I recently bought a domain name from GoDaddy. As a result of my registration, I got what looked like a bill from some strange company called Web Listings Inc. – and rather than give this shady outfit a unique inbound link, which they may or may not know is what really helps search, I’ll point you instead to all of the other negative reports of Web Listings Inc on Google.
So why is this company a scam? First off, the letter they sent refers to:
“DOMAIN NAME SUBMISSINO TO 20 ESTABLISHED SEARCH ENGINES
UP TO EIGHT KEYWORD / PHRASE LISTINGS
QUARTERLY SEARCH ENGINE POSITION AND RANKING REPORTS”
First off, “20 established search engines” is meaningless. What does established mean here? It doesn’t matter. Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and to a lesser extent Ask are the only search engines that are important to anyone, because they are the only ones that have traffic. You don’t need to be listed on multiple search engines, you just need listings on search engines that have a lot of users.
Secondly, submitting listings to a search engine does not mean you will then get listed for keyword searches. It only means you submitted your site. Submitting your site to Google or Bing is just slightly easier than falling out of bed. The link to do so is easily found, and takes roughly 20 seconds to do. If you don’t know anything about the web, this might sound attractive – but then if you are new to the web, you’re just the kind of people this Web Listings Inc company is interested in: An easy mark.
The most insidious part of this e-mail, however, was the way it was presented: As a bill. When you first start reading the thing, it looks like something that got tacked on when you purchased your domain. Mine seemed to say I owed $85.00, a tear-out to send in with my check, and a return envelope.
Upon closer inspection, however, I saw the joke was on me! It also says,
“THIS IS NOT A BILL. THIS IS A SOLICITATION. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO PAY THE AMOUNT STATED ABOVE UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER.”
That is, the poor suckers who thought they owed someone money just sent it in, meaning they accepted an offer they didn’t know they could get out of. Some others who weren’t ever going to pay for something they didn’t know they bought would look into them…
And what, Web Listings? Look you up and decide your product is worth buying after all? Anyone who sends money to you without reading the disclaimer is a fool, granted – but so is anyone else who would send money to a company that sends what looks like an attempt to trick money out of them.
Just a few easy searches for your company turns up a lot of people complaining about black hat SEO, the aforementioned “scam” nature of your business, and some others who, like myself, were galled at similar letters.
As a professional SEO, this kind of thing makes me wince. There is real work involved in getting search engine rankings. Every time someone is burned by an outfit like this, that person assumes there is nothing that can be done to get their website ranked. After all, they parted with $85, or more, and despite being listed with “established search engines,” there wasn’t any further traffic to their site.
If you see ANYTHING from Web Listings Inc, please throw it away. You can submit your site on your own for free. If you want to see how you rank, just running some searches will tell you how you’re doing. If you want reports, there are companies like WebPosition that, while they do charge, will let you run as many reports on your rankings as you’d like – they won’t simply send you something every three months, from “search engines” no one has ever heard of before.
You don’t need these people, and they have no claim on your money – no matter what they tell you.
Finally, really, how good of an SEO company can they possibly be if they’re trying to get business using snail mail?