Archive | July 2016

21 Things Recruiters Absolutely Hate About Your Resume

 

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Written by Lindsay Kolowich

things-recruiters-hate-about-your-resume.jpg

I’ll never forget one of my first job interviews out of college.

I was applying for a marketing position at a technology company. (No, not HubSpot.) Because my college major had nothing to do with marketing or technology, I’d written “Relevant coursework: Statistics” in the education section of my resume in an effort to draw a connection. Read More…

Quote of the Day

“Action is the antidote to despair.”

JOAN BAEZ

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Quote of the Day

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it”

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW.

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5 reasons your Facebook Ads aren’t working

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Using spark files for content creation

Read More…

How to Land Your First Job Using Social Media

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By Sarah Dawley

After graduating college I remember dramatically throwing myself onto my (mother’s) couch and complaining about my unsuccessful job hunt.

“Every ‘entry level’ job wants ‘one to three years of experience’ but how are you supposed to GET experience if you can’t get an entry level job?!” I wailed.

Not only did I lack a wealth of job experience to back me up, I felt like my resume looked virtually identical to the resumes of everyone I graduated with. With my endless supply of free time, I began spending a lot of time on social media (Twitter in particular), following people in my industry who I thought I could at least learn from.

By developing these relationships, participating in conversations, and sharing content, I was unknowingly building a personal brand that filled the void of experience that my resume lacked.

As a result, I’ve had three jobs that can be directly attributed to Twitter—and each one happened in a different way. I used Twitter to build a relationship with someone who eventually became my business partner. I applied for a job I found in a Tweet and ended up moving across the country for it. And most recently, I reached out to someone I followed who worked at a company I wanted to work for (called Hootsuite) and they were able to put me in touch with a hiring manager.

Here’s what I’ve learned about landing a job using social media, and tips for how you can use it to demonstrate your own ambition, common sense, and curiosity—qualities that any employer should always be on the lookout for.

1. Make yourself discoverable

Recruiters use social media the same way everyone else does: for creeping people. When a potential employer searches your name, you want to be able to control what they find as much as possible.

Here are some tips for fine-tuning the SEO of your personal brand:

  • Make sure the name you use on your resume matches the name you use on your social media profiles.
  • If and when possible, use the same handle across all your social networks.
  • Ensure your profiles (especially LinkedIn) have the most up-to-date information about yourself on them. Using the same profile image consistently across each social network can make it easier for people to find you as well.
  • Create a personal website. Even the most simple site can increase the searchability of your name. Kissmetrics suggests creating a separate “profile page” on your site, (using  your name in the URL if possible) and having all of your social profiles link to this page. Services like Squarespace or Wix can make this really easy  to do.
  • If you don’t want to create a full blown website for yourself, Sumry is a webapp that allows you build a beautiful online resume that can also easily be downloaded as a PDF.

2. Balance the personal and professional

You may think you’re covering all your bases by having a squeaky clean social media profile that you link to on your resume and “private” accounts that you use to chronicle all your weekend debauchery. But nothing—I repeat, nothing—you post on social media is private. The day will come when you overlook a crucial privacy setting on Facebook, post something to the wrong account, get tagged in an embarrassing photo, or have a mutual friend in common with your new boss that makes your profile more accessible to them than you’d like it to be.

Instead of leading a double life, try to strike a balance between your professional and personal self on all your social media profiles. Don’t hide your sense of humor or quirky interests, but don’t post anything you’d be embarrassed by a potential boss seeing. This will help protect your reputation online while giving potential employers a glimpse of your personality—something that can help show them you’ll be a good culture fit for the company.

As Hootsuite’s CEO has said himself: “I do think the tide is turning and more people—and employers—are starting to understand that it’s okay to show emotion, vulnerability, joy, silliness, and the whole gamut of human experience on social media. The charade that we’re perfect little worker bees is giving way to an acknowledgement of the complexity and humanity that everyone brings to the table. This kind of honesty makes for a more open and more fulfilling office culture. It builds trust in a profound way.”

3. Write like you mean it

With 44 percent of hiring managers saying that a proficiency in writing is a top skill missing among recent college graduates, how you write on social media is an important reflection of your potential abilities.

You don’t need to Tweet as if you’re a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, but brush up on your spelling and grammar skills, use punctuation properly, and put some effort into the things you write. It won’t go unnoticed.

A great way of showing off your writing chops aside from your cover letter is by publishing posts on LinkedIn Pulse. To get ideas on what to write, browse through some of the most popular posts. Write from your unique perspective as a recent graduate and share your insights about the industry you’re hoping to work in.

4. Get your search on

Along with browsing sites like LinkedIn or Monster, monitoring Twitter is another great way to use social media to find potential job opportunities. Your best bet is to monitor both industry-specific hashtags (#prjobs, for example, is all about job postings for PR and communications) and location-specific hashtags (#austinjobs, #yyzjobs, etc).

Set up search streams in Hootsuite for these hashtags and you’ll be able to see a constant stream of Tweets related to the types of jobs you’re looking for. You can even geo-target the search results so that you only see Tweets posted from within a certain area.

How to Land Your First Job Using Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

  • Click “Add Stream” in your Hootsuite dashboard.
  • Enter your hashtag in the “search query” field under the “Search” tab.

How to Land Your First Job Using Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

  • Geo-target your search by clicking on the arrow in the search query field. It will automatically populate with the coordinates of your current location.

How to Land Your First Job Using Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

  • You can search within a larger area by editing the search radius (which is highlighted here).

5. Make real connections with real people

Instead of sending five emails a day to whom it may concern, social media gives you the opportunity to identify and connect with a real human being who can help move your job search along.

Introducing yourself on social media to a recruiter or hiring manager helps put a face to the name on your resume and keep you top of mind when new opportunities emerge. If introducing yourself to a stranger on social media apropos of nothing isn’t your thing, here are two ways you can ease into networking on social media (while learning a lot in the process).

Twitter Chats

Participate in Twitter chats about the industry you’re hoping to work in. Ask questions and try even sharing some answers when you feel comfortable doing so. Twitter chats are a great educational resource and an even better networking opportunity. Follow the people participating and introduce yourself. Thank people for their insights and ask if they’d be willing to answer any additional questions you may have.

LinkedIn Groups

Joining and participating in groups will allow you to learn directly from professionals in your field, make online connections that could turn into offline opportunities, and increase your visibility on LinkedIn for recruiters and hiring managers.

Browse through the directory of LinkedIn Groups and join a few that you think could benefit you in your job search. Join in on discussions and share relevant content you think the group would appreciate.

Most importantly, check out the “Jobs” tab in each group you join. This is different than the main “Jobs” section of LinkedIn, giving you access to job postings that are tailored for that specific group.

How to Land Your First Job Using Social Media | Hootsuite Blog
The “Jobs” tab is located under the box where you compose messages in your LinkedIn group. Screenshot via LinkedIn.

6. Aim for an informational interview

Along with recruiters and hiring managers, use social media to build relationships with people who can offer long term guidance and open the door for future opportunities.

An informational interview (which is just a fancy term for a conversation) is a way for you to get valuable insights into a particular company or industry and advice for beginning your career. Whether you chat in person, on the phone, or via email, these conversations will help turn your online connections into meaningful offline relationships.

You may instinctively want to aim for high-level executives but don’t ignore the people who are five years or less into their careers. They were in your situation more recently and may be able to offer you more practical advice as a result (plus, their schedules will be a lot more accommodating).

7. Have patience

Building a network, creating relationships, and propelling your career forward will take time—and it won’t always work. You’ll reach out to people and get rejected. You’ll nail a cover letter and never get a call back. You’ll go for an interview and you won’t get the job.

The good news is that social media moves at a lightning pace, meaning there are new opportunities popping up every day. Continue investing time and energy into your personal brand and relationships on social media, and you’re bound to reap the benefits.

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Quote of the Day

“Any project you tackle is always hardest at the beginning – Like working up a swing”

P.K.SHAW

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Why Automation Is the Future of Content Creation

What’s the future of content creation?

The future of content creation lies with intelligent content. Only by developing structuredreusable content, enriched with metadata and supported by intelligent content technologies, can you hope to meet the ever-changing content needs of your customers and the proliferation of channels and devices they use to consume it.

Is scale a problem for big brands or are all content marketers struggling with it?

Everyone struggles with it. If you’re a small shop and you try to do more than simple content marketing you might find you’re overstretched. But if you incorporate intelligent content strategies to multiply the reach of your content, you can be a so-called small company with a big footprint.
Once the content is structured and tagged, the main work is done; everything else can be automated. Now you can automatically do things like:

  • Extract the questions and answers (based on tags) and turn them into blog posts.
  • Compile the blog posts into a digest post of the top “X” things you need to know.
  • Extract key quotes and tweet them.
  • Take the same questions, post them to Facebook, and start a conversation.

In some ways, big brands have a harder time scaling because they are frequently siloed and inefficient. Plus, they do not always learn from their successes and failures. Marketers should start in a small, manageable area where they can identify pain points, create an intelligent content strategy, and test their processes and technology before scaling up to a broader area.We always say, “Think big, act small.” Plan for the full scope, but start in a small, manageable area.

And don’t feel that you have to have all the new gadgets to be successful. Good content delivered in a way that resonates with your customers with a little bit of added technology will be successful.

Can brands be both deeply creative and create content at scale?

Absolutely. We always say “manufacture content, don’t handcraft it.” People often cringe at the concept of manufacturing, thinking it means they are putting out boring black boxes of repetitive stuff. Absolutely not!

Think of cars. Cars come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Do you think companies redesign the spark plugs for every car, or the wheels, or the engine, etc.? They don’t. They start with all the standard parts and build them into vehicles for a multitude of customers. Car companies spend their time being creative about how cars look and perform; they don’t reinvent all the bits and pieces each time.

I often use the example of LEGO blocks. You can take those blocks and build an infinite number of things. Your content needs to be a set of LEGO building blocks. Determine an optimum way to structure all the types of content you create so that you can quickly and easily pick up a template and fill in the content.

  • Does it include a teaser?
  • How long is the teaser?
  • Can it be written so it can be tweeted as well as be part of a web page?
  • What about extracted for a campaign?

Stop rewriting; stop doing the same things over and over again. Stop wasting your time; design and develop intelligent content. Figure the structure out, pour your content into it, automatically extract content as needed, publish it everywhere! Spend your time on the part that adds value: the content (and yes, that means the creativity)!

Is this the end of handcrafted content?

Authors will still create (craft) the best possible content, communicating it as effectively as possible. What authors won’t do is re-create the same content over and over for each channeland each usage. Instead, they’ll optimize the content up front for use wherever it may appear.

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How to Define Your Personal Brand in 5 Simple Steps

 

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Image credit: Shutterstock

RYAN ERSKINE

I have clothes hanging in my closet that I’ve barely worn since I bought them. They’re practically brand new, hanging there and never seeing the light of day. What gives?

Here’s what I’ve learned. If you buy a fancy cashmere sweater because you think it’s the type of thing you should wear, you won’t wear it. If you get a flashy suit vest and suit vests just aren’t your style, it probably won’t make it out of your closet when it’s time to get dressed.

Personal brands are like wardrobe choices. You need to be honest about whose attention you’re trying to get, what your natural style is, and the story you’re trying to tell. Without all that, you won’t make comfortable clothing choices, and you definitely won’t have a personal brand you can relate to. It’ll be more likely to hang in your closet, along with the rest of your unloved vests and sweaters. R.I.P.

On the flip side, an authentic and relatable personal brand is like a perfectly tailored suit. You’ll look great, feel great, and be much more likely to close the sale, get the dream job, or land the first date.

To get your personal brand to feel less like an ignored sweater and more like a tailored suit, you have to get to the heart of what makes you “you.” To do that, I guide all my clients through the following five-step brand extraction process.

Related: What It Really Means to Have a Personal Brand

1. Determine your goals.
Setting goals are an obvious first step for people looking to improve their online image, but I don’t mean goals like, “I want to look good online” or “I want to generate ROI.” These aspirations are great but they don’t take into account the personal branding work that’s required.

In order to improve your digital presence or drive more business online, you’ll need to start generating lots of online activity: publishing content, growing a social media presence, engaging in PR initiatives — the list goes on.

With all of that digital activity, it makes sense to dive a little deeper into figuring out your specific goals first. Otherwise, you waste a huge opportunity to use those online efforts to support where you’d like to be two years, five years, or ten years down the line. Remember, looking good online is a means to an end — and you need to determine that end before you start.

What are you most excited about achieving in the next few years? Do you want to write a New York Times bestselling book or would you rather land your first speaking engagement? Do you want to be generating a certain amount of revenue at your company or would you prefer to start your own venture?

Your answers to these questions (and the ones below) will be the steering wheel that drives your personal branding campaign. Without them, you’re just pressing on the gas without looking where you’re going.

2. Pinpoint your unique value proposition.
You would never begin marketing a business before you’ve determined the product and its unique value in the marketplace. Or you might, but it probably wouldn’t work out so well.

Personal brands work much the same way. Before you start a blog — before you even send out your next tweet — you’ll want to pinpoint your unique value proposition.

That’s a fancy way of saying you need to figure out A) what benefit you offer people B) who those people are C) how you solve their problems and D) what makes you different from others like you.

If you’re having trouble answering these questions, I find it’s useful to first determine why you’re passionate about what you do. From there, you’ll be able to figure out what audience you’d like to help the most and how you can do that better than anyone else.

3. Craft your professional story arc.
People remember stories. Think about someone you really admire — a CEO, a public figure, a family member — and ask yourself why you admire them.

There’s a compelling story to tell about that person, right?

J.K. Rowling is one one of my favorite examples. Rowling grew up poor and remained that way as a single mother struggling to make ends meet for her daughter. She got the inspiration for Harry Potter while stuck on a train, and hurriedly wrote it down on the back of a napkin. Her manuscript for the first book was rejected 12 times, but she persisted anyway until a small publishing firm gave her a chance, and the rest is history. Rowling went from being unemployed and living on state benefits to becoming a billionaire in under a decade.

Another favorite story of mine comes from Anik Singal. Singal was a kid who just wanted to prove he had what it took to “make it” as an entrepreneur, experimenting with digital marketing for 18 months straight before he finally made his first dollar. He learned quickly and grew his business from nothing to $10 million, and then watched everything come crashing down as his business, finances, and health all went down the tubes. Given a second chance, Singal took a hard look at where he was, shifted his priorities, and then worked even harder to get to where he is today as the dedicated CEO of Lurn, one of the biggest digital publishing platforms in the world.

Related: Make Your Brand Pop By Telling Your Story

Determining your own story arc will be crucial to crafting a brand narrative that your audience will relate to and remember. Your brand narrative will come naturally if you ask yourself the right questions: What obstacles have I overcome? What desirable goals have I reached or am in the process of reaching? How have I changed for the better?

Talking this out with someone else can be extremely helpful to get a little distance from the narrative you already hold in your own head. If you want to try it by yourself, imagine someone on an interview asking, “Give me the whole story — how did you get to where you are today?”

4. Establish your character personality.
Your personality is an essential part of what makes you, you. Without her perseverance and passion, J.K. Rowling would still be the author of Harry Potter, but she wouldn’t be nearly as interesting or memorable. Anik Singal wouldn’t be the same entrepreneur without his “fighter” persona.

As you ponder your own personality traits, remember that people typically describe themselves a bit differently than others would describe them. And since “others” will be the ones engaging with your personal brand online, theirs is the more important perception. Your audience is never wrong.

Don’t run the risk of expressing an inauthentic or ineffective brand. Ask your your friends, family, and colleagues to choose some adjectives they would use to describe you. Consolidate those adjectives and choose the ones you connect with the most.

5. Distil it down to a brand statement.
Once you’ve gathered all the above information, it’s time to distil it down to a brand statement. Just one or two sentences that you’ll refer to internally to keep your digital strategy consistent as you begin engaging with your audience.

A word of caution: you can use the same information to craft a brand statement that’s incredibly exciting or painfully boring.

Let’s use Santa Claus as an example, because why not.

Here’s one way of presenting Santa’s brand:

Santa Claus is the CEO of a non-profit organization that gives gifts to children globally. With decades of experience in supply chain management and manufacturing technology, Claus has helped turn Christmas into the modern celebration that it is today.

Booooring.

Here’s another way:

Santa Claus is the jolly, grandfatherly figure behind the single biggest gift-giving operation in the world. Known for his spectacular flying reindeer and wacky chimney delivery system, Claus has become a loved cultural icon who’s turned Christmas into the modern celebration that is today.

If you were using each of these brand statements as a blueprint for a digital strategy, I bet you can guess which one would would generate interest and which one would put readers to sleep. And unless you’re a mattress company, you have no business putting people to sleep.

Take the time to make your brand statement compelling — it will serve as a guide for your online efforts, and livening it up can make all the difference.

Related: 6 Secrets to Writing a Better Brand Positioning Statement

When you’re done asking yourself these questions, you should feel a sense of comfort. There’s an overwhelming relief in having an authentic personal brand. Unlike clothes that hang ignored in the closet, the authentic brand is like the classic outfit you can’t wait to grab again and again because it aligns perfectly with who you are, how you feel, and where you’d like to go next.

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SEO is as dirty as ever

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Search engine optimization has built credibility over the years, but spammers and black-hat practitioners still give it a bad name. Columnist Patrick Stox shares his SEO horror stories.

I know it’s not October and not time for Halloween, but I’m already putting my costume together and was inspired to write this. All of these are true SEO horror stories I have seen over the last couple of years. There are outdated practices, mistakes and some seriously shady stuff that still goes on in our industry.

I’m okay with mistakes, but a lot of these stories involve companies just never updating their practices or intentionally doing things that give all SEOs a bad name. There are many great companies out there, but it seems like for every good one, there are still a few bad apples.

Outdated SEO practices

Believe it or not, I still see cases of keyword stuffing and even hidden text.

Titles look terrible when stuffing; I’ve seen the same term multiple times or every city known to man in the title tag. I recently ran into a home page title that was over 800 characters long, with almost every city in the area!

Hidden text is also a surprisingly common problem, where website content (text, internal links and so on) is barely readable or sometimes intentionally hidden. These aren’t sites launched years ago, either — some of them are less than a year old.

I’m also seeing more websites that use the exact same page content on multiple pages with only the city name swapped. These pages have become so prevalent that I have a hard time telling clients not to do this, but of course I still recommend against it. (If they choose to reuse page content, I ask that that they add something additional that’s relevant and useful.) I even see pages that use obviously spun text still ranking well.

Link spam is the worst. I’m seeing a lot of sites using press release services that go out to local news websites. I see a lot of general directories and article websites in profiles that were recently added. I still see a lot of web 2.0 and video spam. Sadly, I see a lot of obvious footprints from programs like ScrapeBox, XRumer, SEnuke and GSA SER. Sometimes websites are getting away with the spam, but other times, companies have come to me with a penalty, and it’s obvious from the backlink profile what the cause is.

Local is a joke these days, too. The local listings are so full of spam and fake reviews that it’s sickening, and I’ve reached the point that I really don’t trust the reviews anymore. I see people keyword stuffing Google My Business listing names, adding in alternate business names that are keyword-rich, using a high-ranking website or an authoritative profile instead of their website, using UPS store locations, Regus offices or co-working spaces for the address, having multiple listings (or even multiple websites) for the same business, and so much more. It’s like the Wild West all over again.

For those who might have missed it, I highly recommend you check out Joy Hawkins’The Ultimate Guide to Fighting Spam on Google Maps,” and have fun reporting the things you’ve seen.

Mistakes

I’m seeing websites blocking crawlers a lot these days. It feels like almost every search has at least one result that says, “A description for this result is not available because of this site’s robots.txt.”

Of course, this can be caused by a noindex tag, as well as robots.txt. Whether people are bringing websites out of development, accidentally clicking wrong boxes, migrating websites or whatever other reason, this seems to get overlooked way more than it should and is a fairly common mistake.

Less common, but growing in popularity, are various JavaScript frameworks like Angular and React where no content is rendered or pages indexed. For anyone whose company is starting to use these frameworks, I highly recommend reading through Adam Audette’s “We Tested How Googlebot Crawls Javascript And Here’s What We Learned” and Jody O’Donnell’s “What To Do When Google Can’t Understand Your JavaScript,” as well as Builtvisible’s AngularJS and React guides.

A pet peeve of mine is when a company will redesign a website without doing redirects. I’ve seen catastrophic drops in traffic as a result of this. I’m giving the benefit of the doubt that this is a mistake, but it’s likely either not part of a company’s process or something they cut it out because it’s time-consuming and they were on a deadline. I also see a lot of redirects done incorrectly whenswitching from HTTP to HTTPS, including redirect chains and 302s instead of 301s.

Though it’s not always the fault of an SEO company, I’ve seen domain names expire or older domains dropped that have had substantial impacts on various businesses. This isn’t all that common, luckily, but it can be painful when it happens.

SEO Horror Stories

Shady SEO stuff

  • Shady sales tactics. I still see companies misrepresenting their Google partner status as something more than for paid search. I have talked to many small business owners who have signed simply because the salesman made it seem like they have an inside connection at Google. I’m also disappointed by the companies that try to sell packages before they even talk to a client or try to sell a package instead of a custom plan after speaking to them about their current position and challenges.
  • Ridiculous contracts. I’ve had clients who had to go to court because their contracts said the SEO provider owned everything — not just content or design, but even the domain name. If I had one piece of advice to business owners out there, it’s to make sure you control all your own branded accounts and properties.
  • Proprietary CMS systems. Some companies make it nearly impossible to leave them by using their own homegrown CMS systems without any export options and no database access. This is where scraping comes in handy. Some of these have some serious SEO issues, and I’ve even seen where all websites were also duplicated and indexed as a subdomain on the SEO company’s website.
  • Not turning over account logins. I see this a lot where companies will withhold login information, campaign details, or even entire accounts. I particularly hate when a client wasn’t in control of their web analytics or PPC accounts, and they have to be set up from scratch with no history. A lot of times, agencies claim their methods are proprietary, but this is just shady. If you haven’t checked it out already, go read my “Checklist For Transitioning To A New Digital Agency.”
  • Private blog networks (PBNs), paid links and spam. I’m amazed I still see this stuff so much. People just really want to take shortcuts, and SEO companies still sell people on the easy (and risky) wins. I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve heard refer to PBNs as white-hat in the past few months; it seems companies aren’t explaining the risks involved at all.
  • Link networks. I’ve seen pages where all the clients of an SEO company linked to all other clients. I’ve seen pages where the company used sponsored or partner pages to link client sites together. I wish I could say I’ve only seen this once or twice, but sadly I see this a lot (especially with niche-specific SEO companies).
  • Removing links. I had a client whose rankings and traffic dropped within the first of couple months of working with me. When I looked into it, I discovered that his previous SEO company actually put in the effort to remove all the links that he had built in the past year! Another example I’ve run into a few times is where companies are building links to a secondary website, not the main website. These secondary websites are redirected to the main website — and when a client leaves, the website is redirected to someone else, effectively taking the value built up with them.
  • Adding noindex. While this could be classified as a mistake, in this case I mean the instances where a noindex tag is meant as a malicious act. I’ve seen it when not even switching hosts, before handing over a website, for instance. I’ve also seen some sneaky functions that would add the tag specifically for Googlebot, and even options hidden behind a password-protected custom dashboard for the theme. Once, a company decided to do a change of address to a competitor in Google Search Console and redirected the website to the competitor. They refused to hand over the information to get this fixed in a timely manner.
  • Building another website on a different domain. If one website is good, then two or three must be better, right? I hate the providers who do this, and even some big companies do it. Why bother doing work on the main website when you can do it on a website you control, right? It’s even worse when they use a call tracking number instead of the actual number and hijack the Google My Business listings as well. I’ve had the worst headaches after a few companies did this and then went through a service like Yext that locked the NAP listings for the next year.
  • Canonical tags. I’ve seen so many shady things with canonical tags that it’s scary. Websites are copied from another site without changing the canonical, or I’ve seen the canonical set as the web design company. Some of the most frustrating things I’ve seen are when companies post the same blogs with the canonical to their website, or when the canonical points to the website of a company’s “preferred” customer in an area. I’ve seen canonicals set so that every page is canonicalized to the home page. I’ve even had companies canonical an entire website to a different website when handing it over, thinking it wouldn’t get noticed or to boost up one of their other clients, I’m sure.
  • Reusing content. I see this with many niche SEO providers. Service pages and blogs will be used across thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of websites. I guess there are only so many ways they could write about the same thing, so they just didn’t even bother. The worst I saw was a dentist whose service pages were used on over 30,000 other webpages.
  • Reviews. I’ve seen companies abuse account logins given in good faith to leave themselves a review from a client’s Gmail account. I’ve seen companies build fake reviews for their clients. I’ve seen companies mark up fake review stars on pages just so they show in the SERPs. Hint: If you see these, please report them: https://support.google.com/webmasters/contact/rich_snippets_spam?hl=en
  • Rolling back a website. I once had a company load a backup of a website from a time before they had done any on-page work. Of course, they said it was a “glitch” and that they didn’t have a recent backup. The backup they loaded was from over a year ago.
  • Threatening lawsuits. One of the stories I found the most interesting was where a company set up a company name as an exact match of one of the more popular search terms. This company actually sent out letters to top-ranking websites threatening lawsuits if these other companies targeted their “brand.” It was sad to see, but many of these companies actually asked their people to remove mentions of that phrase.
  • Not setting up conversion tracking. While this could go down as a mistake, if it’s done for several businesses, and reports are shown that make a campaign always look good or are vague enough to not tell anything, I consider this shady. Especially when people are paying for your services, whether it’s content, SEO, social or PPC, if you’re not tracking, you’re doing it wrong.
  • 301 a penalized website. I’ve seen this a few times now, implemented in different ways. I’ve seen penalized websites redirected to a competitor, of course, but I’ve also seen them redirected to more authoritative websites. There’s also an example I’ve been sharing for a few years of a water damage company ranking different websites until they are penalized and then redirecting to a public Google Doc that has their information. The Google Doc has ranked first for the past few years because of this tactic, and they usually have at least one or two other websites in the top 10.

TL;DR

There’s still a lot of shady stuff that happens in our industry, and I don’t feel we’ve cleaned up our act very well. Keep in mind that I’m just one guy, and I’ve personally seen all of the above just in the last couple years.

It’s not just local or niche companies that are doing bad things; in fact, enterprise and large websites can get away with murder compared to smaller sites. This encourages some of the worst practices I’ve ever seen, and some of these companies do practically everything search engines tell them not to do.

Share with me on social media some of your own horror stories; I’d love to hear about the crazy stuff you have seen.

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