Where do I even begin with this one? I mean, I was on the fence about even writing this post for months. On the one hand, I myself have become known for calling out asshattery that pollutes the search marketing industry in epic ways, and I’ve been doing it for a few years.
On the other hand, I’ve also been able to step back more and more each year in my own open attacks, in spite of my honest core belief in ethics and morals when it comes to business. Because let’s face it, what one person considers legitimate, another considers evil. It’s a fact of life. And the more time I spend in a personal relationship with God, the more I work to own the need to judge less and discern more.
Don’t get me wrong here. I still don’t like some things I see in this industry.
Yet overall, if you’ve been following my rants on Twitter (God bless your for the fortitude to do that), you’ll have noted that I really don’t come anywhere near as close to “OMG Over the top” in my rhetoric as I used to. Because I really am doing my best to evolve. #Honest
Except one company has stood out over and over again through the years in their business practices, services and “solutions” that an obvious and blatant pattern has emerged I can no longer deny. Nor can I sit on the sidelines any longer regarding this particular company and pretend I don’t have a passionate personal view on it.
Understanding My Decision Will Have Consequences
Given the fact that some companies have in fact been seriously harmed by being “outed”, I understand that though it’s highly unlikely given the high profile position of the company I’m referring to here, they may, in fact, ultimately be banned from Google. And I understand that we’re talking about people’s lives here, their means to an income, with families to feed, and the entirety of how harmful such an action can be.
So if you want to skewer me for being a tattle-tale, a rat, a snitch or an “outer”, so be it. In this situation I’m willing to risk ruining my reputation over it.
The Issue of Link Schemes
If you have any skin in the SEO game, as soon as you hear the phrase “link scheme”, you’re most likely to know exactly the “type” of SEO I’m talking about. the attempt to unnaturally manipulate the system with the end goal of getting more visibility at Google purely for profit. And in the challenge that Google faces to combat such techniques, they even openly ask for people to report such behavior.They ask for our help simply because people and companies can be really sneaky in how they go about their work, and constantly find new ways to game the system.
Yes, this is the biggest challenge – no matter how many times people spout white-hat vs. black hat, we live in a world with many shades of grey. So much so, that to refer to the issues as black and white is, in my opinion, very short-sighted and frankly, it does a disservice to the ability for us as an industry, to conduct open, fruitful discussions. And others agree.
And as I mentioned a moment ago, if any of us even remotely follows a spiritual path, we’re given countless reasons through spiritual and religious teachings that it’s not always wise for us to judge others, lest we ourselves, be judged.
What About Fairness In Business?
Here’s where it gets even more challenging. How can a small business compete with a bigger company that has deeper budgetary pockets? How can a company that otherwise doesn’t have the skill to compete for eyeballs find a way to compete when for all other reasons other than the means to do so, has the ability to offer truly high quality products or services?
That topic alone could take up (and already does, I am sure) countless blog articles. In reality though, our society, while promoting fairness for many valid reasons, is based on anthropologically based concepts like survival of the fittest. That applies equally as well to a capitalist based business framework.
Just because you have a great service or product does not mean you have the right to operate on the same playing field as a company with more resources.
When A Company Goes Too Far
Sometimes however, some companies go too far. They take advantage of the fundamental principles I’ve touched on here. Knowing they can push the envelope of “reasonable implementation” that each of those principles entails.
When that happens, through legal recourse, a company can be seen as causing themselves to have an unfair competitive advantage. That’s a subtle semantic concept, since it’s not a truly “fair” system to begin with. Yet at some point, overwhelming abuse of that system can in fact, be deemed as “too” unfair.
Full Circle – Enough Is Enough – Let’s Out These Bad Boys
And that brings me to the reason I wrote this article. I’ve observed this particular company for far too long in how they claim to offer good services to their customers. In truth, much of what they do really is good. Yet they’ve simultaneously and consistently, over the years, found ways to unnaturally manipulate the playing field. To the point where they have long since crossed the line of unfair competitive advantage.
I’m not, in this article, going to go into long drawn out detail about how I discovered this particular scheme. After all, my particular forensic skill is one I cherish and which helps me continue to gain some very big client opportunities, nor do I wish to reveal my methods only to have someone come along and find new ways to hide their antics from me and in turn hampers my ability to do competitive analysis…
Nor will I provide you with a plethora of charts, flow-charts, diagrams, spreadsheets or source-code material to back up my position. Because there’s far too much to sift through, to decide what among all of the reams of data, is necessary to make my case.
And too, I’m pretty confident that just by seeing the single piece of evidence below, if you’ve as I said before, had any skin in this search game, you’ll know instantly, immediately, and without any hesitation of doubt whatever that my assumptions, belief and view is dead-on accurate.
So here, without further delay, is link to proof that worse than any other company, this one takes the cake for their link schemes… Click the link, evaluate the evidence, then come back and read my final thoughts… Go ahead. I’ll wait….
I wrote this article in part to mock the insanity that’s gone on recently in the debate over what’s right, what’s wrong, who should be blamed, who is innocent, whether people who out others are doing good or doing evil. And yet, when you really stop long enough to think about it, to really consider how it is that this particular company does what they do, you’ll understand that in business, we all serve multiple masters, and sometimes when serving multiple masters, we run into problems ourselves. Intentionally or not. Consciously or not.
In writing this article, I do not intend to imply that I do or do not condone any particular behavior outside of what I already am known to be accepting of and what I am known to deplore. I only wrote it to make a point about how complex the issue ultimately is. And have a little fun doing it.