Digital marketing firm LandingNet joins the social media malpractice debate and calls for the ASA to intervene

Channel 4′s recent Dispatches investigation “Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans” exposed how brands are buying social media interactions (  “likes” ) on Facebook and how celebrities are being paid to endorse products on Twitter. The documentary in particular exposed the practice of “click farms” in Bangladesh which involves companies using low-paid workers to develop fake Facebook “likes”, Twitter followers and YouTube views.

social media scams

The practice of celebrities endorsing products and brands on social media was also highlighted, with the Dispatches undercover reporter paying £1,000 to a company called Dynasty Media to entice celebrities to publicise a fake watch. Channel 4’s Dispatches also established links between Coca-Cola and Dhaka-registered Shareyt.com, which acts as a broker to connect companies seeking to boost their profile on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Dominic Sterland, Managing Director of Nottingham digital marketing agency LandingNet, points out: “In a week where social media like Twitter and Ask.FM have come under the microscope for ‘troll abuse and bullying’ by individuals, we now discover that commercial abuse of Twitter and Facebook appears to be rife. Channel 4’s Dispatches exposure of the high level of scamming that goes on within social media marketing is a worrying development”.

He continues: “Worshipping false social media gods and idols will only undermine the credibility of the digital marketing industry as a whole and discredits this relatively new online platform. However Channel 4 highlighting how brands can unnaturally grow their online engagement figures and the practices that rogue agencies and celebrities undertake to promote products, will hopefully now put a stop to this malpractice. For blue chip companies, brand integrity and reputation is everything and they will be very keen to put their house in order and distance themselves from any hint of social media impropriety”.

Dominic Sterland adds: “The reality is that commercial social media abuse is almost certainly practiced by a minority of rogue players, but to protect the majority of honest digital marketers, we need a thorough investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority ( ASA ), in order to achieve total transparency”.

Which Links Can Harm Your Site’s Rankings?

It is an established fact that the prime objective of SEO is to rank your website. To emerge higher in rankings one needs to follow an established procedure. This essentially means that one needs to follow the rules in order to rank higher.

You should adhere to the standard white hat SEO techniques if you wish to come up the ladder. Below are listed some potential techniques that can hurt your rankings.

Building too many back links

A common problem that one encounters is when one tries to build up too many back links too quickly. One must realize that Search Engine Optimization is a gradual process and you should concentrate your efforts onbacklink mistakesproceeding slowly rather than building up links overnight. You will find yourself in a better position if you concentrate on building high quality links over a period rather than rushing through the process.

Paying for low quality spam links

Sometimes people can not overcome the tendency of paying for low quality spam links. You might come across some advertisements that boast of giving you thousands of links and that too for few dollars.If you fall for this misadventure you will end up spamming your website with useless material that is of little worth for you as a business owner. Your website will eventually be penalized and can even be banned for posting spam content. Though having great number of links might look as a bright prospect initially,it can spoil your hard earned reputation. Having a large number of links might sound like a great deal but Google will penalize you for this misadventure and will penalize you harshly.

Links from foreign language websites

Business owners fall for links that are posted on foreign language websites. Pursuing this strategy is worthless and you will be wasting your time if you decide to pursue this approach. These foreign websites at time are phishing websites that can create unnecessary problems for your endeavor. The best approach is to keep away from links that have been published on foreign language websites as this can harm your reputation greatly and can mar your prospects of rising high.

Anchor Text Stuffing

The anchor text refers to the words that actually make up the link. So for instance if you want to get links to your site then it is beneficial for the anchor text to be the keywords you are hoping to rank for i.e. a site like My First Record would hope to be found for keywords like unique birthday present so they would try to develop a link such as the place to find that unique birthday present In the past we tried to build all links like that and the idea of having click here or myfirstrecord was a big No No as a site should be ranking number one for its name anyway and you are certainly not trying to be found for people putting ‘click here’ into a search engine. But this has now all changed just as you can get penalised for keyword stuffing (repeating a keyword too often on a page) you can also be penalised for having an unnatural link portfolio and you should really get a decent spread so if the majority of your inbound links have the same anchor text then you could alert Google so you should look at developing some links with other keywords and even throw in the odd one with ‘click here’, ‘visit site’ & your company name etc.

Stay away from low quality links and realize the true benefit of being a part of the SEO world.

About The Author: Alyssa is a writer/blogger. She loves writing, travelling and reading books. She contributes to Social Cloud.

Optimizing Search Engine Marketing For Small Businesses

Swathe of Changes

The recent swathe of changes and developments in the Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Industry has left many of the most vulnerable businesses teetering on the brink. Owners of small businesses, who often exist in the smallest of margins, can ill afford to have weeks or months of uncertainty with how their businesses or products are being promoted through web giants like Google. Unfortunately that is precisely what has happened recently and left many diminutive companies looking at their vacuous joint account balances and wondering how they can stabilize their income in what is often a mesmerizing tide of misinformation.

Re-indexing and BuildMyRankgoogle penguin

The recent algorithm readjustments and re-indexing which occurred across the entire Google database has caused much confusion. Particularly disconcerting for many were the changes which occurred for the BuildMyRank Blog, which stimulated in excess of a million ‘unnatural’ link alerts for websites.

Matt Cutts Comments

Coupled with this was the wave of speculation which occurred as a result of comments made by the head of Google’s Webspam team, Matt Cutts, about the issue of over-optimization on business websites. On the back of these comments Google published information about their new algorithm designed to handle webspam. They believe this new feature will combat promotional tactics like spun content and keyword stuffing. The results are yet to be seen but for many small businesses, that do not have the flexibility in their business models, waiting for these results may spell disaster, and in the interim period their businesses might disappear altogether.

What Exactly Do The New Rules Mean For Companies?

Certainly things have moved on significantly this year and are a considerable step up from the Panda update of 2011, where the target for removal was low quality content that had been machine generated and altered. The question now is ‘Is it still possible for small businesses to access the traffic provided by the web giant?’ The answer is yes, but there are some key features which must be built in to your web presence before this can happen.

The First step is Diversification

For an effective approach to SEM small businesses need to look seriously at how they can fragment their approach. Those that have had to learn theseo penalty hard way from the recent changes have pointed to an over emphasis on link building within one blog network. There is no guarantee that these are not vulnerable and might result in your website being completely removed from Google searches. In order to ensure your business is Google proof in this respect an alternate array of marketing strategies is key. In addition to having a website which is not likely to fall foul of search engine optimization there are other aspects to promotion which should be developed. It is important to ensure you have a strategy to develop business even if Google axes your links. Using customer reviews, email marketing and development of social media links can provide a strong range of alternative sourcing for your business.

Getting Involved

There are many solid examples of where getting involved seriously enhances the prospects for maintaining and expanding a business portfolio. For many small businesses social media is regarded as a sideshow distraction from the real source of business on the web. The recent shift in how people use their social media means that this area can now generate significant traffic and in the case of small businesses may be sufficient to sustain or grow the company.

There are some tactics which can be employed to ensure that social media is effectively used. Collecting customer reviews is an excellent feature of social media marketing which is often neglected by small businesses. In addition talking in forums and writing guest posts on blogs shows a clear sense of involvement. These involvements leave back link footprints and are widely recognised as an effective part of a successful SEM strategy.

Focus on the End-User

This is a tactic which can help ensure your pages are bookmarked and ensure the return of traffic not just for products but for in

google penguin and panda

formation. It is essential that you create a web presence which has your client in mind and not just as a marketing vehicle. The perceived wisdom here is to use something that your customers will find educational, informative or entertaining. All businesses have wisdom to share; a builder can upload a DIY video, accountancy firms can include tax code information. This sort of marketing will leave your website on the positive side of the search engine optimization line.