Beware of these web design scams!
Having been in the web design business for so many years, we have seen a lot of questionable business practices in web design and web hosting. Here are a few examples of very common schemes:
Search Engine Optimization Schemes
You have a web site, and you get a call or e-mail from someone who “happened to notice” that your web site is ranked really low on Google. Of course, they can fix this for you for a small fee. Pretty soon, they are using all kinds of schemes, and they are asking for much more money than they originally proposed. Some of these schemes include repeating key search terms (keywords or keyphrases) over and over, and attempting to hide this from Google, setting up page after page of almost identical content, and creating numerous web sites to link to your site. Fortunately for the rest of us, Google is not that stupid. These schemes will likely work really well for a short time, until Google catches it and bans the site entirely.
We have actually helped numerous customers to drastically improve their placement on Google, without resorting to unscrupulous schemes. The wording in your site needs to contain your keywords and keyphrases more than once, but the wording needs to be natural and out in the open. Of course, putting “meta” tags into the code of your pages that contain the keywords and keyphrases is fine, too, as long as it is not overdone. The point is to have someone trustworthy and competent to help you with your search engine efforts, not someone who sends out identical batch e-mails to everyone they can find.
Large payment up front
Unfortunately, every trade has scammers who will take your money and never be seen again. Beware of any web design firm that wants more than one third of the cost of the design before work begins. A typical arrangement is 1/3 up front, 1/3 when the customer can see enough to know that this is what they really wanted, and the final third when the project is completed.
Hijacking your site
Stick with someone local if possible. Some web design firms from foreign countries will get access to your site under the pretense of setting things up, then load your site with malware and change the password, locking your out until you pay them a ransom. If this happens, your web host should be able to help you rectify things, but proving that you are the rightful owner can be a hassle.
Have you ever been scammed by your web designer?
If so, please use the comment box below to share your horror story with us and the world. There are some truly creative crooks out there, posing as website designers!