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SEO Reputation Scam

Posted by on May 2, 2011

It’s amazing how things sometimes just build upon themselves. Case in point, I’ve written a couple of articles in a row that indirectly tied into each other, and suddenly something else comes up that, well, just flows into each other in odd ways.

SEO scams

I thought about linking to both of the past articles, but I do that often enough and this time I’m going to let it go for a moment. It’s just easier to do a rehash here without it and then get to the new stuff.

The quick recap. On my local blog I wrote a review about a restaurant that wasn’t good. As a sidebar, I noticed that some bad reviews that had been written on a site called Yelp seemed to be hidden. Then I learned that Yelp filters reviews based on participation on the site, which brought about questions, at least for me, as to whether sites like that could be trusted for their reviews because maybe it was possible that companies paid to have those reviews removed or hidden.

Then I get an email from ConsumerAffairs.com pointing to a news story from April 15th that talked about small companies that get bad reviews and how SEO companies are contacting those companies and saying they can take care of these bad reviews. That’s what the article, titled Bogus ‘Complaint Removal’ Sites Prey on Small Businesses, talks about, mentioning how many business fall for this scam and then try to report them, but there’s no real place to report them.

Here’s the thing, if I may. We all have the ability to try to control how we’re portrayed online. If we’re not online and not managing our profiles, if you will, someone else can come along and put something up that will take over the search engines and put you at a disadvantage. If you’re a business, that could end up being a very bad thing indeed. For instance, if you go to Google and type in “Village Burger Liverpool Review” my original article comes up 4th, behind 3 reviews on Yelp, and I just wrote that last week. You can’t just type in Village Burger and find it because it seems that business name is all over the place; so much for originality.

There are many reputable SEO companies in the world, and I hope I’m considered as one. Sure, there are things you can do to help recover your reputation. But bad reviews will probably always be there, even if you have enough money to buy every person off that ever says something bad about you. Anyone that tells you something different is lying; don’t believe the hype.

By the way, there’s a brief follow up to what happened at that restaurant, if you will, and I’m writing it here instead of there because I got this information from a source that would be easily identifiable if I wrote it there, and I know none of those folks will come here because they don’t know about this blog. Anyway, someone mentioned that blog post to the owner and said they saw the picture I put up on the article. The owner’s response: “I need to buy smaller buns.” So much for customer service, a pattern that just keeps coming up more and more.

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11 Comments »

This is very interesting, I do see how not being online can be a disadvantage to the business person in regard to reviews and postings. Also, the clearing away of bad reviews for someone doesn’t sound right if it is a legitimate review.

May 2nd, 2011 | 10:05 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

It’s “not” being online that’s a disadvantage to business people because that means they’re depending on others to make or break them.

May 2nd, 2011 | 11:23 AM

hi Mitch,
I’ve become very skeptical of anything I read online, whether it’s a positive or negative review, or a company promising what they can do. It seems it’s getting harder and harder to know what is true.
As for yelp, I’m convince that a lot of the positive reviews are actually company employees that work there, and the negative reviews could be competitors trying to sabotage them. How do we know what to believe? Hmmmmm.
PS. Thanks for dropping by! Steve

May 2nd, 2011 | 12:45 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Good to see you back, Steve, and writing as well. 🙂 I’m never overly sure about reviews, but I still check them out. There was a review written about this Chinese restaurant very close to me that wasn’t overly positive but the complaints weren’t about the food. I tried it out, love it, and it’s been my place for over a year; thank goodness!

May 2nd, 2011 | 2:00 PM

Hi Mitch,

I’m not into SEO, but from the perspective of reputation management, I find the whole area to be subjective. Since it is a given that you can’t please everybody, perhaps the best course of action is to operate with integrity and handle negative complaints when warranted.

The idea of trying to keep up with numerous profiles – given their dubious value – seems like a losing battle.
Your Chinese restaurant example proves that we can’t judge a business solely by reviews. Even if someone had said the food was horrible, the only way you’re going to find out is to try it yourself.

Cheers,

Mitch

May 2nd, 2011 | 2:45 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Mitch, the idea should always be to act with integrity in all one’s business dealings. At the same time, SEO is all about positioning oneself higher in the search engines than someone else who does what you do. If one is quick to the game they can get established in such a way that if there were a blip on them it would be superseded by previous SEO actions, if they were done properly. That helps against someone who might be making fake stuff up and might only be trying to hurt you, especially if you have legitimate testimonials as a part of what it is you do. And you’re right, trying to keep up with multiple profiles could be a mess, which is why one needs to take care of their main selves, if you will.

May 2nd, 2011 | 4:13 PM

Testimonials, “fresh” portfolio and user generated content are becoming very important part. I will again return to the point that you mention in one of the previous articles, I mean that comments and editing comments and testimonials, which I think is cruel.

May 3rd, 2011 | 8:54 AM

I know one thing, I will not be going to the Village Burger. How could an owner think of such a thing, let along say it! Five Guys is not as convenient and not cheap but their product is very good.

May 2nd, 2011 | 3:28 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

I haven’t been to Five Guys, but have been to Cheeburger Cheeburger and had a great time.

May 2nd, 2011 | 4:14 PM

Being 12 nearly 13 years in SEO business, I can say with hand on my heart that there are many good companies, but those companies represent less than 1% of the whole picture.

May 3rd, 2011 | 8:17 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Carl, are you saying you believe that less than 1% are ethical or the other way around? I tend to think it’s probably 50-50, like most professions.

May 3rd, 2011 | 2:51 PM