About a year and a half ago, I had an unfortunate run-in with a San Jose auto repair shop that resulted in a post about my experience that I thought would be a good case study for local businesses about how poor offline behavior can result in a disastrous online reputation.

Fast forward to a week ago and someone portraying themselves as a loyal customer of the business posted a couple of comments on my blog impugning my reputation, questioning my motives and suggesting that the business sue me for “wrongful defamation,” whatever that is. Whether or not the commenter was in cahoots with the company—I think they were, but I have no proof that is the case—they were representing the company. I just don’t think they were representing them very well. And I wondered if the company in question even knew this was happening.

Then some joker who is link building for a competitive business leaves the following comment on the post:

“transmission repair san jose (link removed) thank you for this valuable information, I will post a link on my site so my readers can benefit from it as well.”

Now while I have a problem with comment spam in general, I have a real problem with comment spammers who don’t even realize they are spamming a post about how to manage your online reputation, so I left the following reply:

Hah. And by the way, (business’ name deleted) in San Jose truly sucks. See previous comment.

Now you can argue that I am a childish idiot playing games with a business’ online reputation, but, hey it’s my blog and if they had got me on a bad day, who’s to say I wouldn’t have written a full post about how much I thought they sucked and ranked #1 in Google for queries for their name?

This got me thinking again about how much the business who hired them knows about what is going on with their online reputation.

So if you have someone doing link building for you, or social media marketing, article writing, profile claiming, etc., you need to ask your SEO consultant or whomever is doing the work for you the following questions:

  • Are you doing anything that can get my website banned/penalized in the search engines?
  • Are you buying links?
  • Are you comment spamming?
  • Are you writing fake reviews?
  • Are you creating fake addresses and profiles for me on Google Places and other local search sites
  • Are you doing anything that might result in my having a huge black eye in the SERPs for queries for my business’ name or my name?

The reality is that a lot of these tactics still work and can generate a lot of business for aggressive marketers. But the reality also is that the blow back from these tactics can be long lasting and cost you more in the long run. If you have not had this discussion with the people responsible for your online marketing, you are opening yourself up to a lot more than just some boorish comments from a jerky blogger.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Local Search Column

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About The Author: is the proprietor of Local SEO Guide, a local search engine optimization consulting company specializing in yellow pages seo and local directory search—the blog is pretty fabulous too.

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  • http://www.bureau24.net Bureau 24

    The problem with the search engines is that spam tactics still work. That being the case can you really blame people for using them when the cost of good SEO continues to get higher and higher?

  • http://www.patantconsult.com Carla Lendor

    One can certainly understand your frustration with spam comments but frankly I believe all the name calling takes away from the message. I don’t understand why bloggers invite persons to comment then whine when the comments do not appeal to their egos. Nothwistanding what I said earlier there is still much food for thought.

  • http://www.canuckseo.com Jim Rudnick

    Spot-on, Andrew….I remember well that posting — you and David Mihm I believe were “caught” by that absolutely terrible cust service at that repair shop…

    thinking about that now…and then your post above is right on point! thing is, I always thought the owners of same would at least have contacted you to see what they could do to mitigate their errors…but I guess that never happened!

    some owners, eh?

    :-)

    Jim

  • http://www.seopros.org Webmaster T

    Well a business should insist they receive a list of work done including where they commented, submitted and got links from. Problem is most SEOs don’t provide this info. Any biz that just accepts what the SEO tells them deserves any bad rep or other nonsense that may arise out of the half a$$ed way many SEOs do things.

  • http://www.localseoguide.com Andrew Shotland

    Hey Carla,

    I assume you are referring to me when you talk about whining about a bruised ego. I guess you could look at it that way. I prefer to look at it as people comment spamming and making very weak counter arguments on a post of mine. I can assure you if I was afraid for my ego I probably would not be blogging and certainly I wouldn’t be posting about subjects like this on SearchEngineLand.

  • http://seo-queen.blogspot.com/ Seo Queen

    It is very important to have services on a reputable seo who knows what to do with your website. The work should be done with the quality websites so it is important that you know what your hired person is doing with your website

  • http://www.alwaysonmessage.com/ Gids

    Hi Andrew
    At what point does blog commenting become spamming?
    And when will bloggers realise that allowing a little of the good spam through won’t do them any harm at all?
    NB: comments that are automated, restricted to 18+, ‘nice post’ or generally moronic are bad spam; those that are considered and add to the conversation are OK in my book.
    And on the other side I’m getting increasingly worried that Akismet is becoming a major threat to freedom of speech on the internet – blacklisting people without evidence or proof whilst not informing them or giving them a hearing; it’s not what the internet should be.

  • http://www.netsprinter.com/blog lyena

    Andrew,
    I work with small businesses and auto repair in particular. They get emails with “SEO services” offers almost every day. I bet, that competitor hired one of those services. And, obviously, they saw an opportunity to get some relevant links. At least, they have a human spamming blog posts, and not a robot.

  • http://howtotakecareofagoldfish.com Tim Winter

    The SEO company I work for has a client or two that we do rep management for and one of the things we tell them is that caution should be taken if they decide to engage in the conversation on a negative review/post. This post is exactly what could happen to them.

    In your situation the auto repair shop did respond and added something new to the conversation which lead to you posting a follow up piece (likely it was them responding?). In essence, they gave the negative review/publicity even more authority. Now instead of one negative post, they have a related post with another link directed at their negative one.

    If anything, I would have recommend the auto repair shop to respond offline not via a blog comment.

  • http://profiles.google.com/johnleeblackwell John Lee Blackwell

    Children! Play nice!

  • http://www.localseoguide.com Andrew Shotland

    Tim,

    You are spot on.

  • http://www.7mainstreet.com Andy Leff

    Tim,

    I agree that the repair shop could have done something offline, but by doing that they got links about them out there which is helping in their rankings, correct?

  • http://www.eyewebmaster.com Eye Webmaster

    Tim,

    I agree about the comment you have share here. But some site get their relevant link to blogs. But anyway just to give a little experience here that spam comments is not really good habit when it comes to blog commenting..

  • Sokoptimering

    There are people in every business that dont act like proffessionals, included SEO. So your questions to whoever will do your SEO are right on. Still one can be amazed how little effort some of those ‘amateurs’ are willing to put on reading the articles and others comments.

  • SEO 33

    The problem is that many spammy methods still work specielly if it is used by a brand. MY hope is to see the search engines specielly Google punishing big brands for using spam to rank better.

  • http://www.trapikmedia.com Gerardo Diwa

    gosh, the comment spam is likely from a cheap link building service using automated scripts. Online reputation is even more important for local search, and with local blogs/bloggers – the company in question didn’t know squat about ORM.

  • http://www.localseoguide.com Andrew Shotland

    Hey Andy,

    The links from the comments on my blog are tagged as “rel=nofollow” meaning they are unlikely to help with rankings.

 

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