A better description of this page is “Marketing Ploys,” because it’s about what’s being sold to naive business owners and managers.
You’re not being scammed because you’ll be getting some value for your money.
But what is the true value of your investment vs. the perceived value?
That’s for you to decide. What follows are my personal opinions.
#1 on Google
The email or ad “guarantees your website will be #1 on Google.”
For a regular monthly fee they’ll make this happen. And they will. What they’ll do is place on ad on Google, and manually bid it higher than the going Google bid. And your ad WILL be #1 on Google.
How It Works
If you’ve contracted with them for $600 a month, they’ll place $300 a month worth of ads for you on Google. Of course, after you’ve gotten $10 worth of clicks, Google pauses your ad for the rest of the day. This can be anywhere from 10, to as few as 1 clicks.
The Problems With This
- You don’t just want traffic, you want traffic that buys.
- If the people clicking on your ad find out this isn’t what they’re looking for, and they leave quickly, your search rankings will go down.
- The reports and graphs they send you are generally truthful, but they’re never transparent about what they’re really doing.
- Their “tech reps” are actually salespeople that are really trying to up-sell you with every contact.
- There is no reason to pay 50% or more for somebody to run Google ads for you.
- What you want is a few tested ads that bring truly interested customers to your site.
- Two or three well-designed ads can be put on a monthly budget, of which 100% goes to Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
- Hang up the phone or delete the email.
- Ignore and continue with your life.
- If you have such a contract, notify them by phone and email that you do not want to renew when the existing contract expires – if you don’t, one of the paragraphs says it’ll renew automatically.
- Ask your bank to replace your credit card with a new number works, too.
SEO means Search Engine Optimization, which is the process of improving the quality and quantity of traffic to a website from search engines. SEO targets unpaid traffic (known as “natural” or “organic” results) rather than direct or paid traffic. Unpaid traffic may originate from different kinds of searches, including image search, video search, academic search, news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines (click for source).
When Google came out in 1996, and before them, Yahoo in 1994, the search programs (called algorithms) would look at the pages of your website and score them based on what they read.
Back then, you could make your page look like it had a ton of information on a subject just by adding dozens of phrases in the body, or at the bottom of the page like, “offshore fishing, lures, bait, boat trips, Honolulu, expert advice, deep sea fishing, fishing trips,” etc., then copy and paste that a few dozen times, then making it all white text on a white background.
Website visitors wouldn’t see it, but Yahoo and Google did, and they said to themselves, “Wow! Let’s make this site #1 on our searches because it talks about Honolulu fishing so much.”
Back then it was Yahoo and Google programmers vs. programmers trying to beat the system (BTS).
And it generally worked.
But every few months the BTS programmers would find their websites plummet in their search rank. Within days or weeks they’d figure out why, adjust their bag of tricks, and their websites would rise back to the top.
How It Works
- For a significant fee, they will have a professional programmer “fix” your website.
- More commonly, they will sell you a subscription to their service that allows you to submit your website, page-by-page, to their computer program that will suggest a myriad of changes for you to make.
The Problems With This
- It doesn’t work any more.
- Google’s AI (artificial intelligence) system reads the actual content on your page.
- It usually ignores tags, extensive alt-image descriptions, etc.
- Google Search now relies heavily on how visitors respond to your page – how long they’re on it, how many pages they look at, how far down they scroll on a page, and…
- It tracks what visitors do when they leave your page.
- From this Google Search generates your page rating, putting forth their best effort to direct people that are truly looking for you to your site.
- Google Search is in the business of matching people to what they’re looking for, to the best of Google’s ability.
- The only two search engines left in North America are Google and Bing. Yahoo now uses Bing data with their own presentation. Most of the other search services use Google’s data.
- Most of the search engines in the world that still “crawl the web,” that is, read every website, use Google or Bing to augment their local data.
- Whatever business you’re in, put your best foot forward on your website.
- Your content should be relevant, entertaining and engaging, so visitors will hang around and return.
- Your photos should be high resolution, professional looking, and be alt-tagged as to just what they are. If they’re purely decorative, don’t tag them.
- Tightly targeted advertising is the fastest, most cost-efficient way to raise your organic search position, because it gives the search engines data that they trust.
This is usually an email, and it continues with:
- Your site has broken links.
- It’s got photos that don’t load properly.
- There are misspelled words and grammar errors.
- It’s not properly formatted.
- It doesn’t display on all devices correctly.
- It doesn’t load properly in all browsers.
- And on, and on, and on.
- This is why you rating is so poor on Google.
It concludes with, “Would you like me to forward you the full report?”
How It Works
I have clients contact me all the time with these letters. I’ll contact the letter writer, posing as my client, and depending on how naive I act they’ll pitch me on anything from “polishing” the website, to making the client a completely new, “better” site.
The Problems With This
- There is usually nothing wrong with your website.
- Their intention is to milk you for as much as they can, for as long as they can.
- These companies are usually based in India, Pakistan or Vietnam.
- The median income for a website programmer in the US is $43 / hour (click for source).
- The median income for a website programmer in India is $4 / hour.
- The median income for a website programmer in Vietnam is $3.75 / hour (click for source).
- The best ones copy your existing photos and text to a new WordPress template, rearrange things, and then generate a pristine report.
- The typical rewrites end up with numerous grammar and spelling errors, poor sentence construction, and are basically embarrassing to your business. In other words, worse than you started with.
- The more you believe and accept what they’re doing, the more they’ll continue to up-sell you for additional services – see “#1 on Google” and “SEO Optimizing” elsewhere on this page.
- Verify, verify, verify. Look for the errors they claim are on your page, and make your tech consultant (salesperson) show you.
- Read my other articles on this site. For example: In many instances Google ignores page tags. Their AI engine reads your pages now, and evaluates them for their content.
- Google also evaluates your page based on how far down people scroll, how much time they spend on the page, and what they click on next, and next, and next. “Engagement.”
- Even when people leave your page, Google tracks where they go and what they do next.
- Most of these “fix your website” ploys evolve into “SEO Optimization” plans, and then into “Guaranteed #1 on Google,” both covered on this page.
- There ain’t no magic bullet.
- Delete the email and forget it.
- If you’re really concerned, call a friend or local computer person and get their opinion, without mentioning the email you received.
You get what you pay for.
The programmers are in India, Pakistan, Vietnam, etc. Salaries are 10% of what they are in the US.
“Chinglish” is a term we use in the industry when a user manual or website are written in extremely poor English.
Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. They’re more about selling you more stuff than actually accomplishing anything. $199 is a one-page website. Additional pages can be much more.
Up-sells like SEO, #1 on Google, and monthly subscriptions are ongoing.
My favorite one is this: Three months after your new site is done you get the “Your website has severe problems'” email, you’ll find your Asian developer has disappeared, and you’ll start spending more money… Unbeknownst to you, you’re still with the same people.
The value of traffic from travel website advertising.
Yes, you’ll get more traffic from the travel and activity sites you’re listed on if you advertise on them, but the money spent with them can be much more cost effective when spent elsewhere.
This is based on my experience with Hawaii activity clients. I’ve generated 10x more traffic with Google Search and Facebook ads with the budget my clients were spending on travel sites.