When is a local designer not local?

posted by Kelsey 10 July 2011

    Answer: When they're an overseas design sweatshop using dodgy SEO tactics.

    I'm used to getting comment-spam on my blogs. Disqus is cleans out most of it automatically, but a few make it through to publication. Fortunately, Disqus sends out notifications on new comments, so I'm able to manually filter out anything that doesn't seem genuine.

    What is comment spam?

    Comment spam is used by dodgy SEO businesses trying to build backlinks for themselves or their clients. The idea is that you choose a blog that's relevant to the search terms you want to build PageRank for and insert a comment (genuine interaction seems to be unneccessary) that has a backlink to your site. 

    While this can build pagerank on the site you've linked to, it only works if the site you're spamming has a higher pagerank than your own and is relevant to the kind of keywords you hope people will use to find your own site.

    It also won't help you if you get branded as a spammer by doing so.

    Meet the spammer

    This week a new comment appeared on an older blog post. It's unusual to see new comments popping up, not unheard-of, but this one fit all the trademarks of a comment-spammer:

    • Poor spelling and grammar: check
    • Meaningless drivel that doesn't contribute to the conversation: check
    • Multiple backlinks using keywords rather than the URL: check
    • Overseas IP address used for posting: check

    There was, however, a new twist.

    Instead of trying to rank solely for high-traffic keywords, it looks like they're trying to build a niche. In my backyard. Literally.

    You see, their chosen keywords were "Web Design Sunshine Coast". When you go to their site every URL, every title, is embeded with "Web Design Sunshine Coast". 

    Instead of going after a much harder target (such as just "Web Design"), they're looking at niche-marketing. They're trying to appear local and build pagerank on local search terms. This would allow them to gain a foothold when local businesses try to engage a web designer.

    As a real Sunshine Coast web designer, I don't like the idea of small business in my community being conned. They'd think they were hiring a local, with an understanding of local business conditions, local markets.

    Instead, they're getting below-par sweatshop design work that doesn't meet their needs. How do I know their work is crap? 

    Their site design is stolen

    Check it out:

    1. Overseas design sweatshop spam site
    2. Original, award-winning site

    Their 'portfolio' link is broken

    When every other link on the site works, why is the 'portfolio' link broken? Because their work is either non-existent or sub-par. 

    Nothing makes sense

    Their site is nothing but keyword-stuffed spam-drivel. Their text is a mish-mash of stolen phrases cobbled together to form some sort of frankencopy. Or they wrote it themselves. Either way, would you trust your business to their attention to detail?

    I know I wouldn't.

    About the author

    Kelsey

    Kelsey

    Kelsey Brookes is a professional designer, online strategist and writer.

    From the late 90s Kelsey managed the multimedia and film courses at the prestigious Computer Graphics College, Sydney and eventually founded the Melbourne chapter of the college.

    At the same time, Kelsey was a feature writer for Digital Media World magazine, interviewing subjects from the Australian and overseas film and production industries.

    Since 1999 Kelsey has managed thinksync, providing design, online strategy and marketing services to clients around Australia.

    E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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