Funnily enough, just as I was about to embark on writing up this article, the following ‘enquiry’ found its way into my inbox from my website’s contact form – and it’s exactly the type of menacing issue we’re discussing today. 

You’ve most likely received an email or a phone call from a “digital marketing company” that goes something along the lines of this:

“Hi, My name is Nicki and I work for Magnitude Marketing, a digital marketing agency. В  I was doing some research on your industry, and I landed on your website. I noticed quite a few issues that may benegatively affecting the way it ranks on Google. These issues are stopping you from getting the sales and inquiries that you should be.В

I have created a 12-page analysis of your website which addresses all of the technical errors I noticed. Would you like me to send you a report of my findings? Either way, it is free of cost.

All I want is the opportunity to call you and discuss the website analysis in greater detail. В  Are you able to speak this week?

Best Regards, Nicki Maclaren | Website & SEO AnalystВ”

Messages like these come through on my online contact form almost daily, sometimes multiple times, and they are SUPER annoying. 

If you receive something like the above, don’t be alarmed. Chances are, they haven’t spent a single minute researching your business, your industry or your website, they haven’t noticed any issues (because they don’t really understand SEO correctly anyway), and they certainly haven’t put together a FREE 12-page report! They simply phone anyone and everyone until someone takes the bait. 

Whether it’s a new website, fixing an existing website or promising to get you on the first page of Google. They also use the term SEO (Search Engine Optimised) loosely, claiming to have found a big list of issues that, conveniently, they know how to fix. 

They then take your money, do basically nothing and… POOF! … disappear. 

These “digital marketing agencies” (scammers) are based in overseas call centres where they can comfortably spam and scam Australian business owners without any repercussions or threat of being brought to justice by Australian consumer laws. 

Below is their general approach to ripping you off, and a list of what to look out for so it doesn’t happen to you.

The Shiny New Website Scam:

Approach: 

  • They will give you samples of websites that they’ve “designed” before. In most cases, it’s a demo website that doesn’t really have a legitimate business behind it. It is very compelling and you end up opting in to get the new website.  
  • You pay them.
  • They take forever to implement a website. 
  • In 9 out of 10 cases, you will not get the website they agreed to deliver.
  • You eventually give up after they’ve wasted 12 months of your life.
  • You will not hear from them again.
  • You will start over and engage a reputable company like Social Web Works to help you.

Things to watch out for:

  1. ARE THEY LOCAL?  IF not local or at least in Australia, the chances are there’ll be no law protection and you’ll never be able to recover your money. Do your own research.  Some are overseas with local business accounts, and most are calling you from a ‘local’ number. 
  • Arrange to meet with them face to face. 
  • Google search their number. It will either lead to a legitimate business or a list of peoples experiences with this caller. Be on alert if any review says “SCAM”. 
  • Try calling the phone number they called from. If it doesn’t connect or is a recorded message, they’re probably not local or trustworthy.
  1. If they are local, do they have real references i.e. a business you can phone and talk to? Ask for a business reference, then do your own research to find their phone number.
  2. Do they have any agreements in place to protect you? What are the terms of the contract? 
  3. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There’s no such thing as a $300 professional website. 
  4. Shop around. Make sure you talk to other legitimate digital marketers and ask people you know or businesses with websites you admire for their recommendations. Ensure to ask about their customer experience as well.

Here is how Social Web Works can help…. 

  • We are locally owned and operated right here in Australia. 
  • We have an ABN, years’ of experience and many real-life examples of work we’ve completed and managed ourselves.
  • We offer professional Web Design and Hosting services 
  • We have detailed Proposals and Agreements outlining our services and fees.
  • We offer obligation-free estimates or proposals for your website, with options and varying degrees of commitment from you. 
  • Our web design services are on a Subscription basis, so there are no big, upfront design costs.

The “I’m (No) SEO Expert”: 

Approach: 

  • They promise that they can put your website on the first page of Google search results.
  • They do not tell you which keywords you will rank for.  
  • They just want to add a couple of keywords to your existing pages
  • They offer to write some content or articles for you but in fact, they just copy it from other websites.  

Things to watch out for. 

  1. ARE THEY LOCAL?  If not in Australia, the chances are there’ll be no law protection and you’ll never be able to recover your money. 
  2. If they are local, do they have real references i.e. a business you can phone and talk to…
  3. Do they have any agreements that will protect you?
  4. Ask them for a list of keywords that they’ve identified are going to rank you, with an estimated number of searches for the specific locations you focus on. 
  5. In most cases, they’ll suggest some keywords to be added or they will want to write some articles – which they’ll usually copy from another website (WARNING: GOOGLE DO NOT LIKE DUPLICATE CONTENT).
  6. In most cases, one of the keywords they’ll suggest will be your business name.  Don’t be fooled by this – your business name will usually already rank well in searches using it because the name is unique to your website. Good SEO should capture your site in results of those who don’t already know you. 
  7. They will ask for access to your website (THIS IS A BIG NO-NO). They will not get your rankings up by adding a few keywords, but they will have YOUR LOGIN DETAILS! In a lot of cases, they eventually sell or share your login with people that have malicious intent. 

Here is how Social Web Works can help…. 

  • We are locally owned and operated right here in Australia. 
  • We have an ABN, years’ of experience and many real-life examples of work we’ve completed and managed ourselves.
  • We offer professional SEO Services.
  • We perform extensive keyword research to show you which keywords we recommend. 
  • We perform an SEO review prior to our changes and then again after our SEO changes to show you the results.
  • We have professional and qualified copywriters who understand SEO grammar (the ‘language’ that Google uses to rank search results).
  • We continue monitoring your website’s performance to identify and recommend any adjustments. 
  • We have detailed Proposals and Agreements outlining our services and fees.
  • We offer obligation-free estimates or proposals.

The Expensive Marketing Lesson:

Approach: 

  • They promise you new leads/sales by marketing you on Google or Facebook… and who doesn’t want to generate new business or more sales? 
  • They charge an extraordinary sum of money as a ‘one-off’ fee. We’ve heard cases of businesses paying more than $5000!! They convince you of a big return on investment so you believe you’ll probably make $20,000+ with your $5000 investment. Right? WRONG. 
  • They set up a very basic marketing campaign but only apply between 5% and 10% of the total spend that you paid them. 
  • They’ll tell you that the rest was put towards admin fees, or the cost of them setting up the campaign i.e. all their efforts.
  • They do not put a lot of thought into the campaigns or audience research, meaning any campaign that does go out, isn’t seen by the market that will generate you anywhere near the profits you expected.
  • You get visits but no sales or leads… 

Things to watch out for: 

  1. ARE THEY LOCAL? If not local or at least in OZ, the chances are there’ll be no laws protecting you and you’ll never be able to recover your money.  You must confirm they are local. Some are overseas but have local business accounts or phone numbers – arrange to meet with them.
  2. If they are local, do they have real business references that you can phone and talk to?
  3. Do they have any agreements that will protect you?
  4. Ask them how much of the actual funds paid will go towards the marketing budget. Are they willing to sign an agreement?
  5. Can they offer reports showing you the conversions i.e. solid statistics on how the campaign is performing?  Most cases you will get a report showing you who clicked on your ads. This looks okay but can they show you how many conversions are as a result of those clicks? 

How Social Web Works can help…. 

  • We are locally owned & operated right here in Australia, and we have an ABN. 
  • We have many real-life examples of successful social media campaigns that we’ve managed for our clients. 
  • We offer professional Marketing Services.
  • We have detailed Proposals and Agreements outlining our services and fees.
  • We offer obligation-free estimates or proposals.
  • Our marketing management fees are transparent and set (so there are no nasty surprises)
  • We offer reporting with conversion statistics
  • Our marketing fees are on a subscription basis and with no lock-in contracts. You can opt-out at ANY time. 

Talk to us today about how we can help you achieve your business goals in 2020 and beyond.

Web Design Orange NSW and Digital Marketing Expert in the Central West.