Being successful in business means inviting competition. When other entrepreneurs see you are doing well, they often decide to try to get a piece of the pie for themselves.
Unfortunately, some of your competitors might try to go a step too far. Some business owners have always been underhanded, but in the digital age it’s easier than ever to use sneaky tactics while trying to remain anonymous.
With that in mind, there are a handful of unethical tactics you need to watch out for, and occasionally even defend yourself from. To give you a heads up on what they look like, here are five dirty Internet marketing tricks you should be aware of:
#1 Copying Domain Names
Obviously, no one can register your domain name for as long as you have it. What your competitors can do, though, is register similar domains – and perhaps lots of them – in an effort to try to steal traffic that’s meant for your website.
The best way to combat this is to proactively register domains that are close to yours, with common misspellings, locations, and industry terms. Even if you don’t end up putting anything on those domains, you keep them from falling into the wrong hands.
#2 PPC Bidding on Brand Names
If your products are popular or well-known, it’s likely that one or more of your competitors will try bidding on your brand names through AdWords and other PPC channels. This isn’t usually illegal, although it is frowned upon.
However, if your own PPC campaigns are performing well, it’s going to cost a lot of money for your competitors to keep their efforts up. So, by optimizing your own ad groups and bid strategies, you can drive them out of the market by hitting them straighten their advertising budgets.
#3 Fake Reviews
All kinds of businesses rely on Internet reviews to maintain a positive online reputation. Occasionally, companies will attempt to sabotage each other by posting fake reviews from supposedly disgruntled customers or employees. The idea, of course, is to stop new customers from coming to a company because of the bad experiences they think others have had.
You can fight this form of fraud by keeping a close eye on your online reputation. You’ll want to pay attention to any negative review, of course, since it can give you valuable insights into what it will take to make your business more successful. But, if any seem suspicious, lack specifics, or are filled with outright lies, don’t be afraid to dispute them with the website owner.
#4 Scraping Content
It’s becoming more and more important have great content on the web. And so, it’s probably not surprising that copying or scraping content – which involves stealing it from someone else and changing a few words to make it look unique – is on the rise.
Luckily, this is one of the easiest types of fraud to prevent. Using online tools like CopyScape, you can ensure that no one else is using your text or images without permission. And if you find that they are, a simple email to their hosting company should be enough to get the page (or pages) removed from the web quickly.
Now that you know about these nasty tricks, what should you do about them? The first step is to stay vigilant and always look for suspicious activity around your website or net marketing campaigns. Secondly, be sure to work with a web designer who can regularly audit your pages, online reputation, and search engine position to ensure nothing bad is happening behind-the-scenes.
And finally, resist the temptation to fight fire with fire in use any of these tricks yourself. It’s just not worth it for the damage you can do to your company.
It’s unfortunate that some people will stoop to such lows in order to harm their competitors, but if you find yourself targeted by any of these tactics, take it as a compliment. After all, your competitors wouldn’t be so worried about you if you want the best!