SEO Truths: Refuting FUD Sent by Unscrupulous SEO Competitors

From Wikipedia:

FUD (Fear, uncertainty, and doubt)

Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) is a manipulative propaganda tactic used in sales, marketing, public relations, politics, polling, and cults. It is generally a strategy to influence perception by disseminating negative, dubious, or false information and manifests as an appeal to fear.

The digital marketing space is highly competitive, and players are always trying to find new ways to garner new clients. This is particularly true of agencies that view clients simply as revenue streams. It isn’t uncommon for companies that have engaged a digital agency to receive spammy, FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt)- driven critiques of their site designed to generate anxiety and torpedo confidence in their agency.

One particularly pernicious version of these critiques comes in emails sent to company stakeholders that list line after line of problems with a company’s site. These messages are designed to undermine confidence in the agency of record. Usually, these lists are nothing more than data dumps from standard SEO auditing tools; they are slanted to imply failures in how a site is being run. Check out this example:


In this post, we’ll address common fear-driven marketing tactics by unscrupulous agencies and advise you on how to protect yourself from unneeded anxiety about the quality of your site. Let’s get to refuting FUD by bad actors.

Using FUD in Reporting: Misusing the Word “Optimization”

We’ve seen examples of these emails/messages that often prominently feature misleading phrases that include the words “optimized” or “optimization.”


“Title tag optimizations are missing” or “optimized keyword is missing.”

Since there hasn’t been any universal definition of the word “optimized” or “optimization” mentioned, it’s safe to assume that it doesn’t mean anything and is buzzword-driven fear-mongering. Other typical parts of on-page SEO that these folks target include metatags (which one?), metadata (what kind?), and heading tags. Just what is being optimized here?

In any case, Digimatiq builds out all of the on-page SEO elements that have been shown to have a positive net effect for our clients. Cases where these pieces of data are left off are on purpose. An example would be defining keywords in on-page SEO. This hasn’t affected page rank since the 1990s so that we won’t fill it out.

“Targeted Keywords Are Not Placed Into Tags Correctly”

Seriously, someone wrote that. Let’s unpack this statement.

Do these go-getters know what target keyword we’ve selected for a particular page, much less all the pages on the site? No. Can they explain how to place a keyword in a tag correctly? No, because either there’s a keyword or there isn’t. You can’t place a keyword in a tag incorrectly. Sigh.

Digimatiq places a carefully selected focus keyword in the appropriate places on the site’s metatags and on-page content. We work according to industry standards, which can change over time. We will modify on-page SEO as the landscape changes over the years and the course of many Google algorithm changes.

“No Custom 404 Page Found”

Although a custom 404 page can benefit user experience (UX), it isn’t a factor in how well your site performs in Google’s SERPs. Also, this is much more of a factor on ecommerce sites that can potentially lose sales if a product is discontinued and it’s not redirected to the lastest in stock product. Ignore.

“Google Publisher is Missing”

If your site syndicates content to online news agencies, fix this. Otherwise, it’s a solution looking for a problem.

“Site Doesn’t Have Structured Mark-Up for Products”

Quick tip. If you don’t sell online, ignore that troll. That being said, for all of our clients sites whether they be ecommerce or not, Digimatiq utilizes ways to mark up pages properly so your pages properly display structured mark-up to Google.

“Your site’s speed is subpar

This is an evergreen challenge for all sites since the beginning of the web. We always want our sites to be faster and work constantly to get you the best site speed possible.

One thing to be aware of. Site speed is always a trade-off. Visually rich sites are generally slower but nicer to look at. Sites with strong integrations into powerful online marketing tools often lag behind highly speed optimized sites with more pedestrian visual effects or with less advanced marketing features. Digimatiq is always balancing the needs of our clients with pie-in-the-sky page speed at the expense of marketing muscle.

What Have FUD SEO Agencies Told You?

Got any other’s we didn’t mention? Leave a comment below and let us know. We’ll be happy to help reduce your anxiety and take a little wind out of the sails of those predatory tactics.

Resources: Google Search Quality Guidelines