The quintessential online scam might be that of the “Nigerian prince” who emails you asking for money. Most people have heard about this scam by now, and thus won’t be taken in by it.
However, did you know that many scams exist in the online marketing world as well? These scams are created with basically the same goal as that of the Nigerian prince scam: to take your money and give you nothing in return. As a business owner, you need to be savvy about online marketing scams and know how to recognize them.
Here are five key tips for recognizing online marketing scams so you can avoid them and spend your money elsewhere:
- Check out a company’s credibility.
This one requires you to do some homework on the marketing company. One common way a company may try to build credibility is by listing big-name companies on their website and claiming they have worked with them. In reality, they may have done some work with a small subdivision or subsidiary of the larger company, and then they try to pass it off as work for the larger, more recognizable company.
Ask your contact at the marketing company whether they have a reference at the big-name company that you can speak with. Ask them to specifically point out the results they achieved for that company.
In checking a company’s credibility, other common tactics include claims about awards, press releases (“as seen on…”), or the size of the company. All of these can be misleading. Check sources like the Better Business Bureau, your state’s Attorney General, or the Federal Trade Commission to see if the company has listings or feedback regarding scams.
- Beware of “guaranteed results.”
If a marketing company says they can guarantee your website the #1 spot on Google, they are not being honest. Google has addressed this claim with the following statement:
“No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.”
- Watch out for constant pressure and false urgency.
If a marketing company is constantly pressuring you to sign a contract with them before a certain deadline, they are resorting to gimmicky sales tactics. A professional, trustworthy company should provide you with the information you need to make a decision, and then give you time to consider your options.
Adding a sense of urgency by begging you to sign up “before the next Google update” or “before all spots are reserved” should be met with skepticism. Be aware that Google is constantly updating, so the marketing company you choose should be able to handle any Google update that comes.
- Most problems are not real.
If someone calls you claiming to be from Google and says you have a problem with your Google Business listing, they are most likely NOT with Google. To be honest, Google probably isn’t going to call you, even if you do have a problem with your Google Business listening!
The same issue goes for cold calls saying that your website has been hacked, is broken, or contains spam. Sure, you may have a few small bugs on your site that could be fixed. However, most calls like this are only designed to cause panic and spur you to spend exorbitant amounts on unnecessary fixes (for problems that are often not real).
- Avoid outsourcing.
To be clear, the general practice of outsourcing is not bad. However, if a digital marketing company is outsourcing work on your website to unqualified workers, you will not be getting the quality or results you need and have paid for. In fact, if the work is outsourced to people who resort to black-hat, low-value, or spammy tactics, the work may do more to damage your online presence than to help it.
Ask directly whether the company outsources their work. Get it in writing in your contract that work for your business will NOT be outsourced. Ask to speak with the person who is actually doing the work for your website.
While these tips may seem simple, they are key to helping you recognize and avoid online marketing scams. To learn more about how to avoid scams and how you can more effectively build your business online, we welcome you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus.