This blog post is inspired by the wild and crazy websites I run into, at least weekly, that crack me up. They’re either therapy related or wedding planning related, though I run into other industries as well since nobody is spared. What cracks me up is how well these websites follow some core principles of search engine optimization (which I go through in detail in my trainings.) They get an awesome websites name. They use all the right keywords. They try to build links with great websites (this is sometimes how I find these sites.) They use a lot of content to beef up their websites.
What is missing? Sometimes the killer is they do not have an “About Us.” This is a huge red flag. If there aren’t “real people” behind a website, it’s because they are not involved in the industry in any way, other than trying to put together a fake-but-real-looking website to make money. I just ran into one that actually had a canned response saying if you want to know About Us for that website, to go look up their domain name information!! That’s like telling someone if you want to know who wrote the book sitting in front of you, go to the library to look up the book title, to find the authors.
Often, however, it’s what I call a soulless website. You can just sort of tell by reading the content. It’s extremely generic. It’s very repetetive (they know keywords are good so they repeat them over and over.) Sometimes it’s clearly a non-native English website by grammatical errors and ackward phrasing. There is one website that isn’t fake per se, but if you’re a therapist you may have been solicited. My dad got the solicitation (though I’d already seen the site) and noticed the goofy website content. As you scroll down for each city page of therapists, it starts talking about the touristy information for that city!!! Soooo funny and bizarre. It’s a way they figured they could add more content to each page by talking about the weather, sports, and tourists attractions for every city. Very, very strange if you are in pain and thinking you were on a therapy directory trying to find a therapist. You already KNOW about your own town and what does tourism have to do with therapy? It doesn’t. It’s for internet marketing purposes that this website is trying to find success. (I believe this site also restricts the number of therapists per zip code. I have strong negative feelings about that, though I understand the appeal in marketing to therapists. I can’t imagine artificially restricting who a prospective client could see based on who happened to sign up first to be listed. Real choice creates more likelihood of success for the client and therapist. It’s also a bad idea because as a web surfer if you only see a small list you may not read ANY of the profiles and go find a bigger directory.)
I’ve also seen websites build a ton of websites for the express purpose of “link building” among them. Again, not the way search engine marketing works! You have to think in junior high terms. The most popular kids get all the street cred and get to “bless” who else is popular. Same for search engines. You can’t create a bunch of fake popular kids (websites) and then link them all together and get search engines to notice.
In summary, I cringe at well meaning and not-well-meaning individuals who have picked up a book on search engine marketing, do all the “rules” right, and the end result is fakery, cringe-worthy silliness. The readers pick up on it. And they are the ones who ultimately decide if you’re going to have success or failure.