The great thing about the Internet is everyone’s a publisher. But that’s the bad thing, too… in an Internet that’s full of everyone’s thoughts on everything, how do you know what’s informed opinion and what’s junk?
Actually, there’s an even bigger problem. There is a growing army of Internet marketers, people who are out to sell stuff online. We’ve nothing against Internet marketing in principle. When done well, it’s is a beautiful thing and results in you finding a helpful website that solves your problem, the product arrives, it’s what you expected, and it works. Fantastic.
The problem is that underneath those who do it well are hoards of people who do it badly. They create websites that look like they contain informative content, but actually the information has often been written to order by writers who very probably don’t know the subject. The Internet marketer driving it all is probably running several other similar on-line businesses, selling completely different products.
It seems there’s nothing guiding what these people sell, except profit. So whether a supposed hair loss treatment works or not doesn’t enter the calculations, it’s just what’s the most profitable. What seems to be a perfect example of this is the recent appearance of numerous ‘hair loss treatment ranking’ sites. It seems the majority of these are created by Internet marketers to lead you to other websites that sell the thing they’ve recommended. The website that sent you to the website selling the hair loss product gets a percentage of the sale for every product sold.
If you type ‘hair loss treatment‘ in Google you will find four or five of these sites in the ‘sponsored’ (paid) listings, each with different results for their ‘top rated’ hair treatments – and always supplemental (non-prescription) treatments. The sponsored listings (often the first two, but certainly the right hand column of your Google results) are sites that have paid to be at the top of Google, they haven’t been naturally selected by Google to appear at the top because of quality content that is relevant to the key phrase written (in this case ‘hair loss treatment’). Anyone can advertise in the sponsored listings; the more money they pay, the higher their website will appear.
Back to the point about the top rated hair loss products always being supplements. The regulations for online selling become a lot more complicated when it comes to prescription medications – it’s easy to market a supplement because you can sell it straight from the internet, no questions asked. The fact is the prescription medications work better than the supplements… something comparison sites don’t want you to know.
So how do you spot these ‘junk’ sites?
The first point in this particular case is the point that ‘Propecia‘ and ‘Minoxidil‘ should always be number one and two on an accurate hair loss product rating site. They are the only products that have been proven beyond doubt to prevent hair loss and re-grow hair. The only argument would be that there is a very small chance of side effects for each product – side effects that are usually mild and always wear off with continued use or quickly when the person stops taking the product. Many sites exaggerate these side effects to justify their own products. Supplements for thinning hair will not usually have any side effects, the downside to this is that they will also be minimally effective, or completely ineffective.
You can also try to work out who the site belongs to, and see if you can get a sensible dialogue going with them. Look for ‘about us‘ and ‘contact us‘. If they don’t provide a real address and a phone number… why not? A trustworthy organisation will certainly provide those.
Look for sensible menu links too. A site that shows a string of menu links for things like “hair loss”, “hair loss in women”, “hair loss in pregnancy”, “hair loss in men”, “black hair loss”, “child hair loss” and so on just doesn’t feel right, it’s confusing. It’s a difficult one this because legitimate sites do it too, but it’s all about the quality of those links, and the quality of the pages they lead to. Some websites are produced automatically, and you’ll get a ‘nonsense’ feel from the menu links they have published. In a legitimate site, the website manager will have chosen those links so the site will feel more natural to you, a human visitor.
Don’t be easily fooled by reassuring photographs. The ones that mean most are those from the company itself of its own facilities, staff and clients, not nice shots of professional looking medical staff they’ve bought from a photo library.
Google has ways of finding out which websites can be trusted by finding out which ones are the most popular and well-rated by you. One way they do that is by watching what people store in their social bookmarking pages. Social bookmarking is a way for you to store your bookmarks (similar to ‘favourites’) online, you can share them with friends, and you can get at them even when you’re on another computer. So if you use a service like ‘Digg‘ or ‘Delicious‘ (check them out – you might like them), whenever you store a bookmark, Google sees that as a human vote of confidence for a site. There are also sites like ‘stumble upon‘ where you can rate and comment on each site you visit. So, using a service like that is contributing to improving the Internet.
We are not saying Internet marketing is bad. Marketing is good, and Internet marketing is good because it links you, the person with a need, to a solution to your problem. What we are saying is… use good judgment to decide whether the website you are getting information from is ‘just’ marketing, or whether there’s really any substance behind it. Whether you can believe the information you are reading, or are just being sold to. Anyone can publish on the Internet. It’s up to you to decide what’s good information and what’s junk.
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