I see it every day. As a professional search engine marketer, I come across many sites that have employed search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. In many cases, at least some of the methods used are either outdated or very risky - using tactics clearly defined in Search Engine Webmaster Guidelines as being "against the rules." These include simple tricks such as hidden text to more crafty poor man's cloaking, and in some cases "IP Delivery".
When these sites don't rank, they become likely targets for SEO sales people, especially for small to mid-sized SEO's looking to increase their client lists. Cre8asite member "softplus" started an interesting thread last week titled: "How to approach a company about their SEO... when you can see that it's been done badly?" He asks how members would suggest contacting the owner of a website that has had questionable SEO modifications performed. He even adds
how do I approach them without telling them what they are doing wrong in the first place (eg doing the work before getting a contract)?
Some interesting responses so far ranging from Moderator "bwelford's"
I've never had any luck in telling companies even about the most damaging problems with their websites.to a few recommendations to write an introductory email offering a short analysis with a soft sell at the end. Rand throws in the idea that you could just blog about it and hope they see it, which he has done but apparently has not had a high conversion rate for him. Of course, there is one hardcore comment suggesting going for the throat.
I personally don't search for sites using poor SEO and in turn contact them, but I have certainly offered a large amount of advice to people who have asked - never afraid to "tell 'em like it is." If you are a website owner I would highly recommend using Forums like Cre8asite, Search Engine Watch, and our own Search Engine Roundtable forums to pose questions, especially if you feel something may be wrong. Once a problem is identified, however, I would recommend trusting recommendations and referrals from reputable SEO's, and taking care of any problems before they cause major damage to your site's ability to rank.
Please add your thoughts or experiences at the Cre8asite Forums.