Just before I start yet another post pointing out flaws here, there
and everywhere, I’ll stick my hands up and say I’m as guilty of this as anyone else. Cliched statements and claims that tend to be found on SEO agency / consultant sites – stuff that is usually written as a sales pitch, but if we thought about it carefully then we probably wouldn’t do it.
In no particular order…
1. “Avoid bad neighbourhoods”
Other than being sooooo 2004, this statement holds no real meaning for potential clients. This is a SEO concept and really only adds another layer of confusion to an already complicated industry. SEO is still greatly misunderstood by many clients – the industry seriously needs to work on educating consumers and statements like this just serve to complicate matters.
The concept of a bad neighbourhood is still important within the SEO process – but note the key word there – “within”. It shouldn’t be part of initial contact – it should be part of the post sale education process (or part of a concerted effort by the industry to educate clients in general).
2. We are the top agency in [insert vague reference to a number one ranking]
An SEO claiming they are the top anything because they have a number one ranking for an agency related term is just plain silly. Top rankings for terms like “SEO agency” and so on are great and certainly should be used to show your strengths as an SEO.
But think carefully about how you word your statement – equating a top ranking to “being the best” can be taken the wrong way by less savvy clients. Worst still, the statement may hold negative connotations for more savvy clients who understand that top rankings don’t necessarily equate to top quality. Would a savvy client hire a SEO who doesn’t appear to understand this difference?
There’s highlighting your strengths and achievements – and there’s taking it too far. Sometimes the “yeh, yeh we’re brilliant, YEH!” approach isn’t always appropriate.
3. Buyer’s guides (in general)
Reputable and impartial organisations can justify pushing buyer’s guides to consumers – companies with clear bias really shouldn’t. This is just my personal opinion and I’m sure some will disagree. I just don’t think it’s appropriate for a site selling the service they are “advising” people how to buy. And I also don’t believe that many consumers will view it in a good light – a fake sales pitch can be as negative as a good sales pitch can be positive.
4. Outdated or inappropriate auto generated copy (aka laziness)
I just looked at the site of a UK based SEO agency and their SEO process page (where they outline the project process for potential clients) – there’s some default text at the bottom that gives the article date (2002) and a disclaimer saying that it doesn’t necessarily match the current opinions / views of the company.
What kind of mixed message does that send out?
5. Outdated examples of work
Basically, showing examples of work that no longer are appropriate (either the client has left or the rankings lost or both). I’ve seen examples on agency sites that haven’t ranked as the site claims for over 3 years.
That kind of oversight can end a sales process before it begins. I’m a client. I like the look of the site. I want to find out more. I see examples. I check one of them. Bang! The ranking is gone completely. As am I.
6. Ethical SEO – no children were harmed in the making of this ranking…
Yet another SEO term that can hold a different or no meaning for clients. Why send out mixed messages? Most clients don’t understand the concept of ethical SEO – so they automatically attach their own meaning to the statement.
The purpose of your sales copy is to convey a clear message to potential clients – you need to avoid any potential areas that can cause confusion or be misinterpreted.
7. Using misspellings or regional variations
Search engine optimisation or search engine optimization. Pick one and run with it. If you think about it enough you could probably optimise for both without suggesting that people who visit your site are illiterate.
Misspellings on the other hand should be avoided. Save them for your spam sites. I know some people will disagree with this, but personally I’d prefer better conversion rates over targeting trickles of typo traffic.
And no, saying something like, “widget is sometimes spelled like wigdets, wodgets, qidgets, etc” is not a clever way of getting around it.
8. Exclusive inside information
OK fair enough – if you have an exclusive, then shout about it as loud as you want. But describing something you read on Webmaster World does not constitute an exclusive. While some clients will take what you say at face value, there will always be some “in the know” who will look down on statements like this.
9. Excessively bigging up your employees
Closely tied to the previous point. While there’s no harm in boasting about how great your staff are (and indeed, there is benefit in doing so), giving newbies jumped up job titles and flaunting them over your site as experts is just a little lame. I’ve seen examples of companies promoting their “vertical specialists” who turn out to be completely new to SEO with only minor experience within their vertical. In my opinion this is bordering on an issue for Trading Standards to deal with – you simply shouldn’t be selling a service based on fake staff experience – clients aren’t getting the product they think they are paying for.
I’ve avoided posting examples, but I have a positive one now that shows the opposite of this. Over at DaveN’s blog, one of his new employees (Dan) starting guest posting when he joined the company and talked about learning the SEO process. It was (and is) a great read and compliments Dave’s already solid reputation.
I would much rather potential clients have a high opinion of someone just learning, than a low opinion of someone billed as an “expert”. Managed expectations and honesty can make a lot of difference to your marketing efforts.
What are your pet peeves when it comes to sales pitch copywriting?
I’m sure there are loads more examples of cringe worthy copywriting – what are your “favourites”?
This article was written by Scott Boyd, Managing Director (and King of Everything) of eFlaunt Internet Marketing – currently top agency in the world for the term “the”. Contact eFlaunt for our ethical SEO buyer’s guide for exclusive (aka ecxlusive) insider information.
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