I received a note from Michael Stone. He said, “You wouldn’t believe some of the stories I hear from contractors being approached by people claiming they can help with SEO or getting leads. I want to cover this in a newsletter.”
I offered to help because I never go a week, never, without someone sending me an email asking something along the lines of: “Hey, Brian, I just got this email, what do you think?” So I randomly selected the most recent examples from the endless stream of scams. Look at the emails closely and I’ll point out a few things that are suspicious.
Unsolicited offers to improve your rankings are a scam. Many of them come from a gmail or other free email service. Why, if they are so successful at SEO Ranking Improvement, don’t they guide you to their own business website to learn more? A smart SEO expert would always guide you to their website to improve their own rankings.
Unsolicited ranking reports are created automatically, and they are also a scam. These emails say something like, “Hi, enclosed is a report for your site I generated and you received a score of 48 out of 100. Please review it so we can discuss how we can quickly make a decision to increase your leads.” Trust me, someone blasting out emails isn’t manually generating any report for you, and they definitely didn’t look at it before sending it. There are many tools you can use for free that generate these reports. Many of them are automated; enter your website address and a report comes up.
One such tool is Woorank.com. The WooRank for my website, MyOnlineToolbox, is 51. Anyone know if that is actually good or bad? Anyone want to guess if I really care?
Unsolicited requests asking for your photos so they can further your profile are a scam. These usually start with something like, “Our customers are checking out your profile, so I want to add your latest photos for you.” They come from someone with a fancy title like Contractor Relationship Manager.
What does it mean when they say customers are checking out your profile? A better question is, who set up the profile in the first place? What will they do with your photos when you send them without reviewing the Terms & Conditions on their website first? The usual next step is an offer to advertise with them, or pay them for the leads you helped generate when you sent your photos.
An unsolicited email informing you that Google is removing your account is a scam. The goal is to get you nervous by saying that all reviews of your company will be purged if you don’t update important aspects of your website. If this was true (and it’s not), you’d receive a notice from Google, not a third party. And Google won’t remove your site simply because it’s terrible at drawing traffic. They won’t reward you with higher rankings, but they won’t remove your website.
One funny scam begins with an email that says “Your Title Tags are preventing you from getting more leads.” It follows with a quick comment like, “We can see you are having problems getting more leads and your current provider is missing one of the most important aspects for your website to get leads. Please reply with your website, phone number and email so we can call to provide fast and inexpensive options.”
Title Tags are important, it’s one of the first things we address in my classes or consulting. But if what they see you doing on your website is so bad, why are they asking you to provide your website address? Wouldn’t they already know?
My suggestion is to move these communications to Junk. Use them as a reminder to be proactive and take a few quick actions you can do on your own to generate leads. Make a new Facebook post. Pursue another review for either your website or on Google. Add a few new photos to your website.
Don’t get distracted from your own marketing plan when you get a blind solicitation that is feeding off the industry’s weakness at marketing. You only have few minutes to allocate for marketing so stay focused on what you can do, not on these diversions.
Your own marketing efforts, with a little focused education and consistency, will pay off immensely in the long run.
Brian Javeline runs MyOnlineToolbox.com, the #1 Marketing Planning & Website Education Series for Contractors.
[Note from Michael: If you don’t have a website and are intimidated by the process, we’ve spelled out the basics in this article.]