A man came to see me not long ago. He was trying to decide whether to work with me, or with this Amazing New Online Marketing Tool he’d discovered. I admired the heavy, brightly colored pages the representative of this Amazing Tool had given to him, and I went to their website and saw this Amazing Chart.
Yep, for $1000 a month — with a lengthy contract — you too can have 325 clicks per month to your website.
It is possible that I laughed. In fact, I think I probably did. After all, faced with something like this, you have a choice between a merry laugh and saying, “Dude! What’s wrong with you?”
I’m sure I would never say a thing like that to a client. Or even a prospective client who’s thinking of going with an Amazing New Online Marketing Tool instead.
A careful reading of the materials suggests to me that this is a Google Ads campaign, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But look at that chart! This company is asking people to pay large sums of money for a number of visitors in a month that you can easily get on a good website every day for free.
This isn’t really funny, though.
SEO is a new enough field, and online marketing is a new enough experience, that there are lots of people out there preying on the inexperience of innocent businesspeople. It’s like the time in the long-ago past when anyone at all could claim to be a dentist and practice on people just by hanging out a sign.
I know people who call themselves SEOs who believe that you have to resubmit your website to the major search engines every month, that the best way to increase PageRank is to submit fake testimonials to spammy sites, and that it’s impossible to get good rankings without a Google Ads campaign.
And that’s the honest ones.
The people with The Amazing New Tool aren’t exactly deceiving anyone. They are essentially saying, “Look! Pay us and you can have a small amount of traffic at a website!” They’re just saying it in an excited tone of voice and trusting that people who don’t know much about websites or online traffic will get excited enough to sign a contract. By the time the poor creatures realize that they’ve been tricked, it will be too late.
How can you avoid online marketing tricks?
- Learn a little bit about online marketing. You can learn the basics by reading this blog, and there are plenty of others out there, too. Ask questions so you can tell whether the Amazing New Tools are in sync with reality or giving you a completely different story. For example, all respectable sources of information on SEO will tell you that excellent content and design are the basics. An Amazing New Tool that guarantees magical results regardless of the quality of your product or website is not reliable.
- Work with people you trust. Can they answer your questions? Do the things they say make sense to you, based on your knowledge of business and marketing? The internet is a specialized environment, but it’s not another planet. If the things your Amazing New Tool is suggesting sound as though they’d be dishonest or shady in the physical world, then they probably will be on the internet, as well.
- Be alert for the scent of snake oil. Sure, scammers can look respectable. But often they don’t. If it feels like someone is about to pull out a fake Rolex and offer it to you at an Amazing Price, then you should probably trust your instincts and bow out.
You can get good amounts of traffic to your website by having a useful website, letting people know it’s there, and giving it some time. Regular blogging, social media involvement, and other inbound marketing tactics can improve your traffic and conversions. Google Ads — paid search — can also drive targeted traffic effectively.
If that’s not what you do for a living, it makes sense to hire people to do that for you. Hire the people you need for the purpose of creating a useful website and letting people know it’s there, and pass on the Amazing New Tools.