How Spam Killed SEO… And What To Do About It


I was recently reading Peter Thiel’s book, Zero To One.

Peter explains that to create a truly thriving business, you need to create a monopoly.

To do this your products/services need to be 10x better than your competition, basically eliminating the competition.

Competition isn’t good for business, and he argues it’s not good for consumers as it hinders innovation.

Google is a monopoly. They mask themselves as a technology company, but as a search engine they hold 85.71% market share in the UK.

There’s another word for that, monopoly.

While selling SEO services is far from revolutionary. And we’re probably not 10x better than each other, the point still remains that competition kills.

Take a look at these emails I received recently…

From: Monalisha Mishra <>
Subject: SEO Service $99 per month

Message Body:
HI Sir/Madam Can you outsource some SEO business to us? We will work according to you and your clients and for a long term relationship we can start our SEO services in only $99 per month per website. Looking forward for your positive reply Thanks & Regards Monalisha Contact :9211469086 PS: Humble request we are not spammers. We take hours to research on sites and keywords to contact webmasters. If by sending this email we have made an offense to you or to your organization then we extremely apologize for the same. In order to stop receiving such emails from us in future please reply with “Remove or Not Interested” as subject line. Many thanks for having your kind look to our email.

This company will sell us SEO for only $99 per month!

From: seo plugin <>
Subject: [your-subject]

Message Body:
Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post, also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So what is good On-Page SEO?First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image
with an alt tag that has your keyword….wait there’s even more Now what if i told you there was a simple WordPress plugin that does all the On-Page SEO, and automatically for you? That’s right AUTOMATICALLY, just watch this 4minute video for more information at.

These guys are using technical terms to confuse people into thinking they’re being helpful, then promote a done for you plugin! “Fully automatic.” So easy.

From: Kevin Raja <>
Subject: Hello!

Message Body:
Dear owner of

I am contacting you because our agency specializes in ranking websites on the 1st page of GOOGLE UK.

I came across and feel that you could be interested in listing your site on UK directories, blogs and other sites in order to give it a boost in Google UK. Indeed, the more sites linking back to you, the higher you will rank in Google (This is called a backlink).

Today, for ONLY 29 pounds (instead of 99 pounds), we can list on :

– 41 Local UK directory submissions or high pr uk Citations
– 200 blog mentions on UK blog domains only (FROM AUTO APPROVE BLOGS)
– 22 UK high PageRank social bookmarking (Get your position higher with awesome UK Authority social bookmarking backlinks)
+ Many awesome Freebies

All of this for ONLY GBP29 instead of 99 pounds. (We have 50 packs left only)

Feel free to reply to this message if you have any question, or you can directly purchase our package here:


Do you currently have anyone in charge of promoting your site on the web? Are you satisfied with the results? If NOT, we can help you! We also offer many other services at unbeatable prices (video creation and distribution, flyer design, Search engine optimization, press release distribution and so on…)

Looking forward to your reply!
Best regards,

Kev Radjagopol

For only £29 (that’s £70 off!), they will get all of these links for us which we’re told will help us rank.

Dear Web Owner,

Want more clients and customers?

Are you looking to get SEO done on your website “”?

Want to see your website on Top of the 1st page of Google or other major search engine?

Want targeted visitors and more Business from your website?

If yes, please let us know your website which you want to optimize.

We will analysis your website for free and send a free analysis report along with full SEO proposal that would not only improve sales of your company but also brand your products.

Kindly revert back with your requirement if you are interested.

Wishing you a wonderful day & week ahead!

Thanks & Regards


SEO Expert

Lisa, the SEO expert, is offering to get us “top of the 1st page”. So exciting.

I’m sure, like me, you’re regularly inundated with emails like the above.

So in a world where everyone and their dog is selling SEO, how do you stand out?

Well, I showed the emails above to make a second point also…

How Not To Advertise SEO

Let’s make something clear, your prospect does not care about SEO.

This is important.

When trying to sell anything you need to know why people buy your product.

You uncover the personal reason they’re buying on the qualification call, but here are some examples to explain:

  • They’re looking to expand into a new target area and need marketing to do so
  • The owner wants more time off of work to spend with his family, and needs to hire more people to do so
  • They want to be more selective over the clients they’re taking on
  • They want to multiply their revenues
  • They want to automate their marketing with an inbound approach

To put it in simple terms, whenever someone buys SEO they’re buying an increase in revenue.

They don’t care what you call it, all they care about is results.

When you look at the above examples, they’re all pitching the same thing, SEO or top rankings in Google.

And it simply isn’t an effective pitch in 2016.

If you want to know how not to advertise your SEO services, check your inbox. Do exactly as them. But if you want to stand out and actually get results, keep reading…

Understanding Market Sophistication

One of the best marketing books I’ve read is by a guy named Eugene Schwartz.

This guy is a legend in the copywriting world. He was once paid $54,000 for four hours work. This was between the 50s-60s, over $1,000,000 in todays money.

An example of how much money can be made if you achieve mastery in a skill that is valuable to people.


Anyway, back in 1966, Gene published a book named Breakthrough Advertising.

(A MUST read for anyone in the business of marketing)

One of many great lessons in that book is the idea of market sophistication.

Gene showed that prospects evolve after being exposed to marketing, and as a result, the marketing has to cycle through 5 stages of market sophistication to stand out from the competition and get the attention of the marketplace.

Take banner blindness as an example, it’s been proven through hotspot technology that 86% of consumers ignore banner advertisements on websites. They don’t even acknowledge them.

These days companies are in love with native ads. Advertisements that look like real content on the website such as sponsored posts on a blog, or newsfeed ads within Facebook.

Advertisers are evolving to suit the increased sophistication of the marketplace.

Most SEO’s on the other hand, are still attempting to sell “top Google rankings”, completely unaware that they’re trying to sell ice to eskimos.

To explain what you should be doing, you need to understand…

The 5 Stages Of Market Sophistication

In total there are 5 stages. All markets start at stage 1, even SEO, and eventually end at stage 5. There is no going backwards, once a market has evolved it’s permanent. Once at stage 5, they remain at stage 5 or the market splits itself into separate markets and starts over.

Let’s go through these 5 stages:

1. Blue Ocean

If you’ve never read The Blue Ocean Strategy, a blue ocean is an untouched market. A free marketplace where you can describe what you do and it’s enough.

You could sell SEO by simply offering businesses to get them found online.

beer-stage-1This worked at a time when that was a unique offer. That used to mean something. Today, it’s a terrible pitch, as a result of an evolved market sophistication.

Take a look at this old advertisement for a beer company. There was no push about why their beer was better, it didn’t matter. All companies had to do was show they sold beer. That’s all that was needed back then.

When everyone advertised this way though, the market becomes used to it, and then companies have to shift to stage 2 for continued marketing success.

2. Claims

Suddenly every company is offering to get you found online, it’s not enough to say that anymore.

At this point marketing becomes about a unique claim. You won’t just get them found online, you’ll get them first page on Google. Or even top.

This is the state of most marketing in our industry now. Look at the emails above, everyone is selling “top in Google”.

The same happens in all industries. It was no longer feasible to advertise “we have beer”, people wanted to know why your beer was better than everyone else’s.

This began the stage of features. Our beer is “lite”, or even “good for babies” – apparently.


Once again, the market will evolve to this stage of marketing and marketers need some unique to stand out again. This leads to stage 3.

3. Unique Modifier

When everyone is advertising “get top on Google”, how do you stand out?

You add a unique modifier.

A unique modifier shows why or how your products/services are different to everyone else’s.

Saying you’ll get them top isn’t enough, you need to show them how. For me that’s publicising my use of private blog networks.

I never name it that because then it becomes “a thing”, rather than our unique strategy. But teaching them how the search engine works and then showing them our unique strategy for getting them ranked gives them an understanding of why we’re better than everyone else.

While everyone else is being vague and stating they’ll get you top, maybe even vaguely mentioning backlinks. I’m showing them how the algorithm works and how we systematically game it to get them rankings.

As before, this isn’t limited to the SEO industry. Going back to our previous examples of beer, now they’re advertising “easier to open cans”, “smoother pouring cans”, and whatever else they can think of.

(This is the prime stage you should be focusing your SEO services marketing efforts on)

But after this comes stage 4.

4. Faster, Cheaper, More Convenient

This stage is entirely about beating the competition.

Everyone is copying your unique modifiers, now you go crazy with the features to crush your competition.

Mac vs PC is a famous example of this stage, their advertisements were basically “here is why we are better”.

Another example is the ridiculousness of Gillette ads. They list feature after feature. The purpose is to destroy the competition, and clearly it’s working for them with over 60% market share in the US retail market.


We definitely don’t want to be cheaper or faster with our services, but we can definitely pile on the features. I’d argue this moves past only offering SEO and providing services like conversion rate optimisation, list building, autoresponder campaign creation, retargeting, etc.

Finally, we move onto the last stage…

5. Emotional Marketing

At this stage the market has seen everything. Ads full of features, unique modifiers, the whole lot. They’re jaded from all the advertising.

At this point it becomes about the brands and emotions.

Now your brand becomes more of a cult, an identity. It means something to be using it.

Apple is a prime example of this level today. I’d know as the owner of a Macbook Air, iPhone 6s, and iPad mini.

Most big widely recognised brands are advertising to this stage today, that’s why you don’t see them listing endless features. It’s supposed to be cool and emotional, you identify yourself as a user of their brand.

Applying market sophistication to your SEO agency

Look at the emails above again, the SEO industry is consistently advertising to a stage 2 market.


“Want to see your website on Top of the 1st page of Google”

But the market isn’t stage 2 anymore. These spammy emails made sure of that. Our marketplace has evolved to stage 3.

This means if you want to run a successful agency in 2016, you need to create advertising for a stage 3 market.

To achieve this, add a unique modifier.

How do you do this?

For most readers, you can steal mine and walkthrough your usage of Private Blog Networks. If you’re whitehat or offer different services, think about your process and how it differs from everyone else, there must be something. You don’t have to be the only one doing it, you just have to be the only one advertising you do it.

The shift in your advertising

This thinking should influence your advertising and sales. But to help you utilise this properly, let me show a few examples of how to adjust your advertising messages now that you understand this.

Cold emailing

I’ve got some training coming out shortly on cold emailing, make sure you’re on the Agency Immersion early bird list to get notified about it.

The first thing to know if you want to improve your cold emailing is to drop the first page talk. It’s overused to death.

What you want to show them is a strategy for HOW they can increase the enquiries (therefore revenue) from their website.

I’d advise doing this over a highly relevant email created individually for each business you contact.

These videos follow a simple outline:

1. Highlight the problem

They have a problem, that’s why they need your services. We’ll start by highlighting the problem and explaining the missed opportunities.

This is more than just “I Google’d your services and you weren’t top”, actually explain to them so reasons why they are not top.

2. Show the solution

Change this title tag to include X, match the power of backlinks your competitors have, whatever it is you cover – explain the fix.

This makes you stand out from just hawking “first page results”, you’re showing them why they’re not top, then actually giving them real solutions to help fix it.

3. Value based offer

“I hope this provides enough insight to start getting those additional enquiries currently going to your competitors. But I’ve got one more thing to help you out, would you be interested in a free strategy session call to map out these solutions and turn it into a plan you can utilise?

We already know what your competitors are doing differently, how many backlinks you need, and so on… So I’d love to take a few minutes to help you come up with a strategy to put this altogether and get more enquiries from your existing website.

There’s absolutely no obligation from you, and this is free of charge. I’d just like to show you it, and if you like it enough, maybe you’ll be interested in having my team implement it for you, but that’s entirely your choice. Just choose a time and date below and we’ll schedule in this chat, it’s free with no obligation and I’m confident you’ll get a lot out of it”

Notice how we’re not even attempting to sell our services? The only purpose is to bring them into our sales process.

This whole process treats them completely differently to traditional marketing of SEO services.

We’re showing them real issues preventing them from ranking, then providing them with the actual solutions they can do for themselves. Finally, we make an offer that is even more value.

Forum marketing

Forums are a brilliant way of bringing in new clients when done correctly. The problem is that most people think like spammers, not relationship marketers.

Most peoples approach…

  1. Join the forum
  2. Post message offering to get people page 1 on Google
  3. Wait

While you may receive leads from this, you’ll quickly be labeled as a spammer and ruin your future chances in the forum.

The most effective approach would be…

  1. Join the forum
  2. Respond to marketing threads with useful posts
  3. Create threads sharing common problems (with solutions) that these business owners will run into with their marketing
  4. Repeat, make connections, and wait

While the latter approach takes significantly longer to see results, it builds a relationship with your ideal clients, so they know, like and trust you.

Cold Calling

As with cold emailing, businesses are fed up with offers to get them on page 1 of Google.

Some misleading companies go as far as to pretend they’re calling from Google.

To differentiate yourself from this approach of selling from the first call, you need a low commitment offer that provides value and educates your market, therefore making you unique.

Here’s a couple examples:

  • Free report
  • Free webinar

Notice we’re not promoting a free consultation call, or any type of 1-on-1 call for that matter. That’s a lot of commitment. This approach turns them into a lead that we can later sell to, and it validates that they’re interested in our services.

Once they receive this report or attend the webinar, it instantly differentiates you from others. You’re positioned as an expert because you’re teaching, and you’re showing them the how behind what you do, appealing perfectly to a stage 3 market.


I could go on all day with examples for different mediums, but the main things you need to understand which can be applied to any is that…

  • Increased revenue matters, SEO is a method of achieving that
  • Offering to get people ‘Page 1’ or ‘Top’ is an ineffective pitch in 2016
  • You should inform and teach your prospects by showing them how you deliver results

If you want to sell SEO in 2016, you need to stand out and this is a core understanding to doing so.

This is only the beginning though, I’ll be covering more detail in the Immersion free video series, coming out shortly. Make sure you’re on the early bird list and I’ll send you the details soon.

We’ve been covering a lot on business strategy recently, rather than only SEO. If you enjoyed this training, please leave a comment below so I know to create more like it.


About Daryl Rosser

Daryl runs a six figure SEO business primarily focusing on local clients. He's extremely analytical, and his favourite ranking strategy is using PBN's.

19 Responses to “How Spam Killed SEO… And What To Do About It”

  • Cem  February 16, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    You have a great reading taste.

    What’d happen if we target stage 5, while the market is still on stage 3? It provides great competitive advantage in the near future I think.


    • Daryl Rosser  February 16, 2016 at 3:32 pm

      Thanks Cem. I’d say it’s more that I read so much that some inevitably have to be good, lol.

      The way the market shifts to the next stage is because someone decides they need to shift to continue getting or get more results from their advertising. So it makes sense to skip to the next stage up, but skipping too many can be too much of a jump to have full effectiveness.

      As for stage 5, I’m not even sure how you would do that for an SEO agency.

    • Sam Romain  February 16, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      We should always be targeting #5 because the brand of your operation is the operations biggest asset.

  • sar  February 16, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Where can I get Breakthrough Advertising ? Haven’t saw it on Amazon ..

  • Laurie  February 16, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Aren’t we pretty much at Stage 4, isn’t the Gillette ad really just a glorified infograph? Another problem with all this spam marketing is managing client expectations. I have (and probably everyone) had clients expecting to be on page 1 in three days for terms like “Manhattan locksmith”, trying to explain to them that in no universe will that ever happen much less for $99/month is just another unpleasant part of all that spam.

    • Daryl Rosser  March 28, 2016 at 7:01 am

      I wouldn’t really say infographics are the same thing, most are solely focused on an industry, not trying to “crush” competition by showing why a business is better.

      Yeah, the client expectations is a big problem. Ultimately you just have to make them trust you, and trust that you’re an expert, and be very clear from the beginning how long it will take to deliver results.

  • Sara  February 16, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Daryl – great post! I was having the conversation only today about how hard it is to get people to see the value of SEO, and that the fact that you can get them to the ‘top’ doesn’t really mean anything to them, so this post is perfectly timed!
    I do have a question: when you’re making your value based offer above, I presume you’re offering them a proposal call?

    • Daryl Rosser  March 28, 2016 at 7:03 am

      Thanks Sara.

      Value based offer is usually a qualification call, but made to sound a little better, like a “strategy session”. Then we just talk business, I learn more about their business, ask lots of questions, give them little bits of advice as we’re going through it, then offer them a proposal to map out a full plan of what they should be doing.

  • Karun  February 21, 2016 at 1:58 pm


    Do agree with you, people just don’t buy off the old school marketing. You have to add a unique modifier and show them a reason to be with your agency.

    Waiting for that series of yours. !!

    • Daryl Rosser  March 28, 2016 at 7:03 am

      Glad you agree, Karun 🙂

  • Robin Keth  March 31, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    Hey Daryl, I recently purchased a domain (for learning purposes only and to do experiments on it), I started to spam it manually by blog commenting on blogs having high MOZ DA. After few months it is ranking on the second position of the first page of google on its main keyword. Does it has chances to penalize in future? It has about 3.03k live backlinks from 157 domains in ahrefs. Can we say, It is not stupid if it works.

    • Daryl Rosser  April 12, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Lol nice man. Yeah it probably won’t last a long time, but if it’s working now who cares. Just setup more if you’re making good money from it, rank for the same keywords.

      • Robin Keth  July 17, 2016 at 7:02 pm

        Well it got penalized within four months but that bad boy gave me good amount when it was alive. 🙂

  • Bruce Jones  September 28, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    I get so many of these emails myself and found this on a search, great topic!

  • Rob Stephens  March 15, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    Hey Daryl, Really enjoyed reading this post and the historic examples you gave to illustrate your points. One of the most interesting and well-structured posts I’ve read in a while. I’ve ordered a copy of Breakthrough Advertising.

    • Daryl Rosser  March 16, 2017 at 8:51 am

      Cheers Rob. It’s a must-read book for marketers, enjoy!