This can really cater towards any type of industry but right now I am writing this specifically for the search engine optimization industry. For all you search engine marketers out there who might have their own business that over laps their competition in similarities you might know and understand where I am coming from with this blog post. Every once in a while we get these very strange calls. A person will call from an undisclosed phone number or a cell phone and they come off like they have no idea what SEO is but slowly their verbiage changes and they get highly technical towards the end of the call. These calls are almost always combined with very basic websites or splash pages with virtually no address, content or contact information which leads me to believe this can only be the work of a competitor digging for information on our business specifically.
Here are few things that could be your competitor calling:
Phone Numbers: I always find it strange when all the phone numbers given to me just don’t add up at all. The phone number on the caller ID is different from the phone number given to me. Both numbers reach a very generic voice mail greeting, very strange if you ask me. Whenever I get the gut feeling I am speaking with a competitor the phone number situation always occurs like this. The phone numbers never match up and they always get dumped into generic voicemails. The phone number is usually the first giveaway that something is fishy. I have been doing this long enough to realize when this is happening and I can usually pick up on it early the sales call.
Person’s Name: I like to also do a quick search online for the person’s name to see what comes up and ironically that is also a mystery. The caller’s name never appears in search results and if I combine the name and the phone number it gets even foggier. Nothing visible anywhere. At this point I have almost always confirmed my gut feeling that the caller I just spent a half hour with was most likely a competitor fishing around to find out how it is that we do business.
No Address: After making the prior observations I find that there is no address located anywhere on the website. No address visible anywhere on any site leads me to believe it is a micro site that belongs to the competitor that is most likely just used for phishing around with competitor sales departments to find out pricing along with approaches and techniques. Plugging in the name of the website into a search engine typically pulls up close to zero amount of information cementing my intuition even deeper into the reality of the situation.
Verbiage: This is usually a dead giveaway as well. The call almost always starts off like a very new comer to the SEO industry but after a few minutes of speaking all of a sudden the verbiage being used gets very advanced and highly technical. How does a person who has a very unSEO’d website and basic bare bones information all of a sudden speak like they are in the industry? When I get to this point in the conversation I always raise an eyebrow a bit because it kind of sounds funny to hear this person who just didn’t know what a meta tag was all of a sudden talking about advanced link bait and conversion optimization efforts and techniques.
Are there any SEO or search marketing industry professionals out there that have ever fallen into this trap by their competitors? Competitive analysis is good to have and important to run a business but this type of approach is shady in my opinion. In the SEO industry there are absolutely no standards or benchmarks. Prices and approaches are all over the board and almost impossible to predict. Pricing is usually constructed according to the project being presented at that time. My price shouldn’t mean anything to a competitor.