How far would you go to attract customers?
Some people print flyers and go door-to-door to let people know their shop exists. Some offer excellent incentives and combine them with social media, email marketing, and more. Other brands invest in creative campaigns and have excellent relationships with the media.
Some like to let their work speak for themselves, and show off their industry awards and high standing in certain circles. Which can be a problem sometimes. How can you tell if an award is authentic and a fair reflection of the company’s abilities?
TopSEOs, for instance, has claimed for years that it’s an independent authority on search vendors and marketing companies with a number of agencies proudly boasting their badges.
The company has, however, always found itself on the wrong side of controversy with claims ranging from it being a paid-for award, deceptive, a scam, and more.
And TopSEOs finds itself in hot water again this week with people claiming that Google has finally had enough and banned it from their search listings.
Why it matters to you
Because, if true, then it’s false advertising pure and simple.
If you walk into a supermarket and see adverts everywhere for the best sandwich in the world, buy it, and find it full of mould then you’d be rightly furious.
But TopSEOs isn’t just an advertisement. It claims to be an independent authority, and if you employ a search company ranked as number one in its listings that are, in actuality, hopeless then you could stand to lose a lot of money.
Have you had any experience of websites such as TopSEOs? Has Google banned them and, if so, were they right to do so? Let me know in the comments section below.
The wider problem
TopSEOs isn’t the only company accused of offering a paid-for service. There are dozens of companies offering the same thing; money for exposure.
And if Google has indeed banned TopSEOs from its index then it’s because the company was being dishonest. Google is also set to refresh its Panda and Penguin algorithms soon; Google has recently taken action against private blog networks. Could this be related?
The problem doesn’t rest on the door of search engine optimisation, though. There are websites out there, for instance, that are willing to give positive reviews for apps… for a small fee, of course.
All of which goes against Google’s guidelines for content, paid-for link transparency, and more. Google wants to return the best results possible for its searchers. It’s therefore going to crack down on websites that it feels are providing false information in return for cash.
Lessons to learn
It’s a morality argument for the internet age, but is also one that has raged in traditional media for some time.
But what lessons are there to learn from all of this? If anything it’s that transparency is worth its weight in gold when investing in online marketing. Not just for the sake of Google but more for the sake of past, present, and potential future customers.
But more than anything it shows the need for people shopping around to take their time and do some real research before they jump into any long-term service.
I’ve discussed the importance of authority previously when marketing online and how essential it is to build up a solid, trustworthy profile of yourself and your company’s abilities.
But the same goes the other way. You owe it to yourself to dig deep and explore people’s backgrounds before you sign a contract for the foreseeable future.
How do you target your customers, and which efforts are the most effective? Do you use search, social, email, or other? Let me know below!
Tips on how to be transparent
But how do you be transparent without ramming everything you’re doing down people’s throats all the time? A lot of it relates to being searchable and open, whether on search engines, social media, with PR, or on your website itself.
Here are some tips:
#1 Create an FAQ page
Do you have an editorial, sales, or return policy that could be construed as a bit confusing? Creating an FAQ page and making the information as easy to access as possible can help visitors make a solid decision about what you’re offering. YouTube’s FAQ content is well organised and easy to navigate, for example.
#2 Target reliable sources
Walk up to anyone on the street and ask them if they know about TopSEOs and you’d likely be met with a blank stare. Ask them about Which?, though, and you may get a more positive response. Instead of being insular and targeting industry-centric sites, identify local and national sources with repute and broaden your media campaign to attract attention.
#3 Blog about your movements
There’s no excuse not to have a blog to represent your company so people can learn more about who you are behind the scenes. Combined with a good social strategy you can keep people up to date at all times about your company’s movements and how it benefits them and their interests as consumers.
#4 Create a media pack
A media pack is a fantastic tool for those that have little time. Creating a set of press releases, images, and explanatory documents that answer the most broad set of questions you field on a consistent basis is a great way to be transparent, whether you make your media pack available to download or have it on hand to email to people that get in touch.
Mixing your transparency, honesty, and ethics as a company whilst also providing a fantastic user experience is the best way possible to get your name out there with potential customers and put their minds at ease that they’re investing in the right company for their needs.
If you’d like to learn more about ethical link building and how to expose your website to the right target audience contact the Webpresence team today!