Yesterday I had a telemarketer call me and try to sell me “Guaranteed SEO.” For about a half hour on the phone the call was escalated between three tiers of their sales experts. I finally learned what the term meant. It didn’t mean what you might think it means. It certainly didn’t mean what someone in need of real SEO would want it to mean. It meant something completely backwards and contrary to anything a discriminating customer would want. Let me tell you about how it went down.
Tracked Down By Robots Pushing Guaranteed SEO
Late in the afternoon, a robotic dialer ringed my number. When I picked up, a recording explained to me how a top spot on Google was being reserved for me. All I had to do was press 1 and I’d be able to claim my top spot! Oh boy. Too easy. I can press 1, so I did. I was excited. After I pressed 1, a friendly voice greeted me and started in on the pitch.
They must have had crawlers out, running through sites, making lists and recording phone numbers. I could do that if I wanted to. I can buy and build crawlers that do that. People have asked me for them several times, to crawl sites, looking for keywords and recording contact info. It’s a common way that cold-caller strategies populate their initial lists. It’s not something I’ve ever employed, just calling people out of the blue like that from crawled lists. It just doesn’t seem like that would be an effective use of a skilled person’s time.
This must have been the first moment that an actual human being had examined the site. We clearly state on our site that we do SEO for websites. The caller realized that as he was looking around – and he must have run the URL through some kind of analysis tool that gave it high marks. But that didn’t stop him. Perhaps he wasn’t trained to know when to stop. So he kept trying to sell me SEO.
Small Talk…. Because Sales
Often during the call the salesman would stop and try to engage me in small talk: what I’m doing this weekend, whether I watched the fight last weekend, etc. This is a common tactic to both distract me, the target, and to increase the amount of time invested in the process. They know that the more time invested, the more the desire grows to see results from the time invested in the conversation. I know the small talk game and I sometimes come across as anti-social because I avoid playing it. If they want to share something funny about their kids with me, I’ll be glad to listen. If they are going to ask me about my children the first time they talk to me, that crosses the line into shamelessness. I just can’t bring myself to be that insincere.
I had lots of questions. He could only answer 3 out of the 10 questions I presented. Perhaps I had too many – I even asked about the origin of the call since the call was being shown as coming from Pennsylvania and the salesman had a NY/NJ accent. At that moment, he had to break the call with me to go to “lunch.” He promised to call me back, but I wasn’t holding my breath. I went back to work and forgot about it.
Hand Over the Keys, Please
The one thing that really struck me as off-putting was that he asked immediately for me to let him in the “backend” of our site so he could analyze it and begin configuring it for SEO. That’s like someone knocking on your door and asking for a set of keys to your house! Would you let them in at all if they asked that, before they’ve even said who they are? I had to ask them for their company name and website address at that point, to see who I was dealing with. I won’t publish it here, but just understanding what tactics they use can help anyone reading this to recognize how to stay away from them and people like them.
About an hour later, he called again. This time he had a proposal ready. It was interesting. It wasn’t really a proposal like I send out to my clients. It was more like a brochure that pitched me on the “benefits” with a price at the end. Lots of big puffy icons meant to make me feel like I was finally being invited to the digital hipster party, some rave that’s going to lift my website to the next level of consumer nirvana. An invitation to the party with a simple fee tacked on. This also detailed the monthly charges and an initial configuration cost of course. It wasn’t that expensive, actually quite cheap. Only $200 a month. And the list of things they said they’d do, about a dozen things, were all things that could actually benefit a site. The only thing is that I couldn’t possibly do any one of those things effectively for a cost as little as $200. There’s no way they could deliver any of those things for so little.
The Guaranteed SEO Offer Heads South
So my cynicism meter was pegged at that point. Clearly I was dealing with scammers, people too quick to tarnish my trade by making promises that take advantage of people in need, people who focus on their businesses and don’t have time to understand what SEO is about. So I got right down to the core issue. I asked them to show me a portfolio of their clients who they’ve brought to success through their service, some references or something. That’s when I was assured they have a “guarantee.” I asked about it. I was quickly put on hold and ferried to the next tier of sales, an SEO expert who can answer my very general question about how the “guarantee” was worded. I got a female voice who tried engage me in pure small talk and coax me towards the sale. She knew nothing about the guarantee, so I got escalated to a third person.
Speaking With a Real Expert on SEO
This third person was a gruff, no-nonsense, no-small talk guy who was clearly one of the people calling the shots. I knew this because he didn’t have the cacophony of other telemarketers in the background, making simultaneous pitches like the one being delivered to me. No. This guy was in a soundless environment – he was one of the big shots who had his own office and didn’t have to be out there on the telemarketing floor. Between my questions and his abrupt answers, you could practically hear a pin drop.
“Do you have a guarantee?” I asked.
“Yes”, he said. “It’s mentioned three times in the proposal you should have received.”
“What does it guarantee? What are you claiming you’ll do? Will I really be on the first page of Google for the terms that need to be ranked for?” I queried.
“We guarantee you visibility on Google within 45 days.”
Guaranteed Visibility is NOT Guaranteed Rank
Visibility on Google is not equivalent to being on the first page of a search result for something you need to be ranked for. In fact it’s quite different. It can mean that you’re showing up on the fiftieth page of search results for some term that isn’t even relevant to you, like “puppy shampoo” when you are trying to get ranked for “lawnmowers”. It doesn’t mean you’ll be on the first page at all. This is a very misleading semantic to use on people who don’t understand SEO. Very misleading. Shameful that some SEO experts would even use it except to make the distinction like I’m doing. I knew at that point they were selling pure garbage, something that could easily be rendered for $2 worth of effort a month.
My final question was, “So what if you don’t get me the Google exposure you’re promising, will I get my money back? Is that what your guarantee means?”
His answer was “If we don’t get you Google visibility in 45 days like we promise you get an additional month of service for free.”
THERE IT IS LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: GUARANTEED SEO!!!
I had to stop myself from laughing so I could ask him “How do you feel keeping yourself fed by misleading people?” He hung up. That was time they wasted, but I considered a worthy use of mine. I had always wanted to know what “Guaranteed SEO” was all about. Now I know. It was the same feeling you get from walking out of a comedy show, happy that you’re time was well spent having a laugh.
Imagine going into a restaurant and they said “Meal Guaranteed.” You’d think it meant you’d be guaranteed to be satisfied with your meal or you’d get your money back. Imagine you said “Waiter, these sliders are the worst I’ve ever had. Send them back as part of your guarantee.” What if the waiter responded “If you aren’t happy with your first three sliders, you get a fourth one free.” It would be a joke right?
Not Funny, Not Fun
But it’s not so funny for people who’ve fallen for this type of duplicity. It’s not funny to have your time wasted, to have your money wasted. It wouldn’t be so funny to let some scammer into your website and start ripping things up, “positioning” your content for fast SEO gains in what could be detrimental long term. Worse yet, they could hijack your site legally if you get involved in some kind of agreement whose terms surely weren’t on that proposal.
Please share this warning with your friends, clients, vendors and people who you network with. Don’t let them get taken advantage of. Get this information to them before it’s too late, before those scammers get their number and call them.
Most of all, if you’re considering investing in SEO, it really does pay for itself over and over, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Content is king, but just 1/6 of the SEO methodology we recommend. The more content you push out, the better you’ll do. But it has to be done right. It’s not about throwing more spaghetti at the wall, it’s a science.
We practice the science of SEO at Massive Impressions without any mysterious black boxes where the “magic” happens unseen. We make sure what we’re doing for SEO integrates with your brand and all of your marketing investments. That’s how we get maximum impact, maximum ROI, by bringing our expertise and production capacity to the table, collaborating with you for success. When you’re ready to get serious about SEO, call us at (866) 800-3579. We’re ready to make your site rank.