Much like a round-house kick from the boot of Chuck Norris to the back of your skull, the SEO community can be swift, cruel, and decisive when it comes to exacting punishment for misdeeds. Whether or not it is deserved can sometimes be an issue – but in the case of SEO Columbus a swift kick in the ass was just the right solution.
Enter Mike Halvorsen.
Mike is an in-house SEO over at the super-site Manta. He knows his shit and has been working on the Internet since he was age-fricken-twelve! As a point of reference, I may or may not have still been in the prime of my nose-picking career at that point.
Just so everyone is aware. I’ve only recently met Mike through Twitter. I don’t know him personally. I’m not in cahoots.
Late last week, Mike received some questionable and threatening emails from one mister Joe Rozsa, the “owner” of SEO Columbus (or is it Kalor Technology?). The issue at the heart of the matter was that Mike was using the term “SEO Columbus” in his title tag and that ticked Joe off because it is supposedly is Joe’s “legal” business name. So Joe asked him “kindly” to take it down.
I won’t post the entire email & corresponding conversation strand (see the link below), but I will say that the way Joe asked wasn’t nice at all. The terms “trademarked”, “piggybacking”, “known violations”, and “trademark law” may or may not have been thrown around.
Yesterday, Mike posted a very thorough account of the proceedings on his site that is relevant for the term SEO Columbus that isn’t trying to steal clients or piggyback off of someone’s hard work. What followed was an explosion of feedback.
The Internet is a strange and wonderful place…
A big thanks goes out to Joe for teaching every SEO in the industry how to kill your reputation in 10 steps (or less). Here are the steps:
1. Send Threatening E-Mails To Your Real or Perceived Competition
It these emails, please ensure that you mention how the party in question is trying to “capitalize” off of “hard work” and take advantage of you. Then, make sure to mention trademarks, threaten legal action, and be as smug as possible.
2. Did I Say To Be Smug? Yes? Well Do It Anyway
Make sure that you give everyone a healthy dose of humble-pie by telling them how you’re “too busy to be accepting new clients,” could “could refer some of my overflow,” and how they’ve “probably seen me speak at a conference somewhere.”
And is people leave comments that are somehow a “smear” to your “good reputation,” please be sure to silence them with more smugness. This will surely put your critics in their place.
3. Are Smug and Condescending the Same Thing?
If you feel you’ve met an appropriate level of smugness, but sure to throw in some good old fashioned condescending narrative. Make sure that you talk down to top industry peers as much as possible. Question their knowledge if you can. That will teach them!
4. Site False Trademarks & Business Details
Damn it, if you own the domain name then that is what your business name is! Trademarks be damned! Don’t let little things like the State of Ohio and their crazy laws and requirements to be an official business get in your way.
5. Question How People Spend Their Time
If people have all this free time to talk about a wild thing like protecting the integrity and reputations of good quality “hard working” SEO’s, then they must have TOO MUCH time on their hands.
Get a job losers!
6. Play the Danny Sullivan Card
When all else fails, play the Danny Sullivan card! He’s reputable, and if you’ve ever seen or talked to him you must be reputable too.
Screw all the nay-sayers!
7. Keep on keeping on
Keep fighting the good fight. If the people keep picking on you, be sure to throw a healthy additional dose of #2 and #3 above their way!
8. Issue a Half-Hearted Apology
If you’ve realized that the public consensus is that you’ve done wrong (and a #2 and #3 aren’t working as well as you’d like), you can submit and get the ultimate out by issuing a half-hearted apology. The less you believe it the better!
9. Let Your Paranoia Run Wild
Who says you can’t go higher than the #1 ranking? Those guys are idiots! I say that #1 isn’t good enough – even with an exact-match domain! If you can’t smack down a few punk kids along the way, then why even be in the business.
This business ain’t what it used to be.
10. Don’t Think Before Hitting Send
Why on Earth would you want to do that?
The tidal wave of commentary that has ensued over on Mike’s site has been nothing short of amazing and a perfect example of how to kill your reputation in less than a day. Any other SEOs thinking of doing something similar should take a good hard look at the example that Mr. Rozsa has set.
In this industry, your reputation is absolutely everything. Don’t sully it by being stupid, arrogant, and paranoid. Competition is supposed to be good for you, supposed to make you better. Competition IS a form of flattery and good SEOs welcome it.
Also, it’s probably not a good idea to attempt to use a “generic business term” combined with your “service city” as your business name. It can lead to brand confusion and a sticky little situation such as this one. I’m guessing the negative far outweigh the positives.
It is a shame that you’ve done this to yourself. However, YOU did this and Mike (and his legions) fought back. You didn’t have to send out any emails. You were already ranking #1 – even if it only pulls in 19 organic visits in December (or was it 2.5 months)? You killed your own reputation and furthered the damage by being too stubborn to admit you were wrong.
Nobody wants you to go out of business. In fact, I hope you do well. But I sense a little hypocrisy in that you had no qualms about throwing Mike under the bus. Would you have helped to support his family if your efforts would have resulted in Mike losing his reputation and potentially his job? Probably not. Just sayin.
The SEO Community doesn’t like coming down on people, but it’s actions and attitudes like this that give the rest of us a bad name. However, we must police the industry and keep people from doing this type of stuff. If we don’t, then the rest of us will be out of jobs shortly.
And please don’t bother sending me a threatening email. I’m simply trying to help my readers understand what NOT to do when entering a situation where their reputation is on the line.
Jake (aka Agent SEO)
To close, I thought I’d leave my readers with a very funny post and throw Joe his one and only link of this article. About a year ago, Joe wrote an article entitled, “#1 Columbus SEO Firm With A Vengeance.”
The article shows how supposedly awesome SEO Columbus is and begs to question why anyone would ever want to hire anybody else?!? What I’m sure was conveniently Photoshopped out was the fact that he was probably signed in. Wonder if he’s heard of personalized search results? Even back then the article rubbed me the wrong way.
Either way, the irony makes me chuckle on a day like today.