SCAM ALERT! red Rubber Stamp over a white background.

If you’ve been in business more than a week, you’ve probably already gotten a call from someone to talk about your Google listings. Recently, these calls are more commonly coming from autodialers. “Hi, this is Sharon, your local Google Specialist!” followed by a number of attractive claims. Anyone in internet marketing starts to laugh within a minute. Then we wonder how many people actually get sucked in.

What If It’s Really Google?

Short answer. It isn’t. It is possible Google may call you about AdWords or to confirm information in Google My business, Google Play if you have an app, or about other Google products. However, it will always be from a live person who will prove they are with Google by sending you an email with a email.The only automated calls Google makes are phone verification calls that you specifically request to update listing information. Google Safety Center outlines their policy when it comes to this.

So What IS Going On?

The last time I got one of these calls, I marveled at how many times the automatic message violated Google’s Terms of Service in 15 seconds:

-They identified themselves as Google

-Guaranteed first page placement

-Guaranteed unlimited clicks

-Failed to mention their own company name

Because of this, I concluded they couldn’t’ be an AdWords Partner because no Google AdWords Partner would jeopardize their relationship with Google in this way. I decided to take the call and pretend interest to see what the deal was. I never got a business name, but what I did get was a basic outline that told me they were selling a simple internet listing submission service for an insane amount of money. Toward the end, I started asking some intelligent questions, and let on that I knew too much and was promptly hung up on.

When To Hear Alarm Bells

  • When it comes to anything related to internet marketing, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  • No reputable internet marketing agency will ever “guarantee” placement. We have no way of knowing how many people will search for your kind of business in your service area next month. The point of what we do is to grow the volume and quality of visitors to the site and the results of what happens when they visit, but guarantees when it comes to this are dishonest and unethical.

  • If they’re giving you answers before asking you questions, there’s probably something wrong. No two companies are the same and internet marketing is all about helping you accomplish your business goals. So how can someone recommend you need something before talking to you about what you’re trying to accomplish?

What Can I Do About All Those Annoying Calls?

Another short answer — really not much. If you’ve already registered for the National Do Not Call Registry, you’ve probably noticed it doesn’t’ really do much to slow them down. Google suggests you report the offending parties to the Federal Communications Commission or you can help them track down violators by reporting them directly to Google. Truth be told, you’re best off following Google’s first piece of advice on the subject. “Hang up.”