By Alan Gerstle

Do you get frustrated when you use a popular search engine when you are seeking a service? A few examples might be flower arrangers, virtual greeting cards, not-for-profit social service organizations, professional membership organizations, specialized repair services, tutoring, dog walkers, take-out pizza and so on? You get the drift. Well, you may notice that when you type in your keywords, you receive thousands and thousands of “hits” with headlines like “The best XXX value on the Internet” or “Incredible web price this week Only.” It’s the same old “come-ons” that businesse–both legitimate and not-so-legitimate have been using for ages. You can try to outsmart the vendors by trying out different keywords like “Recommended Services” or “Top-rated” but I’m afraid the SEO people have figured out that strategy as well. The result is often frustration, and you just might end up contacting an unknown company or asking a friend for a recommendation, who will recommend that you try the internet! So, what is an effective way to find a high-quality service where you might get a “top-of-the-line” and reliable vendor or seller?

I have tried a number of tactics, and they didn’t work. The people that work at Search Engine Optimization (SEO) spend a lot of time thinking how to outwit the net and outwitting you. Not fair? Of course. But the Internet is rife with people trying to take advantage of you. So, how do you get more reliable information. I’m not saying absolutely reliable information, but better than you currently get. And at the same time it will won’t take as long staring at the monitor.


How I thought of a way to outsmart those guys was more or less serendipitous or let’s just say I had a brainstorm. But I found something that works quite well!

Here’s what I do (and I’ve mentioned this to a few friends who are now following my advice). Say you are looking for a place that does “while you wait” auto tune-ups or offers tires delivered to your door. Well, what or whom can you trust. This is where TV and newspapers, or their corresponding websites can come in handy. Think about it. Most conventional news outlets have a consumer editor. On TV, it might be a talking head. In a newspaper–let’s take “Your City Daily Gazette”–they most likely have a consumer columnist. Well, type in the media source first! Then type in the type of service you want–Try, for example, “ Recommended home health care services.” What you are likely to find is a review or article that is on the media website, NOT a direct link to the company itself, which can be filled with all sorts of keywords to try and get more SEO. What you end up reading is a more objective view of just what is a reliable service and what isn’t since the consumer editor is paid to advocate for you. And it adds a personal touch–meaning that it is actually authored by someone with a reputation and a full-time paying job. Not something anyone would want to jeopardize.

At the same time, you may find (in the same article) places, services, and websites to avoid. Of course, you are still reading someone’s opinion, but at least you can feel more secure that the source is credible.

Try it, and if you find this idea helpful, pass it on.

About the Author: Alan Gerstle is a writer and photographer. He has published textbooks, fiction, poetry, and essays. His award winning blog is



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