Once a month I get a call from a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firm who stumbled upon one of my Websites. They want to optimize my SEO, improve my Website, increase traffic, yadda yadda. They can be very persistent, calling repeatedly. One outfit (EZ Marketing) impersonated phone numbers so I would not recognize them on call display.
Their proposition is simple: I give them my credit card number, they siphon $500 to $1,000 from my account every month, and in return they'll assign some low-level grunt to learn my business in fifteen minutes, stuff my <meta> tags with keywords they've gleaned, and write generic link bait pages.
The problem is that there is no way of measuring the cost effectiveness of their efforts. It doesn't make sense to spend more money on advertising, than what revenue it generates.
If my sales increase, tadaa! they're successful. If not, too bad so sad, looks like we'll have to do more of the same and thank you for the cash flow.
I have a counter-proposition. I will assign the consultant an Affiliate Code from my e-commerce system. The Affiliate Code will be embedded in the material they create. If their pages generate sales, they will get credit, and a commission. Ditto email.
That usually takes them aback. What? No compensation without performance? We have to measure our results? Heresy!
Like Diogenes, I'm still looking for an honest firm.
Snake oil, originally a fraudulent liniment without snake
extract, has come to refer to any product with questionable or
unverifiable quality or benefit.