Check this story out. It deserves more attention than it has received. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-click-farms-20140106,0,4665586.story#axzz2pma5Opkr
In you own a business, especially if it’s small or nascent, you have likely been solicited by companies, many small or nascent themselves, who guarantee they can make you visible everywhere on the internet; with heavy emphasis on “everywhere.”
They are selling you likes, clicks, hits, views, visits – anything which may indicate someone is paying attention. Economic success, they tell you, will flow from that. They ask you to pay for a certain number of guaranteed eyeballs a month; plus extra fees for any additional attention your business receives.
You are paying for their (supposed) familiarity with what it takes to be noticed on Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, Google Searches, not for actual customer queries and contacts, much less sales. You are not paying for outcomes, but for milestones which may, if you’re lucky, lead to tangible results, That’s a problem in itself. But when, as the Associated Press reports, even the delivery of the milestones involves fakery, you have real problems. Lots of money is being paid, by large and small organizations alike, for these services.
Yes, for the right amount of money and with the most knowledgeable social networking and search engine gurus, you can make great strides. But, many of the companies out there selling these services are providing false hopes. One false inducement not mentioned in this story, but seen in commercials all the time (ad nauseum), is the claim that for a modest initial fee and twenty bucks a month after that, “we will make sure your website is in all the major search engines.” What this really means is the company will help you register with Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., and make sure your site map is updated with them periodically. That’s trivial. By itself, it will get you nowhere, rather than seen everywhere. And besides, your ten year old kid can figure out how to do that for his allowance.
The larger implication of this story is that, not only hasn’t the Internet leveled the playing field for small business, as promised, but it’s given larger businesses, with the resources to hire the best consultants, a real advantage on the web.
Hiring the best consultants, and doing what’s really needed to generate contacts and sales, is time consuming. And it costs a lot on an ongoing basis. Just staying abreast with changes in algorithms Google uses to “rank sites” – i.e., whether you show up on page one or page one thousand of a search – is a big job in itself. Unless you are a small business person with great aptitude for internet marketing, and the time to devote to it, or have a family member who can do it well, you are at a considerable disadvantage.
On the other hand, if it makes you happy to accumulate “likes” on your Facebook business page, even if they are fake, then who am I, or the Associated Press, to dissuade you. Enjoy!