Online Reputation Management Case Study

Spreading the Damage: XML Feed Generated Complaints

A single false report can turn into hundreds in a single instant. There are many complaint sites that regularly pull XML feeds from other complaint sites and instantly repost all the reports filed every minute.

This magnifies the damage done to a company or individual practitioner. Many of these sites also create unique content on the pages so that they are still able to rank in the search engines. A few even add comments to their own XML feed post to make them seem more legitimate.

Why do so many complaint sites repost from XML feeds and refuse to take down false complaints? Because this content generates traffic and revenue for the site owner.

The complaints oftentimes find their way into the top 10 Google results, since most brand names have low competition and are niche keyword phrases. The process is simple: complaints are posted by users or automatically generated by XML feeds. The complaints then attract a lot of traffic both by customers searching for the brand and by associates that become concerned about the false complaints and check them regularly.

Characteristically, many of these sites are overwhelmed with advertisements that generate revenue for the company hosting the complaints – companies that claim refuge under CDA230 and are allowed to leave the content on their site where it continues generating revenue.

Some of these complaint sites go so far as to extort their victims by requiring large fees in order to remove the complaints or to announce the company is in ‘good standing’. Some of these review and complaint sites even remove the ability to comment or leave a rebuttal when contacted directly by victims for slander until they purchase the sites offered services.

Even more distressing are the many companies that monitor these sites and then send unsolicited emails to victims offering online reputation management services – the internet’s version of ambulance chasers.

It is important to note you should never reply to any of these emails even if they state that you must reply to be excluded from their contact list. Any reply will be used to confirm that your email address is valid and you may end up getting much more SPAM.

These emails don’t always follow legal guidelines for unsolicited commercial email and end up scamming the victims out of a lot of money. Furthermore, the tactics used by these companies may end up causing more damage to the brand than the original attack since they tend to include black hat tactics or just plain bad advice.

Comments (1)

1 Comment »

  1. Legal guidelines state unsolicited commercial emails should provide an unsubscribe option. It is not a good idea to open one of these emails to unsubscribe though, because they do flood your email with spam.

    Comment by Ross — October 14, 2011 @ 3:10 am

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