I got one of those calls warning me that my Google listing would soon be removed by Google if I didn’t take action. Normally I hang up, of course, but something about the call piqued my curiosity. I pushed the button and was transferred to a human. I don’t recall the name of the company, but their service was intriguing: they would register keywords with Google for me.
The first sales pitch
He said he would just confirm my business information and then transfer me to a Google analyst. I played along. “Can you handle 15 to 20 percent more business?” he asked in a serious voice after getting me to agree to my name and address. I’ve heard that voice before in movies when they ask whether the hapless pawn understands that the fate of the nation depends on him.
I allowed as how I thought I could. “If I can show you how my agency can increase your business by 15 to 20 percent,” he asked, again in a voice better suited to a TV drama, “will you allow me to transfer you to a Google analyst?”
I admitted that I didn’t understand the question. Was the transfer of the call contingent on his convincing me that he could increase my business? I really just wanted to know what his company’s services were.
We had a little verbal tussle at this point. I’ve read that the point of the first guy on these calls is to make sure that the person they’re talking to is gullible. There’s no point in passing someone on to the real snake oil salesman if they don’t seem to be in the market for snake oil.
“You can transfer me,” I said in a cheery voice once it was clear that the first guy didn’t have clearance to describe the company’s services.
The second sales pitch
The second guy again asked to confirm my name and business address. I assume that this is to make the patsy say “Yes” a few more times to get them in a receptive mood.
“You have an organic listing,” he told me. “I’m going to give you a premium listing. We’ll just determine the five keywords to register with Google…”
“You don’t have access to my business listing with Google,” I objected, “and Google doesn’t register keywords.”
This, he explained, was because I had an organic listing, not a premium listing. He would claim and verify my listing, and register the keywords with Google, and then, he explained, “Every time someone types in those keywords, your listing will show up at the top of Google.”
“But that’s not true,” I pointed out. I had asked him where he planned to put these keywords, if he was offering me Adwords management, and if the services of his company were part of Google.
“We’re not Google,” he had said frankly, but otherwise he didn’t go off script. “I’m not a tech,” he said, “we just need to get your five keywords and then our company will claim and verify your listing and register the keywords with Google.”
If I didn’t do that, he said, my listing could sink so low that it would be removed by Google within, I believe, 68 days.
I liked that touch of the specific.
“Right now people only see your listing if they type in the exact name of your company,” he lied, unconcerned about my having suggested that he was lying. I guess if it’s your job to tell people lies, you can’t get too upset when people notice this. He continued lying. “If we register your keywords with Google, your business will show up on top every time people type in those keywords.”
“I would like to know what your service is,” I persisted. “Is this advertising? Adwords?”
He was silent for a moment, then started in again on the keywords. If I would give him the keywords, he assured me, he would transfer me to a technician. “This is my company’s service,” he said, having given no further information about what he planned to do with these keywords.
Obviously, the system doesn’t allow people to jump ahead. There’s a form to fill out, I guess, and you can’t move on without providing something for every field on the form.
Also, there is no such thing as a premium Google business listing. You can’t register keywords with Google, either. My guess is that the service, if there is one, is paid search. You can specify keywords and have a good chance of showing up in ads at the top of the search results page.
I am still curious about what would have happened if I had stayed on the phone. Presumably there would have eventually been some mention of pricing. Maybe people who stay on the phone long enough to hear a price are sufficiently confused about search engines and SERPs that they just give in and provide their credit card information after an hour or two.
You can set up and manage your own Google business listing. Go to Google My Business for information on business listings. Sign in and you’ll see any business listings you already own. You can find your business and claim your listing, or add your business if it’s not listed. You’ll be able to add photos, hours, and other information — but you can’t register keywords. That’s not a real thing.
Companies like Haden Interactive can assist you with the process of creating or optimizing your listing. We can also help you with Adwords.
We probably won’t call you out of the blue. If you call us or ask for a call, though, you’ll notice that we won’t tell you lies. We will answer your questions honestly and straightforwardly. We won’t use tricks to manipulate your responses.
As for the scam calls offering to register keywords for you? Hang up.