What “We’ll get you to the first page of Google” ACTUALLY Means
The growth of the internet has created huge numbers of business opportunities for online marketing companies, and as with any industry some are very good and some are not.
As a small business owner, you’ll hear the phrase “we’ll get you to the first page of Google” a lot - in networking meetings, emails, telesales calls, flyers and internet adverts.
For business owners who have not grown up with the digital world but are adapting to it in later life (‘digital immigrants’ as opposed to ‘digital natives’) this is very confusing and it becomes easy to become jaded and sceptical, especially if in the past you've spent money on services that don’t work.
So here’s my guide through all of the different offers so you can understand the good offers and the bad.
First of all, it is important to distinguish between four major types of online marketing in Google.
Pay-Per-Click (Google Adwords)
These are the ads that appear at the top of the search results in an orange/off-white box and also down the right hand side of the page – often known as the ‘sponsored links’.
Google Adwords is a highly sophisticated advertising platform which, used properly, is a powerful advertising medium – but badly managed can also be a complete waste of money. To get the most out of Google Adwords the campaign will need to be constantly managed by someone with experience who understands the needs of your business.
These are websites which are essentially lists of businesses, categorised according to location and/or business type – Yell.com is a well-known example.
Organic/Natural Search Results
These are the websites that Google feels are the best match for your particular search, and are displayed on the left hand side of the page. These results can include directory listings, as well as regular websites, blogs, videos, images and map results.
Getting your website to be found in these search results is a process called search engine optimisation, or SEO. As with any industry, SEO companies vary – but you get what you pay for and cheap services often lead to either no results or actually bad results.
Google Map (Google Places/Google Plus Local) Results
These are the results which refer to the map which appears in the top right hand corner of the search results page, and are triggered by any search for a business in a specific location.
These map listings work in a slightly different way to the regular search results – if you are a local business then it’s worth investing in a company that specialise in local SEO services and know how to get your site ranked.
When people tell you they’ll get you on to the first page of Google, they are usually offering one or more of these services – pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimisation to get found in the organic listings and/or map listings, or directory advertising.
So what are the most common offers that UK small business owners get?
1) We guarantee to get you to the first page of Google within 48hours
This is pay-per-click marketing. A classic example of this is the notorious Matchmaker Marketing in Manchester, one of the most complained about internet marketing companies of the past 10 years.
How it works: They will charge you a small amount per month, say £100 per month. You will get to select a small number of keywords, and then they will run Google ads for you for those keywords.
So why not do this? Because you have no idea how much of your £100 a month is actually being spent on clicks for you – it could be as little as £10. These companies make money by limiting the ads to only show for a short amount of time each day, to keep the ad spend down to a minimum. You’ll not get any control, any reporting, any analysis or any time spent on making the clicks work for you and you’ll be in a contract.
2) We guarantee “X amount” of clicks per month
This, too, is pay-per-click marketing and is run on a similar basis to the first example above. Chief exponents of this offer have been BT, with their ‘BT Web Clicks’ program which they promoted heavily a few years ago.
How it works: They charge you a small amount each month, and buy cheap clicks for you.
So what's wrong with this? Because just getting clicks does not mean enquiries – I was looking for a dry cleaner in Nottingham a year ago and came across two BT websites in the sponsored ads (they were doing BT Web Clicks). One was a dry cleaner in Stoke, the other was in Glasgow! Those two businesses had each got a 'click', but I was never going to become a customer – I was looking for a dry cleaner in Nottingham!
3) We’re affiliated to/we’re part of Google
There are a small number of genuine Google ‘partners’ in the UK – these are resellers that have certain resources from Google. However, many companies claim they are Google agents or are working on behalf of Google with no actual connection whatsoever!
So check the credentials, and remember that even if they are a certified partner, that doesn’t mean the package or program will be the right thing for you or any better than an agency without this. In Google’s own words:
"Google makes no promises or representations about the performance or quality of any of (our) partners"
4) Buy 1,000 backlinks for $5!
Having lots of backlinks is one of the fundamentals of SEO; it’s a very important part of getting your website found higher in the organic search results. But the links matter in terms of quality and not just quantity – in fact, poor quality links can actually hurt your rankings. So buying a package of cheap links like this where the quality will be extremely low is at best a waste of money, and at worst very damaging to your website.
5) Someone in China is trying to buy your domain name!
I have had a few clients call me to ask about this one: typically they get a call from a company who explain that someone has bought several versions of your domain name already (for example yourcompany.org.uk, yourcompany.co, yourcompany.eu, yourcompany.biz etc.) and is now trying to buy yourcompany.com. They offer you the opportunity to reserve the domain to stop this person from owning every version of your domain name and to secure it for yourself.
None of this is true, it’s a scare tactic and the price you would pay to reserve the domain is usually way, way over market value – I’ve heard of companies being offered domain names for £1,000 when they could register them for themselves for £10.
6) Cheap SEO services (from India or elsewhere)
I regularly get emails from SEO companies in the Far East – IT service companies employing graduates on relatively low wages and offering cheap SEO services. I have spoken to some business owners who have had good experiences, but they are in the small, small minority. Most people find the standard of work is poor and the communication is even worse. Even if the service is legitimate (which they aren’t always) there is no substitute for having your marketing done by native English speakers with an understanding of your market and who are available on UK time at the end of the phone or face to face.
7) Join our directory and get hundreds of backlinks for your SEO
Directories are finding it more and more difficult to find paying customers as Google is making them obsolete – many search engine users hate looking for a product or service, only to land on a directory which they then have to keep searching through.
However a directory listing does provide a link back to your website, which can boost your SEO efforts and some directories have been using this as a major selling feature. However these links have limited value - if you are going to advertise in a directory, it’s important to do so on its own merits, and not for any perceived SEO benefit.
So how can you spot a genuine search engine marketing company?
One way is to read two of our other articles:
Many of these services exist because there are lots of small business owners who find the internet world a confusing one and this has attracted opportunists who can take advantage by blinding people with science and offering low cost services.
I have also personally fielded marketing calls for my clients and can see how easy it is to be confused by a fast-talking salesperson using lots of buzzwords and industry jargon.
At JDR we believe in educating people so our clients understand the work we do and the value of it and work hard to do this. To get an assessment of your current SEO and search marketing, request a FREE SEO Analysis Report – one of our team will research your website and go through your report with you step by step to show you why your site is not getting the rankings it could be getting.