SEO Companies Fined For Fake Online Reviews

Sep 25, 2013 • 8:31 am | comments (18) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Industry News

fake reviewsNew York State Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, announced that 19 companies have agreed to pay out a total of $350,000 in penalties for submitting fake reviews. Some of the 19 companies are SEO companies and the term "SEO" is found nine times in the formal announcement.

This was a year long investigation named "Operation Clean Turf" with the goal of finding fake consumer-reviews on websites and encouraging that practice to stop.

You need to read the section named "Undercover Investigation of "Search Engine Optimization" Companies", here is part of it:

In recent years, the reputation management industry has exploded as businesses have become increasingly concerned about their online reputations. So-called search engine optimization ("SEO") companies routinely offer online reputation management as part of their services.

The investigation revealed that SEO companies were using advanced IP spoofing techniques to hide their identities, as well as setting up hundreds of bogus online profiles on consumer review websites to post the reviews. The investigation found that many consumer-review websites have implemented filters to detect and filter or delete fake reviews, with Yelp's being the most aggressive.

It goes on an on and of course, some of these SEO companies called out with need to hire an SEO company to do reputation management for them after this.

Just another black eye for our industry.

Forum discussion at Threadwatch.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for negative review

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09/25/2013 01:16 pm

I wonder how tall the ladder needed to reach the lid of this can of worms was.


09/25/2013 03:49 pm

Sad part: many of them weren't actually SEO companies. A few were though.

Durant Imboden

09/25/2013 04:46 pm

That's a pretty small fine, in the overall scheme of things.: a little over $18,400 per company, which is unlikely to put the fear of God (or of New York's Attorney General) into SEO and marketing firms that place fake reviews.


09/25/2013 08:14 pm

According to people on this blog, one can proudly call himself SEO and sell SEO services if he/she has access to the internet. It's worth to mention, that I never heard that SEO industry authorities tell to someone, that probably it's too early to be called SEO and sell services. Guess why ... )

Giancarlo Improta

09/26/2013 09:56 am

as long as fake reviews will be so remunerative, there will always be companies who sell fake reviews.

Jitendra Vaswani

09/26/2013 11:15 am

These companies should be deindex from google


09/26/2013 05:08 pm

i bet there are so many fake reviews that are practically undetectable. The only ones that get caught out are those that do it on a mass scale. The only way to find out if a review is genuine is if it's on a third party site like yelp or when a user submits a review with a real verifiable online ID like a Google account, has a full plus account and facebook account that is active. Otherwise it's so easy just to create a Google account and leave a review. One of my competitors has two fake reviews on their Google reviews, the reviews are submitted through accounts that are never used. They both got submitted in very close times to each other and we're in a very boring b2b niche where users will not normally write a google review.

09/27/2013 12:52 am

Ugh its these people that got our keywords taken away. UGH, stop making us all get punished cause you steal cookies from the cookie jar.

Gracious Store

09/27/2013 04:25 am

This is a shame! These companies that fake reviews are most likely the very ones that are into black hat SEO It is for their sake that Google is giving webmasters hard time.. When will such people learn that "honesty is the best policy". You can never get away with any form of shady work however smart you may try to hide. You may get away just for awhile but never forever. Everyday for the thief, one day for the master"


09/30/2013 09:01 am

referring to them as SEO Companies because they are not! And all the time people are given the misconception that this is something real SEO companies and professional do, the more people are going to look down on the industry due to a few bad eggs that don't know what they are doing!!


09/30/2013 09:02 am

referring to them as SEO Companies because they are not! And all the time people are given the misconception that this is something real SEO companies and professional do, the more people are going to look down on the industry due to a few bad eggs that don't know what they are doing!! Seo Services


09/30/2013 10:08 am

I think all SEO companies are not fake. They do real work. We should get some informations about company before hiring it.

Patel Vidhu

10/07/2013 06:04 am

80 % reviews on internet are fake. Affiliates get commission for sale. So definitely they will make good review for it.

Mickeal jons

11/25/2013 04:43 am

Thank you for the article and thank everyone for submitting their comments because it provided additional clarification for me. This information has been extremely helpful me


02/23/2014 05:20 am

It is not just affiliates. There are reputation management companies who will post positive reviews for a business or service. Don't know where this will go.

Soutien-gorge bretelles

02/27/2014 08:47 am

Thank you for your information, so in case of SEO what will they do for optimization?


04/09/2014 01:11 pm

No better way to discourage them. Just goes to show, so many companies attempt to do everything the wrong way.

Spook SEO

06/05/2014 04:57 pm

Hello Barry, I'm so impreassed on your post. I just want say this that in doing reputation management, creating online fake reviews must be stopped.

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