‘Hello, Your Site Sucks.’ Should You Respond to Cold SEO Email Solicitations?

Adam Smartschan

Partner & Chief Strategy Officer

If you own a B2B company or run a website, you’ve almost definitely gotten cold SEO email solicitations. You know the type.

“I’ve run a report on your site https://altitudemarketing.com and discovered several issues that are hurting you on Google.”

“Your content on your blog is great! Good job! But there are some technical issues holding you back.”

“You could be getting a lot more traffic.”

“You want leads, don’t you?”

“Do you want 10X traffic today? Call us for a FREE consultation!”

Before we go any further, let’s put a stake in the ground. If all you’re looking for is an answer to whether you should respond to cold SEO emails, the answer is a definitive “no.”

(You can leave now. Or stick around and read about our SEO practice group. Either way.)

Should you respond to cold SEO emails? Probably not.

Why You Shouldn’t Respond to ‘You Have a Problem’ Notes

At the end of the day, B2B companies and agencies use the internet to get business. This is particularly true of search engine optimization companies.

Now, think about what a pure-play SEO firm should be doing to get business.

Is it … SEO?

You got it!

Look, we like hungry salespeople. We like account-based marketing and direct outreach. If you can add value, add value. Go get ’em!

But here’s the thing. If all you do is SEO – and most of the companies that send these emails specialize in SEO – you should be good at SEO. And if you’re good at SEO, you’re better than cold email scare tactics.

If you’re going to proactively reach out to dozens, hundreds or thousands of site owners and give them unsolicited feedback and “advice” on improving their rankings, you should probably be enough of an expert to have a steady stream of inbound leads coming to you.

If all you do is SEO – and most of the companies that send these emails specialize in SEO – you should be really good at SEO.

You know, through SEO.

That’s what makes these emails particularly vexing. It’s basically someone saying two things at the same time:

  • “I’m awesome at SEO, and you should listen to me!”
  • “I’m not quite good enough at SEO for you to have found me in the first place.”

The Secret Behind Cold SEO Emails

Once in a blue moon, we’ll get a solicitation with a useful piece of data from our site or an actual insight. That’s pretty cool. Frankly, we’ll return those calls and emails.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, however, we and our clients get spammed with messages about how the solicitor “found an error” or “identified issues” on the site. They “did an analysis” or “ran it through their tools.”

Spoiler alert: They didn’t.

There is literally not a website in the world that someone well-versed in SEO can’t find a quantitative or qualitative problem with. All the vast majority of cold SEO emails – and probably 100% of cold SEO-focused contact us form entries – want is to get someone on the hook.

From there, they’ll pick through the site and actually find some areas for improvement. These might be legit, or (especially if they find a less-than-savvy business owner on the other end of the phone) they might be garbage.

Either way, the solicitor holds the key to SEO success. Their clients see 10X increases in traffic in a month! They quadruple their leads! They live on islands and drive Porsches and drink Dom!

Second spoiler alert: They (probably) don’t.

There is no magic bullet to SEO, particularly in B2B. You’re not going to “run an analysis,” find a few areas to tweak and create results overnight. It simply doesn’t work that way.

(If it did, I’d live on an island, drive a Porsche and drink Dom.)

Long-term SEO success requires a lot of hard work, a lot of strategy, a lot of content and an integrated, holistic approach. It’s really tough. Snake oil and scare tactics won’t do it.

Cold SEO Emails: The Bottom Line

There’s a way to sell SEO. There’s even a way to proactively reach out to prospects.

It’s not trying to scare them with vague threats that SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH YOUR SITE.

If you get a cold SEO email solicitation, think twice before hitting the “Reply” button. (Or ask your boss to think twice before hitting the “Reply” button. That happens a lot.)

If the salesperson gives you something actually personal and actionable, it might be worth a conversation. But that’s pretty rare. Conversely, if the email is clearly a template and it’s pretty obvious no human being actually typed anything, hitting “Trash” is your best bet.

How to Tell if a Pitch Is a Template

A search marketing sales pitch is a template or a script and should be ignored if it:

  • Congratulates you on the quality of your blog
  • Mentions coming back over and over to read more
  • Includes your entire URL, typically with the https:// or http:// prefix
  • Cites the entire title of a blog post or page
  • Arrives in the middle of the night
  • Says there are problems, but won’t tell you what they are
  • Offers a “free audit”

Doing Search the Right Way

Again, SEO – particularly sustainable SEO – is a lot of work. It takes months or years to max out your potential. That means the web development, content and strategy teams working together to deliver the perfect result for someone performing a search.

Even identifying areas for improvement takes quite a while. It’s not something that can be automated well, and certainly not at scale.

So go ahead and ignore those scare-tactic SEO emails and form submissions you get. If they could really deliver what they preach, the folks (or bots, really) sending those would be getting in front of you another, better way.

Adam Smartschan

Adam Smartschan heads Altitude's strategic marketing and branding efforts. An award-winning writer and editor by trade in a former life, he now specializes in data analytics, search engine optimization, digital advertising strategy, conversion rate optimization and technical integrations. He holds numerous industry certifications and is a frequent speaker on topics around B2B marketing strategy and SEO.