We have received, as well as a few of our clients, an exciting and clever cold call pitch for search engine marketing services. The caller (often from a blocked number) says that he can make our website #1 on Google.
With over 15 years of experience making websites and doing search engine marketing, I quickly realized that something is very fishy here. After all, Google uses well over 200 criteria for its search engine results. If all of these were known and could be manipulated by search engine marketers with exact precision, they would become meaningless as everyone would become #1 on Google.
The trick, and I do admit it is a clever one, is that the cold caller will put you at number one on Google, but only in the paid results. For example, if I pay enough, I can be number one for “Hawaii web design”, but I will be there only as long as I keep paying. The caller is not promising to make you #1 for the organic results, the place where every search engine marketer wants to be, because these results are likely to be there month after month, and there are no pay-per-click costs.
We can do the math for the “#1 on Google” plan. The cold caller figures out (it’s easy to do with access to the right databases) that the average cost per click for “kona scuba diving” is $1.50 and there are 300 searches a month for this. He knows that approximately 20% of those searches will click the top paid result, so to stay on the top of the Google paid results will cost somewhere around $90 (300 searches x 20% click rate X $1.50 a click) a month.
He then cold calls some dive charters in Kona and say, “I can make your business #1 on Google for “kona scuba diving” next month for only $150. Did you know that there are 300 searches for it? You will be #1 all month, I assure you. We guarantee it!”
The charter boat operator thinks this is a good deal. Is it?
Yes, if you’re setting up the ad and making $60 a month per keyword. I can assure you that if for some reason, the cost of running the ad approaches what is paid, you will not see your ad anymore. The model only works if the amount charged to the business owner is much less than what is paid for the ads.
A better approach would be to set up your ad using Google Adwords or have someone like Kona Impact do it for you—we charge a one-time fee. You’ll get more visitors and spend less money. An even better long-term approach would be to work with a company like Kona Impact to be found toward the top of the organic searches. This is a lot less expensive in the long term.
So, the next time, or the first time, someone cold calls you with an online marketing scheme that seems too good to be true, it is. Hang up. Call someone in your community. If that community is Hawaii Island, call us: at 808-329-6077.