Competition is tough! All manner of businesses are forced to compete with one another for the attention and good placement on the internet search engines. When prominent placement is achieved, revenue frequently follows. The intensity of local competition though has caused some businesses to take chances with so called “Black Hat” schemes to get them this good search engine placement. At the core of this scheme seems to be a campaign for online reviews. Online reviews are validations for the goods and services that a company provides. The more positive reviews, the better the placement for the company on the search engines when users seek information about a particular product or service.
Getting positive reviews for one’s business can be difficult though. Not only does the consumer have to be satisfied with the service or product, he/she has to write a review on the right social media platform. Enter Google+… Google+ and Google local provide a powerful platform where positive reviews impact the way a local result is displayed. Get good reviews here and your search engine results should improve.
A Denver roofing company was recently featured in a local CBS news station story about how Google+ pages were apparently set up under the names of customers for the purpose of providing positive reviews. Positive reviews for the company did appear under the names of these customers. Interestingly though, the customers that supposedly provided the reviews may have never actually created the accounts or written the reviews. The customers were apparently all satisfied with the work performed, but the Google+ pages that bore their names didn’t seem to belong to at least some of them.
Investigating who created these accounts in the names of customers is an ongoing process extending up to the Colorado Attorney General’s office. Whether this tactic constitutes a form of identity theft or false advertising is a central question. According to the Colorado Attorney General, the practice may also be a violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act. In the end, whoever created these accounts may wind up in much more trouble than they wanted. In any case, this type of “Black-Hat” SEO or internet marketing tactic will surely place the business and the marketer in a very negative light.
Vince Lombardi – famed Green Bay Packers Head Football Coach – was once reported to state that “winning isn’t everything – it is the only thing.” Winning in the SEO and internet marketing area does have some common sense rules and those that stretch the guidelines are likely to get themselves into trouble and significantly damage their and their client’s reputation. Stay tuned to this story!
Matthew Stone is an accomplished SEO expert, digital marketer and is experienced in Social Media Management. Since 2008, Matthew has helped clients attract build online relationships, expand sales and increase revenues. He also works in Denver Public Relations with GroundFloor Media.
You can find him on Google+