Don’t let these Web “gotcha’s” get you

Recently I have heard about too many “too good to be true” deals or opportunities being promoted by unscrupulous companies, specifically in the realm of Websites and Internet marketing. Often they will start with promises ranging from, “We can get you to the top of page 1 on Google” to “Just pay us $2000 a month and we will guarantee you lots of new business.”

If it sounds too good to be true, then stay away. Let face it, if it was really that easy, everyone would be doing it. P

We would all like to get top search engine results. Just keep in mind that although there are promises, there are also pitfalls involved in search engine optimization, or SEO. Unfortunately, there are many so-called professionals taking advantage of our desire to get top search engine results. There are too many companies using unscrupulous methods to achieve the result. When these methods are used, there is a high likelihood that your company’s online reputation will be harmed by these tactics and fall in the search engine results.

One of the really disturbing tactics that some Web marketers use is the creation of duplicate Websites. For instance, one of these companies has created a few template Websites and will simply put some of the clients’ information in and “create a beautiful Website” for their clients.

Yes, the Websites are beautiful, but the problem with these Websites is that they are virtually clones of other Websites. The other problem with these Websites is that they have “duplicate content.” In the world of SEO, duplicate content is a no-no.

Another frequently used technique includes the use of doorway pages and landing pages.

Doorway pages are typically large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase. In many cases, doorway pages are written to rank for a particular phrase and then funnel users to a single destination. Google frowns on doorway pages because they’re designed to manipulate search engines and deceive users by directing them to sites other than the one they selected. Google may take action on doorway sites and other sites making use of these deceptive practices, including removing these sites from Google’s index.

Landing pages can be used very effectively to get visitors to your Website, but they can also create problems. Not all landing pages are created equal. A landing page that that has its own Web address and links to your Website is usually viewed positively by search engines. Landing pages that are part of your Website are fine and can be very beneficial.

Unfortunately landing pages have been seriously abused and can lead to situations where you end up competing with yourself. There are search engine marketing companies that create what they call landing pages that do not link to your Website, but are actually pre-defined Websites with your information inserted in a few places. Not only do these Websites contain duplicate content, using the same wording from other competitor Websites, you now have two Websites which will compete with each other for search engine ranking.

There are other problems with these “landing page” Websites. One issue is that they use another phone number that gets forwarded to you. The phone number is owned by the marketing company and can be re-used if you cancel your services with them. In fact, the marketing company can re-assign the number to one of your competitors. Another drawback to this set-up is that the marketing company owns the new Website; so again if you cancel, you lose it.

Any company that tries to sell you pre-written content, promotion of a Website that you don’t own or any system in which Websites re-direct or link to you in an unnatural way should be avoided. Keep in mind that you should always own your own presence online.

Clients frequently call me to share e-mailed or cold-call offers from companies guaranteeing them top search engine rankings, so I’ve talked to many of these types of companies. Recently, when I spoke to the sales rep of one of these companies, who was telling my client that they can guarantee get him on the top of the page,  she was very enthusiastic and again “guaranteed top position on Google.”

Let me caution you here—NOBODY can guarantee top position. When I spoke to this enthusiastic rep and asked a few questions, it turned out that she didn’t know anything about the Internet; in fact she didn’t really even use a computer. I asked her to have someone from her company e-mail me some more information. She couldn’t e-mail me herself because she didn’t know how to use e-mail. You guessed it—we never heard from that company again. Fortunately for my client, he curbed his excitement and asked me to check it out. He is a smart person—he allows me to be the bad guy.—Lorraine Hart

Lorraine Hart is the president of Ideal Consulting Services, a business consulting firm. Lorraine is a past president of the NYC/LI Chapter of NARI. Lorraine can be reached at lorraine@idealconsulting.net.

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