To quote Google itself: “No one can guarantee first place on Google.”
My customers report that they get calls from “Google” offering “first page on Google” and the like. I have not offered outside SEO services to my clients because, frankly, I have found that this area of expertise is truly shark infested waters.
I get these calls myself and usually blow them off, but the other day when they called, I decided to stay on the line and see where it was going. After talking to the initial thickly accented flunky, I was directed to a supervising thickly accented flunky and finally when I indicated a mild interest, to a fast-talking American sharpie.
This person enthusiastically (but vaguely) described their services and directed me to the company website, 29Prime.com, which was pretty impressive. Then he went in for the kill, by telling me that today and today only, I could get their service for $189, not the usual $395 + $300 startup fee. I had difficulty getting a straight answer as to what all these fees were for.
I told him I’d risk missing this “SPECIAL, just for you JULIA, today only!” (They used my name a lot), and that I’d take his direct line phone number, investigate the company and if interested call him back.
It didn’t take very long to discover that:
• There was buzz all over the web about the scams they run.
• 29Prime has a big fat F rating at the BBB.
• The picture of their corporate headquarters is another company’s office with their logo Photoshoped on the building!
29prime is not alone in their predatory practices. With similar SEO schemes, their customers risk being banned from Google by their illegal listing practices, and are threatened with the deletion of their listings if they try to cancel. I myself dogged a bullet last year when a company, in a free trial, placed a link building page on my website that did indeed rank first in local listings. The trouble was, the link page was the landing page! I certainly didn’t want that to be the first thing people saw when they clicked on my listing.
I am appalled by the extraordinary fees and contract prices charged by many firms in the SEO industry without transparency as to what services, by the hour, are being provided. My clients are small local businesses. They want to rank in their service area. Rank organically and fairly. I charge by the hour, and can document the time spent. So should SEO specialists.
The difficulty is gauging ROI when contracting such a service. How do you know that SEO is really working? Unless you can trust the person marketing your business, you can only educate yourself and roll the dice.
My reputation is my business. If I recommend a particular service, I’m the one going down the drain if they turn out to be con artists. That is why I am doing my due diligence to seek out and find a good, reputable web marketing specialist for my clients.