Another Reason to be Careful When Hiring an SEO

Like probably every website on the planet, we get plenty of spam comments. These include a range of comments, all that include SEO-optimized links back to a website. Here’s one that “Ender Berett” tried to leave yesterday:

It would certainly be hard to be a probate lawyer. They would have to work with squabbling family members all the time. Not to mention learning all of the court rules.

The phrase probate lawyer was linked to, the website of a solo practitioner that has apparently hired a spammer to elevate his link profile. Google is onto this strategy. It’s goal is to deliver relevant search results, not spammy ones. But for a while, spam worked. Now, companies that relied on spam are feeling the harm, which is why is now sending out something like cease-and-desist letters demanding websites to remove its now-harmful spammy comments.

Seriously, check out the letter sent to Talking Points Memo. It’s gold, and it almost makes me think I should stop deleting spam comments so the spammers’ clients get what they deserve.

If you are going to work with an SEO, make sure you know what they are going to do. If you hear anything remotely like “link-building campaign,” find out exactly what your consultant intends to do with your firm’s name. [via Daring Fireball]


  1. Avatar Gyi says:

    And if you don’t believe Sam that it doesn’t work, maybe you’ll believe Google.

  2. Avatar Jesse Guthrie says:

    Sam I see this all the time too. It is really surprising how the landscape of linkbuilding has been extremely spammy in the past 2 years. Now people do not know where to turn to get relevant quality links. I tell my clients to focus on extremely good content, so people will naturally share it. Make it easy to share with social buttons and etc on their sites.

    Gyi – Good link too for those non believers!

  3. The only way to prevent spam is if Google comes down hard on spammers. The cost to spam is virtually nothing so if it’s helping out even in the slightest why shouldn’t they do it? I’m not saying this in support of spamming, but just to point out if the market doesn’t punish spamming severely it won’t stop. It’s not enough for spamming to just be a wash, it should be a crime.

    • Gyi Tsakalakis Gyi T. says:

      Of course, the problem with penalizing spammers is that it gives rise to negative SEO; spamming in a competitor’s name in order to get them penalized.

      I’d like to see a link disavowal tool in Webmaster Tools. Of course, this is not immune from abuse either.

      It has to come from informed market. If people know what they’re paying for, and know that this kind of trash is worthless, they’ll stop paying people to do it. We’re a ways away from that, but that’s the ultimate solution, imho.

  4. Avatar Guest says:

    What do you guys think of keeping two separate websites? They would be on separate domains and with separate Whois ownership and separate trade names (for example Chicagoland Bankruptcy Lawyer and Greater Chicago Bankruptcy Law Group). One would be optimized by black hat SEO and the other would be optimized by the cleanest of whitehat SEO. If the blackhat goes down, the whitehat is unaffected. Do you think this would be a viable strategy?

    • Gyi Tsakalakis Gyi T. says:

      Don’t link them together. Also, if they’re “branded” (i.e. use your name, address, phone, etc), it might not matter. While unlikely, there’s a chance that your clean site could be impacted by your tactics on the more “black hat” site.

      Of course, it depends upon the specific techniques you employ.

      Nonetheless, if you’re going to do it, don’t link the sites.

    • Sam Glover Sam G. says:

      I think this is a bad idea. Google’s primary purpose is to eliminate gaming of search results. If you play games, eventually you will get caught, and the ramifications could be long-lasting. I don’t think it’s worth it.

  5. Avatar Will Lam says:

    Good points Sam,

    In the long run, Google will eventually find out what spammy linkbuilders are up to. In all likeliness though, Google ALREADY KNOWS what black hat tactics some shady SEO’s are using and will eventually put out a release to their algorithms to snuff out black hat tactics – especially with their almost monthly Panda updates.

    Some ways to frame questions when considering taking on SEO services from an agency would be their longer term and sustainable competitive linkbuilding practices. Is it built to last? Namely great and even timely content that is helpful? Is engaging authentically on social channels (Twitter, Facebook, Google+) another strategy?

    In the long run, firms that focus on quality work will always come out on top.

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