A guide for business owners on avoiding the most dangerous and expensive cowboys in the ‘Wild West’ of the online marketing world.
When it comes to dominating search engines like Google, there are only two ways to do it successfully. One is an ongoing commitment to ethical Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) practices. That means creating interesting, unique and well-optimised content for your website, and a sustained effort to getting relevant links from trusted websites back into your website.
The other is Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising like Google AdWords. With PPC, you pay for a position on the ‘Ads’ or ‘Sponsored listings’ at the top and right of the ‘natural’ search results.
There is no quick fix. There is no panacea. And nobody who emails or calls you out of the blue with outrageous promises of getting you to the number one spot should be trusted as far as you can hurl their spiny, deceitful little body.
For the less-well-informed about the ins and outs of search engine success, here are some of the main culprits to look out for:
The Friendly Link Exchange
I get half a dozen or more of these emails every day. They usually start something like “I’ve greatly enjoyed reading your website www.optimalcopy.co.nz…” They go on to propose all sorts of things, from the sublime to the utterly ridiculous.
One of the most recent of these emails proposed a ‘three way’ (no, I’m not kidding). This involved three websites all linking back to each other. Now as attractive as this ‘three way’ might sound to the uninitiated, I can assure you that you will be far from satisfied with the results. Quite frankly, as they say here in NZ, “I wouldn’t touch it with yours”.
Link Building SEO Services from India
More cold emails, usually from India, and always offering ‘Professional Link Building Services’. These usually try to explain to me the benefits of building high quality links to your website. But the truth is, they offer anything but ‘high quality links’. They work on a principle called ‘link farming’, where they plonk hundreds of links to your website in all sorts of dubious places. This is more likely to get you blacklisted and kicked off Google entirely than it is to get you to the top.
Downright Deceptive Cold Emails
Now this one I have to publish in its entirety, so disgustingly audacious it is. It looks like I’ve already had a previous email this person. I can assure you, I haven’t. But that’s the way they’ve made it look, in a deliberate attempt to fool me into getting in touch with them.
|From: fiona@…………….com [mailto:fiona@………………com]
Sent: Saturday, 15 October 2011 11:59 p.m.
Subject: RE: Web Promotion
Hi,Hope you are doing well.Haven’t heard back from you, just wondering if you are interested in our services. We have some special offer this festive season.I would be happy to share our past work details, methodologies & client testimonials.Kind Regards,
From: fiona@……………..com [mailto:fiona@…………………com]
Hello and Good Day!
I am Fiona, Marketing Manager with a reputed online marketing company based in Noida, India.
I was surfing through your website and realized that despite having a good design; it was not ranking on any of the search engines for most of the keywords pertaining to your domain.
I was wondering if you would be interested in getting the SEO done for your website.
There is a simple equation that is applicable to the online world.
Ethical SEO -> Better Traffic -> Higher Sales
We are an ISO Certified, SEMPO registered Online marketing firm and have over 6 years of working experience. All the techniques used are ethical and proprietary.
In case you require any additional information, it shall be our pleasure to furnish the same.
So let me know if you would like me to mail you more details or schedule a call. We’ll be pleased to serve you.
I look forward to your mail.
Disclaimer: The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) establishes requirements for those who send commercial email, spells out penalties for spammers and companies whose products are advertised in spam if they violate the law, and gives consumers the right to ask mailers to stop spamming them. The above mail is in accordance to the Can Spam act of 2003: There are no deceptive subject lines and is a manual process through our efforts on World Wide Web. You can opt out by sending fiona@……………………..com to ensure you will not receive any such mails.
The idiocy of someone lecturing me about the ‘simple equation’ of SEO is just astounding, when the site they are contacting me about currently ranks number one on ALL of the major search engines “for most of the keywords pertaining to my domain”.
Get bent, “Fiona”.
The Great AdWords Cover-Up
As I mentioned earlier, there are two ways to get to the top of Google. SEO is the ‘natural’ way to do it. The other way, paying for position, is just as legitimate, but is regarded by some as inferior, because it involves a sustained, ongoing cost.
Personally, I like to use both methods, because the whole is usually greater than the sum of its parts. However, the problem lies in the fact that many business owners still don’t realise the distinction between ‘natural’ search engine results, and ‘paid’ search engine results.
I have seen nearly identical emails from the same or similar companies promising, yet again, top ranking on Google for particular words and phrases, at a cost of $200 and upwards per month, per word! These companies prey on the fact that many people don’t realise they will be paying for position on Google, and will happily let you believe that they’re using SEO to get you to the top of the ‘natural’ results.
Let me tell you now, these people are cretinous scumbags who will take your money and laugh all the way to the bank. They will invest a tiny fraction of your money in Google AdWords, or perhaps even the Yahoo or Bing equivalent (which will get you even less exposure than Google AdWords), and keep the rest for themselves.
If you want to invest money in getting good, paid positions on Google and other search engines, invest it with someone who offers you utter transparency about how your money is being spent. When you invest in Google AdWords through Optimal Copy, we give you unrestricted access to your own Google AdWords account – we simply mange it on your behalf. And manage it bloody well too. In fact, we’ve been known to get our clients higher paid positions on Google, and more traffic to their websites, whilst simultaneously reducing their costs by as much as 95%.
Supposedly Legitimate Online Directories
Now these are more difficult to spot, but their supposed legitimacy just may make them more dangerous than any of the others listed above.
Here’s a scenario. You get a phone call from Finda or Gopher or Yellow or any one of those online directory-type-services. They promise you all sorts of things, including, but not limited to, top positions on Google, hundreds, no wait, thousands of people visiting your website, eternal life, world peace, etc, etc. Then they give you the price, often upwards of hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year. Which they immediately drop by 25% when you sound unsure. Then they speak to their boss’s wife’s dog and suddenly you only need to pay 50% of the original cost.
Sound too good to be true? You’d be spot on.
Clients I’ve dealt with have had such appalling non-results from these ‘investments’ that I cringe thinking about it.
Nearly all of these online directories offer a free listing, and then attempt to ‘up-sell’ a paid listing, which will get you higher up the directory’s own pages. A bit like the old Yellow Pages book offering a free classified listing, and then trying to up-sell you a full page, 4-colour advertisement.
Trouble is, nobody uses Yellow Pages any more. Nor does anyone trawl online directories to find businesses. So that listing ‘upgrade’ you just paid for is pretty much worthless.
Instead, you need to invest that money in SEO and/or PPC, to get great positions on Google. Which, as everyone knows, is where 95% of the world’s population goes to look for stuff online.
Sick of the World Wild West?
I know I am. I’m utterly sick of seeing business owners being ripped off by these unscrupulous ‘SEO Professionals’, out to make a fast buck before the world wakes up to their treacherous ways. So if you’d like to invest instead in ethical SEO practices, and transparent PPC activity (y’know, the kind that will actually get you more traffic, leads and sales online?) then please get in touch now.