Interesting read today from Fox news on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This is something that would effect SEO companies as they are prone to adding links and building blogs to get more traffic. The FTC has voted to regulate blogging and fine those that are posting product reviews for money. They believe that these reviews are misleading in that the consumer is unaware if the review is a organic unsolicited review or if the review is paid for by the product company. Further, many of these sites and reviews sign on as affiliates and receive a commission if the product is bought through their site.
The law will require that bloggers must make it known that they are being paid in a “clear and conspicuous” manner and the law goes into force December 1st, 2009. The law does not require notification for “free” products, meaning if I were to offer you free pest control service in exchange for a review then you are not required to disclose that you are receiving free service. While these regulations may make many bloggers nervous, the FTC says that they intend to target the companies and advertisers. This actually makes me more nervous as a pest control company.
Let’s say that I am paying an SEO company to build my site and back links. How can I be sure that the SEO company I hire is adhering to this law? Who then is responsible, the SEO company or the pest control company? Further, this law seems very inadequate. How do you define a “review” of a company or a review of a product? How will the FTC distinguish between legitimate customers reviewing a product or service versus the paid reviews? And what about blogs that benefit indirectly from their reviews (i.e. Google adsense)?
Or better yet define “clear and conspicuous”. How do I know if this site “clearly and conspicuously” show that I am a Bulwark employee. Is the facebook profile on the left sufficient or do I need to disclose this in every post? Beyond that this blog isn’t purely a Bulwark blog, its my own blog and thoughts as well. Bulwark does not sanction everything written on this blog and I am not really getting paid directly for my content.
Overall, however, I applaud the FTC’s attempt to regulate this gross flood of solicited reviews. It is unfortunate that so many companies and individuals are cashing in on the naive public. Having worked on the internet for sometime I spot the propaganda reviews and comments regularly. In fact, there are entire blogs that look like just a single user reviewing everyday products, but in fact are a paid blogger.
As far as I am aware Bulwark has not overstepped these requirements. But, again, I am unaware of every attempt hired SEO firms have undergone to boost my web presence. Further, I don’t know how they define “clear and conspicuous”. Hopefully a site that is owned by Bulwark is clear. But, it does sound like I will need to check in on my SEO team, and I would advise all internet advertisers and business owners to do the same. Don’t get caught with your pants down.
From your Pest Control SEO guy.
This post was not directly paid for by Bulwark Exterminating, however the writter is biased as to which pest control service is the best.