We have recently been experiencing an influx of companies contacting our clients offering them services to “improve” their search rankings. Offering gimmicks, setting false expectations and sometimes even posing to be working for Google. Our goal is to educate you on the dangers of companies like this, and offer you some guidelines to follow when hiring a company to help your online presence.
The #1 rule to follow: before hiring any company or individual who wants to you to help improve your rankings – speak to your current internet marketing team. No matter whether you think that what you are already doing won’t be effected by what you hire this new company to do, discuss it with your current partners. The internet can be a tricky place, it’s always best to discuss these things with people in the industry.
What steps can you take if you don’t already have a company working for you? There are plenty, we recommend you do all of the following before signing up for any services. (yes, even if they are FREE…actually, ESPECIALLY if they are free)
- Go to the Source: Go to the company’s website and look around. Be sure to read testimonials and get a general feel for the site. Chances are if they use a template for their own website, that’s what you will be getting too.
- Research: Search for their Google Place page ratings, as well as their general Google rankings. Read the reviews that are posted and check around to other sites as well (to name a few: BBB, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List). And remember – if they can’t handle their own reputation, they certainly won’t take good care of your reputation.
- Ask for references: We cannot stress this enough. Any good business can give you at least 3 solid references. And don’t just ask for the references – CALL THEM!
- Stay in Control: Make sure that you will be given access to all accounts created for you at all times. Never let another company ‘Own’ your accounts and passwords. You need to stay in control, these accounts belong to you.
- Ask Questions: Google offers a specific set of guidelines for advertising to prevent spamming. Be sure to ask the question “Do you follow Google Guidelines?” and educate yourself on a few, so you can make sure they are telling the truth. Here are a few examples, make sure the answer you get for all of them is a resounding “NO”.
- Can I use a PO Box as my address?
- Can I list my business in multiple zip codes when my physical address is only in one zip code?
- Can I have multiple listings for the same business?
The biggest claim that you need to beware of is when someone offers you a guaranteed ranking on Google, this is the biggest red flag of them all. Google itself offers you a quote to help you weed out the good companies from the bad:
Nobody, and that means nobody can guarantee you a #1 ranking on Google.
What are the repercussions of signing with one of these companies?
There can be a number of issues that can arise from using the wrong company. Here is a short list of a few things that could happen (Source: Experiences of our Clients)
- The company could create multiple business listings, which will get you great rankings at first, but then Google will mark you as ‘Spam’ and all of your listings will be taken down.
- Create a landing page for you that you have no control over or access to, that they host on their own server. (Which means if you terminate your service they take your page down-potentially leaving you with an error page or a ‘site no longer exists’ landing page)
- If you cancel your account and you do not hold the control of your accounts, the company could sell your listings to a competitor.
What is the bottom line? It’s simple. Ask questions and educate yourself. Stick with your instincts – and always remember, if it sounds too good to be true- it probably is. If you still aren’t sure, then give PinPoint Local a call, we will be happy to provide you with guidance and answer any of your questions!