In some cases, this serves a very legitimate purpose, like incentivizing positive reviews and ratings from clients to overcome someone who griped about not getting his water and hot bread fast enough when entering a restaurant. There are certainly legitimate cases like this for businesses to present a positive image of themselves to the public. There is a duality of this topic as there are those who purposefully mislead the public with positive or negative spam of business content, causing a countermeasure to any possible chance of receiving accurate information. While this might seem like a trifle act, it damages the ability to have a reasonable expectation of receiving correct and verifiable data in search results.
“Reputation Management Scams”
When it comes to the dirtier uses of Content Countermeasures, the “reputation managers” of the world are almost always going to be one of the top offenders. The ads heard on talk radio and pushed for local companies are usually nothing short of bragging on how they can spam the public with disinformation about your company or yourself. Sure, it’s sold as “restoring your good name”, but if you are going to go through extreme steps(and reputation management often requires extreme steps) to garner enough faked or duplicated content to push down the negative reviews and ratings, then the entire concept of public relation is in shambles. Again, this isn’t being critical of those who have a solid and honest goal of ensuring honest content about their business (because we will talk below of the content assassins below). Let’s be clear, if you have to market your company or yourself with false or spammed information, then you or your product simply aren’t worth what you are trying to present them as.
The same holds true for people who want to push down legitimate information to hide their concerning content from the public. Content writers are notorious for this one. We get a different one filling our spam folders every week with messages bragging about how they can spam the highest ranking blogs on the internet … for a price of course. This is a two-pronged version of Content Countermeasure SEO. First, they are spamming mass content about themselves on the front end of the conversation, then, they have to do something to remove data from all of the people who are complaining about the unsolicited content. There will be the guys who have dozens, sometimes hundreds of wordpress.com, blogger, webly, Tumbler…etc, sites with several variations of their own name and all with content claiming to be the most relevant. We’ve found the same thing done lately with people who have warrants and want to confuse police (from identifiable IP addresses though, so not sure how well that works). Additionally, they will play the game of buying any and all variations of ones name in domain format, and again, spamming the internet with redundant and often obscure data to attempt to divide relevancy on the person’s identity. We ran into one of these guys recently who had over 200 variations of his own name out there, all to push down the 40-50 ripoff reports filed about his poor business practices. The spam data traces act as a SEO Countermeasure to prevent people from finding about his actual business practices, and instead focus on a false narrative that is completely opposite to reality.
No, I am not coming down on narratives themselves. As I said in the intro to this post, narratives are shaped by the marketer, but as soon as they are completely falsified narratives, then nothing is left but a dishonest scam being perpetrated on the reader. The petty marketers who believe that there is a magical line of lies they can hover on and still have their integrity intact are some of the most genuine and shining examples of cognitive dissonance available.
These are the lowest bottom-feeders of he internet. They include “Yelpers”, “Competing Reviewers”, and all the others willing to destroy. Content Assassins, or SEO Assassins are often written off as competitors or disgruntled employees, but we’ve found more instances lately of little to no association being the culprit. The internet gives strength to those who wish to do damage to others with impunity.
A restaurant client of ours apparently slighted a patron by serving his therapist. The individual saw this as a slight against him, and went on to commit a fake review and spam campaign to destroy the restaurant’s reputation. Using a photoshopped comment image, the spammer made it appear that the restaurant (run by a gay man) had made anti-gay statements to him on Facebook. This one fake image, posted in several LGBT social media groups, caused over 500 negative reviews in one night. By the time the restaurant came to us, we had over 900 review accounts to send individual requests and explanations to.