In the web industry I tend to come across a lot of scams or cases of huge mark-ups that really have me scratching my head. In this series of posts, I will not be addressing things like hourly rates as those are subjective to skill level and demand. How can you tell a painter what his painting should cost? Instead this series will focus on more tangible items or blatant scams.

1. Domain Registration – Recently we had a client whose previous web developer conveniently also offered domain registration and hosting services. I was shocked to find out that they where being billed $130 a year for their domain (and told the more domains they bought the more traffic their website would get) and $360 a year for their hosting. I think it is easy to charge clients outrageous rates because for the most part, they do not know how to register their domain and they are putting their trust in you as the expert. The truth is that a domain costs about $13 a year on any domain registration site like and most people would be fine with a hosting package for $2 – $8 a month.

2. SEO Services – You would be hard pressed to find a business owner who has not gotten an unsolicited email from a “SEO Company” promising them #1 on Google for $XXX per month. Sounds great, right? The truth is that even from that one sentence I have 3 immediate red flags going up. First, you should always be VERY skeptical of an unsolicited email from anyone. More than likely they are using unethical means to acquire and send emails and if they are so great, why do they have a need to send out millions of unsolicited spam emails? Second, any SEO company with a shred of legitimacy would not guarantee a #1 spot on Google. Lastly, unless they are writing content for your website or doing ongoing link building, etc, there really is no need to pay an on-going monthly fee for hundreds of dollars.

3. DNS Bill Scam – More than a handful of clients have contacted me to ask about a bill they received in the mail for their domain name. What they received looked exactly like an invoice to renew their domain except for the fine print that states it is NOT an invoice but a solicitation for new services that they do not need. I can imagine LOTS of people just blindly paying it thinking it is something they need to renew for their website. Here is a really common example: