13 Local SEOs Share Their Halloween Horror Stories

13 Local SEOs Share Their Halloween Horror Stories

To celebrate All Hallows’ Eve, we asked some of our customers to anonymously share their most terrifying SEO stories. We all know that search can be a scary place, where a bump in the night can have haunting effects on businesses rankings. From creepy clients to ghoulish Google, spooky searches to black cat techniques, we’ve chosen 13 local SEOs’ terrifying tales below.

Creepy Clients

1. “The client who gets the best results (400 leads/month) emailed on a weekend screaming in all caps that she can’t find her business in Google and that the money she pays us is a complete waste. She emailed back 10 minutes later saying, ‘Never mind, we’re #1’.” – Marketing Agency, USA

2. “A client once told me that Yelp was ISIS.” – Marketing Freelancer, USA

3. “Editing alt-tags for a client who’d posted student essays on his website. Instead of their name, the alt-tags for the students’ pictures were the titles of their essays. Some were funny: ‘What Not to Wear’. Most horrifying alt-tag: ‘Monkey Selfie!’” – Small Business, USA

Black Cat Techniques

4. “250 websites I was given to look after in my new job received a Google low quality link penalty which I ended up getting blamed for. I left the company pretty soon after. They had employed a content spinner and down and dirty WordPress links.” – Large Business, Australia

5. “I discovered that a client’s website was copied verbatim from a competitor’s website – including the html and xml sitemaps.” – Marketing Agency, USA

6. “I was Marketing Director at the #1 largest drug rehab corporation. Within a month I discovered they were using keyword targets as ‘BUSINESS NAME LISTINGS’ on every site/aggregator while giving GMB the actual name. I was fired for pointing it out as bad.” – Marketing Freelancer, USA 

Ghoulish Google

7. “Most of my issues come with Google My Business, claiming GMB listings, and verifying them! Someone created four GMB listings and never verified them and it’s a beast to clean up!” – Marketing Freelancer, USA

8. “Google manual penalty, woke up with over 150 websites penalized for thin content 🙁 The resubmission process was a rigorous process to say the least!” – Large Business, South Africa

9. “We have one client whose street is South but Google insists that it is North. They won’t budge even when we submit the record from USPS either.” – Marketing Agency, USA

Spooky Searches

10. “Our apartment communities were showing up in searches for ‘felon-friendly apartments’ on Yellow Pages, even though this was not listed anywhere. The word ‘apartments’ was apparently enough to show us in search results. This resulted in many frustrated callers.” – Large Business, USA

11. “My locksmith client got kicked off Google Maps for simply being a locksmith. I spent over 40+ hours on the phone, on chat and via email with Google before they finally turned his listing back on.” – Marketing Agency, USA

12. “My creepiest experience is with my client who has a business name that’s so commonly used on the internet that we can’t rank for the business name locally!!!!!” – Marketing Agency, USA

… And The Downright Wicked

13. “A creepy schmoozy salesperson who wouldn’t shut up stole my presentation and re-presented it to the same team I was consulting.” – Marketing Agency, USA

Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences. Do you have a spooky search story? Share your tales below!

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12 thoughts on “13 Local SEOs Share Their Halloween Horror Stories”

  1. I can totally relate to the creepy client. I worked for a client that is #1 in his industry and when I stopped working with him a competitor hired me to do the same for him. As I am reading the content on the new clients’ website it sounded familiar like something one of my writers wrote. When I asked they were so proud of themselves for being so smart to copy and paste the text verbatim form the competitors site. They didn’t even check to make sure that content had no hyperlinks. Yeah, they were sending the traffic right back to the site where they stole it because they didn’t remove the hyperlinked text. Over 600 pages!! You can’t make this stuff up.

    1. Hi Nicole,

      Thanks for sharing your story. What a nightmare! Yep, it’s sometimes incredible what clients think they can get away with.


  2. A client of ours is adult learning centre and has adult in the business name and in the domain and they started showing up for adult clubs and other adult related keywords in the city and it was outranking the top reviewed clubs.
    We changed the domain and didn’t even do a redirect from the old domain and now the second domain is also in first page.

    1. Hi Ilyas,

      Oh no! Did you ever manage to get that sorted? Sometimes I wonder if we need a completely separate internet for “that kind of thing”!


  3. These are great! And definitely relatable. Many, many years ago, I worked for a creep who was really convinced the BBB was owned by the mafia. It was weird.

    1. Hi Sinoun,

      Thanks for sharing your story. I’m saying nothing, in case I find myself wearing some “cement shoes” 😉


  4. I run a small community oriented online guide as a hobby. At one point it was ranking extremely well, #1 for most local oriented targets in our area.( restaurants, etc). Google maps listings were pretty new at the time. My site started ranking #1 in maps for individual business names, but they were also listing MY phone number, not the individual businesses phone number!

    I was getting countless calls for all kinds of local businesses! A complete nightmare. Eventually deleted the Google Places listing – was the only way to stop it at the time!

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