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Digital Snake Oil

Top Digital Marketing & Online Scams

I have researched SEO and online firms for over twenty years for both my own internal research as well as privately for customers who were conducting due-diligence in the SEO industry. I saved and made customers millions by avoiding scam artists as well as producing excellent results in their search marketing efforts. First of all, almost any program that automates postings, hyperlink swapping, content and the like is completely bogus. There are no software programs that can make your marketing staff into search marketing experts, just as learning how to use Open Office Writer does not make you an author. Much the same as learning how to edit and delete a contact management system does not make you a database expert. Need I continue?

Who Are the Most Likely Digital Scammers 
My research indicates there is a strong mix, about 50/50, of existing marketing agencies and "new millennium" businesses who claim to focus just on search marketing who are scamming business managers. This surprised me since my initial thoughts were that the more trustworthy existing ad agencies would be more reliable. Upon further inspection I found that the agencies are not always aware of the fact that they are being scammed by an SEO business, thus, they charge exorbitant fees to their customers. They are as clueless as anybody else, and they are desperate to bring this new offering to their customers, so they pay third parties to conduct the search marketing for their clientele. 

Avoid Digital Scammers
Ask the agency for five case studies that specifically highlight what phrases they have attained for which customers and what the results were, in sales, not hits/traffic/pageviews. Results are based upon actual sales, NOT traffic. In other words, they show you the results of their work with before and after snapshots of Google results, how much traffic it generated, but fail to show you how that converted to sales.  

Common Scams
  • Geographic, Demographic and Retargeting Scams -  Many businesses are charging 50% to conduct SEM campaigns that are easily attainable with a Google Certified agency. They hide their fees in their bills and do not give the customer the full breakdown of just how much they are actually spending in Google. If you do not know what percentage they are charging as a management fee, it is probably 50%. A true Google Certified Agency will show you they charge someplace between 10% to 30%. It will be very clear how much money you are paying for Google versus how much for management. Geographic, Demographic and retargeting campaigns can all be set up in Google, and there is no need to pay for these through third parties.  
  • Hyperlinking Scams - Automated swapping of hyperlinks is almost useless and could actually, in some cases, get your site banned from Google.
  • Buying Google Pagerank Scams - This is rare, but still utilized in some cases. It is spam and cold get you punished, or banned, from Google.  
  • Repetitiveness Scams - Very few SEO scammers will attempt to boost rankings using the old, risky strategy of repeating keywords on pages or inside the code, but most sites have repetitive titles, meta tags, etc. Repetitive is bad and will lead to lower results. The title and tags should be unique for every single page in a website. 
  • Onsite Versus Offsite Scams - Most search work will be offsite because it is easier to conduct and can have limited results for SEO efforts. Onsite is where your should start! 
  • Reporting Scams - Possibly the most common scam is search firms that deliver an automated report every month which shows customers a great amount of detail about their rankings, but by itself it is worth $50 a month or so. Many SEO scammers will ONLY provide this report to make it appear as though they are conducting SEO, but in reality, they are just creating a report every month, and that is it! 
If your firm does not have a qualified search marketing expert inhouse, then you are not qualified to buy search marketing or any type of online marketing without being ripped off.  I would like to learn more about how Rob can analyze the digital firm I use, or might use, as a secret shopper/investigator. Click to Learn More