SEO Companies Fined Over Fake Reviews

reviews-240pxSeveral SEO companies have agreed to stop publishing fake online reviews, and will also pay penalties ranging from $2,500 to almost $100,000 as part of settlement announced today with the New York attorney general’s office.

The AG’s year-long investigation ultimately caught 19 companies involved in writing and posting fake online reviews, including numerous small businesses. But the investigation began when the AG’s office posed as a yogurt shop and contacted SEO companies asking for help in fighting negative reviews.

The investigation revealed that SEO companies were using advanced IP spoofing techniques to hide their identities, as well as setting up hundreds of bogus online profiles on consumer review websites to post the reviews.

It’s an all-too common practice, but one that lawmakers and others are increasingly targeting via lawsuits and other methods that they hope will put a dent in the fake review industry.

For more, see my article on Marketing Land, NY Attorney General Settles With 19 Companies In Fake Review Crackdown.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Legal: General | SEM Industry | SEM Industry: General | Top News

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Joe

    “Advanced IP spoofing technology” aka buy some private proxies.

  • RyanMJones

    I love the fact that they’re going after this, but I wish they wouldn’t call them “SEO Companies” Of the 19 companies fined, only 5 have actual websites selling SEO. The others are various other random shady companies.

  • Rob Garner

    Agreed Ryan – Never heard of a single one of these listed “SEO companies”.

  • Rob Garner

    Agreed Ryan – Never heard of a single one of these listed “SEO companies”.

  • kevin

    Now if we could ONLY get AGs in states to prosecute Malicious people/companies that post Fake reviews against their competitors.

  • http://obpglobal.com/ Illa Hernandez

    I read the same over at theverge. Padding fake reviews used to be so rampant with online marketing firms as a part of their online reputation marketing packages.

  • Navjot Singh

    Good to hear that. Spamming of any kind must be stopped and have to take serious action against it

  • Rohit Bhardwaj

    Its tuff to find out all such companies. What happens when your competitor writes negative reviews against your company. This is all about marketing.

  • abecaglia

    Another title to bring attention and bring visitors that gives a bad name to legitimate SEO companies… 19 companies charges that were not really proper SEO services provider.

  • http://www.viralseoservices.com/ MOS SEO Services

    This makes me extremely happy to read. It’s good they’re tackling this kind of thing.

  • http://www.nathanielbailey.co.uk/ Nathaniel Bailey

    lol “SEO Companies” that no one has heard of?! I wish people like
    this would stop giving us real SEO’s a bad name! And I wish companies
    pushing to stop such shoddy scams would stop
    referring to them as SEO Companies because they are not! And all the
    time people are given the misconception that this is something real SEO
    companies and professional do, the more people are going to look down
    on the industry due to a few bad eggs that don’t know what they are
    doing!!!

    As
    for the “Advanced IP spoofing technology”… why try to hide what these
    cowboys where doing? Anyone with a brain knows all they need to do was
    use some private proxies like Joe has already pointed out!

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    Oh boy, just one more thing prospects will start second guessing legitimate real SEO providers with. It’s unfortunate that a few jerks can ruin the reputation of an entire industry when most of us are legitimate professionals! How long until the search industry is seen as more than snake oil salesmen?

  • http://www.otriadmarketing.com/ Christopher Skyi

    It’s easy to “blame” scam SEO companies, but businesses who deliberately want to scam consumers search these guys out. And sadly, they are easy to find:

    “The SEO business is 80 percent scam,” says Peter Kent, an internet marketing strategist and author of Search Engine Optimization for Dummies . “It’s very, very difficult to find a good firm.”

    For more read “What You Don’t Know About SEO:” http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/204594

  • http://www.summitweb.net/seo-inverness-scotland.html Martin Oxby

    Here in Scotland, it is already viewed with suspicion – people who make huge claims and make a quick buck without caring about the businesses they ‘work for’. We constantly have to fight bad press, and that is a real frustration for those of us who do things legitimately. Glad these guys got caught, but don’t like them being called ‘SEO Companies’ either. Fake Reviews has never been part of a good solid SEO campaign…

  • Misa Jovcic

    SEO is a certain sorrow and uncertain joy.

  • http://www.riversagency.com/ Evan

    Good to see a stand being taken to protect consumers.

  • SEO To Top Rank

    SEO To Top Rank is in this list?

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