Internet Marketing – Ensure Your Business Survives the Recession

Dollars are scarce in today’s economy. Phone book advertisements, radio spots, billboards, and other forms of advertisements have not become any cheaper in recent times,  and in fact, Statewide Roofing Specialist costs are on the rise. In uncertain financial times, it can be very uncomfortable to sign a contract binding your business into a predefined term that commits you to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars over the next several months to a year. With no guaranteed results and no way to effectively measure return on investment (ROI), most business owners would prefer not to be bound to such contracts, especially since such contracts usually include stiff exit penalties for early termination. But what are the alternatives?

We live in an Internet world today, and most people are familiar with finding what they want through search services like Yahoo!, Google, and MSN. As consumers, we’re all familiar with the concept of typing a few words in the search bar and clicking the search button to explore our options. As business owners, however, the process on how to achieve a prominent placement in the search engine listings is often a murky, undefined, seemingly “random” process. Additionally, it can be very confusing when telemarketers and solicitors call on your business with various conflicting packages, promising to deliver “guaranteed” results but at a steep price tag. Many times, the lip service is gone once you sign the contract.

Using the Internet to advertise your business is a viable way to cut costs, focus marketing efforts, and deliver incredible results, but there are a few key points that you must know in order to protect your interests. Here are a few deceptive practices and myths to be careful about if you consider marketing your business online:

Deceptive Practice #1: Guaranteed Placement

There is no such thing as “guaranteed” placement on any of the major search engines. I wish there were, but if you think about it, such guarantees don’t make sense. It’s always possible that someone else might be willing to pay more for higher placement in the sponsored links area of search engine results. In the organic (or natural rankings) area of the search results, there is only one “number one” spot, so if someone offers you a “guarantee” that they can get your website to the number one spot, you’d have to question how they can possibly do that for your business when other unscrupulous sales people are making the same guarantees elsewhere. And what if they approach another business in the same industry as yours? Are they guaranteeing your competitor the #2 spot? I doubt it. What about the sales person four states away that is pitching their prospective client that they “guarantee” the number one spot? How can that be? In short, it can’t. Individual telephone or marketing companies may own their own, propriety search services in which they may guarantee placement within their own listings, but you must consider how narrow or wide-reaching their services encompass, and whether the price is worth the exposure for the number of people who search through them versus the major search engines. Regardless of how many angles someone tries to play it, there is no way to ethically guarantee a particular placement on the major search engines. If someone makes such a claim, show them the door.

Deceptive Practice #2: “We work closely with the search engines”

It sounds great, and it would be quite the cozy situation if it were true, but again, no one has the “inside scoop” on how to tip the scales in your favor by “being in bed with” the search engines. Every professional, competent Internet marketing provider keeps up-to-date on current changes, but to say “working closely with” is, at best, misleading. If someone gives you a sales pitch that they have an inside track with Google, Yahoo!, MSN or any other search service, they’re blowing smoke and trying to “sell” you on a relationship that simply can’t exist. Why can’t it exist? Because search engines would go out of business if they compromised the integrity of their ever-changing algorithms. (Their “algorithm” is the formula they use to rank and score websites based on weighted criteria, and it is “super-double-top-secret”). True, experienced search engine companies stay very familiar with updated materials and guidelines that search engine companies make public, but nobody has the executive privilege of calling up a particular search engine and saying “Hey, I’ve got a client that needs to be ranked number one for a particular keyword. Can you ‘hook me up?’” Anyone who says that “they’re in bed with the search engines” is making promises in the dark.

Deceptive Practice#3: Flat Rate Offers for Search Engine Submissions

Buyer beware. You may receive solicitations in the mail that appear to be bills but the fine print reads, “This is a solicitation. This is not a bill. You are under no obligation to pay this amount.” Elsewhere in the correspondence, in much more conspicuous print, you will see the words, “Remit the following amount by (some date).” It’s a legal scam. How can it be legal, yet still be a scam? Quite easily, actually. They will deliver EXACTLY what they advertise, which is often some number of keyword phrases submitted to some number of search engines on some periodic basis over the next year or so. If they do what they promise they’ll do, it’s legal. However, submitting a website to search engines without properly preparing it (called “optimizing”) for submission and marketing to the search engines produces virtually zero results for you. Therefore, taking your money for something that will knowingly do nothing for you makes it a “scam,” at least in my opinion.

Deceptive Practice #4: Using a Name to Define Itself

This is a common ploy that capitalizes on the unsuspecting and th unknowing. It’s pretty typical (although not guaranteed) that a company will appear in the number one spot on search engines when using the name of the company as the search term. It makes sense that a company’s name will be the best fit for search results when searching using the company’s name. (Sounds redundant, right?) more info please Do not let anyone fool you by telling you that they worked hard for the money to achieve great results by showing you that your company comes up prominently when you search for yourself. Such results often happen almost “automatically,” with no effort at all. Plus, how many people really search for you by company name? The goal in search engine optimization and marketing is to get your company “found” by searching for your products, services, manufacturers, etc.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Marketing (SEM) is like the Wild West. Technology has expanded much faster than laws have been able to keep pace, and therefore there are plenty of opportunities for fraud and deception. The burden of maintaining integrity in the system has fallen largely on the individual search service companies like Google, Yahoo! and MSN, which explains why those companies need to continually update and refine their algorithms to keep the riff-raff out. In true “Western Movie” style, the terms to describe “good guy” practices is dubbed “white hat SEO/SEM” while the “bad guy” practices are labeled “black hat SEO/SEM.” It sounds over dramatic, but the “good guys” engage in industry best-practices and adhere to ethical approaches, whereas the “bad guys” try to subvert the search engine algorithms and are usually the ones who engage in deceptive practices while preying on the ignorance of unsuspecting business owners.

Someday, there will undoubtedly be legal controls in place to support SEO/SEM malpractice lawsuits, much like how consumers are protected from medical or legal malpractice. I look forward to that day, because it will “clean up” the industry. As it stands now, the search engine optimization and marketing industry is the only one I can think of in which:


  • there is no way to ethically guarantee results
  • SEO/SEM practitioners can collect money with the disclaimer of “no guarantees”, and
  • after collecting money for no-guarantee work, SEO/SEM companies can legitimately deliver “no results”.


Of course, reputable SEO/SEM companies that engage in fair practices will likely take measures to make a happy customer, but the overall big picture allows for a lot of dubious practices in the market place. The few “bad apples” that leave a trail of destruction spoil it for the bunch who are honest, white hat SEO/SEM service providers.

How can you protect yourself? How can you be reasonably assured of not being ripped off? First and foremost, get references. Secondly, check those references. And finally, apply common sense to the situation, resisting the urge to take the bait of anything that seems “too good to be true.” Any company that offers to provide you with SEO/SEM services should be able to provide you with qualified references. Even so, be sure to contact their actual clients to ensure a couple of things:


  • is the company easy to work with?
  • are the clients happy with their results?
  • are the results producing traffic?
  • would the clients recommend the company?


Remember, the level of service you get will differ based on what you pay. SEO/SEM efforts, done properly, are based on data but are somewhat subjective. In other words, there is more that one way to achieve positive results, and different SEO specialists can achieve comparable outcomes by employing different techniques and strategies. This often makes it difficult to compare “apples to apples” as a business owner when you are trying to determine the best company to hire for your search engine project. Here is another scenario to consider:


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