Friday, October 20, 2017

The Fool’s Gold of Online Marketing

When presented with an online marketing product or service, it may seem attractive on the outside but, is it really worth it or are you being fooled? In this article, we detail the distasteful tactics used by many other online marketing companies to take advantage of unsuspecting businesses.

This is America and as an American business we believe success is not just our own but that of our nation. Success is not measured by the wealth of few but instead by the well-being of each employee, our customers, and community. We cannot forget our fellow Americans. That is why we are committed to the true American way of doing business with fair and honest practices.

Misinformation: Falsehoods, inaccuracies, deceptions, myths, or lies… False information by any name is still false and, unfortunately, it has become copious in today’s digital world. Businesses should keep in mind that pretty presentations and featured reports are not always evidence of a company’s abilities or success. Before hearing a pitch, its best to know a little about what the numbers mean and what realistic results are.

One term that is sure to come up when discussing SEO services and website rankings is “keywords” or “keyphrases”. These are words or phrases that a business wants to rank for. For example, a keyword for a plumbing company could be “plumber” or “toilet repair” and the goal is to have the business website display within localized Google results when these terms are searched for by a consumer in their target areas. All of this is related to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which can take up to 6 months to begin producing results.

Some organizations will attempt to deceive consumers with misleading ranking reports. They may say something like a business has 1,000 keywords ranking on the top two pages of Google, which can sound great. But, what are the keywords and are they worth paying for? Many times unrelated, uncompetitive, and/or outrageously long keywords are used to inflate positive figures on a dishonest report. Back to our plumber as an example, the phrase “best plumber in the Southside of Charlotte at 1111 SE 1st AVE” should not be included in a ranking report nor should a business be paying to rank for it. Think, what are the chances of someone typing and search for that exact phrase in Google or any search engine? Also, be wary if the company is unwilling to share a list of the keywords correlating to their report numbers.

Like with many industries – banking, insurance, manufacturing, and others – there is only so much you can know before buying into a product or service. Sometimes that means putting a little faith in a company. At Leads Online Marketing, we know in our hearts that every day we do what is best for our clients because their success is our success and that type of relationship cannot be based of falsehoods.

Quantity over Quality: Quality keywords are not the only things to look into when choosing an online marketing service provider. Internet marketing can incorporate a wide variety of services including but not limited to website design and management, email and pay-per-click advertising, and social media. However, as with keywords, there can be a quantity over quality issue.

Google has always said that websites should have “relevant, quality content” to rank in its search. This rhetoric is supported by Google’s endless efforts to update its search algorithm in order to improve results (and profit). This is why it is so important, now more than ever, for a business to produce quality content across the web starting with the main website and blog. If your web pages and blog article consist of a few hundred words or less, chances are it won’t rank well. The same goes for websites with repeating and low-quality written content.

Business owner should also avoid buying into social media scams such as “instant 5,000 followers” commonly seen on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. These offers will seems enticing but there is no quality to the follows you will receive. This is because the accounts are often fake and equate to no real gain for the business; they won’t engage the business or its posts, they aren’t real people so they cannot suggest friends to the business or call for services themselves. The same concept applies when paying for website traffic. Yes, you may get the amount of traffic you paid for but are those visitors staying on the site, are they buying anything, will they come back or call?

Promoting Like its 1997: If someone’s sales pitch includes website Alexa Rankings or Google Page Rank (PR) Scores, then their marketing strategy may be stuck somewhere between Steve Jobs return to Apple Computers and the publication of the first Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". Yes. It has been that long!

Plenty of fun and great memories were made in the 90’s. However, the fact is innovations have made many products and services from that time obsolete and very much ineffective. Only companies that continue to train, research and innovate, like Leads Online Marketing, will have the ability to produce real results.

Guaranteed & Immediate Results: When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), results take time. It can take up to a month for a single effort to be seen by analytical tracking systems. This waiting period can be nerve racking for some anxious business owners who are paying a monthly bill for marketing, and it’s understandably so. This makes the alternative seem all the more appealing but do be warned, ‘fast results’ fade even faster.

Companies guaranteeing fast results are likely using ‘black hat’ or 'grey hat' tactics that can easily cause your business to be penalized by Google and other online authorities. This is not something to be taken lightly since those authority are the key to your business’ online success.

Competency: Can they do it? Will they do it? When? Of course the company you hire for your business online marketing needs has to be able to do the job they promise to do. They also have to be able to communicate effectively with you, your staff, and any other companies working on your behalf. In some cases for example, a website manager or managing service provider needs to collaborate with the SEO specialist in order to achieve the best results for their mutual client. If one is not responsive or refuses to collaborate, it will be your business that suffers the most.

We hope this article can help businesses big and small to avoid wasting their valuable time and money on products and services that “look” promising at first but, end up being worthless after all.  If you would like us to take a look at your current marketing programs and website give us a call at (704) 612-2442 or, fill out the contact form here to send us a message. We would also appreciate your feedback about our blog and website.

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Simple Guide to Avoiding Common Internet Scams

In today's day and age, the internet is something we simply cannot do without. After all, it has such a wide world of benefits to offer.    
Much like every other thing in life though, the internet is far from perfect. Just as it helps us makes our life smoother, it also acts as a ground for thieves who try to steal personal and sensitive information. This often includes scams such as phishing, which can - and does - cause great loss to individuals and companies.

As a well-experienced online marketing company in Charlotte NC, we hear about and see many examples of risky situation that can easily be avoid. We know by being alert and following some simple rules, however, you can stay away from some of these online scams with ease.

online security risk, security weakness, compromised security, internet scams

The following are some common tips that will help you stay away from online traps:

#1: Never give financial information to anyone

Many scammers are known to reach out to unsuspecting individuals via email, text or even phone calls and manipulate them into revealing their personal and financial information. This is a commonly-used scam known as phishing, where the scammers pose as an institution, service or even a government agency, and try to trick you into revealing sensitive financial information. For example, a thief may try to obtain private information such as your Social Security Number or Credit Card Number by [falsely] claiming that your account has been compromised or that it needs to be updated.

Always keep in mind that institutions like Google will not call you personally asking for your personal information. If you get from someone claiming to be a representative of your bank or credit card company, keep in mind that you have the right the verify their identity before releasing private or sensitive information. So, in case you receive a suspicious call or email that request a release your personal information, do not respond and instead contact the relevant institution directly to verify your account status. The representative or automated system will still want to verify your identity with some questions and that should be okay knowing that you are speaking to the right people.

#2: Never click on unknown email hyperlinks

Many scammers reach out to people by sending meticulously composed, but nonetheless fake, emails which offer "services" or “prizes” that can be claimed by clicking the hyperlink/opening the attachment and submitting the users' financial information. This is another common scam called pharming. You must, therefore, make it a point to NEVER respond to such emails, even if they look legitimate or appear to have come from your credit card company or your bank. In the event that you do receive an email from an unknown or untrusted address, you must delete it immediately.

It is worth mentioning that is possible for the email addresses (that you trust) of friends, family, and even co-workers to be hacked and used to send out malicious links. If an email from a contact seem suspicious in anyway, we recommend using this as an opportunity to reach out to the person by phone and confirm the email was in fact sent by them.

#3: Use varied passwords that are tough-to-crack

Tempting as it might be, a password like “Fluffy” or "98765" is basically an invitation for hackers to compromise your accounts. You must always make sure that the password that you use is a strong one. A strong password should be at least 10 characters long and must have upper and lower case letters, numbers as well as special characters.

It is recommended that passwords be a play on a question/answer and/or long phrases. An example of this is “d03$uRdoGluV*U2?^4deBAit” which when read as a question and answer would be, Does your dog love you too? Up for debate. Furthermore, you should also make sure to use unique password for every website that you visit. No two should be alike.

Watch computer professional and former Central Intelligence Agency employee and contractor, Edward Snowden, discuss passwords and “passphrases” on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Some of the content in this video may not be suitable for young audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.

#4: Install a good antivirus software that offers spyware and malware protection

Installing a good-quality antivirus will help you protect all the sensitive information stored on your computer. Ensure that your antivirus offers adequate firewall and spyware protection, and make sure to turn on the auto-updating feature once you install the program to keep the software updated at all times. (Be aware that some software updates include new or changed privacy settings which you will want to review and manage accordingly.)

#5: Never download software you see on pop-up windows

We are all aware of those pesky pop-up windows which claim that our computer "is unsafe," or something of that nature, and offer their own software to "remedy the problem." If you click these pop-up links to start the “system scan,” you might just end up downloading malicious software or “malware” which could damage your operating system.

#6: Always ensure that you're visiting safe websites

Make sure that the website where you will be submitting your financial information has its security settings in place. Make sure to double-check the privacy rules and see to it that it is using encryption. Encryption is symbolized by a "lock" present on the left of the web address; if you see this lock, it means that any information you enter is encrypted safely and is well-protected against hackers.

By following the tips above, you should be able to safeguard yourself and your business from the most scammers and fraudsters. However, with every new advancement in consumer information protection comes a new trick from the bad guys. For that reason, you encourage you to stay educated, stay wary and do your best to stay safe.

Is your website safe? Are you not sure but want to be? If you desire a well-designed, high-ranking, user-friendly and safe website, contact us today. Our expert team of web developers and web designers is ready to build your dream website while ensuring all protections are in place to keep you and your site visitors safe. Click here to fill out a contact form or call (855) 785-3232 to speak directly to our head representative and company owner, Ricky.