There are more unethical people who claim to be local search marketing experts than there are sharks in the sea, and they’re all looking for a free meal from unsuspecting and desperate business owners. Here are five things to look out for to insure you don’t become a victim.
Not Everyone Is Dishonorable
To start, it’s important to understand that there are some very legitimate local search marketing companies who can help you generate tons of leads for your business. These people are generally in high demand and don’t go out soliciting new business on the telephone.
It’s also important to note that there are people in the local search marketing community who claim to be experts when in fact, they’re not. Some are just working with limited knowledge, while others are professional scammers. You want to avoid both and here’s why.
Do No Harm
If someone does not know what they’re doing, they can unintentionally destroy your reputation with the search engines by doing things that are not in accordance with their terms of service. Some of these things include adding keywords to your business name, placing your business in multiple locations where your business does not exist, keyword stuffing your category selections, using one telephone number at multiple locations and more. If the search engines catch you doing any of these things, they will remove your listing from their database forever. That can be a very, very costly mistake.
Scammers can do the same damage to your business listing but they do it with the full knowledge of the consequences. They will bend and break every rule in order to get you a couple of quick hits before the search engines discover what they’ve done. By then, you will have paid them and they will be long gone.
1. Givers Or Takers?
A good Local Search Marketing company is willing to show you exactly what they’re going to do to generate leads for your business. They know how much effort goes into doing local search properly and they know what their expertise is worth.
The very best Local Search Marketing companies will provide you with a Do-It-Yourself Guide on their site and give you the tools necessary to accomplish some, most, or all of the work depending on your ability. Look for a company that wants to help you understand the process first before trying to take your hard earned money.
2. Price Negotiations
The cost of having your business optimized and publicized on the Internet can range from a one-time fee of $100 to $1,000. Fees are based on the quality of the service and the extent your listing will be publicized on the Internet. Do your homework, compare pricing and know what you’re getting for the money.
Scammers will generally start high and continue to reduce their price until you agree to their terms. This is one of the most common pricing techniques used by scammers. If someone is willing to reduce his or her price quickly or give you a one time special offer, watch out. Their goal is to make you think you’re getting a great deal when the truth is; you don’t have a clue as to what you’re getting.
3. Monthly Maintenance Fee?
Local Search Marketing is a one-time event. Once your business is optimized and publicized, the only thing left to do is to generate local business citations and customer reviews. This is something a local search marketing company is not going to do for you because they don’t have access to your customers.
If a company wants to charge you a monthly service fee, make sure you find out what it’s for. Unless they’re going to generate additional local business citations, it’s a waste of money.
4. Check Their References
A reputable company should be delighted to showcase their work. Look for a list of their customers along with addresses and telephone numbers. If they can’t or won’t provide that information, hang up the telephone and put them on call blocking.
You can also check with the BBB and see if they have any outstanding complaints. Do a search for “their company name” + the word “scam.” If anything comes up, read the article and see what others have to say about the company on the Internet. It’s hard to hide from a bad review.
5. Don’t Provide Your Account Information
In order to do Local Search Marketing correctly, you must have an account (user name and password) with all of the major search engines. The search engines need this information before allowing you or someone on your behalf to claim your business. Sometimes scammers will ask for your information, and sometimes they won’t. They can scam you either way.
Oftentimes scammers will claim your business using a fake account. It’s not only easier for them to access your business listing without your consent, but it gives them complete control over what goes on your listing. Don’t let this happen. There is nothing worse than to discover a scammer holding you hostage by threatening to destroy or remove your business listing unless you continue to pay them.
If you give a scammer access to your account information, they can also do major damage to your reputation and your pocketbook. If you have a Google Adwords account for example, your credit card is on file and easily accessible to the scammer giving them the ability to use your credit to promote their business at your expense. They can also upload any content they want under your name and abuse your email list if they choose to do so. The hurt can go on forever. Don’t give your account information to anyone you don’t trust.
A professional will explain the advantages and disadvantages of both and will suggest that they provide you with the optimized content for your business listing and show you how to upload that information to your account. This is by far the safest method.
Scammers go to great extent to hide their intentions. Follow these five simple rules and pay attention to what your gut is telling you.
Giving someone you don’t trust access to your credit card information can be troubling. Giving them access to your business listing can be devastating.