08/08/13
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”.

12/11/12
Shop Securely Online This Christmas

Offering a wide variety of products at a wide variety of prices, doing your Christmas shop online is becoming ever more attractive. Whilst I think we can all agree, the prospect of doing all of your shopping sat at home with a cup of tea is the better option. It is crucial however that you are savvy and know whether or not your transactions will be safe and secure. Here are a few tips from us on how to weasel out the Scrooges this Christmas!

  • First off, ensure you have a trusted anti-virus software installed and in use before you go online. Any good Anti-virus software should notify you if you go onto a dodgy website.
  • Make certain that any new and different online stores that you discover are trustworthy by doing a little research. You can simply do this by searching their company name on Google! Find contact details and an address for them. This means that if in doubt you have somewhere and someone to trace them back to.
  • Look out for these tell tale signs that a site is a trustworthy when entering your card details;

Secure BrowsingThe web address in your address bar should begin with “https://”. The “s” stands for secure.

If you’ve got the most recent version of your chosen browser, the address bar will turn green.

There should also be a small padlock symbol in your address bar or the browser window itself. If the symbol is on the webpage, this is a sure sign that the website is trying to mislead you.

  • Double check all details of your purchase before confirming payment.
  • After making transactions, check your statements and your account to make sure that the correct amount of money has been taken out, and to make sure that people are not using your account details for their own use as a result of your transaction.
  • When making a payment to a single individual (for example on EBay) DO NOT transmit your cash straight into their account even if they ask you to. If they are legitimate, they won’t mind if you use a secure payment method such as PayPal. This way if they are a con merchant, you can file a claim against them and get your money back!

Wishing you a very safe and happy Christmas from all at LandingNet X

10/26/12
Google Penguin & The Disavow Tool

broken linkIn April Google released it’s Penguin update. This was aimed at weeding out poor quality links and websites that have over optimised anchor text on the links. This has had far reaching affects both to the owners of the websites that have lost substantial traffic and the SEO industry in general.

We posted a blog in June about how to recover from the Penguin update and one of the most obvious things to do is to remove these poor links but that is easier said than done as by the very nature of these poor links you are unlikely to receive a response to any request to remove these links from the offending sites. So Google have release the disavow tool which can be found in Google Webmaster Tools and allows you to upload a list of URL’s so that any links from there will be discounted in Google’s ranking algorithm.

Good news you may say….. well yes hopefully but we can see immediately how this tool may be open to abuse.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

Google are constantly updating their algorithms with the intention of providing their customers with the best search results possible. But for every tweak they make someone will find a way of exploiting this. Years agoNewtons Cradle when blogs first started to appear Google saw a link from a blog as being very powerful as they were seen as links coming from a site which was somebody’s personal opinion and therefore very relevant. The result of this was that a cottage industry set up with sites where you could go and buy blog posts with a link for specific anchor text on blogs with a Page Rank of your choosing – the higher the Page Rank the higher the cost of the link.

The value of a lot of these sort of links have long been discounted by Google but the Penguin update has pushed things to the next level by ensuring that these links actually poison your site. One of the main concerns about this action by Google is that it opens the door for people to negatively affect the rankings of their competitors by creating sites and creating over optimised links to their competitors sites.

The problem with the disavow tool

So Google have released a tool to help us get rid of those pesky links surely that is a good thing isn’t it? Well apart from the fact that by using this tool it could be seen as an admission of guilt by Google there are a number of other concerns within the industry. Yes you can only use the tool within Webmaster Tools where you are the verified owner of the domain so that prevents other from using the tool to discount your links but it opens the floodgates for sites that have made it easy to get back links to be penalised, web 2.0 sites, forums, blogs with open comments etc and if those sites have been penalised that bad ‘link juice’ with flow through to any sites that have links from them even if they were genuine comments, forum threads etc. It also allows for competitors to build links to their site from a site that you have links from and then disavow them and negatively affect your rankings.Google Disavow Tool

So what should I do?

In terms of your competitors using this tool and the penguin update to negatively affect your site that isn’t something you have a lot of control over and it is Googles lookout to ensure that this issue is kept to a minimum. But if you’ve received bad links warnings, been denied reconsideration or been penguinised then this tool gives you the opportunity to get things back on track, but be careful, use conservatively and only use as a last resort after the normal channels of communication to try and get the links removed have been exhausted.

If you don’t have a Webmaster Tools account which is imperative to running a healthy site, or you would like any help with any of the issues discussed here or  then give us a ring on 0115 896 7715