Friday, February 1

SEO: The light and dark side of the force

A storm brewed last night in the world of SEO. Unfortunately the storm revolved around Times Online, a site I'm proud to say I played a part in growing until mid 2006. They, or more specifically, Sitelynx (the search engine consultants) have been accused of Link Spamming social news sites. A rogue employee admitted spamming and the rest is history.

In my days of marketing Times Online, with Sitelynx, we alway's stuck strictly to the 'light' side of the force (open, approved search techniques only). It's a shame to see this happen and the reputations get muddied against a lot of hard, legitimate graft.

This whole storm does really raise some important questions of anyone involved in internet media and marketing:

Where is the line between link building and spamming?

Should site-owners always disclose their intent on posting to sites like

Is it legitimate for a Journalist to post a link to their own work?

Do the Guardian, The Mail and other similar organisations deny doing the same?

As a site-owner, I hate spammers. It's a constant battle to find intelligent ways to stop morons writing ever more sophisticated scripts that get through your filters.

At the same time, we would all be a little naive to think that blog owners, music companies, publishers, consumer technology businesses, car companies, wont want to spread the word through posting to social sites. In fact, talk about online PR and your already in this grey area. Offline word-of-mouth or Buzz marketing is a similar grey area and it's a technique employed by thousands of consumer technology and product companies.

So what's acceptible? It's down to the individual reader I guess and the company putting the messages out. The beauty of social news sites is that the user en-masse decides what's hot, and what's not. So people can spam all they like but if Joe Blogs isn't interested, it'll do the promoter no good.

It's hardly the stuff of a Soc Gen Rogue trader, but it's as good as it gets online. I wonder how many other rogue spammers will "come out" or whether they're busy changing IP addresses and deleting user accounts!


Blogger Tony Hilton said...

Interesting post. I think the problem will soon be that it wont be Joe Bloggs deciding but fictional people created by SEO companies to vote on mass for things.

01 February, 2008 15:05  
Blogger Simon Christy said...

Yes, I agree. And that is a nightmare for site-owners and the authenticity of the 'wisdom of the crowd'. I think the guy's at Wikipedia could have a few things to add to this debate.

01 February, 2008 15:10  

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