Hank Freid, a case of SERM

Please note, this article is not intended to judge Hank Freid or his business, its just to show you something about Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM).

Today, a (spam) post was made on the Bali Expat Forum, where “Hank Freid News” posted something a bit off topic (from a Pakistan IP address). The signature of the poster had a link to a 1994 article about Hank Freid in the New York Times. The (copied) text of the post came from another forum.

It attracted my attention, because spam is usually leading to some commercial site, but why the heck would someone want to spam for the New York Times?

Seaching for “Hank Freid” and Forum with Google shows more than 14.000 results: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22hank+freid%22+forum&btnG=Google+Search

So whats the deal here? Thousands and thousands of posts made by some sort of Hank Freid, and all with some link to a (neutral / positive) story about him or his business.

Searching for Hank Freid with Google shows one site with something bad about him in the top ten, it is this webpage:

http://www.nycworstlandlords.com/nycwl/index.php?top_ten_list

So, mr Freid is in the top ten of worst landlords, according to this site.

A bit further down the search results there is http://www.observer.com/2008/activists-hound-hotelier-hank-freid , an article named “Activists Hound Hotelier Hank Freid”, and on the same site there is more about him, “Hank Freid has been called a profiteer, a slumlord and worse”.

It is obvious there is some bad news about Mr Freid on the net. And Mr Freid’s name (as in domainname) has been taken by an anonymous registerer, so he had to revert to http://www.hank-freid.com/ with the dash.

It looks to me like it went like this: Hee, bad news about me in the Search Engines. Lets find someone who can turn this into good news….

And he used some (India?) SEO company that hired a few people to spam those thousands of sites with “Good News about Hank”.

Now, does it work?

Google is getting smarter, but still, all the Hank Freid search results from Google show backlinks from spammed forums, so yes, it works. Probaly not as good as a few years ago, but it still works. See: http://www.google.com/search?q=miserable+failure

But, while I don’t dare to say Mr Freid is a slumlord, he sure has become a spamlord, I wonder if that’s good for your reputation…….

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