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.