This is great; Google is finally taking action!
The economy of the United States is built on small business. Those who run a small business know that every decision is a trade off of one thing for another. Taking a short cut today might help to lower expenses, but that same short cut might create bigger problems in the future.
As a business coach I'm always helping entrepreneurs evaluate business tradeoffs and opportunities that might financially benefit them. When it comes to financial benefits, there is certainly a surplus of offers that provide quick access to cash that could be in your bank tomorrow, and there are plenty of internet marketing schemes that offer overnight success.
Internet marketing is not easy to understand any more. Online engagements are so fast that you can't simply rely on a great ad copy and imagery; you have to include customer targeting and even understand a little bit about the algorithms that connect people to you when they need to find you most. The creative ads and the scientific targeting must join forces for online marketing to be successful.
You're not alone if you feel confused by the marriage of these scientific and creative methods. Sadly though, there are plenty of scam artists out there that prey upon an entrepreneur's confusion. To date I have written the following 10 Daily Golden Nuggets regarding different types of internet scams:
- How Jewelers Can Avoid Pinterest Pinning Scams
- Dealing with Instagram Spam Accounts
- Smartphones Make You More Vulnerable To Phishing Scams
- Don't Let Link Building Bite You Badly
- DNS Services Invoices are a Scam
- Don't get scammed by domain name thieves.
- Don't Be Tricked Into Buying Exact Match Domain Names
- Protect Yourself From Continued Domain Name Scams
- Evaluating an Unsolicited SEO Proposal
- The Search Engine is Calling You
That last one, The Search Engine is Calling You, is perhaps the most widely talked about of internet scams. Everyone wants first place ranking in Google, yet very few business owners understand the necessary marriage of scientific and creative methods to make it happen. Most business owners believe they can just pay someone to make it happen overnight. While it's true that you probably have to pay someone to get it done, it's the "overnight" part that's a complete scam.
Scam artists have been preying upon business owners with automated telephone calling methods, called "robocalls," for several years. Typically, the caller ID says "Search Engine" and sometimes it even says "Google." Any automated, unrequested phone call that offers a solicitation of services is illegal in the United States. The Federal Trade Commission, FTC, received thousands of complaints about these calls every year, they've even set up this website to provide information about robocalls and how to fight them.
The offer to pay a low price and achieve first place ranking on Google is so alluring. The telemarketer on the phone will do their best job to convince you that they will make it happen easily, and painlessly, after which you'll have new customers appearing in droves. These scammers understand that "there's a sucker born every minute," and they will continue to prey upon them until the end of time.
It's really difficult to track these scamming companies, especially those posing as "Search Engine" and "Google" on the caller ID. The difficulty is because inexpensive VoIP telephones have given them the ability to use temporary numbers, call from outside the U.S., and route their calls in nefarious ways. It's sickening, and many honest SEO and online marketing agencies have cried out for years for Google to help stop robocalls.
Whenever you get an automated call offering you any service, not just internet solicitations, the best advice from the FTC and FCC is to simply hang up. Don't press any button because they will then the automated system will know they've reached a real number and the calls will continue. These companies don't follow the National Do Not Call Registry, nor will they remove your number from a list when you ask them to.
After years of robocalling abuse, Google is finally taking action to protect small business from illegal robocalls. On September 16, 2015, Google filed a lawsuit against California based search engine optimization firm Local Lighthouse Corp, one of the biggest offenders of robocalls offering Google local promotional services.
It's great that Google is finally taking action instead of relying on the FTC to follow up on complaints. The complaint cites trademark infringement, false claims of association to Google, and false advertising. My hope is that this will send a signal to other robocall scammers that their heyday is coming to an end. Since 2012, Google has worked very hard to clean up the online link building and article spinning scams, it's about time they took their fight offline.
Bottom line of today's Daily Golden Nugget is to not trust any automated telephone sales call. If Google ever has a reason to call you it will be with a live person, not an automated system. The next time you receive an automated call offering online services you should follow the safety instructions on this page and report the abusive robocall here so Google knows about it.
Thanks to Search Engine Land, I'm able to share the Google vs Local Lighthouse Corp Lawsuit Filings here.