Top 10 Internet Marketing Scams

I’m getting so sick of honest people getting ripped off, that I thought I’d write a post on some of the most common internet marketing scams out there.

1. “We’ll Submit Your Website to Hundreds of Search Engines!” – Bad idea. This is one of the worst internet marketing scams. First of all, there are 4 primary search engines that handle about 95% of all internet searches, so submitting to anything other than the primary 4 is pretty much useless. Second of all, search engines don’t like submissions. There is alot of documentation to prove this. SE’s simply like to find websites on their own through incoming links to the site. In fact, they have gotten so good at it, that it doesn’t take weeks or months for a site to get indexed anymore. If there are incoming authority links to the site, it can be indexed in a matter of days.

The last issue has to do with the fact that many of these services mention as a selling point that they will re-submit your site weekly or monthly to the search engines. This is definitely a no no, and is actually completely pointless. If the search engine already knows you exist, there is no point to telling them over and over.

2. “Get #1 Ranking in Google!” – Of course this isn’t a bad thing… but wait, read the fine print. Do you get to choose your own keyword? I doubt it. No competent SEO consultant is going to guarantee a #1 ranking for a set price for any keyword you choose.

All keywords are not created equal. The likely scam of companies that advertise top ranking on search engines is ranking you for uncompetitive keywords. These are keywords that might look good, but in reality don’t get traffic, and are very easy to rank well in based on a lack of competition. Beware of unreasonable guarantees… If it sounds too good to be true, IT IS.

3. “Get 2,000 Backlinks for only $39.95! This is a scary offer. Too many unknowns. The sad thing is that this will probably hurt your search engine ranking, and not help it. The only way someone could offer this many backlinks is through spammy link sites and/or crappy directories. Or, they may happen to own a few large sites that can offer the links. Either way, I guarantee you that #1. the links won’t be relevant #2. the pages will be of extremely low quality #3. your ranking will not improve.

4. “We Will Submit Your Website to Over 1,000 Directories!” — Wow! Really?! That’s amazing! How do you do that? The answer is simple… There really are thousands of free directories out there, but the question is, do you want your site to be included on all of them? The answer is a very resounding: NO. Yes, of course there are plenty of free and paid directories out there that are worth getting listed on like DMOZ and BOTW, and there are even services that you can pay to manually submit your website to legitimate directories like: Best Web Directories Submission Service. But, you have to be very careful. Many of these scams will submit your site to automated link farms that can really hurt your ranking. Make sure you have a full list of directories in your hand before submission.

5. Link Exchange Programs (reciprocal linking) – Many of you already know that I have been very vocal in the last few months regarding reciprocal links. You can read a couple of my articles here, here, and here. Link exchange programs can be considered a scam because the companies that push them are either lying, or are ignorant about what they are selling. Why would you pay for something that doesn’t work?

Here is an excerpt from another post that gives a few reasons why it doesn’t work:

{insert screenshot of tips here}

6. Banner Exchange Programs — These are all but dead, but they are worth noting because there are many newb’s that still waste their time with these. Bottom line: they pull visitors away from your site, you never know what types of sites will be linking to you (this could be potentially dangerous), the conversion rates are horrible, most banner exchange sites have been proven to cheat customers out of links, and finally i submit that banner ads themselves are dead. I mean, who wants to look at a website with banner ads everywhere?? (this topic deserves another article… stay tuned)

7. “Send An Email Ad to 10,000 Opt-In Subscribers” — Can you say illegal? Most of the scams already mentioned probably won’t get you or the company advertising them prison time. But this one could. Check out this very sketchy ad:


Since the Can-Spam Act most people have wised up to this scam. It’s obvious that spamming people is a dangerous endeavor. Although it is still a huge industry, and there are many that simply beat the system, most would agree that it isn’t in line with “best business” practices. The above offer has problems written all over it. Are the emails really opt-in? What if they aren’t, are you willing to take full liability?

Not only is it a bad idea from a legal perspective, but from a business perspective as well. Why would you even consider sending an email to a group of people that you don’t know anything about? What are their interests? What are their email habits? What is the open and click rate?

If you are really interested in starting an email campaign, start one yourself. That way, you will know for sure that they are opt-in, and you will be able to manage the results. (This is another article for the to do list…)

8. “We Guarantee Top Search Engine Results Through Professional Meta Tag Optimization!” – Admittedly, this is an older sales technique that isn’t used as much anymore, but it is still pretty common. This sales tactic plays on people’s ignorance about search engine optimization. Some poor schmo may have heard the term “meta tag” in some old poorly written marketing article, and thinks that it is the key to success. Sometimes the cost is outrageous. I’ve seen offers like this that range from $200-$3,000. It’s just ridiculous how much someone would charge for 20 minutes of work, and sad that many people have been duped by this scam.

9. Boosting a Website’s Rankings Through Black Hat Techniques – This is a touchy issue. But the bottom line is that “Black Hat SEO” uses techniques that try to trick search engines into better ranking. There are hundreds of techniques involved, but some of the more well known are doorway, gateway and mirror pages, redirects, cloaking, invisible pages… the list goes on and on. I obviously don’t suggest any of the above, or any other “secret” way to trick a search engine into better ranking. And believe it or not, there are actually SEO firms that will perform services like this for you. Just watch out, you could easily get banned. Find out for sure if your SEO company is dedicated to White Hat techniques.

10. “Dear Sir, I’m Atumbo Olowimbe. I request your assistance for the sum of $49,000,000″ – Does this sound familiar? Ok, I know. It doesn’t have to do with internet marketing. But it is still a scam that has cost people hundreds of thousands of dollars. In case you’re not savvy, this is the beginning of a scam email that has been going around in different forms for years. The only reason I’m mentioning it is because I find it to be utterly ridiculous, and thought it would be a fun finale.

Here is a great video that shows a presentation by ZeFrank with a parody of one of these letters.


  1. says

    That video had me rolling! I get emails like this every day. It is so sad that so many people fall for this and are out so much $$.
    I am a firm believer that WE need to be in charge of our OWN website health. We need to actively work on the SEO and only hire White Hat SEO Companies …

  2. says

    Justin I love this post and am glad I linked through from AR to find this great Christian real estate blog. Now I’ll have some educated responses for the daily telemarketers before I politely end the conversation. Thanks!

  3. says

    Excellent article, but you’ve got a bug in item (4): “…there that are worth getting listed on like DMOZ and BOTW…” — your BOTW link goes to, which is Bank of the West.

  4. Carole Sanek says

    We think we have been ripped off by a real estate guru who came in and gave a whiz bang seminar, we signed up for his co to put our web page together complete with newsletters and drip email campaigns and all of a sudden he has disappeared off the face of the earth as in we cannot reach him he does not reply to emails and his fax is disabled. We have 5 phone numbers for him some answer some are disconnected. We paid $349 and right now are having our cc company debit him back he is alive and well and still promoting his internet domination series – have you had any other complaints about this possible scam? And by the way where do you go to complain? Thanks

  5. says

    I’m so sorry to hear that. You’d have to give me the guy’s name and website in order for me to see if I’ve heard of him or not. You can email me it if you want.

    … I’m not sure where you can complain actually… that would be a great blog post if you could figure it out, because so many people have been taken advantage of online. I could give you all the usual sources: BBB, fraud Dept.’s etc… but I’m sure anything would come of it.

  6. says

    as a beginer in SEO its hard not to fall for some of the scams out there. the promises are just so good. number1 placement on google, 200 search engine submissions, the list goes on and on. there is only one thing that will get you good search engine rankings..

    if i knew what that was i’d be a wealthy man!!

  7. says

    The internet is full of misleading information. It is really sad but many new startup’s have trouble navigating through all the information the internet dangles in thier face. The best ay is to buy a good old fashion book or find thruth in consistency.

  8. says

    I am glad my son pointed to this site. I wish I had read it a year ago. I may just be one of many who were hooked on a promise of having a website developed for a price. Being a novice in the internet business, and having no experience in website building, I chose to go along. Now the site is on the web, but I had no hits to in 3 moths. Now I have to learn how to do the marketing myself.
    Thanks for the tips!

  9. says

    There is a website there with my member ID but how do I access the site to put things on it without files. When I write emails, I get the stock answer letter but no answers to my quesions. The phone numbers have no one at the other end, and the emails I get give me different login ID’s and PW’s This is supposed to be a site where you get paid for advertising each time someone down;oads free music and videos. “thephonewiz is its name. For the money you are supposed to have a portal. I suspect I have been taken???Right?

  10. rick says

    Stay away from first they let you pay for the directory submission and then tell you your site is not good enough to get listed. Sure BOTW has a high pagerank for an old directory but avarage sites will not get a listing. Because Botw does not offer somekind of payback I think for almost $300 this IS an internet scam you should be aware of. How long does it take to evaluate a site for content 5 minutes tops ? that is easy money. Well now I have a dent in my budget and have not accomplished anything besided waisting some time and money. This will be a bad experience I will never forget. Besides that the worst thing you can do is pay the fee per credticard because I am not sure if Paypal can mediate to get your money back. To end my story I would not advice anyone to submit a site to unless you think your website rocks for both high unique content and navigation.

  11. kara says

    has anyone tried How do I know if this is real? I couldn’t find any scams about this. please do advise me.

  12. joe says

    Gawd why do people fall for this , i actually know one of these money grabbing marketers he must have ripped so many people off , it makes me sick !!!!!

  13. says

    Busy watching the video but it keeps getting stuck at the same point. So thought I would write a comment while I am waiting for it to download on youtube. it amazes me how many scams actually dupe people. In this day and age when scams are so common people still fall for them. We often get emails from our bank reminding us they will never ask for the whole of our password and security details. Yet people still give it out in email without first checking… keep up the work at making people aware of the scams. Hopefully less people will be conned.


  1. [...] “Send An Email Ad to 10,000 Opt-in Subscribers”: Number 7 on the “Top 10 Internet Marketing Scams” list from the Real Estate Marketing Tools blog involves a scam that tries to convince innocent people to engage in illegal marketing tactics by sending advertisements to allegedly opt-in e-mail clients. Instead of falling for one of these scams, the author advises readers to start an e-mail campaign themselves, because “that way, you will know for sure that they are opt-in, and you will be able to manage the results.” [...]

  2. [...] “Send An Email Ad to 10,000 Opt-in Subscribers”: Number 7 on the “Top 10 Internet Marketing Scams” list from the Real Estate Marketing Tools blog involves a scam that tries to convince innocent people to engage in illegal marketing tactics by sending advertisements to allegedly opt-in e-mail clients. Instead of falling for one of these scams, the author advises readers to start an e-mail campaign themselves, because “that way, you will know for sure that they are opt-in, and you will be able to manage the results.” [...]