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If you are in the field of search marketing, search engine optimization, or online marketing in general; you have probably seen the ads in Google AdWords and AdSense for (I’m not going to link to them, with or without a Nofollow), a complaint site where companies who have been ‘ripped off’ by an SEO firm can blast the company they contracted.

Search Engine Journal has learned that is a lead generation front for one or more search marketing companies, looking to capitalize on the popularity of niche complaints sites and follow up with these victims of SEO scams with sales info and solutions after complaints are submitted. As a search marketing professional, how do you feel about this?

For those of you who need a briefing on complaint sites, look into, or

The majority of these sites depend on user generated content and the consumer’s drive to get even when they feel they have been misled or taken for a ride, and they are effective. Here’s how they work.

  • Consumer searches for company complaints or company name; finds complaint site.
  • Instead of sending a letter to management of bad company, they submit a complaint to the site they found.
  • That complaint is usually printed as is, or sometimes edited.
  • Complaint site runs the complaint, and a good complaint site optimizes their complaints by overall site SEO, great public relations and natural linking via news coverage, or building links via Propeller or other social media outlets.
  • Since the content is original and natural, it’s chock full of misspellings, customer lingo and natural semantics which searchers use and some companies do not include on their sites.
  • Better yet, since the customers are pissed off, they link to their own complaints via their own blogs, forums and sites.
  • The complaint ranks highly for a company name or a company branded longtail term.
  • Searcher finds complaint site when searching for branded term, reads complaint, and then is served advertising of competing web services or products, usually via AdSense or a lead generation company.

There a numerous problems in the set up of these sites, one being editorial integrity, or lack thereof. One example, complaint sites are a hot bed for sabotaging search results of your competition, but submitting false complaints and participating in complaints responses.

Complaint Sites by SEOs, for SEO takes a similar approach; engaging the user to file a complaint, or rant, about an SEO consultant, company or provider.

Here is one of their AdWords ads :

Been Scammed by SEO Firm?
We want to hear about it. Post your
story about being ripped off!

Since no one in their right minds would actually link to such a site, helping with its link juice and Google rankings, the company behind the project seems to be dumping a lot of revenue into its AdWords promotions. But what is the return on investment?

The ROI for the AdWords campaign may come in the form of original content and rants from companies which have been ‘scammed’ or ‘ripped off’ by an SEO company (keep in mind, a scam in the eyes of one person is a contract breach in the eyes off another and there is usually much more behind the curtain when companies do not get along), fill the site with this original content, and hopefully rank for the name of the same SEO ‘scammer’.

But is doing so a sufficient ROI on an Adwords campaign targeting high dollar SEO oriented terms? : Lead Generation Tool?

Over the past week Search Engine Journal has received several contacts from readers informing us that is a lead generation front for a search marketing firm. We’re not going to name the firm, but anyone who can track backlinks on Yahoo can easily connect the dots and come to their own conclusions.

According to the readers, the search marketing firm was looking for an “outside of the box” approach to generating internal leads and business, and launched the site in an effort to generate business from companies who are breaking ties with their current SEO firms, or shopping around after feeling they have been “ripped off.”

In a growing industry which is becoming less associated with the scams, snakeoil and ‘buy viagra’ links which littered it years ago, having a ‘reputable’ firm launch such a project has the potential to tarnish our industry again, sending it two steps back, and monetarily benefiting from such actions.

There is a troubling conflict of interest, ethics and deception in using as a lead generation tool for a search marketing firm, and I hope this is not the case. If there is passion & vigilance behind the project and it was launched by someone who feels they were ripped off and wants to protect others, the whole idea would be a bit more ethical.

What are your views on and how do you feel niche service review or complaints sites fit in the business of the search marketing industry? Reader responses welcome!

Category SEO
SEJ STAFF Loren Baker Founder at Foundation Digital

Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing ... : Stain of the Search Marketing Industry

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