I just read a story on news.com.au headlined, ‘Is it worth paying to look good on Google?’ The title itself rang alarm bells. The article was a bit of a mish-mash of interviews and speculation, but what stood out to me is that beneath the surface, the real story seemed to be a company gloating about their methods of manipulating Google search rankings.
It seems they managed to impress journalist Simon Black by ranking for his name using this method:
Step 1. Register an exact match domain
Step 2. Install a default wordpress theme
Step 3. Scrape content from Wikipedia
Step 4. Obtain 40 low quality inbound links
That’s all it took to get to page one on Google for ‘Simon Black’ and to land a company called Online Reputation Management Australia a front page feature on news.com.au!
In the article David Cannell, founder of Online Reputation Management Australia says, “the average client spent between $3000 and $5000 for these services, but some paid up to $10,000 to restore their digital reputation.”
So companies and/or individuals are spending upwards of $3k to have an exact match domain registered, WordPress installed with 40 low quality inbound links, rinse and repeat?
This company was given a chance that most never will, to showcase what they do, and the example they provide is a 1 page default WordPress install with content scraped from wikipedia?
So, does revealing your methods of manipulating search results and providing a live example not strike anyone else as strange? It’s like screaming, “Hey Google, checkout how I’m gaming you, ignoring your quality guide lines, bragging about it on one of the most visited sites in Australia, and likely scoring more clients (read money) for it!”
Update: David Cannell contacted me directly and gave me the impression he did not expect the example site to be used in the story and expected the story to be more of a cautionary tale about social media rather than one sub headed with ‘meet the man who says he can manipulate the web to make you look good….’
I still stand by the fact that given a chance to provide an example of my work, I wouldn’t have delivered the site he did (which has since been re-skinned with a new theme that looks much more appealing, but the content remains the same.) By including that example in his story, the journalist gave the impression that this is the work Online Reputation Management Australia does, and this is what they charge for it.