A recent voicemail released by a Kansas City Law firm, McCollum & Griggs LLC, while very funny, exposes a problem rarely discussed by social media and SEO-pumping news sites. You never hear about the horror stories. There are far more Internet marketing failures and down-right ripoffs than success stories.
Google’s webspam chief, Matt Cutts, talks a lot about the bad guys in his ever-ending quest to improve search quality, but as an industry we rarely talk about victims of SEO service failures, or dare I say fraud. Google indicates that useful sites often often present both sides of the story – well here is another side for you.
“Don’t Mess With His Boys”
Virtually every business in America (and surely in many other parts of the world) with a website gets bombarded with hard-selling SEO and Internet marketing sales pitches and promises of Internet glory. Some of our clients report getting calls every day. Many of these are from boiler-rooms in the US or offshore. Then there is email spam after email spam promoting SEO and web development services. More recently, we’ve been getting reports of robo-calls that sound like calls from Google regarding Places listings. When you click to connect you are transferred directly to a boiler room . These are really dirty, nasty tricks that are being executed on a large scale. The sales tactics range from aggressive to unethical. Talk about an industry in need of its own reputation management.
Few of the major SEO blogs and industry news sites want to discuss the negatives, but our industry has MAJOR reputation issues. So many companies have been ripped off, yet because the search engines (primarily Google) influence an overwhelming number of purchase decisions, companies have been desperate to try just about anything to achieve ranking results. This made businesses vulnerable to services by shady firms. Most have been burned. Now as an industry, we are paying for it.
Wake up. We are becoming the used-car salesmen of the Internet. When SEO’s hear the above voicemail message they are thinking, “wow, this guys is over-the-top”, but when business owners hear this recording they think “See? I told you so…SEO is snake-oil.” It was once cool to be an SEO / social media / Internet marketing expert, now it’s becoming a cliché.
There are a ton of great social media marketing, PPC and organic SEO consulting firms out there. We are, however, far outnumbered by fly-by-night companies and outright scammers. This recent voicemail recording is a small example of a huge and persistent problem.