Last updated on July 12, 2019
Your site has been flagged for removal by Google. If you fail to take action now, you’re off the web. But don’t worry. A representative from the company will guide you through the compliance process. Except they won’t – You’re the target of SEO robocalls. Here’s how to avoid getting scammed.
There’s a new scam making the rounds in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) space: SEO Robocalls. An autodialer purporting to be a representative of the world’s largest search engine threatens anyone who picks up the phone with delisting and removal.
It’s a tactic almost as old as the telephone itself. An old, timeworn scam with a new coat of paint. Before it was SEO, it was taxes. Or a police investigation. Or a lawsuit. Or pretty much anything you can think of that might give someone pause and make them afraid.A new scam making the rounds in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) space. Read @ #Philipscom Click To Tweet
The problem, notes Search Engine Land’s Craig Mount, is that scammers have gotten very good at telling believable lies. It’s why these scams succeed. These scammers bank on knowing more than their victims.
Per Mount, the lies will usually hit the following beats:
- The caller is a Google-certified partner or a representative of Google itself.
- The caller needs your information to verify your listing.
- Something on your listing does not comply with Google standards.
- The caller has been “asked by Google” to update something about your business listing.
- The caller has been “notified by Google” of a change to Google’s policies or algorithms.
The good news is that these scammers possess rudimentary knowledge. Anyone with even a middling understanding of SEO should be able to readily poke holes in the narrative I just described.
With that in mind, I’d like to take a moment to explain what SEO is and what it isn’t.
That alone will put you on a decent footing in terms of protecting yourself and your data.
SEO comprises a range of long-term tactics and techniques intended to make a website more palatable to search engines.How to protect yourself from this new scam the SEO Robocalls? Read the guest post by Daniel Page on #pvariel.com Click To Tweet
It is an ongoing process requiring consistent, concerted effort.
Effective SEO requires an understanding of your audience and the keywords they use to find your website.
It requires that you take the necessary technical measures to optimize your site’s performance and make it easily navigable.
It requires that you keep an ear to the ground and pay attention to both trusted experts and Google’s own SEO best practices.
It rarely, if ever, requires you to make immediate changes. SEO is a long-term, big-picture undertaking. There are no quick fixes, and changes in PageRank never happen overnight. They happen gradually.
With that in mind, Google will never, under any circumstances, call you about issues with your website.
It will not contact you about SEO. It will not contact you about business listings, nor will any of its “partners.”
If Google updates its algorithms and penalizes your website, the onus is on you to figure that out.
It may sound rude, but the owner of the world’s largest search engine has better things to do than hold your hand. Moreover, Google neither needs nor wants your credit card information. Particularly if you’re paying for any existing services, the company already has your financials.
If anyone requesting your details for a service fee is lying. They are a criminal and a thief. If you give them any information at all, they will try using it to scam you.
In that same vein, anyone pressuring you into signing up for a service, with the implication that you’re in trouble if you don’t, is trying to scam you.
Anyone who tries to fish for information like your marketing budget is trying to scam you. Anyone who claims they’re able to exert direct control over how and where your site ranks is scamming you.
Do not play their games, and do not engage with them. You might be tempted to play along with them in the hopes of wasting their time, but it’s not worth the effort. Just hang up the phone.
That isn’t to say you need to ignore the scam call altogether. If you’re able to identify the scammer, you can submit an official complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Google also has a contact form you can use to report such organizations.
Unfortunately, most criminals are clever enough to operate under an assumed name and use a phone spoofing service.
Even those that don’t are stingy with their information until they have your money in-hand.
As such, there is a high chance that you won’t see any results from your reports.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t still notify Google and the FCC. But you shouldn’t get your hopes up.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that Google does occasionally call business owners. It rarely uses autodialers, however. The calls will always originate from one of Google’s designated, pre-existing numbers. In the U.S., they will most frequently come from (650) 203-0000
The circumstances under which Google makes these calls are extremely narrow. Per the company’s own support site, they are as follows:
- To make reservations or confirm business hours, only if your business has a public phone number and uses the automated voice-calling service Duplex. You can opt out of these calls at any time.
- For the purpose of “development, customer service, or support related to Google Ads, Google Play, or other Google accounts.” The company cautions that it will never ask for payment information on the phone or make guarantees about “placement in any of [its] products.”
Whether purporting to be direct representatives of Google or simply affiliates, SEO robocalls represent a new spin on an old scam.
Unfortunately, they still run rampant. And they work far more often than they should, generating a disgusting amount of revenue.
For the moment, all you can really do is shore up your own knowledge and advise those closest to you not to fall for shady tactics and cheap tricks. Beware of SEO Robocalls.
Image Credit: Pixabay
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