Q: What is an SEO Expert Witness?

Chris Silver Smith is an SEO Expert Witness.

Chris Silver Smith is an SEO Expert Witness.

An SEO Expert Witness assists attorneys and their clients with cases involving where search engine optimization has been used, such as in trademark infringement and online defamation cases. SEO Expert Witnesses can explain how search engines function, how they index pages, and why they rank pages higher or lower.

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Advanced Local SEO WorkshopAre you looking to level-up on your Local Search Engine Optimization game? Do you feel like you may be missing some of the vital components necessary to get your business ranking higher in Google’s local search results and Google Maps’?

If so, you will want to take advantage of this opportunity!

Advanced Local SEO Workshop SMX

Argent Media founder, Chris Silver Smith, will be co-teaching an Advanced Local SEO workshop at the upcoming SMX West conference in San Jose, California, along with industry veteran, Christine Churchill.  Read the rest of this entry »

Argent Media CEO Chris Silver Smith has been asked to provide the keynote at the International Search Summit in Barcelona this November.

Chris Silver Smith - Keynote Speaker at International Search Summit, Barcelona

Chris Silver Smith – Keynote Speaker at International Search Summit, Barcelona

Chris has long provided online reputation management services to individuals, companies and organizations, and he plans to provide a number of anecdotes from the reputation trade, in addition to providing a number of actionable tactics that can help people to perform both proactive and reactive reputation management for themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Chris Silver Smith, speaking at Content Marketing Conference, 2019Argent Media CEO, Chris Silver Smith, will be speaking at the upcoming Content Marketing Conference in Boston, April 16-19, 2019, on how Twitter can impact search engine optimization, and the overlaps between content marketing management and SEO.

Twitter is one of the top social media platforms that provides significant benefits to companies and personal brands, including in search engine results. But, those benefits happen only if the platform is leveraged effectively. Read the rest of this entry »

Google Organic Quality-Score-ModelI wrote a new SEO article which went live yesterday at Search Engine Land, called How Reputation Became A Major Ranking Factor in SEO. While I fully expect that there may be some level of criticism of it because it is based upon some degree of conjecture, all the same the assumptions made are logical ones, based upon many years of experience and sequential building blocks. While I may have got some aspects wrong — Google is a black box, after all — there’s essentially no question that Google’s development of a Quality Score for webpages has occurred, and that the Quality Score is a holistic measure.

Human concepts like Reputation are composed of relatively nebulous elements that Google identifies as Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (“E-A-T”). While humans assess these things subconciously for the most part, in order for Google or other search engines to assess them, measure them and compare the relative reputations of various webpages and websites, they absolutely must do so based upon quantifiable elements — those elements which they are able to measure. The quantifiable elements are often things which may not have a direct or obvious relation to Quality. A website may have a mixture of “good” links and “bad” links — but, links of themselves, even bad ones, probably do not directly relate to Quality. But, what Google’s system has done is compare links in addition to multiple other factors, and in combination, the system has identified relative levels of Quality. They have ultimately associated those levels of Quality with a numeric value — a Quality Score. Read the rest of this entry »

We recently took the unusual step of advocating for an admitted forger by way of submitting an amicus curiae brief to the court prior to the sentencing phase. If you closely followed the news around online reputation management issues, you may have heard of the jewelry company CEO who was caught forging court orders in order to submit them to Google in order to get negative web contents deindexed from Google.

Michael Arnstein - CEO of Jewelry Company Attacked by Extortionist

Michael Arnstein – CEO of Jewelry Company Attacked by Extortionist

A number of news and commentary sites posted pieces on this case, but the majority of articles were quite shallow and did not scratch the surface to reveal the egregious string of tragic events that lead up to the CEO pleading guilty to forging a court document.


The short version of the story is that this third-generation jewelry company had outsourced its website development to a vendor in India. At some point after their ecommerce jewelry catalog was selling products effectively, the company decided to sever the relationship with the overseas development contractor. However, the contractor then began to try to keep this from happening, and then moved on to deploying serious attacks upon the jewelry company.

The unethical contractor stole one of the company’s backup domain names Read the rest of this entry »

Recently, we were setting up a Google Ads campaign for an existing client when my ad management partner, Joe Foerch, ran into a mystifying error in the new interface which would not allow us to complete the setup and launch the PPC ads. He would add a Daily Budget, click to save, and the interface would return the message, “An error occurred. Please try again later.” It took some effort, but we ultimately solved the issue and we’re sharing this so that others will not get stymied as we were, and hopefully so that Google engineers can fix the problem.

Google Ads Error


This is a relatively new client of ours for Social Media Management in Dallas, and we had proposed providing some additional services, including Pay-Per-Click Ad Management. To check out what the client’s previous ad managers had done, we requested access into their Ads account, and we reviewed their prior ads and keyword targeting. We believed there was a very good chance that we might be able to operate ads on their behalf at a higher level of efficiency, and also perhaps target additional, long-tail keywords that they had not previously thought to include. Read the rest of this entry »

Chris Silver Smith will be speaking at SMX East in two weeks on the topic of “Tips for Local SEO & Reputation Management”.

Tips for Local SEO & Reputation Management by Chris Silver Smith - SMX East 2018

In some ways, Local SEO has gotten harder over time, as competitors become more sophisticated, and as technical tricks no longer provide advantages. However, some methods for performing the basics can be highly advantageous if done correctly and with an understanding of just where one can find benefits.  Read the rest of this entry »

A couple of weeks ago, internet marketer Joe Hall, announced that he was auctioning off a domain name as a benefit for the son of Michael Streko, a prominent figure in the industry who tragically died on August 11th. We’re pleased to have participated in the benefit auction, and we won the DIYORM.com domain name.

DIYORM logo, circa 2014: Michael Streko's project.

DIYORM logo, circa 2014: Michael Streko’s project.

We worked with Michael Streko years ago and knew him as one of the pioneers and luminaries of the internet marketing industry. Along with his partner, Barry Wise, Michael helped to pioneer the KnowEm company which was centered right in the convergence of internet marketing, social media marketing, trademark and brand development and protection, and online reputation management. KnowEm is a company that facilitates the claiming of names on a broad combination of websites, blog platforms and social media services.

I had met and listened-to presentations by Michael at various conferences where we both spoke. Not only was I impressed by his technical knowledge and go-getter personality, but also by his company. I used the KnowEm service a number of times with various projects, and was impressed by it. I also visited with him some during a period of time when Universal Business Listing company (for which I was an advisor) was considering the possibility of acquiring KnowEm. Read the rest of this entry »

My grant from the Chris Smith Institute for Exotic Travel was enough to cover both days of Rocks Digital, the Richardson marketing conference formed by the Voltron-like fusion of the Local Social and the DFW Rocks Social Media Conference. As you may recall, the first day featured, among other luminaries, Shelly Fagin.

But even conferences with a pedigree experience surprises. When the second day’s keynote speaker was unable to attend due to a family emergency, Rocks Digital rebooted and rallied, first with an impromptu panel discussion on keeping the ol’ SEO pipes clean, and then by moving around some presentations to make sure things kept keeping on.

Tyler Sickmeyer at the 2018 Rocks Digital Conference. Photo by Scott Peek Photography.

Tyler Sickmeyer at the 2018 Rocks Digital Conference. Photo by Scott Peek Photography.

Which is how Tyler Sickmeyer found himself up at bat early. He swung for the fences with his presentation on the changing digital marketing landscape — and where exactly influencer marketing fits in the mix. Read the rest of this entry »

This weekend, I received a grant from the Chris Silver Smith Institute for Exotic Travel and hit Richardson for Rocks Digital, an annual conference discussing all things marketing-y. While there were several clever speakers scheduled for both days, I was particularly interested in hearing from all-around digital genius Shelly Fagin on building community with Facebook groups.

Shelly Fagin - SEMrush presents graphs at Rocks Digital marketing conference.

Ms. Fagin’s graphs rocked Rocks Digital

Now, if you follow my Twitter account, you might find this surprising. I’ve made no secret of my feelings about Facebook. Phrases like “bait and switch” and “marketing slog” and “blasted hellscape devoid of hope or mercy” have appeared in my tweets. So why would I attend that session? For the very reason that Fagin lead with: organic reach.

Remember organic reach? When you could post something on your organization’s page and be fairly certain people were going to be able to, y’know, see it? Yeah. Good times.

Those times are gone, y’all.

Read the rest of this entry »

Argent Media is currently seeking a Social Media Intern!

Social Media Intern

If you grok all things social media, and want to get hands-on experience in managing online identities for both companies and individuals, please apply today!  Read the rest of this entry »

The MyEx.com revenge porn website that encouraged people to send in nude photos of ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends along with their personal information including their names, locations and other identifying data, has effectively been shut down by the Federal Trade Commission and the State of Nevada.

The complaint filed in federal court named EMP Media Inc., Aniello “Neil” Infante, Shad “John” Applegate (a.k.a. “Shad Cottelli”), and one or more unknown parties doing business as “Yeicox Limited”. The FTC alleged that the MyEx.com operators’ practices were unfair acts or deceptive practices violating the FTC Act. Further, the State of Nevada alleged that the defendants’ conduct constituted deceptive trade practices under state law. Read the rest of this entry »

Martin Luther King Jr Day gun advertisementThis Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, a gun store in Albuquerque, New Mexico, thought it would be a good idea to advertise a sale tied into the them of the holiday. The Los Ranchos Gun Shop is offering 10% off of accessories with the purchase of a gun today. It’s not unusual for retail stores to offer sales to people when they’re off for the holidays, but it is potentially quite risky for various types of memorials and observances to try to connect things too much. Businesses risk being perceived to be riding on the coattails of tragedies in some cases, and can be interpreted as being mercenary, exploitative, or actively hostile to the themes around the observance. This is one of those instances.

The gun shop owner is quoted as saying that he doesn’t consider it to be against the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., because MLK was an advocate for civil rights, and gun ownership is also a constitutional civil right. Unfortunately, the store owner comes across quite tone-deaf with this reasoning. Read the rest of this entry »

This weekend in Fort Worth, I will be speaking at WordCamp DFW. WordCamp is a friendly, unstuffy conference that focuses on everything involving WordPress, which is free, open-source internet publishing software used by more than 75 million sites on the web.  Talks at these conferences range anywhere from how-tos on blogging, to customized software development with WordPress, to operating a company with the content management system. Anyone is welcome to attend and learn, and there are sessions for both beginners and experienced users that have been using WordPress for years.

Getting SEO advantages from Social Media like Twitter and Facebook.

I’ll be speaking on “Getting SEO Advantages from Social Media” on Sunday at 4:00pm. My session will be useful for both novices and veterans of SEO and Social Media. Read the rest of this entry »

You’re sailing along with no care in the world, up until that wicked person posted something bad about you online. “No problem,” you think. After all, you already have a lot of good stuff about you that’s been ranking strongly for years, like your own website, your Twitter and Facebook accounts, online directory pages, a local news story about that charity event you participated in last year, a video you made and posted on YouTube, and your LinkedIn profile. The newly made negative attack materials won’t be able to show up that quick — that stuff couldn’t possibly have the ranking power of your other solid, well-established stuff.

Or, could it?

What many discover at this point is that yes, indeed, completely new negative stuff can show up and rank pretty high in Google for one’s name searches within a breathtakingly short timeframe. In fact, someone could Tweet or blog some some nasty thing about you today, and it could show up in your name searches in Google tomorrow.

Google's motto used to be Don't be evil. But, they no longer use that motto.

Google’s motto used to be “Don’t be evil.” But, they no longer use that motto.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m speaking this week at the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) East conference in New York this week on how to derive Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) benefits from social media.

SMX East New York City

In the past, this topic has been a little bit controversial. On one hand, people in SEO sometimes tend to think that Social Media is worthless for optimization purposes. They’re backed up by various statements made by Google and Bing engineers over time, although those statements are often a bit specifically opaque. On the other hand, people in Social Media often have an intense prejudice against the idea of leveraging social interactions in order to push items to be higher in search engine results — they feel that such impersonal or artificial motives are terribly manipulative and cynically uncaring of the real people who are behind social media avatars.

However, there are some undeniable advantages for search optimization that can be extracted from good social media work.  Read the rest of this entry »

Argent Media is pleased to announce that we have begun marketing to Hispanic markets in the United States, as well as to Spanish-speaking markets internationally for Online Reputation Management services.

Online Reputation Management in Spanish Language

While Argent Media is primarily an English-speaking agency, we do have background in translating language processing applications and websites of Fortune 500 companies into Spanish. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is generally a language-agnostic discipline, since the function of search engines tends to be consistent across languages. However, many agencies solely focus upon English-speaking markets all while there is growing need for help among Latin-American and other Spanish-speaking populations.

“We have recognized that online brand identity and reputation issues occur in Latin-American countries, via Hispanic media, and in Spanish search results,” states Argent Media’s CEO and founder, Chris Silver Smith. “So, we are now extending services to assist individuals and companies that are struggling with online reputation issues.”

Argent Media has launched a site specifically to cater to Spanish-speaking markets: Reputación Online.

Argent Media has increasingly specialized in assisting clientele with online reputation issues including: online reviews, negative items appearing in Google and Bing search results, damaging image search results, mugshots and arrest records, boyfriend/girlfriend revenge websites, defamation lawsuits, and more.

Visit Reputación Online for more information at: https://reputación.online/

[Related: reputación online | reputación en línea | reputación en la red ]

At the end of December, I reported at Search Engine Land on what what seems to have been a major change in Google’s internal policy. (See: Paradigm shift: Has Google suspended defamation removals?) Google has effectively begun to decline requests to remove defamation from its web search results, although it has been honoring those takedown requests for many years now, when accompanied by properly-executed court orders.

Stormy weather forecast ahead for reputation.

While I phrased the title of that article “Has Google…” and ended with a question mark, the reality is that the company has completely stopped removing URLs for defamation. The Search Engine Land editors and I opted for that interrogative title phrasing because Google declined to make any official statement about the matter. This lack of transparency around this has created a lot of consternation among attorneys who deal with online defamation, along with their clients — I polled a number of attorneys across the country and consistently found they had all encountered a change in their dealings with Google in the past few months. It seems that some stuff that was already being processed prior to Google’s apparent policy change may still be acted upon, but most new requests are getting denied with no reason provided. Read the rest of this entry »

Issues involving the application of trademark laws relative to online media content have been present since the beginning of the internet. However, the legal ramifications of how trademark infringement may be evaluated and litigated have evolved over time, and company executives and internet marketers may be unaware of the options and risks involved with their online activities.

Chris Silver Smith will speak at SMX West 2017.

Chris Silver Smith will speak at SMX West 2017.

Those educated in the basics of business law are aware that infringing upon a company’s marks may open one up to liabilities, if a claim of trademark infringement is made. However, if traditional online marketing activities are also involved in a trademark dispute, there is now significant potential that damages could become multiplied. Combining Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) and/or online advertising — such as Pay-Per-Click ads (“PPC”) — with occurrences of trademark infringement, may increase the instances of “misimpressions”, which are individual exposures of a company’s marks used in an improper context. Total numbers of misimpressions may be accounted by courts in determining the degree of infringement, and used as a basis for calculating damages to be awarded to a plaintiff.

Chris Silver Smith, a frequent legal expert witness and experienced online marketing consultant, will bring valuable insights to these topics, based upon his experiences in working on “PODS Enterprises, Inc. v. U-Haul International, Inc.”, a landmark federal trademark infringement lawsuit (see U-Haul Boxed In With $60M Verdict In PODS Trademark Suit). Read the rest of this entry »

About [Ag] Search Blog

[Ag] is the symbol for the element Silver and is 47th in the periodic table of elements, an abbreviation for the Latin word for Silver, "Argentum". The [Ag] Search Blog is provided by Argent Media.

Sharing research, thoughts, commentary about Internet Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Online Reputation Management, and our SEO Expert Witness Service.


  • Chris Silver Smith: I was approached by the Department of Justice some years ago to provide testimony regarding the pote [...]
  • Sean Fagin: Interesting - I had not thought of this niche in SEO! I might have to try out doing this myself. Ho [...]
  • How to Make Friends with Influencer Marketing - [Ag] Search Blog: […] My grant from the Chris Smith Institute for Exotic Travel was enough to cover both days of [...]
  • Chris Silver Smith: Good point about Gawker being a muckraking site in of itself. But there are a number of others who [...]
  • Rob M: Referencing Gawker for character assassination isn't so helpful since they were sued into oblivion b [...]