The internet marketing industry has a pretty big problem. People are vulnerable, and their frustration and greed at wanting to rank better makes them fish in a barrel to predatory salespeople.
These folks can tell them what they want to hear, and deliver a product that seems fine to the client, without them knowing there may be harm headed their way down the road.
8 Out of 10 Clients Don’t Trust You
In the beginning of the video, they talk about a study showing that only 20 percent of SMB’s trust their SEO & PPC firms.
All three of them agree (from the transcript) that Google bears some responsibility as an enabler…
But People Trust Google
In the video, David goes on to mention another trust survey by Alignable that shows Google “at the very top of their list”. While I couldn’t find the survey he was referring to, I did find this one that has Google trusted at #4 among tech companies.
People do trust Google, so therefore, a company using a Google Partner logo is going to benefit. That’s obvious. This is why over the years, there have been thousands of variations of Google logos appearing on peoples websites.
Google Badges Used to be Clear and they said “Click to Verify”
As you can see from the images above, there are a variety of legitimate and fake badges that have come along over the years, but the real ones were clear about exactly what that badge meant. A badge that says “Ad Words Certified” says what it means, and there wasn’t much wiggle room for the companies that owned or used them.
Now, in order for a partner to use the logo on their website they are supposed to link back, but in some cases they won’t (surprisingly often), and I’d bet that most consumers don’t even know that it’s supposed to. The old “Adwords Certified Partner” logo not only was clear about what the certification meant, but it also said “Click to Verify” which I think is important.
The “New” Google Partner Logo is Misleading
When the Trusted Photographer and Google Trusted store came along, I sort of assumed we would have “Google Trusted SEO’s” one day. I figured the Adwords program would expand and there would continue to be new knowledge and capability certifications in a lot of IM disciplines, from Webmaster Tools to Local SEO, and maybe even web developers, and this would all lead to different badges and certifications.
Instead, nearly two years ago, Google changed their logo to simply read “Partner”. All the logo actually means is that the company or individual is Adwords Certified, but that’s not what Google says…
This is the topic that I brought up to Gary Ilyes of Google during the Pubcon speakers enclave in October. Brett Tabke gave us a little dedicated time at the end for Google bashing, and I pointed out that this “new” logo was helping scammers get over on businesses by providing false credibility. There are plenty of “Google Partner” companies out there right now that are actually doing harm, and nothing seems to happen to them.
What Are Googles Best Practices Anyway?
The Google partner qualifications ask for nothing beyond passing two Google Adwords tests and meeting some spending thresholds. That’s it. After that, this is all it takes to legitimately say you’re a Google Partner and use their logo.
Google even has defined “best practices” for domains and in the number one spot it says this:
“Work with a Partner. Partners make life easier. They have the experience and expertise in deploying Google Apps and can reduce the time to deploy by months! We strongly recommend working with our partners.
Google is recruiting new partners (i.e Adwords Certification) like this:
I Think Google is Misleading Consumers
Google is reaching out directly to consumers and telling them to hire certain companies who are Google Partners. In the case of someone wanting a web design for example, all it takes is for a partner check the box.
Although Google asks consumers make a choice, and differentiate between “help with your website” and “advertising”, there is no separate criteria, no certification, or anything in any way remotely associated with webmaster duties. How does this not mislead the consumer?
What Can Google Partners Do That is Harmful?
Rebuilding a website and not 301 redirecting old URLs has always been at the top of my list. Whether it’s ignorance or out and out laziness, there’s no excuse for that.
How about building websites for industry professionals that are all filled with dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of pages of 100% duplicate content? Nope, Google has no problem with partners doing that.
How about claiming an unclaimed business at Google, then leasing the page back to the business? That’s an all too common practice, and there’s nothing in Google’s guidelines about it.
What about building a website on a development server. and forgetting to block it from the search engines in robots.txt, so the site gets indexed elsewhere first. Or worse, remembering to block it, but then forgetting to REMOVE the block from the robots file when it goes live, so the site never gets indexed at all? Nope. No problem with incompetence as it relates to the Google partnership.
How about building hundreds or thousands of websites for clients, but with a back-end containing an intricate link rotation scheme? One that generates backlinks to each other to help them rank higher. Nope. Google doesn’t care, and I’ve reported that one more than once.
Although there have been cases of companies being penalized and even certain marketing firms being penalized, I’ve never heard of anything actually happening to someones Google Partner status, have you?
Why is there no mention of the words “best practices” in Googles Webmaster Guidelines?
There Should Be Consequences & Higher Standards
Google recently filed a lawsuit against someone posing as Google and they do make this partner complaint form available, but I don’t recall reading any news about anything bad happening to a partner for work they’ve done.
When a website gets caught doing something specifically against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines like developing unnatural links, Google penalizes them. So when a partner actually sells them that activity, there should be repercussions of SOME sort against the partner, don’t you think? Perhaps they should lose their Google Partnership? Maybe go on some sort of probation?
Perhaps, Google should “out” the partners like Yelp has been doing for years. Yelp warns their users that businesses are using Yelp to mislead the consumer. I think that’s a good thing. Why Not?
I know I said “higher standards” but I guess I meant at least SOME standards – for demonstrating competence with WMT / search console, local SEO and Google Maps, etc.
It’s my belief that the current Google Partner logo is causing a tremendous amount of confusion among consumers. To the general public, the logo implies that as a “Google Partner”, the organization has a broad knowledge about a variety of Google topics, and are held to a certain standard.
Either those standards should be raised and enforced, or the logo should say what it means… that it’s simply an ad agency.