Today we bring you a brand new Trademark Productions podcast about SEO Snake Oil: fake reviews, SEO wannabes, stale content, and whether it’s time to let press releases rest in peace.   Listen in at your own risk; this was recorded on a beautiful Friday afternoon!

Dwight Zahringer and Dario Chiarini are back on the podcast, and they’re joined by two newcomers to Trademark Productions, Ashley Remstad, and me, Clare O’Brien.  Here’s a short recap of what we talked about:

Yelp and Angie’s List have been in a lot of hot water over the past few months.  Allegations that the sites give preferential treatment to advertisers are starting to stick and estimates on the number of fake reviews are getting bigger and bigger.  A report from Harvard Business School and Boston University recently reported that as many as 20% of reviews on Yelp may be fake.  That’s one in five reviews!

Full disclosure: Dwight is the C.E.O. of TruReview, a software that helps companies to manage their client relationships and request reviews after client interactions. TruReview was founded because of an enormous problem that nobody seems to have solved.  Clients, friends, and people we’ve never met have told us terrible stories about how fake negative reviews nearly put them out of business.  The crackdown on fake reviews has begun, and we hope it continues!

In the same vein, we discussed common mistakes that are made by start-ups, and even established companies, when it comes to managing (or not managing) their online search engine marketing.  Just as many businesses try to ignore their negative online reviews out of existence, many businesses try to save money by looking for the lowest priced SEO package, or worse, closing their eyes and not looking at all.  Google may be your friend, but it doesn’t do your SEO for you.  Leave things up to chance, or worse, to a company that can’t deliver the goods, and you’ll have a big, expensive mess to clean up.

As with SEO, many companies don’t want to look at their content.  We get it.  Putting something live on your website is sort of like turning in an essay; you don’t want to look at it anymore.  It’s done.  The problem is that live content is also a-live, and someone has to make sure that it gets fed with new material, that it gets changed as it outgrows its purpose, and that it looks good.  There’s nothing worse than old, dead content stinking up your website and social media accounts.

Another interesting development when it comes to content and SEO: Did you know that Google has now labeled the optimized links in press releases as “unnatural” links?  Make sure your press release contains links that are nofollow.  Navigational links, links that use the anchor text of a domain name or company name are still fair game, but use them sparingly.  Better yet, set aside your fountain pen and enter this century—write a personalized pitch to each audience you’re trying to reach.

Just one last thing: since we wouldn’t want Google getting all Molly Ringwald on us, I thought we should at least mention that today they have fifteen candles and a new algorithm called Hummingbird (which has apparently been humming under the radar for a month already).  Happy Birthday to Google and thanks to all of you for listening!

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