Search Engines - Buying Keywords - Inside Story
Buying Your Keywords to appear in Browser Address Search Bars – It seems like about two or three times per month we get a phone call that extol a 'sure-fire' way to drive key word directed traffic to your law firm's website. At first blush the pitch sounds very appealing: You can purchase keywords so that when someone types that specific keyword into their Internet browser they will be taken direct to your website. Like many such scams, it takes further investigation to get the real facts. There are several variations of these plans and they all sound like you would be passing up a terrific opportunity if you do not immediately sign up to ‘own’ your important keywords. After some in depth questioning, the real story can be summarized by the cliché “If it seems too good to be true, it often is. Like most scams, this one is based on a kernel of truth, embellished by the omission of material facts.
Here is what we found out: One plan only works if the keyword is typed into the browsers address bar, not a search bar. The address bar is where the name of your website appears like http://www.your-site-here.com. Most people do not type search phrases into this bar.
Plus, in order to work, the person must have downloaded a program that replaces or modifies their Internet browser. This is the real key to this plan. These program modifiers are usually downloaded without the full knowledge of the public. Many times they believe they are installing an enhancement that will add some minor function to their browser at no cost. In reality, they are being misled as to the real purpose of the program. The other version of these ‘purchase your keywords’ programs is similar to the above plan, but has the search box of the Internet browser modified to redirect the searcher to the paid-for websites. With both variations, the key to their operation is that they only work with a modified Internet browser. Many times, such software is known as spyware and piggybacked on some freeware program to mislead the public into installing the software. This raises some important questions. Do you want to participate in such a misleading program? Also, the key to the potential success of such plans is the installed base of the modified browsers.
Here is where you will hear all types of claims as to the installed base. However, judging from the comments on various Webmaster forums, it seems that this installed base is too small to be cost effective. Just for fun, on the last two of these solicitation calls, I pretended to be interested. (One was in reference to a San Diego real estate site and the other was a Houston legal website where we are the Webmasters.) I asked the caller about their installed base of rigged browsers. Needless to say, I received extraordinarily high figures. They tried to get me to sign up immediately, because the keywords I could get now might be purchased at any moment by others. When I asked them to please email or fax over some verifiable information on the numbers, I received assurances the information would be sent shortly. Surprise, surprise, no information was ever sent! The same scenario was duplicated when I requested a list of a few local attorneys who were using the service for at least six months. Also, with many free programs designed to find and remove such spyware, upgrading of systems and computers, it is debatable whether this installed base will be increasing or decreasing.
Will your investment create a profitable return? Again, based on Webmaster forums, it seems to be the consensus that you will get more visitors to your website by sliding your business card under the windshield wipers of cars in a supermarket parking lot. Copyright 2005 Promotions Unlimited. All rights reserved.
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