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The Pragmatist’s Guide to Small Business Marketing

Ep. 4: Warning! You’ve Got an SEO Armageddon on Your Hands!

If you own a web site, no doubt you’ve received several unsolicited emails like the following:

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Your Web Site Isn’t Being Seen by Search Engines
From: U. Will Panek <uwillpanek@seoarmageddon.com>
Date: Mon, January 05, 2015 1:05 pm
To: “drew@abcinc.com” <drew@abcinc.com>

Hey Drew,

We’ve noticed some inconsistencies with your business that prevent search engines like Google from picking your website up. It’s very likely your site isn’t being seen by search engines and you’ve got no visibility.

Also, you’ve completely bungled every aspect of your web site’s optimization.

You will go out of business in 48 hours if you don’t respond to us so we can fix this issue for the low monthly fee of $1500, with a contract that locks you in for a minimum of 12 months.

Avoid Armageddon and call us today!

Sincerely yours,
U. Will Panek
Armageddon Digital Marketing
503-555-2921 direct

#   #   #

Look or sound familiar?

I get at least a couple calls a month from clients who are panic-stricken. I can often hear their hearts racing as they breathlessly ask me what’s wrong with their web site? Why is it broken? How could this awful turn of events have happened?

Breath. Inhale. Exhale. Have a cool drink of water.

After I get the caller’s heart rate down and they’re rational, I ask: Did the person who sent this email call or talk with you in person before they sent the horrible news? The answer is always, No.

OK. Next I ask the caller to use Google the target phrase we built their site around. Inevitably, their site appears at the top of or somewhere on page one. Then… crickets, and from the caller… “Oh.”

The problem with these trolling SEO trolls is that they only spread panic in their search for search optimization revenue. They look for sites in a particular industry, say widget manufacturing, then send an unsolicited email about how bad that business is performing in search. The problem is, they haven’t even provided the courtesy of calling you before hand. They know diddly about your business, who you’re targeting and why. They only search for “widget manufacturing” and see that your site is deep, deep, deep in results for that term. OMG!

What they don’t take the time to try and understand is that, as a small or regional business, your target isn’t just “widget manufacturing.” It’s “widget manufacturing Portland” or some other more targeted regional or industry-specific term. When you search that term, if your site’s been developed and optimized by an agency or consultant who knows what they’re doing, it will be showing well in results.

So, when you get an unsolicited email about your site’s poor SEO performance, do not panic. Think rationally about it and remember how and why you targeted your site content when you developed it. Search that term to see where you rank in the results. Then, if need be, call the professional who helped you with the site and ask them about it. Could be that your site might actually need a little SEO ratcheting, or you might want to change directions on search targeting.

At the end of the day, remember these emails and solicitations are geared to scare the poop out of you so you’ll open your wallet for what will likely be results and tactics that are more dubious than the SEO rank issues the sender is warning you about. Ignore them. If someone hasn’t given you the courtesy of interacting with you to learn about your business before they deliver news like that, they know nothing about what you’re trying to accomplish.