The SEO E-mail

I got an e-mail from someone who works for a search engine marketing firm here in Hong Kong, notifying me that I was chosen for a free trial rank service “without any terms & conditions”. This simply means if my site ranks on top, I am not obliged to return the favor. At the same time, if the site doesn’t rank, it’s none of their business, next site to optimize please.

It’s been a while since I posted a blog and my apologies for that since I had been committed to make my Living in Hong Kong blog a daily routine. But this e-mail hasn’t escaped my attention and intention to blog about it was my first priority.

Here’s the letter which comes from someone named AL (initials).

Dear Manager,

My name is AL – Search Engine Marketing Manager of [Company Name]. We enable to rank your company websites & information on the first page of Global Search Engines. Whenever people search for the keywords on Google & Google Networks (G-mail [sic], AOL, Apple Daily, You Tube [sic], New York Times…etc.), your company websites & information will rank on the top of Google & Google Networks as search result for you to develop your overseas & domestic business targets and extra potential customers.

You are currently been selected for the free trial rank service without any terms & conditions. It means by this month, your company information, description & web site will be ranked on the first page of Google & Google global network by free. Please free feel to contact my direct line [phone number], or email to [email address] for free trial account.

I have no negative bias towards the service the company offers. First of all, I have not heard about the company until I got the e-mail so that’s a victory for them in terms of brand awareness. But the e-mail also discloses the state of how search marketing is going on in Hong Kong. I think many individuals and companies are still unaware of what it is at its basic definition, it is easy to attract these folks into buying in to the idea that it is about ranking. Not to mention the following:

1. Search ranking is guaranteed
2. Ranking can be achieved immediately
3. Grammatical errors
4. Brand naming misspellings

There is a case on ranking in Google, surprisingly the only search engine mentioned in the e-mail despite the popularity of Yahoo! in Hong Kong. It’s undoubtedly the fastest among the top search engines to display results for recently modified web pages. But it also invites an uninformed prospect into believing that it’s the nature of search engines to rank pages with no regard to time, competitiveness and keyword relevance in general. Someone has to call the number posted in the e-mail (not disclosed in this blog) to know more about such intricacies because the letter itself sounds like a misleading attempt to lure customers more than educating them.

And before AL can escape with all these SEO questions, how in the world was I selected to be part of this promotion thing? I did not join a raffle draw so I should not be notified I won one price, no matter if it’s the lowest form of consolation. Spamming is an understatement. It’s more than filling up my Inbox with an unsolicited subscription.

While preparing for a proposal a week ago for a supposed client, I got an e-mail asking if we provide a list of services culled from the web and competitor vendors. Among them are guaranteeing rankings and free for all linking. I was quick to react that I’d rather not work for a client who believes these two promises will land them into a paradise of top rankings. It’s an invitation to damnation within search results.

Don’t believe in everything you read on the web. There are lots of myths that circulate around. Ask questions, and ask why such thing works. Constant reading will help sharpen our minds to be more capable of filtering which idea is correct, what’s partially correct and which one borders around imbecility.

The bottom line is that if you’re doing such exercise, you must know your business objectives. At the end of the day, if giant ads that hug the walls of Western Tunnel delivers money to the company’s bank account do it. Don’t venture into SEO if you’re not sure what you really want. You know your business more than SEO vendors so take the lead and never be deceived.