Are You Aware Your SEO Company Might Be Killing Your Small Business?

how blackhat seo can hurt your small businessWill the real ethical SEO company please stand up?

I’m waiting.  Still waiting.  Yet, still waiting.

If I’ve offended any SEO companies by that statement…too bad!

Unfortunately your reputation precedes you because your industry is littered with controversial tactics.

Mark Schaefer wrote a fantastic article on the topic, Why SEO Disgusts Me.  I highly recommend it.

Earlier this year, retailer J.C. Penney was busted by the Google police because the SEO firm it hired was placing hundreds and thousands of fake links to help boost Penney’s search rankings.

Now the retailer is lucky to be found organically on Google page 500.  It will take them a long time to get their get-out-of-jail-free-card, if only sooner because they spend millions a month with Google on paid search.

So in this case, the big guy got busted, will do its time, and then will likely be given a pass because of their deep pockets.

But what about the little guy?  Once blacklisted by Google, I’ve heard it nearly impossible to get your rankings back.  The small business cannot afford such a mistake and yet they are hiring these SEO companies left and right to gain position.  Perhaps they do it out of fear and don’t realize there are other legitimate ways to get your website found and compete.

What’s worse, is that in most cases I don’t believe that small business owners really know what and how their SEO companies go about doing business!

A Case In Point

If there is one thing that bloggers can relate to, it’s comment spam.  We are constantly cleaning our inbox’s of the stuff.  Thank goodness for the spam filters that catch most of it! Adrienne Smith wrote a terrific piece on blog commenting rules to call-out the ongoing electronic refuse.

SEO companies use blog commenting as a way to build links for their clients.  Blog comments can definitely help with building link authority, but what these SEO companies do is hire people to write fake comments, to pose as real people.

It’s usually easy to spot these comments in one of two ways. Either one, the comment is super short, and without much command of the English language.  Or two, the comment is about something not nearly related to the article itself.

Recently, my blog was under assault from one such company, and being a fellow small business owner, it saddened me to see what these comments were doing to the reputation of the small business being promoted.  The reason I bring the following to your attention is not to be vindictive, or even a plain ol’ jerk.  I think it is important to educate people and small businesses on what is unfortunately the dark side of SEO.

Here are just a few of the fake comments I received:

how a seo company can hurt your small business reputation

So apparently All-Star Plumbing was in need of some link building to help their search rankings.

Now I don’t know about you, but as saddened as I was as to the potential damaging of this companies reputation, I also got a bit perturbed about the  fifth or so spam comment in.

I decided to write the owner of All-Star Plumbing.  I thought it would help with my frustration, and at the same time, perhaps shed a little light on the subject and hopefully steer them in the right direction.

Here is an excerpt of the email I wrote to All-Star:

help for overcoming poor seo results

I didn’t know what to expect from the email.  All I was really hoping for was for the steady stream of spam to cease.  To my surprise, I received a response from the Plumber, and my wish was to come true.  The spam was to cease.  The response was short and to the point, and I would be a happy blogger again.

unhappy business owner seo results

Why Did I Have to Go and Dig Deeper?

As a passionate inbound marketer, when I’m coaching other companies for web success, I tend to dig deep into their web marketing past.  It really helps me to know where they came from, so I know where they need to be going in the future.

Although I was happy with the result of my request with the plumbing company, I couldn’t let sleeping dogs lie.  I started digging into the links they had left and I was shocked at what I found!

You see, one of the links that was left on a comment linked back to a YouTube video.  Being the curious person that I am, I followed the trail and here is what I saw:

Now I know I tend to be a tad bit cynical at times, but something was off with this video testimonial.  Is it me or did it seem a bit too rehearsed, and not genuine?

Perhaps I could have left it alone at that point, if it weren’t for the six other testimonial videos that looked very similar to the first.  Try this on for size:

Now do these look like your typical plumbing customers or what?  Interestingly enough, the first video had 152 comments. All 1-3 words in length.  Very interesting indeed.

This last video only had two comments, and boy were they a doozy!

how fake customer testimonial videos can hurt your small business

Here is the video the commenter was referring to….you decide?

I never did reach back out to All-Star regarding the videos.  I had offered my help (no charge) in the letter, and apparently they didn’t need it.

People Who Live in Glass Houses……

One of the qualities that I promote for myself as a web coach is that you can learn inbound marketing from someone who has actually done it.  I have written many times how it has literally transformed my recession-born sign and graphics company into a market taking machine.

My point is that one other benefit of having “done it” is that I love to test and measure marketing strategies.  Yes, you get to learn from my mistakes!  I once contracted with what looked to be an “ethical” SEO firm for a few months to see what they could do for our web rankings. That was until they sent me the first monthly report of their activities and I dug deeper.  After seeing what they were up to, I immediately turned it off!

Was That Trip Really Necessary?

Blog commenting and YouTube videos can be a great source of traffic and link building.  Here are some ethical, white hat, inbound marketing tips for implementing these strategies, and actually building your companies reputation at the same time.

  • No need to hire someone to leave fake comments. You and the people at your company are experts at what you do.  Find relevant blogs (perhaps this one) and leave thoughtful, related commentary.  You’re comments will get approved, you’ll develop relationships with others in your industry, and earn some link juice along the way.
  • Making up fake testimonial videos is so yesterday!  You can buy video camera for less than $100 these days.  In fact, most smart phones have HD quality video built in!
  • Need customers to give you a testimonial video?  Just ask them!  If you’re company if providing the value and service worthy of a testimonial video, it will be hard for anyone to say no!
  • Post the videos onto YouTube (be sure to use good SEO in the titles, description, and tags).  Then embed them on to a customer testimonials page on your website.

Lastly, I offered it once, and I’ll offer it again.  If All-Star Plumbing would still like help with their web marketing, I’d gladly help them…free of charge!

Batter Up!

Is this the type of reputation you’d possible risk for the reward of higher search engine rankings?  What would your first impression of this company be if you came across their blog comments or “testimonial” videos?  Have you had a good experience with an SEO company? I know there are some good ones out there.  Have you run into any fake comments, videos, or reviews?  How did they make you feel?

Thanks for taking the time to read my rant! If this article provided you some value, please share :)

image credit – Social Media Managers Inc

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40 Responses to Are You Aware Your SEO Company Might Be Killing Your Small Business?

  1. Barry Wells October 5, 2011 at 5:26 am #

    Hi Adam,

    I’ve never used any SEO services and after reading this post I doubt I ever will. I’m pretty gob smacked at the under hand tactics that you’ve highlighted here mate.

    As a blogger I’m aware of spam comments and when they slip through Akismet I check the the IP address and the domain on IP look up so as to be sure. I’ve never gone much further than that so fairplay to you for drilling these ones down to the root.

    What goes through these peoples minds to think that they can get away with this…. Using videos from Fiverr to promote their business, sheesh. If the plumber wants video testimonials why not buy a camera and take it with him, if their work is up to standard they’ve nothing to fear.

    The alarming thing is that the plumber never took you up on your offer of helping him out and showing him how to do it correctly. Maybe he’s to embarrassed, having tried to spam you so much?

    I was on a blog last night and the owner is new to blogging. The post I read was really good and when I went to leave him a comment I saw his comment count at 70 (ish) so I thought wow he’s popular until I saw the comments, nearly every one of them was spam.

    I did of course point this out to him, politely. But I think I’ll go back and tell him to come and read this so he has a better understand of it.

    Great post Adam, thanks mate

    Barry Wells recently posted..Add An Opt In Form To Every Post Then Triple Your Blog TrafficMy Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 5, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

      Barry, it is pretty scary stuff and unfortunately, it’s become a high stakes gaming of the system. Google makes their move, and the SEO companies counter. Now I don’t want to just pin this on SEO companies, but they’ve made a bad reputation for themselves. As an industry they should be self policing, and clean up their act.

      My whole point here is that shortcuts just don’t work when it comes to employing SEO and inbound/content marketing strategies. In the end, if you create consistent, compelling, optimized content, you will get backlinks, rank higher, get found more, and win more in your market.

      It’s unfortunate that the plumber didn’t take me up on my offer. Hopefully they’ll eventually have that ah-ha moment.

      When you see 70ish spam comments, you know there’s a larger problem at hand here.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Barry! -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..My Five Minutes with Chris Brogan and Life Lessons LearnedMy Profile

  2. Ian Ieba October 5, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    Hi Adam,

    Wow! The nerve of some of these people is beyond words!

    Recently I have been receiving a lot of spam to my blog and it has become very frustrating, mostly they are coming from the Philippines, Russia and Austria – not that there is anything wrong with these countries, it’s just that’s where the spam is coming from!

    If I receive a comment I am not too sure about I always look up the IP Address!

    I use to have automatic approval set up on my blog for comments, but I have now changed that and have to approve everyone’s comments, I know that can be unfair on my regular readers but I usually approve their comments within a couple of hours.

    I have become quite security conscious now when it comes to my blog and my other accounts having recently suffered a nightmare with my blog.

    I cannot understand why the “Plumbing Company” did not take up your offer? Other than maybe they knew what they were doing right from the off! These fake videos are really annoying and most people can see right through them anyway.

    Having recently started creating videos I can confirm how easy they are to do (even though I was very nervous at the beginning) I now have fun doing them!

    Anyway great post Adam packed with advice and information, thanks for sharing.

    Take care, catch up soon

    Ian Ieba recently posted..Facebook Secure or Dam Dam Daaaaaaaam? Part 2My Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 5, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

      Hey Ian, thanks for coming by! It is unfortunate that you need to moderate all your comments. I am doing the same for now. Do you have some sort of spam plugin setup for your blog? I’m using G.A.S.P as well as Akismet, and their doing a pretty good job.

      The fake videos are definitely annoying. More often than not when we’ve asked our customers to do a testimonial, they are happy to oblige.

      Glad to hear you are doing videos. I recently did my first and was soooo nervous. It was a lot of fun though and I’m looking to do some more.

      Thanks much Ian! -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..Introducing Website Grader TV! Home Improvement Contractor Website ReviewMy Profile

  3. Roscoe Coffman October 5, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    Wow Adam, this is an eye opener. I have been asked several times lately “What does an SEO company do, anyway?” Having never worked with one I didn’t have a good answer except in very general terms. Well, this is quite an example. Next time I am asked, I will refer them to this post.

    Great job!
    Roscoe Coffman recently posted..Kick Butt Vehicle Wrap on a Budget?My Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 5, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

      Hey Roscoe, thanks so much for swinging by. An SEO company can do some very good things for helping to optimize your on-page SEO. It’s just the off-page stuff that drives me nutso. If they want to do directory inclusions, fine. Do some article marketing, I’m pretty okay with that as well (as long as the article is worthwhile and not just keyword spam).

      Thanks again Roscoe! -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..The Great Social Media Scam! What the Experts and Gurus Fail to Tell You!My Profile

  4. Mark W Schaefer October 5, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    FANTASTIC article. Thanks for digging in on this one and providing an entertaining post!

    • Eric Pratum October 5, 2011 at 11:14 am #

      Seriously? Mark, I visited this post because you tweeted it, and you already know what I’m going to say. It saddens me that you’d say that this is fantastic. It’s just bash and trash link bait.

      First, Google makes business rules to maximize shareholder value. They’re not ethical standards. Let’s not conflate the two.

      Second, you might be prejudiced against someone because they label themselves an SEO, but many others would look at social media practitioners in the same way. Let’s not forget all of the Gary V quote-spouting, no skill, social media marketers that have bilked business owners out of millions and gotten them nowhere in the end.

      Brian Halligan says, “I advocate doing ‘inbound marketing’ where you help yourself ‘get found’ by people already learning about and shopping in your industry” [source: If there are two things more associated with inbound marketing than SEO and SM, I’d like to know what they are.

      Writing topically relevant and engaging content that gets people to comment, share, and link to you? SEO and social media. Being a superb content aggregator so that people retweet you, share links to your wrap up posts, and more? SEO and social media. Producing great videos, podcasts, or webinars that motivate people to watch, comment on, and advocate for you? SEO and social media.

      And what do all of those links and engagement get you in the future, a greater share of search.

      While there is plenty of blame to go around, I would place most of it squarely on the business owner that makes the stupid decision to employ a snake oil salesman. If a bad marketing manager decides to buy billboards for the Ritz Carlton in the poorest areas of town. I don’t blame the billboard company. I blame the marketing manager. Much the same, I’m not going to blame the crappy SEO company for selling its services. I’m blaming the guy that decides to keep them in business. He should have done his research and made a better decision, and since we can’t all always make the right decision, he should at least learn from his mistakes.

      Adam, I really hope that some of your questions were just there because you want to stimulate conversation and not because you haven’t taken the time to, for example, find reputable SEO agencies. If you search for ethical SEO company, SEER Interactive is one of the first results. They are highly respected. Do a little more digging, and you’ll find Distilled, Portent, and a number of other companies. In fact, you can usually find these people grouped around highly respectable websites, such as, as well.

      Let’s just please not trash an entire set of marketing skills and tactics because a subset of practitioners make it look bad.
      Eric Pratum recently posted..You have no excuses for not being an expertMy Profile

      • Adam Sokoloff
        Adam Sokoloff October 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm #


        I really appreciate you coming by and posting your thoughts on this subject! Sounds like perhaps you and Mark have disagreed on this topic in the past?

        SEO is a controversial topic, and so is Social Media when you have a zillion “gurus” and “experts” telling you why you have to get into the game, but fail to mention what it takes content wise to do so.

        One thing that struck me that you wrote was “If you search for ethical SEO company, SEER Interactive is one of the first results. They are highly respected. Do a little more digging, and you’ll find Distilled, Portent, and a number of other companies.” That’s my whole issue with the SEO industry in general. You actually need to type in ethical SEO to find a respectable company. Are you kidding me? The industry has created this mess for themselves, and now it’s time to turn it around.

        Here’s the thing. As a super passionate inbound marketer, I am all about a balanced approach to web marketing. I agree, SEO is a highly important aspect of helping your on-page search engine optimization. Other than that, I believe off page should happen organically. Put out awesome content, and it will get linked to by others. Of course guest blogging is another option as well to help with those links.

        I will heartily agree with you regarding your thoughts on content and how to effectively get it found and promoted. You certainly would have a hard time doing any of that without SEO and Social Media. I’m just saying do it using best practices instead of gaming the system.

        The business owner does have some responsibility in this as well. They should have been asking more questions about the companies methodology and practices. Perhaps they knew and went ahead anyhow.

        Either way, a very passionate response. Thanks for taking the time! -Adam
        Adam Sokoloff recently posted..The Great Social Media Scam! What the Experts and Gurus Fail to Tell You!My Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 5, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

      Mark, I really appreciate you coming by. It means a lot. Thanks for the inspiration!

      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..My Five Minutes with Chris Brogan and Life Lessons LearnedMy Profile

  5. Marty Thompson October 5, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Nice article, thanks for raising this as an issue. It is relevant even for large companies. What I am seeing, and what many contacts I have in the enterprise space are also watching, is a dangerous trend in SEO circles wherein they are now pushing content as the key, yet doing so in two ways that can and should be called out. First, content generated with key words and phrases as the focus (however well executed), and backlinks. When content quality becomes the lapdog of SEO tactics, well that is just plain wrong headed. When backlink tactics behave more like a word blunderbuss, instead of being focused and relevant, that is just being spammy. And the amazing thing about this behavior is that companies are paying big money for the results. My suggestion? If you are using an SEO firm, don’t rely on the results of any black box tactics. Insist that you are provided with a complete understanding and awareness of what, how, and why they are doing anything.
    Marty Thompson

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 5, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

      Hi Marty, you are absolutely dead on, content is quickly becoming the new SEO spam. Fortunately Google is trying to stay ahead of the curve on this issue. Key word – trying.
      They knocked down the ranking of article marketing sites for this very reason, and I’ve read that they are starting to address doorway pages that don’t have any meaningful content.

      You’ve written a terrific suggestion here. It should be a shared responsibility with both parties, especially at the enterprise level. Do you think that J.C. Penney didn’t know what their SEO firm was up to? Yeah right!

      Thanks for coming by and commenting Marty! -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..My Five Minutes with Chris Brogan and Life Lessons LearnedMy Profile

  6. Sally Erickson October 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    Hi Adam,
    I have been getting these stupid comments on my blog! I did not know the source was any other than the company listed in the comment. I really appreciate the digging you did that enlightened both you and me of the extent these spammy companies will go. It’s time their clients knew better what they were doing.

    I see you’ve also stirred up a hornet’s nest by trashing SEO companies in general. Any business person knows there are good companies and bad in every profession. That’s why we spend so much time researching who we use. Between great blogs like this, social media, and excellent website, we can find a good company, including one for SEO.

    Thanks for your efforts!
    Sally Erickson recently posted..Does Your Website Connect with Customers?My Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 5, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

      Hi Sally, Welcome and thank you for being here. I agree it is time their clients knew what they were doing. What’s really interesting to me is that today, web marketing doesn’t need to be techie. I think there will always be room for outsourcing, mainly because some companies are too big or don’t have the resources, but ultimately nowadays people and businesses can do it for themselves.

      Yes, definitely a little bit of a hornet’s nest! You are right Sally, there are absolutely some good SEO companies out there.

      “Between great blogs like this, social media, and excellent website, we can find a good company, including one for SEO.” -Amen to that.

      Thank you so much for coming by :) -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..Who are my Biggest “Business Building” Role Models? My Kids of Course!My Profile

  7. David Jeter, MPT, CMPT October 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    The thing that I hate about SEO in general is how it is an arms race between Google and all of the SEO companies as well as company versus company. It would be nice if Google could figure out how to filter out all of the sites that are just basically Adwords forwarding sites that have limited or no actual information and are not from an actual business.

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 5, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

      Great comment David. Luckily Google seems to be absolutely on a mission to thwart a good portion of these games. I’ve even heard that keyword laden domains will eventually be penalized if they don’t have quality content on their site. Go Google Go!

      Thanks for the comment! -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..The Great Social Media Scam! What the Experts and Gurus Fail to Tell You!My Profile

  8. Linda October 6, 2011 at 2:25 am #

    HI Adam.

    I took it upon myself to also go with Adrienne’s non-spam rules. I have to tell ya, some of them are just so darn fake and when you click back on their site – might look like a blog, but they never approve what you write.

    So, I wrote a blog post about this and wouldn’t you know the SAME people are commenting on the post – unbelievable. I went back through many of my posts one day and removed everything that was every associated with these people. I like Adrienne, thought maybe they were genuine, but all they wanted was a link back. Screw them!

    What kills me the most is they read the post and are still doing it – I have removed their comluv and websites, because some I wanted a response to – so they respond still and it is kinda funny that they still respond because I removed all their garbage – except they spammed in the name box, but I just wanted a real answer – so I think I will remove their posts as well.

    Like someone else said here – fiverr is killing us because they just go out and pretend to be someone else. Something has to stop here!

    It’s too bad that we all got targeted and took the fall for it :(

    Linda recently posted..Off Topic – Help Support a Friend’s Grandson – Such a Sweet Young Boy!My Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

      Hi Linda, WOW the same people are commenting on your post…unreal! Glad to hear that you didn’t approve them. It’s unfortunate that by the numbers there are tons of blogs which don’t moderate or just let anything fly.

      I agree about Fiverr. What’s unsettling is that Fiverr only exists because there is a market for link wheels, fake testimonials, and the like.

      Thanks for posting Linda. -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..My Five Minutes with Chris Brogan and Life Lessons LearnedMy Profile

  9. Ameena Falchetto October 6, 2011 at 3:32 am #

    I love this post! It hits home on so many levels.

    SEO is important but it should be done right – spamming people and paying for fiverr testimonials is awful and damaging.

    Hats off to you for digging deeper and providing an insightful, creative and highly entertaining article. Fantastic!
    Ameena Falchetto recently posted..5 tips to make your blog more accessibleMy Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 9, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

      Hi Ameena. I completely agree. SEO is completely necessary, though it’s overall impact may be evolving as the social web begins to carry more weight in the rankings.

      Glad you liked it! I had a lot of fun with this post.

      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..The Five Biggest Website Secrets of A-List BloggersMy Profile

  10. Adrienne October 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Hey Adam,

    I want to thank you for mentioning my post, really appreciate that.

    I’ve often wondered exactly what an SEO company does. After hearing about the JC Penney fiasco I was really hoping that the majority of them don’t do that kind of thing. But it’s looking to me that more and more are. You really dug down deep and showed us exactly what these people will pull in order to get their clients sites higher up in the search engines. For many of us bloggers, dealing with the increasing spam is a royal pain in the you know what. Which is exactly why I felt it was time to implement some rules over at my place.

    I for one think that most companies should just learn these techniques in-house and have their own staff do this work for them. They can always learn from people such as yourself so it would be a win/win situation for them all.

    Thanks for going to so much trouble to share these tactics these companies are pulling. If I was that plumbing company, I would have hired you on the spot.

    Have a great day Adam and thanks again.

    Adrienne recently posted..The Loss of A LegendMy Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 9, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

      Hey Adrienne, it was a great post and absolutely necessary. I guess it’s all part of the experience. Could you imagine if blog comments were turned off? What fun would that be? I really like the interaction with everyone, especially when the viewpoints are different.

      I think that SEO companies can have their place, especially for on-page SEO. But you correct, it’s gotten to the point where you don’t need a computer science degree to do SEO. I believe most people can do it themselves unless you need an outsourced marketing department. Today’s web is about education, and businesses that demonstrate that education through passion, with a little seo, and social media sprinkled in will win in the long run.

      Thanks for coming by and thanks for that awesome post! -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..Who are my Biggest “Business Building” Role Models? My Kids of Course!My Profile

  11. Erin Feldman October 6, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    Fake comments are the worst. I remember logging into one of my client’s WordPress blogs, and it had gained between 40-60 fake comments over the weekend. It’s a chore to spam all those comments, and it makes me wonder if the blog is getting any legitimate traffic. I’ve added stronger spam filters to that particular blog, but some of the comments still infiltrate.

    I’ve never worked with an SEO company, but I can see how many of them might use shady, if not outright illegal, practices. It’s tempting to take shortcuts. The problem with shortcuts is that they leave the customer of that company without a solid foundation. It’s somewhat similar to building a house. The builders take shortcuts, but the house looks fine on the surface. It’s only when the weather gets cold or the house starts to settle that the shoddy work emerges via an uneven foundation or cracks in the pavement.
    Erin Feldman recently posted..You Have to Stand for SomethingMy Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 9, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

      Hi Erin,

      Wow 40-60 fake comments over a weekend. that is very sad.

      It’s very unfortunate that there are soooo many that take shortcut after shortcut. It’s unfortunately the way most are wired. The reason why I can’t eat healthy for more than a few weeks, or why dieting never lasts. Today’s society is all about the instant now, no one has time for later.

      BTW, great analogy about the house and so true!

      Thanks for stopping by! -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..My Five Minutes with Chris Brogan and Life Lessons LearnedMy Profile

  12. pea October 7, 2011 at 3:06 am #

    Adam! I had a good laugh at this! You are just like me. Once you get your teeth into something…
    I am going to watch all three videos and I am sure they will be hideous and make me smile some more with the way you have described them.
    I’m almost a fan of these type of comments and often take screenshots when they are particularly bad.

    ‘I live your site. These points chenge my life. Thank yu.’ – :)

    It’s silly isn’t it? Folks start a business but only pay scant attention to the most important aspects of it, i.e the way they are perceived by the public and the way they are spending their marketing budget. Of course they may be doing the marketing in-house hence the rather short almost non response to appease you. To be honest it looks like it was written by the same person who spammed your comments.

    Question: the bit about Google places listing and Googles TOS. Not sure what you meant – how were they in violation?
    pea recently posted..Sustainable Woodland HomeMy Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 9, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

      Pea, that comment looks eerily familiar! That spammer must be getting around town quite a bit!

      Screenshots, really, that is too funny. Yea, the video testimonials are scary bad, and scream FAKE FAKE FAKE!

      It is silly, and it doesn’t take long to ask some probing questions. So when the SEO company says we are going to complete a number of blog comments for your business, the response should be “What are you going to say? On what blogs? What is the person’s background who will be making these comments? Can I see some examples?

      Thank yu Pea ;)
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..The #1 Overlooked Small Business Website Traffic and Conversion Opportunity (You are Kinda Already Doing)My Profile

      • pea October 11, 2011 at 10:58 am #

        The vids were indeed hilarious. No Oscars there I’m thinking!

        Yo are most wecome. I live this post. it chenge my lives. Can you writing more?
        pea recently posted..Sustainable Woodland HomeMy Profile

  13. Louise October 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    Those videos are too funny!

    It continually surprises me after all these years that most companies still do not know what their SEO consultants are doing on their site – or the damage they are doing to their company’s reputation.

    It’s our responsibility to make sure our clients are educated and informed every step of the SEO way. When they turn their website over to us and trust us with their brand, it’s the least we can do.

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 9, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

      “It’s our responsibility to make sure our clients are educated and informed every step of the SEO way. When they turn their website over to us and trust us with their brand, it’s the least we can do.”

      Glad to hear that Louise. I wish that were the rule and not the exception.

      Thanks, -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..The Five Biggest Website Secrets of A-List BloggersMy Profile

  14. bbrian017 October 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Hi Adam, I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here. A company the size of JC penny should be aware of their marketing efforts online and offline. If anyone is responsible here for their issues it’s their marketing department for not doing due diligence. It’s really too bad what happened to the SEO industry and now companies are starting off with bad reputations until they prove their selves.

    I don’t however feel sorry for JC penny or any other corporate company that doesn’t do their homework before hiring other people to do this SEO work for them. I’m my opinion they got what was coming to them. They should have educated themselves better.

    If I go out and hire an SEO company to help me rank for my RSS Services in the search engines and they use black hat SEO methods it’s 100% my responsibility to know better and to do the background check.

    With that said opinions mean nothing here. I loved reading your article and it brought a lot of thinking into my head. I love when articles make your think your own marketing strategies to only find they are ethical and responsible to the customers.

    p.s. thanks for all the FF and tweets.
    bbrian017 recently posted..The Blog Engage Follow Five Friday for October 07th 2011My Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 9, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

      Hey Brian, I agree about Penney’s. They are as much to blame as the company they contracted. it is too bad what happened to the SEO industry, but they also brought this on themselves and continue to do so to this very day.

      “If I go out and hire an SEO company to help me rank for my RSS Services in the search engines and they use black hat SEO methods it’s 100% my responsibility to know better and to do the background check.”

      Amen to that Brian. That’s why ignorance is bliss. Thanks for taking to the time to check out the article. Glad to have you here! -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..My Five Minutes with Chris Brogan and Life Lessons LearnedMy Profile

  15. Jimmy October 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    Why does a big company like JC Penny hire fake commenters and all just to boost their rankings? Or for that matter, why do any decent company do that? I can understand the need for small companies to get quickly listed on google’s top pages, but the big ones? With the resources they have, they could have started another department or unit dedicated solely to building true backlinks and all for their own benefits.

    Anyway, after this post, I am convinced that all these spinning of articles, mass article directory uploads and all are just BS. I attended a course on blogging once, and the company teaching this course was actually really teaching people to just comment with “nice post” to just build backlinks. Where is the ethical conduct in this. I am glad I doubted their work and decided not to follow their plan.

    Adam, I guess you have been busy and I am sure you have forgotten me. :-) Anyway, please check out some of the interviews I have done with some beginners bloggers and see what you think.

    Jimmy recently posted..What has Justin Mazza Got to Say About Blogging for Personal Development?My Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 9, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

      Jimmy, you raise some very good questions here. At the very least Penney’s could have afforded to pay for clicks like nobody’s business!

      If you produce good content, you will get backlinks. If you post thoughtful comments, people will notie that as well. The “system ” is setup to benefit those who put out awesome content. When that happens, everything else will fall into place.

      Sorry, I have been crazy busy Jimmy and haven’t forgotten you. Go to and look for my name. I’d be thrilled to chat with you.
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..My Five Minutes with Chris Brogan and Life Lessons LearnedMy Profile

  16. Jens P. Berget October 10, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Hi Adam,

    Wow, the plumbers have been to your blog as well, it’s both funny and disturbing. I still don’t understand why companies are doing this, does it actually work? I sure hope not. But I like to think that the only reason why people are doing whatever they are doing when it comes to business is because it’s actually working. I know, I’m naive.

    I get emails from SEO companies every single day from the contact form on my blog. I don’t respond to any of them, and that’s not because I’m not a nice person, it’s because I can see that they’re all generic, just a template that they’re using. It’s disturbing that some companies are still doing this.

    Awesome post, and I’m really glad that you made the extra effort to do the research. I was wondering about why a plumbing company was so eager to comment on my blog :)

    - Jens
    Jens P. Berget recently posted..How to Engage Your Blog CommunityMy Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 11, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

      Those plumbers sure do get around, don’t they! Scary enough, some of what they do does work. That is why some many companies risk it all, some blindly, others knowingly.

      I get those SEO emails all the time as well. At my sign company they actually cold call us as well. Sometimes for shits and giggles I will argue with them, bring up a couple of our page one searches, and then ask them to do the same. It usually ends with a click..on their end of the line!

      There’s gold in the SEO field because most businesses don’t want to take the time to put the effort in, create compelling content, and engage people.

      Jens, thanks so much for coming by and posting! We’ll have to catch up once we both get our iPhone 4S’s!
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..The Five Biggest Website Secrets of A-List BloggersMy Profile

  17. Samantha Bangayan October 10, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Ooh! Thanks, Detective Adam! =) I had no idea SEO companies could be so sneaky. And considering the spelling and grammatical errors in the response to your email, it sounds like the company itself has no idea what’s going on. The SEO company probably gets various emails like yours and just gives that standard response just like their standard blog comments.

    What I’m especially surprised about is that JC Penney was caught using a company like this! How hurtful for the reputation of such a huge company!

    Janet Callaway put together a post on spam comments recently. It’s hilarious the things people come up with or I wonder if they’ve put together with a word generator since they often make so little sense. =P
    Samantha Bangayan recently posted..Crash Accidents, Risks and ConsequencesMy Profile

    • Adam Sokoloff
      Adam Sokoloff October 11, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

      Hi Samantha! I think I like the sound of that…Detective Adam lol! They are sneaky little devils aren’t they? If that company did know what was happening, I’d be very concerned about the quality of their work!

      Penney’s had to know better, and had to know exactly what their SEO firm was up to! If it hurt them anywhere, it was in the wallet. They’ll now have to resort to paid clicks for a long, long, time.

      I will have to check out Janet’s post. Some of these aim comments do crack me up as much as it is a pain to get rid of them.

      Great stuff Samantha! -Adam
      Adam Sokoloff recently posted..My Five Minutes with Chris Brogan and Life Lessons LearnedMy Profile

  18. Stuart October 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Oh Adam, you’re becoming a detective in your spare time! We might start giving you paid gigs ;-)

    Amazing what levels some people will stoop to for the allure of ‘instant guaranteed success’. I could tell from the two ‘testimonials’ they were rehearsed – there was a lack of ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’, a lack of pauses to think of something new to say, and their smiles were too much.

    But some companies don’t care about this, simply because they want the magic elixir of success. A real shame, because as you said Adam, there are plenty of awesome ways to generate pure, natural, filled with 100% goodness, SEO.

    Another way I may add is guest posting – it’s helped me a ton in growing Unlock The Door, and I plan on using this strategy for many months to come!

    Take care Adam :-)

    P.S. Word of advice to the brunette – if you want to be in disguise throughout your videos, don’t film them in the same room, in the exact same spot ;-)
    Stuart recently posted..Experiencing Happiness With Less – A True StoryMy Profile

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