Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys: A Story of Caution for your Business

Drawing of a monkey in a forest

Value isn’t always measured by price but price can be a big factor in determining who should have your business and a deal that may be too good to be true. 

Its not uncommon to meet a new client and hear a horror story about their past Web Design company or a company that had handled their marketing. A common complaint is a lack of transparency, bad pricing, no control and just a general feeling that the client didn’t receive any value from the services they purchased

Value is big. If you are the client, you want to feel like you got the most bang for your buck. As a business, you want your clients to feel like they got a great deal, and be happy with your service. This is a pretty big simplification in the whole thought process but it helps frame our story.

Years ago, we inherited a client who had a fairly outdated website that needed a redesign. It was an interesting project as they had 3 separate websites that were to be combined into one single website. Each website had a different position in Google so we had to be mindful of best practices, and how to ensure no significant ranking was lost. 

Fast forward to a few week’s later and the website is completed. It looks great, the client is happy and it’s time to get it online. The website is launched and Google is responding quickly. The old websites are forwarding the traffic to new landing pages, the search rankings are up and all the metrics are looking great.

With any project similar to this, we always suggest having on-going SEO marketing. Our website builds usually consist of two components: A single one-time charge for building your website that includes SEO optimization of your website, and a optional monthly marketing budget for on-going SEO or social media. The monthly marketing budget is not always suitable for some clients since they don’t always need on-going SEO. These clients might not need more leads for search engines, they may already be ranking #1 on Google, or their website could just be there for information.

This client in particular wanted to wait to see how the new rankings looked before signing onto any monthly commitment and that’s okay. Its usually the recommended method so we know what adjustments we need to make. 

Since Covid-19 started, we’ve seen a big increase in spam emails including those that will email through a contact form advising the client that their website doesn’t rank well, or isn’t mobile friendly. These are all spam emails, and usually sent by a scammer in India, or Pakistan. Here’s an example of one email that is generally copy and pasted for each website:

“You have a good design and it looks great. But, it’s not ranking on Google and other major search engine. I’m a SEO Expert. I can move you up in the rankings.”

With your permission I would like to send you a SEO report with prices showing you a few things to greatly improve these search results for you. These things are not difficult, and my report will be very specific. It will show you exactly what needs to be done to move you up in the rankings dramatically.

If you are interested then please let me know. I will send to you our SEO Report, Prices and Packages.”

These emails will usually come from a stolen hotmail, or outlook address and any links on the emails are usually from a stolen / hacked website. In the past we have emailed the webmaster of these domains to notify them their website has been hacked and helped them clean up any of these links.

In this story, our client fell for one of these emails and “the agency from Pakistan” redeveloped her website. Fast forward a few week’s later and we receive an email from our client wondering why Google has suddenly dropped their rankings and they doesn’t seem to be getting any leads. 

We open up our Reports and Google is reporting thousands of spam links coming from this “new” website. The website has hidden text that includes backlinks to casino websites, viagra websites, CBD oil websites. Additionally the website hosting space had been compromised to ensure even if the links are moved the website could easily be infected again. 

We notified the client immediately and began a massive cleanup plan. We removed all the links, hidden text, secured the website, added a new hosting service and triple checked every inch of the website. We notified Google of the spam links for removal. A few days later we started to see some improvement. 

But the problem still remained – the client wanted even more SEO results but didn’t have the budget. We get it, Covid-19 has reduced most businesses budgets for marketing and its hard to see the value in any marketing if you’ve just had your website hacked by what you thought was a good marketing company.

We didn’t charge for the cleanup, and we provided a reduced rate to help boost Search engine rankings but it was outside of the budget.

The client proceeded to hire a SEO specialist from Fiverr. For those unfamiliar with Fiver, its a service where you can hire someone starting at $5. Once the new “SEO Specialist from Fiverr” took control guess what happened? Another hacked website, another long list of backlinks to websites and another big hit to Search Engine ranking with Google.  The “SEO Specialist” even admitted to adding the spam backlinks when confronted and tried to convince the client it was a good strategy with Google (Trust us, it is not)

As my SEO co-worker always says Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys. In this case, the client got taken advantage of by two online marketing companies that destroyed their website and the domain. It will take weeks & months to get the rankings back to how they were years ago. 

If you hire a SEO specialist, do your research. If possible, go local and don’t hire anyone for SEO off Fiver


368 Durham is a Website Design Company in Oshawa, Ontario. Our experts have years of experience in Website Design, Social Media Management and Search Engine Optimization. If you are looking for a Web Designer Oshawacontact us today!



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