“See this? See this!” said my client. “There we are, our website is right up there at number 1, and it happened overnight after I paid my $99. How simple was that? And I have a cast-iron guarantee that it will stay at that position for that single payment!”
Now I had two options here:
- Hit him hard with the facts i.e. there is no way you can go to #1 overnight
- Let him down gently and explain what’s happened and that he’s just wasted $99
I have to admit I was so annoyed that he’d gone off and done this that I wanted to take the first option, but I decided that our long term relationship deserved more than that – my annoyance is my problem!
How Google indexes websites
So I explained that when you type your own website url into Google search, Google will return all instances of the pages it has indexed. So yes it appears to be number 1 (and 2 and 3 and 4….). And yes every time you do that it will be the same, but actually that’s not what he wants or needs – if someone knows his url then SEO is not needed, people will just go straight to his site anyway – a fact that he had forgotten during the sales pitch. I expanded on ‘real’ SEO and what it meant, what people search for, how his competitors are defined and how to set up his USPs. We talked about all the different areas that needed to be considered, from search terms, on-site content, domain authority, meta data, video and PDF optimisation through to Google Search Console, articles, blogs and on and on. It was then that he realised just what a mistake he’d made.
Don’t waste money on the wrong sort of SEO
Next, I showed him how it worked for any website by entering website urls at random. He saw that they were also #1 and the penny dropped big time – yes he’d been duped. What came next was more embarrassment for him and shock for me. He’d been so impressed by what he’d seen that he’d paid out another $199 to do the same for his site on Bing (because, as the sales pitch went, “Bing is so much more complicated to get to number 1 than Google”). He’d also paid out $248 ($49+$199) for 3 other sites he runs plus a general overrider fee of $499 for a whole host of secondary search engines that “we can get you to number one on as well”. So in total he’d handed over $1,491 for absolutely nothing.
Giving SEO agencies a bad name
While I am fuming that there are con artists out there that play on the innocent (and give real SEO agencies like us a bad name) I was more annoyed at his naivety – but part of me can’t blame him. Everybody (and their dog!) must get the same emails that I do “$99 to be #1 on Google with instant SEO techniques”. These emails scream that they can achieve the impossible. But when you want to drive people to your site it does seem attractive and low risk. To give him his due, he then said “OK – I was stupid” and proceeded to give me an order to carry out ‘real SEO’ for him – I just wish it didn’t have to come on the back of wasted money.
SEO – where to get help
My plea to anyone reading this is – don’t be duped and fork out money for nothing. The old adage is worth remembering more than anywhere else at this time:
“When people expect to get ‘something for nothing’ they are sure to be cheated.”
By PT Barnum (that great showman who knew a thing or two about convincing people to part with their money)
I rest my case.
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