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Talkin’ Trash on the Internet…

What You Can Do When People Badmouth Your Company Online.

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

Here’s a great, juicy story you’re going to love. It’s about a pool builder who is very close to you, and I know it’s true, because I lifted it fresh off the Internet:


“Pool Builder Lies About Other Builders…”

“My ex-girlfriend works for ABC Pools in Dallas. I want to let everyone know that she wrote (several times) negative information about other companies in her industry on rip-off report and then tells her customers to go read it.

“Last summer we had some people over from her work and they took turns creating accounts and pretending to be upset customers of their competition. I know they did it a few times. I think it is pretty sad and hopefully some people will consider this who and what they are dealing with.

I won’t begin to tell you some of the other stories about what they did to some of their actual customers, another story, another time. But that’s the kind of person she is and some of them are.”


Yourtown, U.S.A.


Hey – what a great idea! Let’s use the BBB and Rip-off Report and Twitter and every other blog and complaint site we can think of to badmouth our competitors! That way, we’ll be the only ones left standing without a black mark, and people will flock to us instead.

Wow, I must be a genius. Who needs “marketing” or ethics and integrity when you can just go around slamming your competitors online with impunity?

The sad ugly truth here is that these “bogus complaints” are very real, and it’s a growing problem. (Based on the flood of “Amen” responses I got from my recent post “Do you hate the BBB too?” I would say you’re already well aware of the problem.)

Now here’s a little salty irony: The report up above about “bogus complaints” is actually a bogus complaint of its own. Not that the posting it isn’t real – it is.  But the story from “John” is totally untrue.  I happen to know the pool builder who was accused in the complaint (not ABC Pools), and he doesn’t have anyone commiting such dastardly deeds. Not does he had anyone in his office in any kind of current or past relationship with anyone named “John.”  The whole thing was made up.

What?  People are using “dirty tricks” to accuse you of dirty tricks? This is like a bad soap opera, and I’m getting confused. I would change the channel if I could, but unfortunately that’s not an option here.

This is by no means the first time I’ve had to try to help a client get past an ugly complaint on the Internet – true or otherwise. Historically, what we’ve done is load up the client’s website with good, solid, positive information about their company, and then use a thorough SEO process (search engine optimization) to slowly push the negative stuff “further down the list.”

That has worked pretty well for us in the past, but it doesn’t help much when guys like “John” are making up stories about ex-girlfriends while they’re throwing you and your company under the bus.  It takes months for good SEO to really take effect, while it only takes “John” about 20 minutes to post his complaint. (and that the search engines just love “fresh content….”) If “John” has friends, (people like that hang out together, don’t they?), then you could be fighting an unjust, uphill battle that you can never win.

Thank goodness we found an antidote to “John”!

And thank goodness my SEO specialist stays on the cutting edge of SEO developments. (I’m so lucky to have her on my team!) Just last week, she told me about the latest strategy that has been developed to combat this type of issue.  Sort of the “flipside” of SEO, it’s called ORM (Online Reputation Management). This is where an SEO specialist will go out and “flood the Internet” with all kinds of great postings about you & your company, so that the occasional whiny complaints from people like “John” and his ilk get essentially “washed away.”

yen and yang of SEO and ORM.jpg

(I went to a lot of trouble to make this custom little “yen and yang” symbol for you,

so I hope this helps make the concept a little clearer.)

ORM is the yen for SEO’s yang. Where SEO focuses on getting “good keywords” to associate with your company name and website, ORM focuses on getting your company name to associate with “good things” and other good websites.

SEO and ORM may look similar, but they’re actually more like opposites. You can do one or the other, or neither, or both.

And yes, of course, my company now offers Online Reputation Management (ORM) Services. (What kind of a marketing guy would I be if I didn’t offer that?) The cost is the same as if you’re implementing an SEO program.  There’s an initial set up cost, and then a monthly or quarterly “maintenance” cost.  More details at

And just like SEO, you’re not locked into anything forever. You just do it long enough to get the results you want, then back off, or stop doing it altogether.

That is at last until someone in your office has a nasty break-up with someone named “John,” who then puts another nasty story on rip-off reports. My oh my, why can’t we all just get along?

Till next time,

2009 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin Inc.  May not be used without permission.


One Response to “Talkin’ Trash on the Internet… What You Can Do When People Badmouth Your Company Online.”

  1. Hey Brett,

    Nice Job, good info.

    The bad guys are endless.

    Very nice approach.

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