Recently New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman settled with 19 different SEO companies over a lawsuit brought against them by Yelp, a local search website that allows readers to leave reviews about the companies listed:
"NEW YORK -- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that 19 companies had agreed to cease their practice of writing fake online reviews for businesses and to pay more than $350,000 in penalties. "Operation Clean Turf," a year-long undercover investigation into the reputation management industry, the manipulation of consumer-review websites, and the practice of astroturfing, found that companies had flooded the Internet with fake consumer reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google Local, and CitySearch. In the course of the investigation, the Attorney General's office found that many of these companies used techniques to hide their identities, such as creating fake online profiles on consumer review websites and paying freelance writers from as far away as the Philippines, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe for $1 to $10 per review. By producing fake reviews, these companies violated multiple state laws against false advertising and engaged in illegal and deceptive business practices."
The Internet is filled with countless web pages, each vying for a spot at the top of the most popular search engines: Google, Yahoo! and Bing, to name a few. In order to properly optimize the search engine ranking of a business, keywords and metadata must be used. Producing quality updates and content on a regular basis is also very important to being placed high, particularly on Google. Most people want to place high on Google's search pages because it is the most used search engine on the Internet, by far. But Google changes its search algorithms on a regular basis now and instead of informing businesses of the changes like it used to, the Internet giant has decided to make its modifications on a more covert level. According to experts, this is giving users a better experience because many companies would use SEO to have themselves show up on searches that were not relevant to them.
First, there is deciding which platforms are important and current. This has obviously varied over time. Is it Facebook or is Facebook passe now, the last refuge of retirees with too much time on their hands? On the other hand, perhaps marketing to retirees would be profitable for your company.
Is your business or your niche photogenic enough for Instagram to work for you? Instagram is hot right now, but there’s little opportunity for customer engagement there. Rather than using it for direct marketing, it’s better for building excitement visually that can later be tapped in another way.
It’s no secret that accomplishing good SEO is a continuing challenge. Google, in an effort to create a more interesting, authentic, and “truthful” internet, keeps throwing new wrenches into its own algorithm in order to thwart manipulation. What this has meant for websites is that what worked amazingly well as SEO three years ago may well get your site penalized now - or completely blown out of the water.