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How Bad SEO Consulting Can Ruin Your Online Reputation

By Herb Tabin | Submitted on February 22nd, 2011 0 Comments

Most of those who are interested in online reputation management are probably utilizing Internet marketing as part of their overall business. If you or your business are using the services of a search engine optimization consultant, there are some questions you need to ask before you find your reputation in the toilet.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a powerful form of online marketing that is utilized by everyone from big names and corporations to small individuals hoping to carve a niche for their business. It consists of several techniques to build search engine rankings for a specific website, page, or combination of the two. Most SEO consultants are good, honest people who really know their business. Many, however, are not familiar with how SEO can conflict with online reputations to create a bad name for their client (despite good Google rankings).

How does this happen?

Mostly, it happens because of some of the “link-back” techniques used, which might be good for search engines, but for humans reading them, they are seen as spam (or worse). Craig Agranoff and I have seen these many times and talk about it in our book  “Do It Yourself Online Reputation Management.”

Here’s what to watch for and talk to your SEO consultant about:

Paid Links

These can be beneficial in the short term, but paid linking sites (this is different from regular advertising) are often fly-by-night and themselves can end up on search engine black lists. So while paid links at ìlink farmsî can boost search engine rankings and traffic in the short term, over the long run, they can torpedo your reputation.

Comment Spamming

This is a very common way for SEO marketers to gain free “link backs” from reputable or competing blogs and forums. These can work very well in the short term, but comments are generally the realm of real people and those people will not like your spam (which is usually irrelevant to the post being commented on). Expect negative results to your reputation if this tactic is a keystone for your SEO.

Fake Reviews

These are also common to build ìlegitimateî link-backs. These are reviews of a product/service that are paid for and written to be glowing (no matter what). The reviews themselves aren’t always the bad part, though they can be if written by someone who has poor writing skills. Instead, the problem is where they’re posted. These sites quickly gain a reputation for being “review farms” that publish reviews of any number of items, for a fee, and always say the same things about those items. If these reviews get relatively high in search results, they will become obvious fakes to anyone looking and thus harm your reputation. Worse, they are often the hardest to get rid of.

Fake Profiles/Addresses

Many SEO ìexpertsî will build profiles for their clients on sites like Google Places, Yahoo! Personals, and others. These are bad for your reputation for an obvious reason: they aren’t you and you probably have no control over what they say. Worse yet, they often take on the look of a generic link farm for your site(s), articles, etc.

Before you embark on any SEO campaign, you should talk with your consultant closely and understand everything that he or she will be doing. Although short-term results are often the goal, your long-term reputation should be just as important and carefully guarded.

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