receive these emails in the future? Then reply to this email with ‘Unsubscribe’ in the subject line.
There are several things wrong with this for a start. My Christmas site is #1 for A LOT of search terms (some very competitive around Christmas things) and it’s also an information site and not looking for ‘clients’… This spam from ‘Digi Web Firm’ was identical to one I had in July 22 from Go Digital Promotion. The only difference was the domain they sent it to (the previous one was for my Easter site).
I replied to Vanessa:
Yes please send over the audit report. What’s wrong with my site?
But I’ve never heard back from Vanessa… But that wasn’t the last I heard from Digi Web Firm!
On the 22nd December 22 (so 20 days after the spam from Vanessa) I got some more spam from a ‘Gina Hoffman’. It also came into my Christmas site. It was IDENTICAL to the spam from ‘Vanessa Wright’ in subject and content.
So I sent the same reply to Gina. This time I got a reply. It came from a ‘Ray Pal’ but he was using an @excellentrank.com email address. The subject was “SEO Audit Report – whychristmas .com” but as we’ll see, it was a reply to the email via Gina:
My name is Ray. Working as a Sr. Manager here at Excellentrank.com. I received your below email from my colleague Gina regarding a SEO Audit and a price quote for your website which you have requested. I am currently in a process of doing a complete analysis on your website and preparing the report.
We are a full service digital marketing company providing results oriented services like SEO, Social Media, Technical issues fixing, Quality back links creation, Content Marketing services to our customers across the globe. I will suggest you a best price quote for one of our SEO packages. We can help you to rank your website top on Google search results and increase your website traffic. It will definitely help you to get more online business through your website. To know more about company details, please visit our website www.excellentrank.com
I would be more than happy to get a quick reply to this email and acknowledge this email. So that we can continue our communication from here.
Ray Pal | Sales Manager
[Contacts removed for privacy, but the Skype name included ‘digi’]
OK, so Ray’s going to do me a report. So I replied, as asked to:
Yes, I’ve received this. It will be interesting to see what your report says.
Like I asked Gina, what keywords was she using to know my site’s not ranking?
Well, it’s now been well over a month an I’ve heard nothing back from Ray, Gina or Vanessa… I’ll update this if I ever do (I doubt I will).
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…
We’ve got two sites to look at this time. tl;dr. They’re both bad. Very. Bad…
The first site is at digiwebfirm.com which was registered in December 2018.
Their site has 10 HTML errors. That’s not bad for SEO spammers! My site has none.
Using the WAVE Accessibility checking tool, their site has 22 errors. That’s not great. My site has none.
Using the Google PageSpeed Insights speed test tool their site gets:
Best Practices: 67
My site gets:
Best Practices: 100
So my site is ‘better’ (well perfect!) across the board, and especially in ‘Performance’. And also the theme is really controlling the last three items – the only one they really ‘responsible’ for is ‘Performance’!
There’s no SSL (padlock) on the site. This is now really a ‘must’ for security and Google also prefers sites with it (you’d think an SEO company would know that…).
The alt on their logo is ‘image’. That’s not good. It should be the company name.
There are social media links in header and footer only they don’t go anywhere. Oops.
There’s a ‘numbers’ panel on the home page. The numbers make NO SENSE.
99 ‘Complated Projects’ (although their about pages says they’ve done over 650 – hmmmm)
49 Happy Clients
49 Customer Services
149 Answered Questions
So only 50% of their clients are ‘happy’, that doesn’t seem good! Also what are ‘Customer Services’? Their domain was registered in 2018. I don’t know what ‘Questions’ they’ve ‘Answered’, but I can tell you that as a sole trader, I’ve answered way more than 149 questions from my clients in the last four years!
In their footer they’ve for an address in Florida. However, if you look at the address on a map, it’s for a warehouse that seems to distribute things like fresh food and household products. Hmmmm.
Funnily enough, that address is also the one used by another SEO company (spammer) called ‘Macrofinet’. Hmmmm (again). But Macrofinet also list an address in Bhubaneswar, India. (Ahhhhh)
They do have an USA phone number for the right area. HOWEVER, that code is notorious for being used by various scams and other ‘not actually located there’ type of things. So did they choose this address because they could get a phone number. Hmmmm (yet again).
They also claim to be ‘the Best Email Marketing Company USA’ (or ‘ompany’ on their About page) but then one of the main headings on the home page is ‘Promoting yourself via the email’, which is phrasing a native English speaker would never use, but is a common way of structuring English if you come from the Indian sub-continent.
So, what’s really the likely hood that Divi Web Firm don’t actually have a location in the USA but are really in Bhubaneswar? I’d say it’s quite high.
There’s a portfolio on their site. But again it makes no sense. It’s clearly just a bunch of techy looking stock photos put in categories which mostly have no connection to the actual contents of the photos!
There’s a ‘careers’ page on the site – although it’s under the heading of ‘Blog’ on the site (well actually ‘Bog’ on the home page). It’s got three jobs on it. They have ‘Must have good Communication over English’ as a requirement. If you’re located in the USA, why would this be a requirement? But it would make sense if you’re based in somewhere like, oh I don’t know, India…
There are three testimonials on their home page. Only a Google shows that they’re all actually for an SEO company (who are really) based in Memphis. Two of the quotes even have the ‘real’ company name left in them! Oh. Dear.
So that’s the Digi Web Firm site. Well let’s look at the Excellent Rank site…
It’s at excellentrank.com which was registered in March 2012.
Their site has 16 HTML errors. So a bit worse that Digi Web Firm!
Using the WAVE Accessibility checking tool, their site has 8 errors and 28 Contrast Errors.
Using the Google PageSpeed Insights speed test tool their site gets:
Best Practices: 83
Just a reminder that my site has no errors and gets 100 for all four items on PageSpeed Insights.
There’s no alt text on their logo. That’s not a good start.
There’s also no ‘Heading 1’ on their home page. The main title is a HUGE ‘heading 6’ beneath it. That’s not how headings work and the Heading 1 is pretty important SEO wise… (Again, you’d think an SEO company would actually know that.)
All over their site and Ray’s email it goes on about them being in the USA. The start of their Meta title is ‘Best SEO Company USA’ (But I thought Divi Web Firm were that too…). However, further investigation shows this, well, is a lie.
In the site’s footer there’s a US address, in New York, and a US phone number. The address is formatted somewhat oddly. There’s a hyphen between the state ‘two letters’ and the zip. Most people in the USA would never write it like that.
Looking up the address, it’s for Battery Park. Yes, a park, you know with grass and plants and that sort of thing! There is a big office block (where you can rent virtual offices…) right next to the park, but it’s got quite a different address. So, erm, yeah.
The phone number on the site and Ray’s email are nearly the same – but with the area code being one digit different. The one on the site is for Philadelphia – I thought they were in New York?! And the one on Ray’s email, that’s for Cleveland (that’s not in New York either if you were wondering)!
Also on the site is a phone number for India – ahhh, now that I believe… and looking at the Contact page would seem to confirm this as there’s an address in Brahmapur, Odisha, India (about 120km from Bhubaneswar) listed as their ‘India Corporate Headquarters’. Hmmmm.
And there’s a completely different phone number on this page. This time it’s another one in Philadelphia!
There’s also a ‘Careers’ page linked in the footer. Now this has a different address in New York! But it doesn’t actually seem to exist. Oops. But a Google of the address shows that it’s one used by LOTS of dodgy looking SEO sites!
There’s also a different phone number (in New York) only it’s on all the same sites as the dodgy address above.
It seems that Excellent Rank really aren’t quite sure where they’re located – but I’m pretty sure it’s in India!
And guess what, if you look on their FAQ page, the top question is “Where is this SEO agency located?” and the answer is “We are an India based company…” TADA!!!
So, basically everything they say on their site about being in the USA is a big fat lie. (And why do that and then say you’re in India, where you really are, on another page?!) That’s not good is it? But that’s far from the end of the lying on their site…
On the home page are two ‘testimonials’. Again, shall I say I’m less than convinced these are genuine.
One is for an ‘Adam’ but his photo is from a stock site (and seems to be used on many dental sites as the man in the photo has a BIG grin!). The other is for a ‘Mike’ but a reverse image search shows that it’s also a stock photo. in fact the full names, along with their photos are on the testimonials of many an iffy looking site.
Putting the testimonials into Google shows that they’ve also been, erm, ‘borrowed’ from other sites. One seems to come from a real SEO company in New Jersey and the other is on A LOT of (mainly dodgy looking) SEO sites and I honestly wouldn’t like to guess which is the original one…
So, again, erm, yeah.
There’s an ‘Our Team’. ALL the text on this page is the dummy latin which came with the theme they’re using. There are some names and photos on the page as well. Guess what – they’re all stock/stolen photos and fake names too.
Interestingly, the names seem to come from the dummy contents of a different theme (so I’m guessing they used that theme at one time) but the photos are different.
There’s a blog link in the footer, only there’s no actual posts on the blog. Oops.
There’s a Portfolio page. It’s got eight screenshots on it. Shall I say that I’d be completely and utterly astonished if Excellent Rank have any connection whatsoever to any of these sites/businesses… They include a large team collaboration tool and one of the largest pieces of accounting software on the market…
So I seriously doubt that anything on the Excellent Rank site is actually true – apart from the sentence that they’re in India (oh and the ‘we don’t do refunds’ bit…)!
Digi Web Firm / Excellent Rank are SEO spammers.
They send out spam using a fairly common template which has no bearing on the actually site they’re spamming about.
They don’t reply when you ask the most basic of questions.
Both of their sites are full on very basic HTML and SEO errors.
They both claim to be based in the USA, but I very strongly suspect that they’re only actually located in Bhubaneswar and Brahmapur.
Much of the contents of their sites seems to be ‘borrowed’ from other sites or just made up.
So if you get an email from an @digiwebfirm.com or @excellentrank.com email address, pressing the delete button might be a rather good idea.
But, as ever, the choice is yours…