Local Search: How not to succeed in business without really trying

Update 12/10/08 10:00 am: Google has apparently removed 7098 of these bogus listings. But for reasons beyond my comprehension there are still a few left in the index.

Update 12/10/08 7:00 pm: Google has apparently removed all of these listings.

PromoterLocal.com appears to be a local search firm like many others. They offer a Google Maps listing service for $49.95/mo with a one time setup charge of $249.95. Unlike some local search firms, PromoteLocal is so confident of their skills that they proclaim: “Don’t Just Get Listed, Dominate Your Competition With: First page placement in the Google Local Listings every time!, New SEO technology used only by PromoterLocal“. Elsewhere on their site they guarantee first place listings.

Their website doesn’t happen to list their address. Whois indicates that they are located in Orem, UT. In today’s Google Maps for Business Owner Group they were reported to be spamming in Sunnyvale and in Fairfax.

Google Maps seems to think that they possess somewhere on the order of 7,107 locations across the United States with over 400 in the NYC area alone and with business names like “Always On Top Marketing Houston” and “Advertise Real Estate” in Bowling Green.

Perhaps it is a generational thing or a lack of vision on my part, but why would a company predicate a business strategy on such a thin “advantage? I can understand getting laid off by a large corporation. I can’t understand laying off yourself when your lame business idea is found out. Why put any effort into such a short term process? Is the cash really that good?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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18 thoughts on “Local Search: How not to succeed in business without really trying”

  1. @David

    I always assume that people for all of their limitations, usually make cost benefit judgements based on their experiences and point of view.

    It certainly seems shorted sighted to me and could be written off to only having half of a brain but I am assuming there is more than that… take a look at the math…they front load their fees and if they succeed in getting 2 clients for each of the 50 major metro areas and and 1 for the 50 next biggest secondary markets they have 150 clients x $250 ($37,350) and if they keep all 150 for 6 months, they will have an additional $45,000. Not bad ($82,350) for 6 months work.

    Mike

  2. I wonder if they’re the same people that were behind a very similar scheme from the same metro around 6 months ago.

    Thanks for showing all the locations Mike. On the first Google page, they are apparently in my hometown of Rochester, MN exactly where a McDonald’s has stood for years.

    Would you like an apple pie with that? 🙂

  3. Hi Paul

    It is amazing to me that the same tactics would work again. You would think that Google would have put in place some protection over the last few months, but I guess not…they have used real addresses but the fact that they used other business locations and often locations right next to each other might have given them away.

    These guys are at least very thorough. Even in Buffalo NY they are showing 47 listings. They are probably co-located with a lot of McDonalds. Watch out Starbucks!

    Mike

  4. @David

    From one (very unusual) point of view they are “being paid” to do market research. Just think of the incredible amount of data as to use frequency of local search phrases that they will accumulate and be able to track based on the phone numbers etc.

    Mike

  5. @Stever & Matt-right you are. Thought through that in the first sentence and by the time I had hit the end of the paragraph I was too wrapped up in what I was doing to notice. Sorry for the oversight.

    Mike

  6. What I can’t understand is how any company could make, “get listed first every time,” a business proposition that would sound good to any small business owner with half a brain. How long does it take to play that scenario out? Does this mean the company will accept ONLY one dentist, one auto garage, one dog walker in each city? Does the business owner expect to invest in a big non-compete fee?

    I just shudder to think that people must have signed up for this service, or the profit scenario you and David are discussing isn’t even part of the equation. My question is, who would sign up for such a service? How can a business offer like this manage to make money at all?

    Glad Google shut them down.
    Miriam

  7. @Miriam, unfortunately an offer like that is something a lot of small local business owners might fall for. It sounds like a good deal and as you know most small biz owners are not very web savy.

    For some smb’s in smaller cities and/or uncompetitive environments, keyword wise, it can be easy to get them to rank, and the rankings last for quite some time without added work. So that spammer could possibly retain a fair number of clients at $50 a month.

    On a similar note, some of my clients fall in those low competition environments and have top rankings organically across the major engines and in local. The type of client were I won’t bother charging monthly fee’s for because there just is nothing to do on a monthly level. Some of them get regular calls from “offshore” SEO services promising to rank them in Google, Yahoo, MSN for their local keywords for only $50 per month.

    They use the hardsell. I know because I was visiting a client when one called and he handed me the phone. I played dumb to listen to their offer. After I pointed out that the site already has #1 spot in all the engines for the main keywords they continued to push their sales pitch.

    Are they neglecting to check to see if that website ranks already? Not pre-qualifying their phone leads? Maybe. Or are they preying on small business owners ignorance and making a highly attractive promise, one that’s far to easy for them to deliver on as the results are already there, and hoping some that they call have no idea about their website, where it ranks and why? A strong possibility too.

  8. Good points, Stever. Thanks for replying.

    You ask: Are they neglecting to check to see if the website already ranks already?

    Considering the number of emails I get every week offering our own company SEO services so we can rank #1, I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Miriam

  9. Quite yer freakin whining..

    You sound like a bunch of butt hurt little girls.

    The web is a competitive space.

    If you want to succeed, get off your ass and play hard ball.

  10. @Finneus/qwicherbichun

    What these folks did wasn’t getting off their asses nor playing hardball, what they did was lazy.

    They did perhaps have some temporary monetary gain but it could not have been much and from where I sit these kinds of activities remind me of the linament & cure all salesmen…just a bunch of blow hards. Although these guys above don’t even work as hard nor provide anywhere as much perceived values

    If one is going to get off one’s ass as you suggest perhaps they could create something that offers some benefit for the money received. That would be a game of hard ball that I would be happy to engage in.

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