There’s a new site allowing public reviews of SEM companies and you just know that means trouble. The site is called SEMCompare and is brought to us by the same people who launched the Search Marketing Standard magazine. As Kalena noted, they already have a few negative reviews for known companies in the SEO/SEM industry. Here are a few of the best (or should I say worse?) reviews on the site so far:
The only thing they were good at was stealing my money. The scammed me with a guarantee, took my money and only achieved minor results in Yahoo and MSN, never even got any of the 60 keywords within the first 100 pages of Google! I think they even got me banned from Google for three months for using black hat techniques.
The results were poor and the pricing is high. I would recommend them only to the largest search spenders.
In summary, [Company] misrepresented their expertise, their technology, and showed no integrity as they breached their contract, refunding nothing to us. I strongly warn anyone and everyone to avoid spending any resources with this organization. Take your money and burn it. You’ll get more satisfaction from that experience than with working with [Company].
Part of me applauds this effort. Everybody knows there are companies who fail to deliver for clients. If this site can stop businesses falling into this trap it could raise the standard and public perception of the entire industry.
However there are some problems with the model.. First users are allowed to comment anonymously. This could lead to malicious attacks by competitors. Second, it seems unfair not to offer companies a way of replying to the critics. Without this feature, they can’t counter any bad publicy or address the issues presented by the reviewer. In fairness to SEMCompare though, their representative, Boris Mordkovich has publicly agreed to address these issues.
My final gripe though, is the way the pages have been optimised. SEMCompare has placed the company name in the title, meta description and the leading H1 tag on each page. It’s hard not to see these review pages ranking for companies who have been slack in protecting their company SERPs. If that sounds like you, I’d start building those company web profiles fast.
As for us, we only have a few select clients, and the ones we have would hopefully be more sensible than to identify themselves in public. In this age of negative SEO, it isn’t clever to attract the scrutiny of competitors or certain search engine employees. This site isn’t exactly going to help keep you under the radar. If you’re about to publish your URL as a site actively optimising, you better be very sure you don’t have any skeletons or say…paid links in your closet.
If SEMCompare decide to publish reviewer details I anticipate a sharp slow down in posts. Another factor maybe the company’s current relationship with that vendor. If they refuse, they will face lawsuits from angry SEM agencies, determined prove the claims are false. You have to hope they are making money from such a hot potato.
Although this story has been published in various industry haunts, we’ll only see the true reaction when these reviews appear in the SERPs. If I were Andy Beal, I’d be jumping on the opportunity by offering all companies reviewed a free copy of his Trackur software. After all, if Danny Sullivan’s Sphinn introduced most of the industry to social media, SEMCompare may be able to pull the same trick with reputation management.
NB: The more observant among you will notice that I’ve chosen not to link to the new review site. First I want to see what direction they take the site in and if the points above are addressed.