Warning: Do Not Hire Sam’s Club for Search Marketing
Ian Lurie Jan 28 2008
Sam’s Club has thrown their hat into the SEO/PPC scam ring. In what’s becoming a weekly tradition, I’ve volunteered to point out why you’d have to be brain damaged to hire them:
1. They Can’t Market Themselves. Can They Market You?!
In marketingspeak, Sam’s Club’s online marketing page is the south end of a northbound horse. It’s awful. If they can’t market themselves, they can’t market you, either.
You can see their page in all its glory here.
Where to begin?
First, their title tag. The title tag is important in search engine optimization (SEO). Sam’s Club is selling SEO and pay per click (PPC) consulting. So a sane person would assume their title tag would include the words ‘seo’ and/or ‘ppc’.
Here’s their title tag:
I don’t see ‘SEO’ or ‘PPC’ in there. Do you? So who wrote this title tag? The folks that are going to perform SEO on my site? No thank you.
Good code is important in SEO, too. I won’t bore you with the details here. If you have kids, picture the nastiest, most disgusting excretion ever. That’s what the Sam’s Club code resembles.
Then there’s the description META tag. While that tag won’t help with rankings, search engines often display as the ‘snippet’ in a search results listing. A well-written description tag makes folks more likely to click your listing. So it’s important.
The Sam’s Club description tag is “Let Sam’s Club help get you connected with your customers.” That’s what shows up in their search listing, too:
That search listing makes me want to track down whoever wrote it and slap them. It does not make me want to click.
Don’t hire someone who can’t write a good description tag.
2. They Don’t Know What Pay Per Click Is.
The folks at Sam’s Club are confused. They talk about ‘pay for performance’ at the top of their ad, then mention ‘pay per click’ below:
It’s OK to be confused between the two forms of paid search marketing. But not if you’re being paid to manage them.
Don’t hire someone who can’t tell you the difference between pay-per-click marketing and pay-for-performance marketing.
I took a scream break at this point. After stomping around my back yard, yelling at squirrels and pelting imaginary raccoons with rocks, I felt better.
3. Ridiculous SEO Claims
Here’s what Sam’s Club promises in their search marketing package:
Search engines don’t use ‘profiles’, so I’ll ignore the first two murky and totally useless claims.
Then they talk about ‘Hand submission of your website URL to the major search engines and directories’.
How many times do reputable SEO experts and the search engines themselves have to say “Hand submission isn’t as good as links” before everyone clues in?
The hand submission claim should ring alarm bells for anyone looking to hire a good search marketer.
Don’t hire someone who can’t sell themselves with accurate information.
I’m Keeping This Short
I’ve left out stuff like:
- The hard-to-find, hard-to-read call to action.
- The poor layout.
- The lousy copy.
- Failure to adhere to any landing page best practices.
Let’s just say that if I were Sam’s Club, I’d be embarrassed to be hawking internet marketing services of any kind from a page like this.
If I were you, I’d be very careful before hiring them.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More