Martindale-Hubbell has apologized for blog spam left on my site, using the comments area of my prior post for that purpose. MH has also agreed to publicly answer questions about the incident.
According to Derek Benton, the Director of International Operations at Martindale Hubbell International, it is not the company’s policy to spam blogs, but that “it appears that a vendor acting on our behalf may have done so.” That vendor/spammer is a British marketing outfit called Conscious Solutions, whose Sales and Marketing Director, David Gilroy, posted in the comments yesterday to take responsibility for what happened.
Conscious Solutions claims on its home page that part of its mission is “search engine optimisation and other online marketing techniques helps drive more revenue into your firm.” Does spamming law blogs drive revenue to MH?
After apologizing, Gilroy went on to write that “we do look for opportunities to comment on blogs, but the comment you identified should NEVER have been posted on ANY blog….” In other words, it is the clear tactic of the marketers to run around and comment on blogs for the purpose of dropping links. Bloggers, of course, see our comment areas as forums for discussion, not as walls for graffiti.
Why drop links in the comments of an old, popular post? It surely can’t be for readers, since the post is two years old. It can, therefore, only be intended to increase Google Pagerank.
Note to Gilroy: Comments on this blog, and oh so many others, are coded as “nofollow.” Nofollow is the direction to Google not to give any Google juice to the link. It is my understanding that this is the default on Blogger and many other popular blog platforms. I also expect that, with your expertise is marketing and search engine optimization, you already knew that. So you are not only defacing blogs with spam, but you are also wasting the money of the people that hired you.
But let us return to Martindale-Hubbell, since they hired Gilroy’s company. MH’s Benton went on to say in the comments that “We’re in the process of getting to the bottom of what happened so that we can do everything possible to make sure it doesn’t happen again. In the meantime the vendor has been instructed to stop all activity on our behalf.”
My opinion here is that suspension isn’t enough. Defacing law blogs is clearly reprehensible. All the more so since MH is in the law blog business.
The only way to stop blog spam is to publicize the names of the lawyers/companies that hire them. I have that policy noted in the side bar to the right.
There is no choice for MH but to fire the company, and to do it publicly. Because that is the only way to stop the practice. Marketers/spammers should know that they will lose business by spamming, not gain it.
Now on to the last part of Benton’s comment, where wrote that he would be “more than happy to address any other questions you might have, either here or via email at derek dot benton at martindale dot com.”
I prefer to do it here, in public, because I know my blog was not the only one defaced. And a public accounting of what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent it from happening again, is ultimately healthy, even if temporarily painful.
So here are my questions:
1. If MH claims to be a leader in social media, why is it outsourcing the social media to others?
2. After MH outsourced to Gilroy’s company, did Gilroy outsource it elsewhere?
3. Will MH make the results of its internal investigation public, so that others can learn from it?
4. Will MH identify the blogs that were defaced by Gilroy’s company? Because they have that information for you. (Gilroy’s site includes this feature: “We offer the following link building submission service … if you want it, we’ll give you a screenshot for each submission. This way you will know the job has been done really well.”
5. Will MH follow-up with each of the blogs that were defaced?
6. I note on your blog that MH is holding a webinar on social media, which is “a series of online events bringing together some of the legal profession’s top social media evangelists to share their knowledge and tips on the practical uses of social media.” (Irony noted.) Will you be using this experience as a teaching moment?
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December 11 roundup
Key Obama regulatory appointees at NHTSA (auto safety) and FTC [commerce, antitrust] used to work for AAJ, the trial lawyers’ lobby [Wood, PoL]; “Adventures in Lawyer Advertising: Muscle, Talent, Results, and Terrible Acting” [Above the …posted by Walter Olson @ December 11, 2009 12:11 AM