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Small Business Marketing

Scam Alert (Google is Not Calling Your Business)

If you’ve owned a business for more than a week, you’ve probably started getting them.  I’m talking about those robo-calls that begin with a message of “This is so-and-so, your local Google specialist…” or something to that effect.  The message then goes on to say some variation of the following:

  • There is a problem with your Google listings.
  • Your business is not appearing in Google search results.
  • There are negative reviews about your business.
  • There is a problem with your Google+ page.

Those are the messages I’ve heard personally (yes, I get these calls too), but I’m sure there are other variations.  The bottom line here is that these calls are a scam.  There may or may not be a problem with your local directory listings, your business may or may not have negative reviews online, and your business may or may not be appearing at the top of search results for keywords related to your industry.  However, there is one thing I can guarantee: the reason you are getting the robo-calls has nothing to do with any of the above.

You see, the less-than reputable marketing companies that use this lead generation tactic are simply playing a numbers game.  They know that most small businesses are not working with a marketing agency or consultant like myself to help them manage their online presence.  They also know that most small business owners don’t understand how SEO works and don’t track their online reputation.  Therefore, if they simply load up a database of phone numbers of small businesses, there is a good chance that when their robots call a business the person who answers the phone will be someone who is susceptible to their scare tactics.

Do not fall for these tactics.

The services these companies are trying to sell you may or may not be helpful, they may or may not be necessary, and–depending on whether the company in question engages in “black-hat” SEO tactics–they may or may not get your business permanently banned from Google search results.  What I can tell you, though, is that these companies really don’t care one way or the other about any of the above.  When you do talk to a live person at these companies, it will be a poorly paid and poorly trained sales rep whose job it is to sell you as many services as they can in the least amount of time possible, so that they can move on to the next prospect–or should I say, victim.

In other words, whatever services they sell you will not be based on your marketing strategy, they will not be customized for your business, and you will probably only have a vague idea of what they actually do.  If you actually sign up for any services, it will probably be the last time you ever hear from the company.  Oh, and six months down the road when you realize they are still charging your credit card every month despite the fact that you don’t seem to be getting any benefit whatsoever from whatever they sold you, and you attempt to contact them to cancel services, good luck trying to talk to an actual person who is able to cancel your account.

Here’s what I want you to do if you get one of these calls:

  • First, hang up the phone.
  • Second, block the phone number the call came from (if your phone allows you to do that).
  • If the call was placed to a personal phone number and not your business phone number, you can submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Lastly, fill out this form to get a free SEO report card for your website, which will at least give you a general sense of how you are doing and whether or not you need to worry about your web presence.  You can also request a free consultation with me, during which I will give you a comprehensive review of your business listings, a report about your online reputation, and a competitive SEO analysis.

Don’t let yourself be bullied or scared into signing up for services you may not even need.  Use the player below to listen to an episode of my podcast where I discuss these scams and tell you how to recognize and avoid them.

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