Whenever we have managed Facebook pages for businesses or individuals that are the target for online reputation attacks, I’ve been struck with how odd it is that Facebook doesn’t provide an option to allow all comments to be automatically moderated so that one may review them and approve or disapprove them before being published. It seemed like a glaringly obvious need for a great many businesses, and I can see that others out there would also like this option.

How to hide Facebook comments setting

I’ve developed a workaround that essentially provides the ability to set all your Facebook page comments to be automatically moderated, and we’re providing this solution for free — so read on! Read the rest of this entry »

In my recent article, I predicted that the worst was far from over for Ashley Madison users whose personal information was exposed by the massive hacking. Indeed, our research has now uncovered that over 500 domain names have been registered, indicating that the next stage of this reputation apocalypse is about to happen.

Ashley Madison Domain Names

Read the rest of this entry »

Practical Ecommerce is sponsoring their first conference in Dallas next month. The conference is geared towards internet ecommerce website marketers and entrepreneurs. Argent Media can provide a significant discount for friends and clients!

The three session topic tracks are Marketing, Conversion and Management.

Practical Ecommerce Ignite Conference Dallas, 2015

IGNITE 2015 is the inaugural conference by Practical Ecommerce on Sept. 16 and 17 in Dallas, Texas. IGNITE 2015 brings together industry visionaries and seasoned ecommerce entrepreneurs, who share critical insights on growing revenue, saving money, and succeeding in a hyper-competitive market. IGNITE 2015 features 39 in-depth sessions, 2 inspiring keynotes, and 8 networking events. IGNITE 2015 is the must-attend event for ecommerce entrepreneurs. Read the rest of this entry »

People sometimes select expert witnesses for legal cases based merely on surface qualifications and comparative costs. But, you may get what you pay for — cheaper fees may give you someone who isn’t experienced enough to be thorough in their research on your issues, and that upfront savings may result in a costly loss in court.

Also, for some of us, the satisfaction of a job that’s well-done for a worthy client is more than merely a fee — we believe deeply in the SEO expert witness work that we do and aim to provide the highest quality possible to insure best chances of success.

This is why I was so very gratified to receive the following thank-you note this morning:

SEO Expert Witness - client testimonial note.

“I just wanted to let you know that we settled the ______ v. _______ matter at mediation. While the terms are confidential, our clients were pleased with the result and are happy to finally put the case behind them. I believe your great report played a significant role in getting the matter resolved.

Frankly, I believe the best strategy where lawsuits are concerned is to not go to court at all.

When two parties take a dispute to court, it can often be an example of lose-lose, because both sides will often end up paying a considerable amount to attorneys, court costs, and all the ancillary costs involved with lawsuits — including sapping the time of the two parties involved that might otherwise be able to invest their time into further building their successes. It’s easier in life to achieve destruction than it is to create and invent something. Read the rest of this entry »

Argent Media CEO, Chris Silver Smith, was interviewed recently by Gemma Birch of Webcertain TV on the topic of “Online Reputation Management – The Dark Side of the Internet”.

Chris Silver Smith interviewed by Gemma Birch on Webcertain TV about Online Reputation Management


“It has never been easier to create smear campaigns and publish defamatory content online – and the impact of such campaigns on individuals can be huge. Chris Silver Smith discusses the challenges the industry faces to reduce this, the responsibility of search engines and social networks to remove content and how individuals can help to protect themselves.” Read the rest of this entry »

Argent Media CEO, Chris Silver Smith, will be presenting a session on “Repairing and Safeguarding Your Brand Online” at the Rocks Digital Marketing Conference in Dallas next week. Request a discount code if you’d like to attend!

Chris Silver Smith Reputation Management Dallas

Chris has worked on various aspects of Online Reputation Management (“ORM”) for many years and has extensive experience in Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) and other aspects of online marketing and internet technology.

Your company doesn’t have to have a problem with the impression that’s created when people search for your brand name for you to need to work on your online reputation! All companies are likely to be criticized or even attacked online at some point, and proactive online reputation is a necessity for you to reduce the impact and avoid later costs when this may happen. Read the rest of this entry »

Hallelujah! Google has announced that they’ll soon accept takedown requests from any revenge porn victims! This is a truly fantastic bit of news for anyone who may be the victim of revenge porn — where someone posts nude and compromising photos of one without consent online.

Google Revenge PornThis is really, really great news! Unfortunately, this doesn’t put me out of business in assisting victims of porn revenge. I hate to say that, since this is a very good thing that Google has done, but it’s somewhat only a portion of the whole picture surrounding revenge porn and similar reputation-attack issues. Thus far, this sounds like it only will be limited to the removal of images. So, that leaves videos, right? And, some cases of revenge porn I’ve dealt with involved both text and image content — there would continue to be text content showing up unless the victims go to further lengths to remove that. Read the rest of this entry »

One of the most controversial areas of online marketing is that of business reviews and ratings. Companies intensely feel impact to their pride and their bottom line when they receive negative consumer reviews, and this consternation does little to reduce the desire of other companies to publish them like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, online yellow pages, and others. Google and Bing both display star rating values in search results as well, rendering average rating values highly visible, too.

Business Reviews & Ratings In Search Engine Results

I’ve been writing on business reviews management issues and presenting sessions on the subject at various conferences of late, and I’ve been involved in online reviews for many years. Members of my team at Verizon worked on the technical development of the online reviews system used by Superpages.com, for instance, and having this insider view of how large companies editorially manage reviews has been very useful in my consulting work where I assist businesses in developing ratings markup to appear in search results, help companies develop strategies to elicit more positive reviews for SEO value and promotional advantage, and in addressing negative online reputation aspects (see “10 Ideas: How To Fix A Damning Business Review“.

Argent Media works on many aspects of Online Reputation Management (“ORM”), including issues involving company reviews and ratings. Read on for details… Read the rest of this entry »

As part of the SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle, Chris Silver Smith, Argent Media CEO, will be speaking at the Local Search Advantage Workshop on June 4, 2015.

Local Search Advantage


The Local Search Advantage Workshop provides a deep dive into many of the primary aspects of local marketing, covering all of the topics necessary for local businesses to be found online by buyers when they’re looking to purchase.

Chris Silver Smith will be presenting a session titled “(Re)Building Your Online Reputation” which will cover: Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve been very excited that Search Engine Land‘s editors have recently allowed me to start a new column series dedicated to Online Relationship Management, which will be published on their sister site, Marketing Land! My first article for it, “9 Key Points for Cleaning Up Your Online Reputation Nightmare Via SEO“, appeared a few weeks ago. In that article, I tried to provide some basic steps for people who wish to try the do-it-yourself approach, or for agencies less familiar with this type of work.

Online Reputation Can Be a Car Wreck on the Information Superhighway!

I’ve worked at various aspects of Online Reputation Management (“ORM”) for a number of years now, as a sideline of Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”). This has involved a whole range of aspects of ORM — from handling local business reviews, fighting RipOff Report pages, removing lies and defamation from Wikipedia, and helping clients to deploy websites and social media accounts to counter and displace negative materials that damage their reputations.

I’m fascinated by the human stories involved with ORM work — it’s highly compelling to me because it has such a big impact upon people’s lives, compared to the mere jockeying to attain high rankings for commercial keyword phrases. To a large degree in the interactive world of today, your name is equivalent to your identity. You don’t realize just how much your online identity is central to your relationships and success in the real world until it becomes damaged — the perceptions created by the materials that appear when your name is searched in Google, Bing and other search engines is nearly inseparable in people’s minds from your actual identity.

I’m compelled to work in this area by the human stories and how much my work can help people so directly. I have come to know so many things through the various cases I’ve worked upon — fascinating stories about what often happens behind-the-scenes to what you see in the shallow surface you see represented in the search results. Read the rest of this entry »

On the second Wednesday of each month, DFWSEM (Dallas-Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association) presents a social and networking event, complete with a speaker who can hold the attention of a hungry after-work crowd. They were fortunate enough to persuade Andy Beal, from the UK via NC, to take the lectern this month.

Ukulele addict and online reputation management (“ORM”) expert Beal presented Reputation Roadkill — Learning from the ‘OMG’ Moments of the Biggest Brands. His examples were both international and capable of inducing winces before he concluded with some cases of companies handling social media challenges right.

Andy Beal at DFWSEM Meeting, March 2015

He began with some statistics: 83% of corporations will encounter hits to their reputations in the next five years, and 87% of consumers will associate the reputation of a CEO or other leader with the reputation of their company. A reminder that could’ve helped the first of Beal’s examples, Satya Nadella.

In October of 2014, after having been Microsoft CEO for less than a year, Nadella was asked for his advice to women who are uncomfortable requesting raises. His response, that women shouldn’t ask but rather rely on the system and karma, was more than a little controversial, and caused a social media backlash. Beal’s takeaway from this was simple: You only have one reputation. The public will connect leadership’s views and statements with the company, whether you want them to or not.

Beal’s second example was Uber’s Emil Michael. At a party, Michael suggested to a journalist that Uber should Read the rest of this entry »

One melodrama I see played out time and again is caused by the disconnect between an individual’s desires for data privacy, and the need for good, proactive online reputation management. Many well-educated people think that by not having much about themselves on the internet, they’re protecting themselves and their families. They’re both wrong and right.

Data Privacy vs. Online Reputation

It’s absolutely true that you don’t want to have your data spread across the public internet, willy-nilly. You don’t want people to readily find your home address, your phone number, your birth date, and many other details, such as where you will (or won’t) be at certain times and dates. You don’t want to make it easy to be victimized — limiting data sharing can keep your identity from being stolen, your bank account logins compromised, and your home from being burglarized while you are away.

Unfortunately, people equate good data security practices with not having Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, or personal websites and other social media accounts. Even the desire to avoid having digital copies of your photograph on the internet may fit into this category of misguided concerns.

This extreme avoidance of having any presence at all on the internet creates a big fat hole in one’s online reputations. Nature abhors a void and seeks to fill it, and the internet is no exception. Read the rest of this entry »

Argent Media CEO, Chris Silver Smith, will be speaking at SMX West’s Local Search Advantage Workshop in March on the topic of Building or Fixing Your Online Reputation.

I am speaking at SMX WestConsumer sentiment about a business is heavily influenced by both the recommendations provided by acquaintances as well as by opinions posted by other consumers online. A Nielsen study in 2013 found that 68% of consumers trusted the opinions of other consumers online. As such, building, maintaining and defending a business’s online reputation is vital to the success of a company.

Chris Silver Smith will provide a session that will educate business marketing professionals on how to elicit positive reviews, increase chances of reviews supplementing one’s profile on sites such as Yelp, Google+ and other online directories — without invoking the automated suppression filters that can cause real reviews to disappear. Smith will also cover how reviews impact Local SEO, which sites provide valuable reviews, services that help businesses obtain positive reviews, and strategies for handling negative reviews.

Also, Smith will provide an overview of how businesses may conduct “Proactive Online Reputation Management” (“Proactive ORM”) in order to insulate themselves from online attacks or other damaging materials.

I discovered last year that a few online reputation agencies are partners-with or owners-of the very reputation-damaging sites that their clients seek their help in addressing. Perhaps the worst of these types of sites are “revenge-porn” sites that encourage individuals with no ethics to supply nude photos of ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends for the purpose of embarrassing them and damaging their reputations.


FTC Shuts Porn Revenge Site, IsAnybodyDown.com

There are other sites that similarly focus on promoting materials that damage individuals’ reputations in addition to revenge porn — mugshots sites, arrest records sites, and tawdrier business review sites — and, these types of sites frequently are reliant upon thinly-veiled extortion demands. Essentially, the focus on obtaining defaming content and rendering it highly-visible through search engine results, and then they require people to pay them to take it down or modify it to be less-damaging..

A number of us who work in online reputation management (“ORM”) have sought to apply pressure to remove these sites’ ability to make money. These efforts have made a little impact, here and there. Some credit card companies have taken the step of refusing to allow merchant services for these companies, because they recognize that they’re highly distasteful. I suspect that there may have also been higher percentages of charge-backs on transactions as well. But, due to the rising barriers to the reputation attack sites, some have come up with schemes to dupe consumers into thinking they’re paying others to get the negative materials cleaned-up. Read the rest of this entry »

SMX Advanced 2014Argent Media founder, Chris Silver Smith, will be speaking next week at the SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle on the panel, “Keywords on ‘Roids: Advanced Workarounds For Vanishing Keyword Data“, along with industry veterans Christine Churchill (KeyRelevance) and Rae Hoffman (PushFire).

As all search engine marketers are aware, Google has steadily reduced the keyword referral data available to webmasters. This sea-change, purportedly for the sake of improving end users’ privacy, has been a challenge to search engine optimization experts. SEO historically relied heavily upon this data to help in ascertaining whether optimization efforts had been fruitful, as well as in the process for discovering potential new keyword phrases that consumers are using to find content featured on the website. Google has altered the dynamic for Pay-Per-Click keyword analysis as well in 2014 by encrypting the keywords in URLs, rendering web analytic systems that are competitors to Google Analytics and Google AdWords unable to track the search query referral data (albeit the impact for paid search data is less, since you may still obtain referral information from your AdWords account, and from analytic systems that may obtain the data through the AdWords account API). Analytics systems may not display the keyword referral data as “Not Provided” or “Not Set”. Read the rest of this entry »

PageRank diagram

Diagram of PageRank – Google’s method for analyzing links to create ranking scores.

We wrote previously in “Local SEO 101: What Are Local Citations?” that Google’s earliest algorithm was based upon automatically evaluating the links pointing to a webpage in order to calculate a score, upon which rankings could be based. While we further explained in that post how Local Citations are essentially the “Link” where local search rankings are concerned, links themselves actually remain very important.

While Google’s ranking algorithm is different for the purpose of ranking businesses associated with map locations, many of the classic search engine ranking signals continue to apply and are influential in determining who ranks higher than who in the search results.

In fact, there are many instances where you might be able to receive a link where you wouldn’t be as likely to receive a local citation. For instance, if an article on your business website contained information or details that someone wished to mention — they might link to that page from their own article or blog post. People may also link to pages on your site from their Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus accounts. The PageRank value that streams in on all these links can be passed around on your website via the navigation links you may have on every page. Read the rest of this entry »

Chris Silver Smith - local video marketingArgent Media president and founder, Chris Silver Smith, will be featured this Wednesday afternoon at 1:00pm CST on the Video Marketing Madness radio show with Ray Lane and Steve Sleeper.

Chris will likely be discussing the use of videos and video sharing services such as YouTube for the purposes of optimizing businesses for local search rankings. There may also be some discussion around methods for optimizations in video search and other related topics.

The show will be accessible via streamed online, and afterwards as a podcast through Blog Talk Radio.

Listeners may call in live to speak with the host during the show at (818) 369-1423.

Local Business SEOIf you have read up on anything involving Local Search Engine Optimization or Maps SEO, you will have heard marketers talk about “Local Citations”. So, just what are they, and why are they so important in helping you to rank higher in local searches related to your business?

Google’s earliest method or algorithm for ranking of webpages was called “PageRank“, developed in 1996, and it was based upon a system they built to automatically calculate numerical scores for webpages based upon the numbers of links each page had pointing to it, and the scores of those pages linking in. The concept was initially inspired by analysis of academic research papers — those papers that had a greater number of other research papers mentioning them in reference citations could be considered to be more important or more popular. Looking for a similar indicator in the worldwide web, the founders of Google decided that links might be quite similar for evaluating relative popularity of webpages.

Fast forward to the present, and Google’s ranking algorithms are much more sophisticated, even though PageRank link analysis is still a part of it. Google now uses over 200 ranking factors, many of which may have 50+ dimensions, and they also use different types of ranking algorithms for the different specialized “vertical” search engines they operate — such as Image Search, Video Search, News Search, Local/Map Search, and more.

For performing Local Search for businesses, Google’s engineers developed another type of citation that they could incorporate as a ranking signal — a “local citation” — and patented this as part of a local ranking method. Local search optimization experts such as David Mihm were inspired to declare citations to be the “new link” where local business rankings are concerned. (Some refer to these as “local references”, too.) Read the rest of this entry »

For many small businesses owners, there simply doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to work on social media along with all the other important aspects of operating a business. Yet, social media is an increasingly important component of online marketing in terms of community interaction, search engine rankings, and proactive reputation management.

So, what is a business proprietor to do?

Social Media Representation.

Argent Media provides Social Media Representation.

Some business owners throw a young relative or employee into the fray to make the pain go away — either to address pressing current needs, or to simply check the box off on something the owner vaguely understand is recommended or needs doing, but they have no deep understanding of. Social media presence: done! Yet, the fact that a younger person may have a higher degree of familiarity with the medium doesn’t translate into a professional presence nor marketing benefit. In fact, a poorly-managed social media account with unprofessional interactions can harm a business far more than having no social media activity whatsoever.

The majority of many small companies and local businesses do nothing on social media, however. Perhaps they feel they have insufficient time and that only the proprietor can adequately represent their business. Or, they know they can’t master social media on top of their specialized discipline, but aren’t aware of other options. Perhaps they feel they can’t afford professional service — indeed, some of the companies operating social media accounts on behalf of large corporations and celebrities can charge $3,000 per month and upwards.

Here at Argent Media, we can set up and manage your social media accounts in a highly professional manner, and we can broadcast your voice through the top platforms that fit with your type of industry: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram — and more. Best yet, we channel YOU! Read the rest of this entry »

SMX Milan 2013Chris Silver Smith, President of Argent Media, will be speaking and moderating at the upcoming SMX Milan conference in Milan, Italy, at the Milano Congressi from November 7-8, 2013 in the following sessions:

  • How To Build Links & Win Authority Through Public Relations
  • Maps, Metros & Mobile: Surviving And Thriving In Local Search

In the “How To Build Links & Win Authority Through Public Relations” session, Chris will present a number of strategic methods for leveraging images to obtain links and develop social influence. Images are perhaps considered Google’s second-most important asset, since Google puts links to their image search vertical in second place in their top navigation, directly after their main keyword web search. As such, effective use of images can be cultivated to help push a site’s performance up to the next level.

Google Image Search
In The “Maps, Metros & Mobile: Surviving And Thriving In Local Search” session, Chris will provide a number of sound tactics that can help companies obtain top rankings in local search queries and in map searches.

We will hope to see many of our Italian and European colleagues at the first ever SMX Milan!

About [Ag] Search Blog

Research, thoughts, commentary about Internet Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Online Reputation Management, and SEO Expert Witness Service. Provided by Argent Media.


  • Beth Kahlich: Chris - this is absolutely brilliant. I work with many small brands, companies, and individuals who [...]
  • 20 Local SEO Experts Share Their #1 Ranking Tip & Local SEO Tools: […] a local SEO point of view, slide presentations can contain links as well as local citation [...]
  • Machelle Robinson: Help trying to set up my business page called Guided Soul Readings by She'll. I'm trying to build my [...]
  • Chris Silver Smith: Currently, you cannot block comments containing links, but Facebook automatically hides a great many [...]
  • Cindy: I have been getting links to porn sites left as a comment. Can you block links? Thank you. [...]

Chris Silver Smith at Practical Ecommerce Ignite
I am speaking at SMX West
I am speaking at SMX Advanced