SEM TO AVOID OR RESEARCH COMPLETELY BEFORE SIGNING, SEO
& WEB SCAMS TO AVOID
DOMAIN SERVICES of Long Island City, NY
Trademark Domain Correspondence From China
Link Exchange Schemes
INS - Internet Name Security
US Directory Phone Call Scam
Domain Registry of America
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ASK US and don't allow yourself to be tormented or driven witlessWe've optimized websites since 2002 and had more than our share of burned and bruised clients that have used these products and it's been a bit aggravating. It is with this thought in mind that we present our list of SEM & SEO losers & scams.
I have not spent the money yet...do you know of other businesses that have had success?
ANSWER: Many of our clients have called about this cuddly little guy. And that's where anything likable about this product ends.
If you do a quick search, even from the RedZee site itself, it returns plenty of results with people complaining of low or non-existent conversion rates and traffic that behaved more like a bot than a human visitor.
It would appear that people who have used the RedZee Top3 Search Results service in hopes of paying next to nothing for visitors have gotten exactly nothing in return.
RedZee uses a less than reputable method of manipulating information.
Here is their process. You pay them money and then they promise that anyone using their software will see your site rank higher in the search results for your keywords.
You might be wondering how?
In short; their software that they send to you to install on your computer intercepts and alters the search engine results to place your site in the top whatever key word search. Their process doesn't work at all if you don't have their soft ware installed.
It doesn't really help or improve your rankings. It just abuses people at their computers who probably do not know that their computers are infested.
The only people who see your pages on RedZee have to install the RedZee toolbar on their computer and that toolbar acts in the same manner as a virus and then alters the results of other search engines like Goggle and Yahoo. The information is being manipulated by RedZee.
Many were taken in by the cute little zebra. In one instance a RedZee victim who lost nearly $1500 he spent on the search engine, claims that after a week and several hundred "hits" he realized the service was a scam because he had no conversions and his tracking software showed that all the "visitors" from RedZee landed on the same page and stayed less than 1 second.*
Here are some other resources on RedZee:
*Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.
ANSWER: This is another instance of a company preying on small business owners using very pushy sales reps.
Information in this post is from sales pitches delivered to our clients, from Reach Local employees, Super Media (formerly Idearc Media) employees, DEX employees, former Reach Local customers and various internet postings.
Reach Local is a pay per click ad program.
If you use Google's pay per click (PPC) management system and blindly bid on every keyword under the sun related to your business while Google drafts your credit card every month for payment, you will get nothing in return. This is exactly how Reach Local manages your campaign using the Google AdWords.
We have all heard "If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is." Why then do we not listen to our gut when a sales person tells us how fantastic their product is and they then apply pressure to persuade us to sign for an internet marketing program? Before agreeing to use their services, compare the information told to you by the sales person against their Advertsing Terms Policy.
Their pitch goes something like this - "If I bring you 50 phone calls this month, and 10 percent of those convert to customers, you will receive 5 new customers from your Reach Local Advertising. You told me that the average customer is worth $1,000, so your $1000 investment will generate $5,000 in revenue."
Their scheme is not necessarily a scam, but because of the way the scheme functions, what they claim to deliver, does not. And in this process they deceive both sales reps and clients.
They create a duplicate site of yours and then disguise it on Google to look like it's going to your real site.
For example, from a search done on 11/21/10, using the key words christmas light installation winston salem, this company came up in the #3 spot in the paid advertising area for Google.
Xmas Light Installation
ThePiedmont.MrElectric.com Expert Holiday Lighting Installers Call Now or Request Service Online.
The actual URL is http://mrelectric36.reachlocal.com/coupon/?scid=1645293&cid=659528&tc=10112114120093533&rl_key=487472f81219fefcb30fde4f82f7a1d1&kw=4834176&dynamic_proxy=1&primary_serv=mrelectric305.reachlocal.net&pub_cr_id=5227422392
Another example, from a search done on 11/21/10, using the key words mini frige installation charlotte, this company came up in the #2 spot in the paid advertising area for Google.
Install Appliances Charlotte
www.PlazaBrandSource.com Plaza Low Price Guarantee. 55 Yrs In Charlotte. Financing. 6 Stores.
The actual URL is http://brandsource1.reachlocal.com/coupon/?scid=1879063&cid=664209&tc=10112114120093533&rl_key=4ab9d534cc179828c58f7d1d5975ed73&kw=1147669:3714&dynamic_proxy=1&primary_serv=plazabrandsource.reachlocal.net&pub_cr_id=5538700552
The point we are making is that the words finding your site in the two examples above are not necessarily your key words.
Reach Local achieves this position by Broad Matching all of the keywords and then plus some. Broad Matching is picking relevant variations of your keywords even if these terms are not on your keyword list. This can include synonyms, singular/plural forms.
Reach Local also contacts your competitors which creates a conflict of interest. If the company that is managing your PPC campaigns is also managing your competitor's campaigns, whose interest do they have in mind?
The main problem with their business model is that this type of broad matching key words search is not likely to result in a click, and much less in a conversion.
So if no one clicks on your ad it doesn't cost you any money, right? Wrong! This will increase your impressions, which will decrease your click thru ratio. The lower your click thru ratio then the lower your campaign quality score. Lower quality score means that you will now be paying more per click for other keywords in the campaign. And this is only one example for one keyword. Imagine if they have loaded hundreds of keywords and broad matched them. How many impressions are you getting that are not related to your industry? This is a very bad problem, and will cost you a lot of money you do not need to spend.
Other concerns on Reach Local:
1. They mark up clicks by charging a percentage on your clicks. Their profits are directly related to what you spend.
2. Their reps get paid a percentage of your monthly spend. They receive a small commission when they sell you, then a residual on their clients which encourages them to drive the most clicks and spend your budget monthly.
3. Reach Local has a very high churn rate of reps.
4. Their sales reps manage your PPC campaigns and are responsible for adding and removing keywords, adjusting bids etc. Managing Adwords campaigns is a very tedious thing and requires time. The more a rep sells the more work they are creating for themselves. These reps were hired to sell and are also pressured from their managers to hit their sales goals weekly. They're staying employed with Reach Local is not based on their managing Adwords campaigns which could explain the high churn rate. How much time do they really have left over to devote to your campaign when they have to devote time to cold calling, meetings, trainings, paperwork, and signing up new clients?
5. Contracts - why do they need contracts with minimum term commitments, if they are delivering the R.O.I. they claim then most businesses do not mind paying money for something that is making them money.
6. Broad matching keywords and bidding on single word terms which is meant to spend your budget every month.
7. Spending your budget every month should not be happening or should be rare.
8. Their "Total Track" software that they claim proves the value of your campaigns. These manipulative reports are only showing you data that makes it appear as if your dollars are being spent wisely and not showing you more pertinent information like Bounce Rate - the number of customers bouncing from your website which is important when evaluating R.O.I. for clicks. They also do not provide depth of visit in site information which is how many pages did the visitor.
9. Reach Local does not do any kind of comparative testing which would involve changing landing pages, or ad copy, and then comparing it to the previous data in an effort to optimize your PPC campaigns.
10. There have been numerous misunderstandings of the down payment that was for the trial period. They later demand additional amounts of money which is detailed in their fine print.
In conclusion, Reach Local takes advantage of both their Sales Reps and their clients.
They give the sales reps fancy titles like Internet Marketing Consultants and then get them excited at the prospect of making over $100,000 per year on residuals based on your monthly spend. The sales reps after a short training and crash course in Search Engine Marketing are turned loose while they are still under the belief that they are helping the small business owner.
After the clients start dropping programs because they realize that the programs are not working, the reps lose belief in the company.
The deception to the clients is in the reports they provide you as proof that your campaign is working. These reports amount to them choosing which numbers to show you and not all the other data available.
Knowledge is power and if they keep this information to themselves, they have the power. If you knew that the bounce rate for the keyword that gets the most clicks was 90%, would you keep paying for that keyword? No, of course not but as outlined above, both their revenue and the sales reps commission is tied to how much you spend.
These tactics by Reach Local are the reason why we provide you all the data and make it accessible thru your control panel so you can determine your true ROI from your internet marketing efforts.
Additional resources on Reach Local:
This seems very confusing because I thought that my domain name was being handled by you. What's Up?
ANSWER: - Throw it in the trash or delete it.
If your domain name is tied to your service with us, we send you a renewal and automatically renew it for you even if you have not sent in your payment. We know the domain name is important to you and Web Consulting Services nor any other legitimate web business is going to use scare tactics. You are and always will be the legal owner of your domain. The rates we or other reputable companies like Network Solutions or Godaddy don't send out solicitations nor do we imply that you will loose your domain name.
Many shiftless people are trying to obtain your financial information, will charge you sometimes 3 or 4 times more than the going renewal rate. Sometimes they take the money and never do anything with the domain. In short, they lie and steal. What they do is no different than someone calling your home saying they are with the credit card company and are intending to scam you.
The letter from these scam artists usually reads similar to below:
Attn: YOUR NAME
As a courtesy to domain name holders, we are sending you this notification for your business Domain name search engine registration. This letter is to inform you that it's time to send in your registration and save.
Failure to complete your Domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may result in cancellation of this offer making it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web.
Privatization allows the consumer a choice when registering. Search engine subscription includes domain name search engine submission. You are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated below unless you accept this offer. Do not discard, this notice is not an invoice it is a courtesy reminder to register your domain name search engine listing so your customers can locate you on the web.
[ ] 1 year 9/15/2009 - 9/15/2010 $75.00
[ ] 2 year 9/15/2009 - 9/15/2011 $119.00
[ ] 5 year 9/15/2009 - 9/15/2014 $199.00
Payment by Credit Card (Recommended - Quickest way)
PLEASE COMPLETE AND RETURN BY FAX: 1-646-385-7542
Payment by Check or Money Order
Print and mail a copy of this order form along with a check or money order to the address listed below:
47-47 36th Street #16452
Long Island City, NY 11101
United States of America
Please do not forget to include a copy of this order form along with your payment!
Other bogus companies send out emails that are similar to this:
The domain name www.yourdomainname.com is about to expire 2009-11-07. If you wish to continue using your domain name please click on the link below.
Click here to renew.
Once the payment has been completed the above mentioned domain name will automatically be renewed and a conformation will be sent.
Other samples of domain scam letters are here:
BTW...the above renewal link is no longer a valid website, so we do not know if it was shut down or moved to a different address.
Additional Resources on Domain Services:
ANSWER: Local Outrank, a search engine optimization company claims to provide design service to improve the looks of your small business site in order to encourage people to pick up the phone and call you. It is part of Profit Fuel which has a C+ rating with the BBB. These are their website addresses - www.profitfuel.com,
While their service is inexpensive, they comprise the large corporate solution to SEO. They appear to be headquartered in Texas and they have a large, very well compensated sales force.
It's hard to evaluate a company's practices from the outside looking in, but they do aggressively call all over the United States for services that can indeed be handled locally by a local SEO expert. Local OutRank is a "Big Box Store" alternative in the free market place.
And granted, Local OutRank might have a service that is uniquely equipped to help with your rankings, but we feel that there is more to the relationship of developing a good web site and creating great SEO. And that part is building a relationship and truly understanding the dynamics of the business that we are going to help. We have learned that SEO template type products (AT&T) at times are a hit and miss situation.
The other thing that is concerning about this company is the large amount of "he said, she said" commentary on the Internet which we have referenced below. On one side is a group of very angry consumers and then on the other side is a lot of commentary from Outrank saying that their company scamming businesses is not true.
We can't say who is right and wrong. It does appear that some of these instances listed below are due to bad employee behavior at OutRank and that upper management is too far removed from the trenches and don't realize how their customers are being handled. We would hope that they truly are not the type of company that would deliberately try to destroy a previous customer.
This is our suggestion if you have an interest in using their services: get everything in writing, no recorded contract sessions; have an attorney look it over; if they truly have 10,000 customers as they claim, get 10 references from current customers (phone numbers names and web-site address) in your same line of business that you can call. If they supply you with that and everything looks good after that, then give them a try.
"They record an agreement that they read to you at the sign up and when you ask to review the recording their answer is that it is only for the use of the company. Complaints have been registered that they mislead you to believe that the key word they promise you is or was never available."
"They also sell you specific key words and eventually will place you on something completely different. When you ask for an explanation they will refuse to answer all or any of your questions."
"You might outperform their SEO team by self-building your own web site due to reports that their IT department has not a clue of what it really takes to rank well."
One complaint indicated that they told "Local OutRank that they were going to write a bad review and that Local OutRank threatened them by saying that they would do the same although they never used the services of this business and that they would put a lot of people to the task just to write bad things about this customer."
"Unprofessional, liars" were other words to describe this company. (See Footnote 2)
Another customer complained of sending in their info and never hearing back from them. "Tried calling and got an answering machine both with the account manager and customer service." A few days later they received their credit card statement and saw charges from Outrank.com. They never heard from back from outrank.com with a website or time frame. "I was told that the website would contain a link to my personal website, which it didn't, a local number, which it didn't." (See Footnote 3)
And another person stated "I used Outrank.com. They charged $595 up front to get you on page one within 60 days. I later found other companies doing the same for half or less with no upfront. Cancelled my contract, tried to get out but they charged my card again, (30 day written notice required) I think we have received a total of 2 leads for all this trouble. Oh, and when I tried to discuss it with them they got hostile and hung up the phone. This is a real classless operation that you should stay for away from"
On something that does work, statistics show that visitor from organic results of such search engine, has higher possibility to click and visit your site than from paying search engine results. Yes, the opportunity can lead you to get visitors 5.66x more than paying search results. Trickery does not.
Additional resources on Local Outrank:
ANSWER: TOTAL DISREGARD AND HAVE YOU HEARD OF NIGERIA? - It works like this. They go through the Internet and find your domain. How? They check of possible combinations of your domain name, but ending in different tld's that are available and then send you a scary letter that reads like this:
We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in Anhui, China. On December,7th,2010, We received QUNDI Company's application that they are registering the name "yourdomainname" as their Internet Trademark and "yourdomainname.cn", "yourdomainname.com.cn", "yourdomainname.asia"domain names etc. It is China and ASIA domain names. But after auditing we found the brand name been used by your company. As the domain name registrar in China, it is our duty to notice you, so I am sending you this Email to check. According to the principle in China, your company is the owner of the trademark, In our auditing time we can keep the domain names safe for you firstly, but our audit period is limited, if you object the third party application these domain names and need to protect the brand in china and Asia by yourself, please let the responsible officer contact us as soon as possible. Thank you!
Anhui Office (Head Office)
Room 1008 Shenhui Building
Haitian Road, Huli Anhui, China
Office: +86 0553 4994789
Fax: +86 0553 4994789"
Additional Resources on Trademark Domain Correspondence:
Below is a sample of one of these emails:
Comments: Link Manager:
My name is Newt C. and I am the link database manager for insurance-quote-help.com. I am writing to let you know I have added a link to www.yoursite.com on my site.
In order to make this link a permanent addition to my website, I would like to request that you add a reciprocal link back to my site on a page cached by Google. My linking information is as follows:
Anchor: Affordable Home Insurance Quote
Description: Find affordable, comprehensive home insurance at Affordable
Home Insurance Quote.
Your link is listed as:
Title: Your Business - in the Charlotte Metro Area
Description: Great resources
This is a Triangular exchange, so your link will continue to reside at the following location:
If you feel that any of the verbiage needs adjustment just let me know and I will make the changes right away.
Please get in touch with me as soon as you have posted my site details on a links page that is cached by Google. The process I have developed for adding/maintaining links is highly automated and the database will remove your link in two weeks unless I specify the location where my reciprocal link can be found. Once I have verified that a reciprocal link is in place, I will designate your site as a permanent addition to my link library where it will remain until you tell me to remove it.
Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you!
ANSWER: This is a something for nothing set-up.
If you visit the site that says they have a link for you, in this situation, the link they refer to will never be found navigating through the links and buttons on the site. That means Google will not find your link close to the relevant information and they won't give any credence to your link. The only way you will be able to see the link is using the link they sent in the email. And guess what? It's not connected to any other pages on the site they're trying to get you to promote but resides on a totally different site which is comprised only of links and no content.
They are only trying to persuade you to add a link on your web-site.
To make matters worse, when you investigate the insurance site further, and go into the quote are, the site is designed so poorly that in some browsers the end user can exit and looses all resources to be able to close the window. The computer illiterate will be forced to shut down their computer to escape and possibly loose files that weren't properly saved before shutting down just to get out if the annoying site.
Their coding of the web page has html code like "" which means Google should not visit their site. If the link exchange was legitimate, their html coding will render it useless.
Don't get involved with these types, it makes for bad business.
Additional Resources on Link Exchange Scams:
This is another type of product to take your hard earned money. The invoice they sent tries to give you the impression that one of your domain names is not safe, and to send $99.95 for their DomainSafe monitoring system. The letter actually states that, "Increasing threat levels from domain theft and domain hijacking mean that it is imperative you monitor the status of your online identity!" Don't fall for this sort of direct mail because this type of direct mail marketing scam is aimed at consumers who do not realize that their domain names are in fact already secure with your current domain registrar, and in most cases we set our clients domain names as "locked" by default.
A locked domain protects you from unauthorized third parties who might try to misdirect your name servers or transfer your domain without your permission and is included in the price of your annual renewal fee.
Ignore it and do not complete the payment slip at the bottom or make any payments to this company. The address listed is: P.O. Box 1120 Niagara Falls, NY 14304.
Additional Resources on Internet Name Security
Are they legit?
ANSWER:WE RECEIVED ONE OF THEIR CALLS....
And this was our concern. The person calling was a telemarketer who spoke broken English and had little product knowledge, but was very aggressive on pushing the $6 per month web site. He wanted our credit card information over the phone. That is when we decided to end the conversation.
We researched further the company track record and found they've been around for about 3 years but with a very bad reputation.
It is technically a 'Pay Per Click' advertising program and they entice with the $5 free trial of this service. There are a lot of companies using this method of tricking people into spending money - they don't make it crystal clear on their terms and conditions that they will charge your card after the trial is up.
There are also some extremely angry customers who have posted on many blogs about their experience. One particular person stated "Warning anyone that owns a business - Do not use USDirectory.com to list your business on their website. They claim they will list your business on all major search engines via a preferred listing page and if you have a website it will appear on first page of Google and Yahoo. They also will tell you to try this for $5.95 for first month. Once they get your credit card information, it's a different story and they charge for hits that never happened. They're a RIPOFF."
Additional resources on usdirectory.com
ANSWER: - The downside is if changes need to be made on what server your domain name points to this can be an administrative headache for your web administrator. What Domain Registry of America fails to tell you is that you have to prove ownership before any changes can be made. Second, if your web site has a complicated structure for servicing the email configuration that can cause more headaches. Both can result in downtime of the site and further lack of control of your property.
Footnote #1 By Porter Stansberry, The Daily Reckoning
Footnote #2 ABMS - California
Footnote #3 Profit Fuel Inc, Austin TX
Contenet and research on this page provided by Sharon Woodson