Avoid the Ripoff – Evaluating Internet Marketing SEO Tools

In this series, I explain how I successfully avoid being ripped off on the Internet. This article explains how I evaluate SEO tools and includes practical ideas on developing your own business opportunity evaluation style, a critical skill in the new global economy. SEO tools are a broad set of very different software and training which have the common objective of getting more visitor traffic to a website.

Since October 22, 2007, I have evaluated hundreds of SEO Tools for my own consulting practice, and I’m sharing an interesting gem with you. This was one of my most interesting encounters with one of these tool makers.

The day started out as all days do, breakfast, coffee, and reading email. This day, an ad about generating more Twitter followers caught my attention. I surfed over to the sales page and it looked pretty good. Many people don’t think much of Twitter, mainly because they simply don’t see what’s in it for them. Trust me on this one, this will change. Non-believers can stop reading here. This article is for the one million people who understand that Twitter is a portal into the soul of humanity, revealing what people care about, what interests them, what they might buy. Learning how one can use Twitter more effectively is on the minds of many, many marketers. I made a decision to learn if using this particular tool was in my future.

Is the business trying to hide its ownership? The first thing that I always look at is the domain registration of the sales page. In order to give your web site a unique name (called a domain name), you must register it with a Domain Name Registrar. The legal person who owns the domain name is required to provide accurate information. If you determine that they didn’t provide accurate information you can actually report them to the registrar and they may lose their name as a result of this violation. Currently, there is little enforcement of this requirement, so you may find false or useless contact information. A legit business will never violate this requirement by providing false contact information. However, keep in mind that there is little enforcement of this rule. This is actually no problem for you because you can EASILY verify it yourself. You can make a phone call, right? Bad guys don’t want you to be able to find them. So, this is an indicator or a vote. If the business has provided false or even inaccurate contact information that is a “thumbs down” vote. There are more votes to be counted, however. If you contact the business and they take quick action to correct the errors, that would be a “thumbs up” vote. There is another consideration. Some registrars provide a service called “private” registration whereby the registrar actually is the legal owner of the domain name. This provides more privacy for the site owner, but if the domain owner is suspected of wrongdoing their contact information can lawfully be revealed by the registrar to any law enforcement agency. So, the privacy isn’t really much at all except that it is a barrier to ordinary people to learn the true ownership of the domain name. Therefore, if the domain name has “private” registration, I give that a “thumbs down” vote. In my opinion, real businesses with a good code of ethics are not likely to use “private” domain name registration.

How well does the business handle complaints? The second thing that I do is call customer service and point out a problem. You can tell a great deal about a company by performing this behavior. Is there anyone to talk to? Is there anyone to “online chat” with? Is there an email address that doesn’t work? Is the response time slow? Do you think that customer service will be bad before the sale and good after the sale? You get the idea, right? I have been a customer service manager since 1999, and I can tell you from personal experience that a successful real business does everything it can to get new customers and keep existing customers. If you don’t get this feeling from your contact with customer service, it’s a “thumbs down” vote.

I contacted customer service for the Twitter tool that I was interested in. Previous to my call, I read the sales offer page and the “Terms of Service” document for the product. I noticed that on the sales page for the product there was a “guarentee” shown. But, in the “Terms of Service” the word “guarentee” did not appear. I interpreted this to mean that the sales page offered a “guarentee” but the “Terms of Service” did not offer a “guarentee”. So, my contact with customer service was for the purpose of resolving the apparent conflict between the sales offer and the “Terms of Service”. Now, read carefully, I told the customer service person that I would like their permission to record our conversation. The person told me that this was not lawful and I responded that if both parties agreed to the recording that it was lawful. Many companies do this with your permission when you call them. They do it for their own protection and for training purposes. The person I was talking to declined to have our conversation recorded, so I agreed to that. Recording or no recording, this will get the person’s attention and let them know that you want the real scoop. They will be careful about what they say. They don’t know you and you could be recording anyway (even though that would be unethical after you agreed not to). The customer service person asked me if I was an attorney. I’m not. So far, I have two “thumbs down” votes for the contact. Then, I pointed out that there was a conflict between their sales offer page and their “Terms of Service”. The customer service person insisted that the “Terms of Service” did describe the “guarentee”. In my opinion, this was clearly a false claim. At this point, another “thumbs down” vote clicked in. Then, the most amazing thing occurred, the person said, “You are not calling to BUY the software, you are calling to COMPLAIN* about the software!”. Wow, another “thumbs down” vote submitted. We never even discussed their software. I hung up the phone; my heart pounding with the excitement that I had a clear answer. In the democracy of my own mind, a good decision is the result of counting votes.

* Note: The actual word used here started with the second letter of the alphabet.

Charles KnNell is the publisher of “Ethical Marketing”.

Copyright 2009 Right Results Consulting LLC

2 Responses to “Avoid the Ripoff – Evaluating Internet Marketing SEO Tools”

  1. 1
    Twitter@dacort Says:

    Hi Charles,

    … I use private registration as I prefer not to have my email address and **physical mailing address** (I’m a small, independent developer) broadcast to the Internet at large. As a computer security professional, I would prefer to protect that aspect of my privacy. I don’t broadcast my address on Twitter and I certainly wouldn’t want to broadcast it to anybody familiar enough to do a whois query. I hope you can respect this point of view and perhaps even update your post below to reflect that aspect of it. …

  2. 2
    Charles KnNell Says:


    I do appreciate your point of view regarding private registration and wouldn’t reject a vendor for this reason alone.


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