You can’t control what people say about you, what people say to you, what you say to people. The only thing you can control is your attitude. What attitude do you want the world to remember you by. I say to you be positive.

– Lt. Dirk Ericsson

Myself, nor anyone at our company, had any intention of responding to the Ripoff report posted last spring by a former site partner. I knew her aim was to hurt the business out of anger over being called to task for breaching her contract, after utilizing our contract’s termination clause, 19 months after launch.

I had limited experience with this client as I was primarily a developer at the time. I would schedule calls with her on occasion to work on projects, or fix any formatting or layout issues. This partner (who is an authority in the human resource industry) would occasionally slip in threats that her board of directors would smite us. I was perplexed by those statements, however when you work with experts and well respected industry leaders, that type of ‘get it done’ attitude isn’t uncommon. I did study business long enough to know that most LLC’s don’t have a board of directors. It’s really neither here nor there, I digress.

TGC Contract Termination

The report filed by this authority site partner alleges that we cherry picked a loophole to get out of returning her site investment.

Our original authority contract has two very important areas: consistency and quality

If we wanted to nit pick for loopholes, we could have canceled her contract for inconsistent content. This site partner obviously had the same thought, just before before enacting the termination clause, she retroactively added posts. Then she went forward and changed the publish date to older months to fill in the gap. While I appreciate the effort to shore up content, assuming us ignorant to this type of activity was kind of insulting. For what it’s worth: databases record and time stamp for creation, modifications, and revisions on all media and entries. The published date is just the day and time the outside world sees on a post. I enabled that feature in the screen shots below below.

Modified-whyA

Modified-why2

My point is that we could have pulled the contract simply over this, and yet a decision was made not to. Not because we don’t expect consistent content, but because we understand “life happens” and sometimes you have to make up for lost time. We have many clients that have failed to meet the contractual agreement on consistency, but we maintain our working agreements because we believe in the long term gains for their projects.

Quality is another matter all together. When we partner with an industry expert, it is very clearly stated the content provided from the partner must be original to that site. It must come from the “Authority” of the Authority Site and be written expressly for the website. It’s the foundation of what we do. If content is stolen, a re-post, or poorly written, our marketing efforts are a complete waste. Search bots looks for originality in content, by comparing the content to things that are already indexed. If you have just nabbed someone else’s content, you will never rank for keywords of any legitimate value. If you want to build a site based on content you find online, that would be an aggregation site (EG: Reddit, Digg, Drudge Report). That is not the model we market or sell. Those sites require massive staffs or user-generated content, and almost never hit page one of search results for keywords.

Search engines are also very clear on this policy, here is Google policy for example:

“Google tries hard to index and show pages with distinct information. In
the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to
manipulate our rankings and deceived our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments to
the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer,
or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index; in which case it will no longer
appear in search results.”
 

When a site fails to meet our growth expectations, either we failed to assess the industry potential correctly, there is some inconsistency in the content, or something fishy is going on link-wise. When the termination clause was asked for, we did an exhaustive assessment of everything that may have caused the site to have sluggish growth. We were close to concluding that we may have overestimated the demand for the category when we ran a plagiarism check and noticed red flags everywhere. When non-unique content was discovered, and a healthy percentage of posts were taken from old posts on Examiner.com, the failure to meet the goals outlined in the contract fell on the site partner.

The initial investment doesn’t begin to cover the cost of what we put into a site. We are a marketing company with a design/development team, not a design company with a marketing team. The manpower and resources spent marketing plagiarized and/or non-unique content is a complete loss. We work hard for our site partners to produce web properties that, if maintained, will be a continued source of income for the foreseeable future. Our business model depends on our earned residuals to sustain itself. This site partner was caught plagiarizing dozens of posts causing the Authority Site to be placed in a type of penalty box, which in turn, never allowed the site to rank well for traffic. We spent over a year and a half marketing content that would never be allowed to rank because it was stolen. To put this in perspective, as of the date of this post, our average Authority Site receives traffic from Google on over 18,000 Key Phrases. Our sites also receive traffic, on average from over 600 other sources, per website. Each website we manage has its own Authority, or main author of content, at the helm. We have helped these Authorities receive over 100,000,000 views in 2013. Our site partners, for the last three consecutive years have received a 17.1%, 18.3% and 21.4% return on their original investment into their websites. We are very good at what we do. Our founder, this past summer alone, was seen on many major t.v. networks, became a best selling author in multiple categories and was just asked to be the new author of the “Guerrilla Marketing” series. This only came about because of our reputation of building and managing some of the largest websites in the U.S. Our portfolio of sites, as of the date of this post, is growing 160,000 views a day.

This doesn’t happen very often

This situation marks the second time I’ve had to use this clause. In a previous situation the termination clause had not been sought, but the partner consistently left artifacts from copy and pasting in their posts. After an examination and very inconsistent indexing, plagiarized content made up all but three of the site’s posts. It was very disappointing, and we parted ways.

You might be wondering why we didn’t catch it sooner, and ask them to fix it. The answer is we have, but we shouldn’t need to. We partner with well educated experts that know better then to do something that would get you expelled from any college. After this situation, we now regularly utilize tools to verify content quality.

 

The sour grapes portion:

Ripoff reports can be useful as a consumer tool. The bad part is it doesn’t really allow for a proper response window before they start link building using your company name. I understand, it’s a business and they want to make money. I just wish they would instate some quality metrics. In the report filed by this former site partner, by the time she got to the end, she forgot who she was complaining about.

Totally watch out!

Totally watch out!

And that’s the reason I’m writing this post today. The report came up in a search this morning, and I decided to give it another read, then I looked into her claims a bit further. I reviewed the email exchanges from some former employees of Total Growth Consultant Today’s Growth Consultant, I see very little complaining from this partner. It was all pleasant, internal questions about her lack of growth. Tools and plans were put into play, 99% was friendly discussions of directions and ideas, exactly the exchanges I would expect from my current team.

 

In conclusion:

If you’re a current client, a potential client, or just an interested party, I have one question. If we are operating some crazy scam, then why am I working so much? If the statements made in this report had legitimacy, I would have a tough time sleeping at night. I wish the best for this former site partner, but I think all this finger pointing along with the potential harm it could cause to a business as well as it’s hard working employees with families that enjoy things like food, and roofs, shows a lack of forethought inconsistent with how I perceive the majority of our dedicated site partners. Everyone has the capacity for weakness and anger, those are great times to self assess. If you feel no ownership in the problem, hit submit!