Before my SEO friends get their panties in a wad over today’s headline, let me emphasize that I understand the practical value and wisdom of basic Search Engine Optimization practices
. There are many prinicipled people in the field doing good and useful work.
But the competition to out-fox the search engines is getting ugly. Beyond ugly.
I recently had a discussion with the CEO of a leading Midwest search firm who described their common practice of creating fake accounts to pump client links into the comment section of blog posts and forums.
The process goes something like this:
- The company hires home-bound individuals or low-wage people in developing countries to freelance as professional blog commenters.
- The blog commenters are trained on how to pose as fake people and comment in a way that does not alert the suspicion of Google or the author of the blog.
- The freelance commenters are then given assignments, fake personas and email accounts to provide an appearance of legitimacy. A 50-year-old man in Indianapolis might be posing as a 30-year-old housewife in Pittsburgh, for example.
- The commenters are compensated by the number of client links they can successfully work into a comment or forum — as many as five in one post.
Reality check. Isn’t this fraud?