Know the right questions to ask a web advertising company
Hiring a reputable Internet Advertising company for your small business may seem like an easy task. There are many choices out there when it comes to website marketing, search optimization and search marketing companies. Unfortunately the decision to hire a reputable company to handle your online advertising is not as easy as it may seem. In many cases, small business owners choose internet advertising based upon convenience, rather than diligent research, which can have unintended consequences down the road. Don’t become a victim of a company that doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
One thing to remember is that many of the large internet advertising companies want you for the long term. So their mission, and how they build their advertising campaigns are designed to make you fear and feel “non-advertising” pain if you ever decide to leave them.
Below are 3 questions you should ask any internet advertising company before considering doing business with them.
1.) Are you going to work on my actual website url (address)?
This is a very important question to ask because many internet marketing companies do not promote your “real” website address across the internet. Instead they will advertise a website they create, with content they create, and will spread this “not real” website address across the internet…and it will spread like a virus. They often will do this because they will place tracking code and phone numbers on the website and listings they create to take credit for the phone calls, clicks and other activity created on these websites, and listings, which seems fair.
The problem with this – The problem with this is that major search engines like Google, Bing, & Yahoo look for some very key factors when deciding what type of results they return on the first page of their search engines, for keywords your business should be found for.
Some of the biggest factors these search engines look for are consistency of information from multiple sources across the internet. If you as a business owner try to tell one of these search engines that your website address is www.localbiz.com, but the company you hired is telling them your website address is www.localbizportland.com, which source will the search engine believe? What happens is you end up splitting traffic between two websites, confusing the search engines and your customers, and unintentionally creating twice as much work for yourself.
What happens if you decide to cancel this company’s service? You will likely lose out on all of this traffic completely, and be left with an expensive mess to fix when it comes to cleaning up the wrong information that has been spread across the web.
When deciding on a web advertising company, doesn’t it make sense to hire a company that will actually work on your website, not one they create for you, that you’ll never own or have rights to?
City Ranked Media recently had to help one of our customers that was caught in this exact situation. This customer had over 2,000 listings with wrong information about their business, including a tracked phone line the SEO company owned.
When this customer cancelled their service, this SEO company re-pointed their tracked phone line to one of this customers competitors, in the same market.
2.) Are you going to use a call tracking line on local citation websites?
Again, just as above, many of these companies will use call tracking phone numbers across local citation websites to once again show their customers that they can make their phones ring, not a bad thing right? Unfortunately in many cases this will actually hurt your website rankings.
The problem with this – The problem with this is once again the major search engines look for uniformity across the net on key pieces of information regarding your business. Information such as website address, phone number, and physical address are key factors to getting your business to rank for the keywords you want at the local level. Another unintended consequence; if you decide to not continue doing business with this company, who will correct these phone numbers that have been placed all over the internet?
Even changing 250 wrong listings can cost a lot for a small business to fix. Take the following real life example of a small business owner that hired City Ranked Media to fix the exact same situation.
250 wrong phone listings across the web. Average 30 minutes to claim each listing, and correct wrong phone numbers. Discounted $25 per hour SEO service to complete. Total time invested = 75 hours. Total cost to fix = $1.875.00.
3.) How Long Is The Web Advertising Contract?
This is an important question. Many internet advertising companies out there today insist on locking their clients into year long (or sometimes longer) advertising contracts. This should throw an immediate red flag to any small business. The thinking here is that many small businesses are used to buying they’re advertising in year long increments…most have done it for years with other forms of advertising.
The problem with this – The problem with this is that any internet advertising company should be able to show a business owner that their advertising efforts are making progress and working inside of 6 months, so the question would be, why would they want to lock you into a year long contract? Want to know the answer? It can differ from company to company, but usually the same things ring true from company to company, and we’ve outlined them below.
- They need time to spread a call tracking line across the web – As we mentioned above, one of the thing that many of these companies will do is spread a call tracking line across local citation websites. This exercise does not happen overnight, and can take many months to complete as it’s up to the search engines when they will index these listings. A long advertising contract gives these companies time to ramp these listings up to garner “tracked” phone calls for their customers to show them perceived value in their service.
- More impressive phone call statistics – Which sounds better to you – 200 calls for the year, or 16 calls per month? When it comes time to renew your advertising after a year, you can bet they will talk about the 200 calls they drove, and not the 16 call monthly average. Why? Chances are you didn’t work with this company on a monthly basis reviewing your phone calls to determine the real value of what was driven. And even if this company sent you reports, chances are you were busy running your business and didn’t get a chance to review these phone calls. So a perceived fear can be built based upon what “might have” come from those calls. Often small business owners will renew this type of advertising based upon figures alone.
- It’s all in the magic of their software – Search engine rankings are not achieved by using software – don’t ever let anyone fool you into believing that. There are software programs out there that can aide an SEO company in tracking results and rankings, making it easier to to streamline certain processes, but that’s where SEO software ends. True ethically done search engine optimization is done by hand, it takes skill and an understanding of what factors the search engines look at when determining where a website will land in their index. Companies claiming that they have developed magic software or claiming they have some special relationship with the search engines are not being honest.
Ethically Done Search Engine Optimization
An ethical SEO company should be able to explain, in detail, everything they will be doing to help your website and business rank better with the search engines.
City Ranked Media worked with a small business that was being pressured to renew this same type of advertising. After diving into the provided reports, and going over the phone calls and people that contacted this company over the course of the year, we learned a few things:
- The third party advertising company was driving phone calls & website conversions at a rate of $44.23 each
- This advertising company was advertising/buying the clients business name on many websites, essentially taking credit for calls from the clients current customers
The Outcome – Once due diligence had be completed on the third party advertising, the client was able to conclude that they were:
- Paying $44.23 per call with this third party advertising company, of which approximately 40% were from current clients of the customer
- They were paying less than $22.00 per call on their own search marketing program
The customer decided to cancel the third party advertising and reinvest those funds into their own search engine marketing program. As a result of this change, the client saw an increase of 22 calls per month on average from their search marketing, which was 6 more calls per month than they were receiving from their prior marketing company. An even bigger result was that less than 10% of these calls were from the customers current clients, meaning there was a 30% increase in new prospects.