There has always been an element of SEO that is less than ethical. While I was running my own local SEO agency, I was regularly contacted by other local SEO agencies and many webdesign companies wanting to provide SEO services to their clients. So, I offered consulting services to these various agencies.
My first step was to review what they were doing as most had already been offering SEO services to some degree. The vast majority of these SEO agencies and almost every single webdesign agency I worked with were selling SEO services without actually providing much in the way of SEO. Many would create reports from Google analytics or other website traffic reporting programs without doing anything to optimize the website. They were simply emailing website traffic reports on a monthly schedule. Some didn’t even provide as much as a report. Others used free online tools to scan a website and provide monthly recommendations from those free scans. These unethical service providers were providing no SEO services at all.
Not all of them but most of them.
I would explain how I was able to rank websites and Google Local listings and assumed they implemented my process. My process wasn’t difficult but there was a small expense which many of those I consulted with hoped to reduce through shortcuts. Most agencies sell SEO services on a monthly recurring billing cycle to maximize profits. They would do this until the business owners finally cancelled the service.