Beware of the “Google” Swindlers

By Craig Buckler
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Google conAn increasing number of my clients and associates have reported cold calls from individuals purporting to work for Google. The callers typically offer to place the company’s website at the top of search results. The cost for this service varies, but it’s typically around $150 per month.

These calls are not necessarily to large multi-national corporations. In fact, most appear to target mid-sized companies and sole traders. Bizarrely, the callers insist on leaving a telephone number – not an email or any other form of Internet communication address.

Of course, it’s a con. The callers are simply selling AdWords adverts; they will spend some money on an online campaign and keep a large proportion of the monthly subscription for themselves. They could even use highly-specific keywords and only target the client’s immediate area to ensure AdWords costs are kept to a minimum.

Most legitimate SEO and marketing companies provide AdWords assistance, but the practice of masquerading as Google makes the offer appear more trustworthy, legitimate and cost-effective. At best, the callers are trading under false pretences. At worst, it’s fraud.

Remember:

  1. Google does not sell good positions in their search engine: search results would be worthless if they did. They do offer sponsored links through their AdWords system, but be wary if the caller fails to mention it.
  2. The caller should be able to answer basic questions about the service they offer, e.g. What keywords will be targeted? Will the search result appear locally or globally? Who should I make payment to?
  3. If a Google “employee” contacts you, they should be able to provide an internal email address – not a @gmail or @googlemail account.

Unfortunately, the Internet has more than it’s fair share of criminals and hustlers. Helping your clients avoid the swindlers is another service you should offer.

Have you been approached by Google cold-callers? Did you smell a swindler or were they actually legitimate?

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