PR pro: Search engine optimization disgusts me

Companies are paying six figures a month for firms to juice Google. This author has had enough of it. How about you?

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

But the competition to outfox 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:

1. The company hires homebound individuals or low-wage people in developing countries to freelance as professional blog commenters.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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?

I really don’t pay attention to the SEO shenanigans like this day to day, but now these practices are starting to impact me and my precious time. Here is an example of this practice in a comment that was salted into the comment section of my blog by “John”:

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.