If it’s your job to promote and protect your brand reputation, then you should beware of slimy SEO middlemen that meddle in social media and customer relationships.
Most brand managers are aware of the risks of engaging in “black hat” and “gray hat” SEO tactics. These methods attempt to attract search traffic in a deceitful manner that violates search engines’ terms of service. Such tactics include keyword stuffing, hidden text and links, link farming and blog comment spam, among other. They can get you blackballed by the search engines, making you invisible to many of your potential online customers.
But there’s a new threat emerging: SEO middlemen that participate in social media and blogger relations for the sole purpose of boosting search-engine traffic. Many of these efforts are backfiring. Let me share a recent personal example:
An account executive from an established SEO agency contacted me last week on myÂ personal blog. He indicated his agency was representing a major furniture brand, for which I’ll spare public ridicule. I give this account exec credit for fully disclosing his client relationship, but the accolades end there. He did his homework on me, as indicated by his compliments and thoughtful references to my alma mater, various posts on my site, and short family videos I’ve published. But his intimate patronization was nothing more than fake flattery. And the hard pitch that followed made his interaction entirely unpleasant and unwelcome.
I’ll paraphrase this huckster’s pitch: “I noticed one of your posts has a link to our client. In an effort to assist with our online marketing efforts, would it be possible to modify this link to a new URL that will aid our SEO optimization efforts? Please let me know if this is possible. It would be a great help to us. Thank you for considering this request and please continue to provide marketing insight on your blog, as well as comical videos and stories of you and your family’s adventures!”
This request made me uneasy because it was completely tied to a self-serving SEO agenda and nothing else. Instead of spraying untruthful admiration and greedily requesting value beyond my generous public advocacy, this agency exec should’ve recognized me as a brand promoter and let his client know that I’m a potential fan to start a more meaningful relationship with.
But no, the SEO middleman with the narrow agenda had to get in the way of a fruitful customer relationship and potential long-term opportunity. As a result, I probably will never advocate or do business with him or his client again. This sort of of commercial engagement is nothing more than spam.
Brands: beware of slimy SEO middlemen that meddle in social media and customer relationships. Middlemen are not an excuse for bad deeds. Nor are they a buffer from the consequences.
This also was my latest column in MediaPost.
(Photo Credit: freejay3)