As 2018 comes to a close, you’re probably looking forward to making improvements to your business for 2019. You may even be looking for places to spend your marketing dollars. This makes the new year a prime time for phone calls and emails from people selling you marketing services. While many of these are legitimate, there are just as many that aren’t.
Here are the top five website scams to watch for in 2019:
Google Business Listing Scams
If you own or operate a small business, you’ve probably received this phone call. Often, the caller on the other end claims to be from Google and they want you to pay a fee to create or clean up your Google business listing. But here’s the thing: unless you happen to be spending a bunch of money with Google AdWords, it is highly unlikely that anybody from Google is actually going to be calling you.
Google My Business (GMB) is a 100% free service that you can manage yourself. Yes, it does help your Google listing but you don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars to do it. Just head to https://www.google.com/business/ and follow their simple instructions. You’ll be able to update things like contact information, business hours, and pictures. If that’s still more than you want to deal with, we can help you do it for free if you contact us.
Online Directory Listing Scams
Online directory listing scams are one of the newer things to look out for. There are literally thousands of online directories, but only a few are legitimate. Some services such as Yext are very legitimate, but their rise in popularity has caused many low-quality copycat services to rise up behind them.
One thing worth mentioning here: making sure you have consistent information across multiple listings is very important for SEO, but only if these listings are on legitimate listings sites such as Yahoo, Yelp, FourSquare, and YP.com. If you’re contacted by a listings service, ask them which sites they submit listings to. There will probably be many you haven’t heard of, but as long as the most major recognizable ones are in there you should be okay.
Fancy Client Lists
We’ve all seen marketing websites that claim “some of our clients include”. Many times, you’ll see logos for companies like Microsoft, Google, Coca-Cola, etc. While these claims may be accurate, it’s a good practice to dig into the relationship with some questions. Ask about the work that was done for them. Most importantly, find out if they are still clients. (Many times these are one-and-done jobs.) If you can, try to secure email addresses of their contacts at those companies so you can get a direct reference on your own.
Your Website is Broken
Even the best websites in the world have technical issues. If you get a call or email from a self-proclaimed marketing agency that tells you your site is broken, this should be a red flag. Many developers have reasons for using code that may trigger automated error checkers. Error checkers like these are trained to find things that aren’t usual, even though they may be necessary. Fake checks like this are often used to cause panic among website owners and should be treated with caution. If you have any questions regarding errors on your site, it’s best to contact your site’s developer first.
Guaranteed Google Ranking
If somebody promises to get you to the first spot on Google, just hang up the phone. Google has said time and time again that there is no way to guarantee top ranking. Nobody except the engineers at Google know Google’s algorithms. Honest SEO agencies will make every attempt possible to get you the best ranking possible, but “first place” is never guaranteed.
Basic Warning Signs
In general, be on the lookout for people or agencies who ask you to send money or try to get your credit card or financial information. Read over the terms and conditions of any company you’re thinking about hiring. Check their reviews on social media, and of course be on your guard regarding any personal information they may try to get from you. If you want to go the extra step (or you think you’ve been scammed) you can always file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Local laws may also come into play if you’re dealing with an agency that’s in your city.
We Can Help
If you have any questions regarding the legitimacy of any solicitation, feel free to reach out to us. We see attempted scams all the time and may be able to assist you.