Top 10 Small Business Internet Marketing Company Deceptions Exposed
It is a harsh and unfortunate reality that in the world we live in there are predators that prey on unassuming small business owners so they can make a quick buck – especially in the small business internet marketing world. Internet marketing can be overwhelming and complicated so I’ve put together the top deceptions, scams and the black hat practices that pose an immediate danger to your small business web presence.
1. Taking Domain Ownership – It is important that you have complete control over your domain. It is easy to register or transfer a domain so that you are the legal registrant. Deceptive small business internet marketing companies will offer free domains or require you to transfer your existing domain to their control. As a domain owner the only thing your internet marketing service provider should require is DNS access or name server access. This is simple and easy to administer with domain providers like GoDaddy.com
2. Preventing or Delaying Access to Web Performance Metrics – If you are paying someone to manage your organic or paid search efforts you can track and monitor progress with free tools like Google Analytics. It is a best practice for a small business internet marketing company to set you up with Google Analytics and provide you with access. Do business with a transparent company that will partner with you to achieve results.
3. Preventing Access to the Backend of your Website –I am a firm believer that your website should have a backend CMS or content management system like Wordpress. A CMS makes it super easy to add and make changes to content and graphics. Wordpress is as easy as using Microsoft Word. Some small business internet marketing providers will build you a website without a backend CMS making it impossible for you to make changes, thus requiring you to retain their services to make simple changes. Some web designers will argue that a CMS will impact your site performance but I have yet to see the validity of this argument.
4. Engaging in Link Schemes – Back linking is becoming a thing of the past. It really doesn’t matter how many back links your site has. Each link from a domain has a certain level of authority that it passes on to your website when linked. Link farms and other black hat SEO tactics can actually hurt your web performance. A more organic approach in building web authority is content creation. Be aware of small business internet marketing companies that sell links or linking services. Make sure to question their methodology and ask for example reports of existing customers to see the quality of sites they are linking to.
5. Keyword Stuffing - Keyword stuffing is when you write an article and repeat the keyword that you want to rank for more times than it makes sense. The content reads funny and it does not flow. Remember the goal of a small business internet marketing strategy is to not only attract prospective customers to your site but to also engage them with interesting and actionable content. When investing in content development make sure the internet marketing agency is writing content that flows, makes sense and is relevant to the products and services you sell.
6. Producing Duplicate Content – Two years ago it was easy to take a piece of content for one company, change a few words and publish it on another company website to rank for keywords. Today duplicate content can get you into trouble. Google recently launched Google Panda which only gives credit to a piece of content once. Make sure your content is fresh and original. If you recently lost rank and positioning on the search engines it could be you are sharing content with another website managed by the same small business internet marketing provider.
7. Unable to Access Paid Search Accounts – There are some small business internet marketing companies out there that will set you up with paid search accounts and not provide you with direct access to those accounts. It is important that you know what your true costs are when starting a paid search campaign. So if you see your ads running on sites like Google, Bing or Yahoo you should see reports that come directly from these advertisers. Smart deceptive small business internet marketing firms will write their own reports and mask the margins they are making on your paid search dollars. Make sure you have a direct billing relationship with your advertisers and only pay for paid search management. You could be spending 70% or more margin on the backend for paid search services and not even realize it – so if your phone is not ringing ask why.
8. Selling a Small Group of Keywords – This is a deceptive small business internet marketing sales tactic. A sales person will sell you a small group of keywords and claim that you will be number one in the paid search listings. They may even sell you an organic package. The keywords they choose will be long tail keywords or phrases which normally contain 3 or more words. You will be charged for the management of these keywords and not necessarily the performance. It is very simple and fast to rank for long tail keywords.
Awhile back I worked with a client that was paying a small business internet marketing company more than $800 each month for the following terms:
- Pensacola heating and air conditioning contractor
- Pensacola HVAC Contractor
- Best Pensacola Air Conditioning Contractor
I took over the campaign and ran with the same keywords for a period of 30 days. The true cost to get found for these keywords was $0.00. The ads would show up when you typed in the search phrases, however there was no one searching these specific phrases.
9. Blocking the Search Engines – I’ve seen small business internet marketing companies that will block your website from being indexed from search engines like Google by inserting a piece of code – “no index, no follow.” This prevents your site from being crawled, indexed and ranked on a search engine results search. It is common for a deceptive internet marketing company to block your site when you terminate service. Maintain control over your domain and make sure you have access to the backend of your website to prevent this from happening. When you sign an agreement make sure you have it in writing that your site will be indexed and followed along with ownership over your content.
10. Misrepresenting Google – Google employees do not make cold calls. If you are receiving cold calls from internet marketing companies claiming to be from or affiliated with Google I would highly recommend asking them for their phone number and website address so you can verify the claim.
About The Service Coach
The Service Coach helps service businesses of all sizes develop and implement proven digital marketing strategies. Below are a number of common challenges we help service business owners solve:
Website Visibility and Performance: The average small business website has only 14 indexed web pages and most require IT involvement to make changes. We make your website work harder with an easy to use content management system. The CMS has built in tools that make it easy to create pages, measure performance and track critical marketing metrics like traffic and conversion.
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Long Sales Cycles: You write estimates for high ticket, high margin replacement installations and find that it is taking longer to close deals than before. We help you develop and implement sales tools and communications that speed up the buying process.
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Consistent Lead Generation: Lead flow is sporadic and unpredictable. We help you generate a steady flow of leads at scalable costs through a number of layered lead generation strategies including paid search, email, local search directory placement, content development and more.
Turning Service Offerings into Easy-to-Sell Programs: People purchase products and services that offer perceived value. Without value it is often difficult to position your offering at its’ optimal price. This typically leads to missed opportunities and contracts agreed to at a substantially discounted price. We transition your product and service offerings into easy-to-sell programs.
Selling Recurring Revenue Preventative Maintenance Plans: One of the best ways to secure a customer relationship is to implement a recurring service model where the customer belongs to an exclusive offering where they have peace of mind knowing that your company will respond at a moment’s notice and take care of their equipment. We help you build and develop recurring revenue streams and customer service plans that build long-last relationships.
Running Blind: You may have heard the old adage “About half of my ads work, the problem is I’m not sure which half.” If you’re running blind without visibility into marketing performance we can help. We’ll wire up your marketing department so you’ll have visibility into marketing performance. With data you’ll be able to make informed decisions and control costs. You’ll know exactly how much a lead will cost, how much it will take to generate a new customer and more.
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About The Author
: Steve Teneriello is the Founder of The Service Coach and is a seasoned senior marketing strategist and business development professional experienced in both residential and commercial sales and digital marketing. Throughout his career Steve has worked with over 300 small to medium-sized service business owners helping them develop and implement systematic and formula driven marketing, sales and operations strategies that fuel growth and profitability. Learn More About Steve Here