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 an ‘Payal’ who was using a gmail account with her name and some numbers in it. The email came into my big Christmas site.
The subject was “Major Errors in Whychristmas.com” and it went:
Dear Business Owner of Whychristmas.com,
Many business owners get puzzled as their website isn’t performing well, while others’ are flourishing. That’s unfortunate, but not your fortune!
Now, I will show you the number of broken links, pages that returned 4XX status code upon request, images with no ALT text, pages with no meta description tag, not having a unique meta description, having a too long title, etc., found in your Whychristmas.com. Too many issues to worry about!
I have a large professional team who can fix all the above issues immediately at an affordable price. I guarantee you will see a drastic change in your Google search ranking once these are fixed.
If this is something you are interested in, then allow me to send you a NO- OBLIGATION AUDIT REPORT.
Payal [name removed for privacy]
PS1. If you are interested, then reply to us “Send the Proposal & References”.
PS2. If you are not interested, then send “Remove or No”.
This spam was VERY similar to spam sent by another SEO spammer we’ve dealt with, Explotech Web Solution. I don’t think the two companies are connected, they just might use or pay the same spammers to get leads for them…
I replied using the phrase they mentioned in the PS1 (having PS1 and PS2 is not how ps things work but, hey ho) and the next day I got reply from a ‘Rajiv’ who was using an @saintellectsolutions.in email account and it went:
Dear Business Owner of Whychristmas.com, [bit rude not using my name]
Thanks for your thoughtful response [erm, I just the phrase they said to use – not exactly thoughtful!]. I am the authorized person to assist you hereafter.
I am pleased to know that you are interested in receiving the proposal and reference for your website Whychristmas.com. After reviewing your website, we will be glad to assist you in enhancing the website’s performance with our customized strategies.
After thoroughly analyzing the site, I am sharing an audit report attached to this email. We will be happy to work towards strengthening the organic base of the site by resolving the issues currently found on the website. Through this campaign, you would organically improve your ranking on search engines and create a positive customer experience. With Google’s regular updates, the website is kept up to date thereby improving your traffic and visibility.
Our campaign will strictly follow the Google algorithm and every activity is completely based on White Hat Techniques. We are giving a guarantee on getting your site TOP PAGE LISTED for most of your targeted keywords within the time frame we promise. We will optimize the site Whychristmas.com by working on the steps below:
Keyword Optimization & Promotion
Set up an SEO-friendly website architecture
Our References: There are several projects we are already working on. Here I am sharing some of them for your reference. These sites were not found within the Top 100 for these keywords earlier.
[A list of four sites they say they’ve done SEO things for. Removed for privacy]
Note: As we do not provide any random pricing, based on your approval, I will share the pricing and plan of action in my following email.
Kindly let me know if you have any questions, I will be happy to assist you. Please share your WhatsApp number/Skype ID for Better Communication.
Awaiting your response.
Thanks & Regards,
Rajiv [name removed for privacy]
Business Development Executive
A standard ‘we can do the world for you’ reply. I replied to Rajiv and I had some questions!
I’m James and I run whychristmas.com – which you can easily see if you spend a couple of minutes on the site.
I have some questions for you.
Why are so many points on report WRONG? Such as:
- my site has a ‘Google Search Results Preview’ (why couldn’t you see this?)
- there are NO HTML validation errors (I guess you missed that test on the verification page?)
- it’s got analytics (a quick look at the code shows this)
- ‘Christmas Greetings Message in UK’ is NOT keyword for the site (why would you ever think it was?)
- the ‘Reverse IP’ thing is an old SEO myth (so why are you still using it?)
You say that you ‘guarantee’ a top page result, but Google says not to trust any SEO companies that say that. So why should I trust you?
Please can you tell me why your company thinks it’s ok to spam people, from random email accounts, to get business?
is your company happy breaching multiple international laws?
I look forward to getting your answers.
The next day I got this reply from Rajiv:
Thanks for writing back to me.
I am glad that you have gone through the report and shared your queries with me. Please find the answers to your questions below:
1- Why are so many points on the report WRONG? Such as:
Ans- I want to clarify that, we have our digital marketing team and whatever tools we are using in the report are Google-verified tools only. We do not want to hurt your sentiments and of course, it was not at all our intention. As a service provider, we also want your website to be maintained even by yourself or by any other service provider as per Google guidelines. Our motive for sending a proposal doesn’t mean you take the service from us only. But if you can understand the issues and fix them by yourself we will be even more glad.
2- My site has a ‘Google Search Results Preview’ (why couldn’t you see this?)
[There was a screenshot showing the what the search result looks like on a mobile phone]
Regarding Google search preview, as you can see in the above snap when we search your website on Google the website’s information is not complete. If you have complete information (complete and understandable statement) about your website it will help people to find information faster by showing a visual preview of each result. That’s the reason we flagged it as not good.
3- there are NO HTML validation errors (I guess you missed that test on the verification page?)
Ans- Yes, I have re-checked it and it shows that you have no HTML validation errors. I sincerely apologize for this blunder and I have also reported this to our team for further verification on this case. I am glad the site status is green here!
4- it’s got analytics (a quick look at the code shows this)
Ans- Yes. That’s correct. But I guess I haven’t mentioned anything on analytics as we share another report after getting site access which includes GA, GSC status, and many more.
5- Christmas Greetings Message in UK’ is NOT keyword for the site (why would you ever think it was?)
Ans- I appreciate you raising this question. This keyword is highlighted to ensure the search volume of this keyword and it can also help divert visitors to your website. Please be assured that the campaign will target only your preferable keywords. My team can also suggest you the desired and high search volume keywords related to your website for better ranking in the Google SERP.
6- the ‘Reverse IP’ thing is an old SEO myth (so why are you still using it?)
Ans- Reverse IP depends upon the shared hosting and though it is an old fact to consider but we keep it in the report advising better hosting service to be chosen. That way it will have a high impact on the website’s performance.
7- You say that you ‘guarantee’ a top page result, but Google says not to trust any SEO companies that say that. So why should I trust you?
Ans- I do understand your concern regarding the trust issues, I would like to tell you that we have a professional team who are dedicated and are giving guaranteed results for years in this field.
Here are a few points that may help build trust in our capabilities:
Clear Communication and Reporting: We emphasize open and clear communication with regular progress reports, including key metrics like website traffic, keywords ranking, and conversion rates, allowing you to track the campaign’s progress and assess its impact on the client’s business.
Customized Strategies: Our SEO strategies are customized to business goals and target audiences, incorporating competitor analysis and thorough keyword research for optimal website optimization.
Ethical Practices: We prioritize ethical SEO practices, following search engine guidelines, for sustainable, long-term results without compromising the client’s website’s reputation.
Result-Oriented Approach: Our primary objective is to drive business growth for our clients by leveraging SEO expertise to increase organic search visibility, improve website rankings, attract qualified leads, convert them into customers, and achieve a positive ROI.
My team will definitely serve you the best. We want our clients to get satisfied with the result first and then continue with us as our long-run partner. So, we don’t have any locking period and our plans are affordable to try just for a month.
8- Please can you tell me why your company thinks it’s ok to spam people, from random email accounts, to get business?
Ans – Please don’t misunderstand us. We are a complete CCC(Client-Centric Company) and we are committed to giving all our clients the best experience in every possible way. We would never do such unpleasant things with any client even if he/she confirms us for just a one-time cooperation.
9- is your company happy breaching multiple international laws?
Ans- I want to clarify that, we are a premier India-based leading web design and development company that provides tailored web solutions and help to establish a solid digital presence. I have attached our company profile with this email for your kind perusal. From constructing your website to its branding and promotion, our dedicated and experienced personnel with their advanced knowledge and zeal to perform the best will do it all for you. We are serving clients worldwide irrespective of their location. It never felt like an obstacle while delivering the projects. For your consideration, I am sharing our company profile attached to this email. And below are some testimonials for your reference.
Testimonials:- [link removed for privacy]
Hope you get answers to all your queries. It would be great if you give us an opportunity to work forward to optimizing and maintaining your website or any other IT-related services. It will be an honor to assist you and work on the site up to your satisfaction level.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Thanks & Regards,
Rajiv [name removed for privacy]
Business Development Executive
Well, it’s a reply, but they’re mostly non-answers and more marketing waffle. So I replied again, pointing out that he’d really not answered my questions and asking some more:
Thanks for your response. My replies to your replies are below!
Q1. [Why so many errors] That is a non answer. You did not answer why there were so many incorrect things on your report.
Q2. [Google Snippet] As an SEO company, I’m sure you’re aware that Google has full control over what they show as the preview snippet. I have a meta description which is within their character limit guidelines (and so the the information on my site is ‘complete’) and which is DIFFERENT from what they are displaying in search results. You could have easily checked this yourself by looking at the code on my site. There is NOTHING I can do about this. So flagging the content decision of Google as an ‘error’ seems very strange to me.
Q3. [HTML Validation] Thank you for confirming this. However, I find it quite shocking that an SEO company could make such a basic error.
Q4. [Analytics] So what you mean is that the auto tool you use gives a site an ‘error’ if they don’t use Google Analytics? Well, I value the privacy of my site visitors, so I use a privacy focused analytics tool. Again, to make this an ‘error’ seems very strange to me.
Q5. [Keyword] You say “This keyword is highlighted to ensure the search volume of this keyword and it can also help divert visitors to your website.” but thy keyword term you use ‘Christmas Greetings Message in UK’ isn’t used ANYWHERE on the site!
There are very many obvious potential keyword terms on the site like ‘Christmas Around the World’, ‘Christmas Customs’ and ‘The Christmas Story’. Did you or your team actually check for other ones like that? If you’d have done so, so would have found that the site already ranks VERY highly for those terms – which the site is specifically targeting!
Q6. [Shared IPs] Sorry, again a non answer. Matt Cutts from Google posted a blog post [https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/myth-busting-virtual-hosts-vs-dedicated-ip-addresses/] in 2006 – so over 17 years ago – stating that the number of sites on an IP makes no difference. The number of sites on an IP is only a small factor in the quality of hosting.
I use Cloudflare Pages to host my site. As such, due to the way that Cloudflare handles its IP ranges, it could have a few or thousands of sites using an IP at a time. My site gets a desktop Pagespeed score of 100/100 – so being on a ‘shared’ IP is very much NOT having an affect on the site’s performance!
I also looked up your site using a reverse IP checker and it said there were over 500 sites on that IP. I also believe you use Unified Layer as your host? They’re part of EIG, a hosting conglomerate with a fairly bad reputation in the hosting community… I ran your IP through the site Scamalytics (which checks for the quality of an IP’s reputation) your IP get’s a risk core of 76/100! (The IP my site is on get a risk score of 15%.)
So all of the above shows that your ‘error’ for having a shared IP is completely and utterly pointless, useless and misleading!
Q7. [Guaranteeing a top result] Yet another non answer. On Google’s resource ‘Do you need an SEO?‘, it specifically says ‘If they [an SEO company] guarantee you that their changes will give you first place in search results, find someone else.’ and ‘Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings’. You did not address this.
Q8 and Q9. [Sending spam] Two more complete non answers. I specifically asked why you send out spam (unsolicited marketing emails) and if you’re happy breaking multiple international laws. You did not answer or even mention either of these points but just tell me how wonderful you are.
You say you have ‘Ethical Practices’. In many countries around the world, there are specific laws about sending marketing emails. For most of these you need active consent to send marketing emails (at least to individuals such as myself). This is the case in the UK (where I am), Canada, Australia, South Africa, France and The Netherlands. There are many others. And you are in breach of multiple aspects of the USA’s CAN-SPAM act.
That doesn’t seem very ethical to me.
Many of the laws in the countries above also state that you are jointly responsible for the emails sent, even if they are sent by a third party on your behalf (such as a lead generator). So that is not an excuse.
So, again, I ask:
Please can you tell me why your company thinks it’s ok to spam people, from random email accounts, to get business?
Is your company happy breaching multiple international laws?
And again I look forward to getting your answers.
Well, it’s been well over a week and I’ve not heard back from Rajiv. I guess that SAIntellect Solutions are yet more SEO spammers that don’t actually like to answer questions about why they spam people and break international laws…
I find it rather ironic that Rajiv claims that SAIntellect Solutions use ‘Google-verified tools only’ when they throw up many of the red flags about SEO companies which Google specifically warns about in their own ‘SEO Fundamentals’ for developers (such as emailing out of the blue saying sites are bad and ‘guaranteeing’ SEO rankings).
And of course, in their initial spam they said my site had ‘major errors’ and they’d show me ‘the number of broken links, pages that returned 4XX status code upon request, images with no ALT text, pages with no meta description tag, not having a unique meta description, having a too long title’. THEY DID NONE OF THESE!
Their Report & Recommendations
I’ve covered most of the report in my emails to Rajiv. Most of the ‘errors’ on the report were flat out WRONG. There were other things, which were classed as ‘errors’, such as not having a blog, which are nice things to have on a site, but are certainly not ‘vital’ for SEO or will harm your rankings.
And then there’s the fact that they missed very obvious things like that a site has NO HTML validation issues and that they seemingly pulled a random ‘keyword’ out of thin air which does make you also wonder about things…
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 main domain is at saintellectsolutions.com which was registered in October 2017. (The domain saintellectsolutions.in which Rajiv was using for his email, which in itself is a little odd, was registered in September 2021. If you go to the domain it forwards to the .com)
Their site has 52 HTML errors. Not a good start!
Using the WAVE Accessibility checking tool, this site has 65 errors and 47 contrast errors. More not very goodness…
Using the Google Lighthouse speed test tool the site gets:
Best Practices: 68
My Christmas site has 0 HTML or Accessibility errors and gets 100/100 for all four items on Lighthouse. So, hmmmmmm, yeah.
There’s no alt text on their logo – not a good start. (In fact they don’t actually seem to know what alt text is.)
They seem to love using justified text. Don’t do that on the web, it’s hard to read.
Rather more worryingly is that half of their main navigation is cut off on the top, so is very hard to read. This is because, for some bizarre reason, they’ve got a negative top margin on the navigation element. Why they’ve done this, I have no idea. And not to notice it, is even worse! (But I guess that also sort of explains the issues with missing things on the site report…)
The navigation comes back to normal if you scroll the page as it goes into ‘sticky header’ mode, where there’s no negative top margin…
But that’s the end of the issues with the navigation. If you hover over any of the items, a HUGE sub menu panel appears. The only way to close these panels is to click a closing ‘X’ on the top right. I’ve NEVER seen a navigation system like this before in my 20+ years of creating sites. It’s amazingly un-intuitive to use and it makes the site a total pain to use!
They make some claims on their home page including:
Web Development – Well-functioned website executes your all task in a few clicks and makes you feel relaxed. (Considering what we’ve seen from their home page so far, if they created my site, I would NOT be relaxed!)
Video Promotion – We produce promotional video content by implementing your core of the goals, animation technology, featured editing tactics within your time lapse to be appealing videos. (What does that sentence even mean!?!?!)
Web Hosting services – We are the leading company in providing reliable web hosting service to count on you for your betterment. (No they’re not! For their own hosting they’re using the services of a company which is part of EIG, a hosting conglomerate which has, shall we say, a ‘less than stellar’ reputation in the web world…)
On many of the pages on their site, there’s a ‘numbers’ panel. These numbers are:
10+ Years industry Experience – Does that mean that in total the staff have over year years experience? Or that they’ve been in business for over 10 years?!
Their .com was registered in October 2017 – that’s a bit less than 6 years ago… AND Indian business registration records show the company being incorporated in July 2018 – so just over 5 years ago!
90+ Experienced Staff – Right, if the above about ‘experience’ is the first option, it means that, on average, individually their staff have about 12 months experience each!
1000+ Happy Clients – So the company is just over years old. At the time of writing it’s about 1860 days. So they’ve had at least one new client every 1.8 days they’ve been in business. That seems ‘unlikely’.
500+ Website Launched – Erm, they’ve had/got over 1000 ‘happy clients’ yet they’ve only launched sites for half of them. WHAT?! THAT MAKES NO SENSE.
So yeah, hmmmmmm.
On the contact page it lists FIVE addresses! The ‘Head Office’ in Bhubaneswar (the home of many an SEO spammer) and then four ‘Branch Offices’ around the world. Only I very much doubt that ANY work has EVER been done in these ‘branch offices’ because…
One is in London. Looking up the address, it’s for a very normal house in a very suburban area of south London. It’s a front address. No work will be done here. However, that’s not the end of the interesting things about this address. A Google of the address turns it up the address of a director of companies on the UK’s legal company directory (called Companies House). This individual is a Ghanaian (which becomes relevant below!) and I can also see the three companies they are/have been a director. One is a removals company (now dissolved), one is a second hand car company (I think! but it’s now dissolved) and I can’t find out what the other company does as it’s got a very generic name and seems to have zero web presence. What I can tell, from the recently submitted accounts, is that it’s really not doing much business!
(On the SAIntellect Solutions site there’s also a ‘Web Design Company UK’ page. I’m in the UK. They are not! The page tells you NOTHING about them being located in the UK. It’s just marketing waffle, like the rest of their site…)
Next is an address in Singapore. Only it’s for a shopping centre, which is now closed…
Then there’s an address in Australia. In fact it’s an industrial estate on the very outskirts of Sydney. There are several businesses in this estate. They include a place that makes decorative glass and trophies, a place that sells air conditioning, and an auto repair shop. But there’s no sign of any SEO or computer/technology company…
And the last one is in… Ghana! (I said it would be relevant!) But it’s for a very normal house on the outskirts of Accra. What are the chances that this address has some connection to the owner of the address in London?
So as I said above, I am pretty sure that only the address in Bhubaneswar is legit and where any work actually happens.
Also, under the address in Ghana is an email address using the domain saisdigitalhub.in. There’s no site on this domain and a Google shows that it’s also been used as the domain when SAIntellect Solutions are recruiting staff.
The Bhubaneswar, London and Singapore addresses are also on their LinkedIn Profile.
SAIntellect Solutions are SEO spammers.
They send out spam from random Gmail accounts and use a common SEO spam template with a misleading/scare tactic subject.
Their report is full of errors and when challenged they admit to some of this.
But they also refuse to answer basic questions, preferring marketing speak.
Their own site is full of basic HTML errors and accessibility issues and they seem to use ‘not very real’ addresses to make their company look bigger than it is.
So if you get an email from SAIntellect Solutions, the delete button might well be the best option.
But, as ever, the choice is yours…