Last week, I wrote a post about how "reputation management" companies may do more harm than good to your reputation. This week I'm writing about yet another reason to be cautious.
A lawyer recently brought another "reputation management" company to my attention. Not only had this company sent an unsolicited fax to the attorney trying to get her to use their services to "drown out negative reviews" of her on the internet (which didn't exist), but the services they actually offer are questionable, to say the least.
A quick review of the company's website revealed that they blatantly advertise that they will CREATE and post reviews for you online (although they do 'encourage' customers to submit authentic ones, too). In my book, that would definitely qualify as unethical.
It seems pretty clear from this "FAQ" on their site that the reviews are totally made up (The emphasis is added by me):
Q: How are the reviews written? Do they look natural?
The reviews are written by our technicians in plain English. Below are a couple of reviews posted by some of them (due to our confidentiality policy, the names of our clients are removed from those reviews):
"The service was prompt and courteous, and they showed up within 25 minutes, as quoted. I had experiences where I had to wait 30-45 minutes longer than when they are supposed to show."
"I wish every business made me feel as important as ***** does. I love ***** and they make me feel loved back. It's a great thing. ***** is awesome - if you don't already - you should go there for your computer needs. The technicians work like magic! Excellent work! You guys are GREAT. Doug was a gentleman and a champ - above and beyond the call of duty: he stayed with me 45 minutes after closing. I was done, he was not. There was one more thing he was capable of doing and he took the EXTRA TIME to do it."
In addition to creating fake reviews for you, their 'packages' include backlinks on blogs - most likely the kind of spam backlinks I have been receiving a lot of lately. Not only do those links not help much with the search engines, but they will likely anger the blogger, who, if they are monitoring their comments as they should, will either mark them as spam or delete them anyway. Is it really worth paying some 'reputation management' company to do this for you, rather than creating quality backlinks to your site by leaving relevant, informative comments on appropriate blogs?
I think what these companies are doing is outrageous. What do you think?
(photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/missfortune/4753829490/)