Thou Shalt Not Mess With Each Other's Client Lists

Ian Lurie

Remember how I once said I’m not mean, I’m just angry?
Well, this is definitely one of those times when I go from ‘just’ angry to ‘volcano’ angry.
A while back, Scott Hendison, an SEO down in Portland, caught a company (who shall remain nameless) being a bit naughty in the SEMPDX discussion forums, which he moderates.
Scott tweeted about it, then called the company.
The guilty party was less than contrite, but that could’ve been the end of it.
Except the company then proceeded to forge negative reviews of Scott’s SEO consulting firm. At that point, I would’ve been hiring a lawyer, or slugging them senseless at a search conference. Scott responded instead by outing more of their not-to-great local SEO practices.
They then threatened Scott: Remove the post, or else. When he refused to take down the post, they emailed all of his clients saying what a bad monkey he was.
Yes. They really did. Seriously.
Everything up to that point, I could say it was a difference of opinion over practices, followed by them demonstrating a marked lack of class (as well as brains). If they’d just ignored Scott’s initial post, or responded in a comment, the whole thing would be forgotten by now.
Instead, they broke the cardinal rule of classy business folk:
Thou shalt not mess with each other’s client lists.
So here I am to tell you: Whatever happened, whatever personal stories came before, etc. etc., are no longer relevant. These guys just reminded me 75% of the internet marketing industry is a bunch of classless hacks. Their behavior is so outrageous it lapped the field in the awfulness race.

Help Scott out

They’re being a bully. When a bully shows up on the playground, the best way to deal with it is to gang up.
So, help Scott out:
If you know him professionally, post a REAL review of him and his business in Google Local.
Whatever you do, do not bash the other company. That only caters to their tactics.
I’m off to do some deep breathing exercises and punch a wall.

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

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  1. Ian the unnamed company didn’t stop with Scott. They left negative reviews for every competing business here in Boulder, including mine.
    I’ve flagged their review as spam several times and contacted Google about, though I’ve never heard back. Can’t say I expected to.
    I need to be a little more proactive in reminding my clients to write some honest reviews.
    Thanks for reminding people about this.

  2. Ugh; what a nasty bunch of business. The offending SEO company seems like its made up of some real hacks (I mean that perjoratively, NOT as a compliment).
    But the whole conversation reminds me that its best to not engage in negative dialogue. If someone is doing something foul on the forum, I’d just ask the forum moderator to delete the posts. By calling them out on it, it kind of invites escalation.
    2 cents worth.

  3. As a former educator, it sounds like a “fighting on the playground” scenario,and the bully is “not contrite”. From what you wrote, at least Scott tried. It is sad, that culprits cannot stop when confronted in a private manner.
    Some consolation can be had that,in time,the truth usually comes out.
    In our 60 yr history,we have had experiences with trademark infringers,notified them privately, and have been patient. With time, many have gone out of existence. The “new guys on the block” keep coming, but we still remain. Things have a way of balancing and we keep in mind the old adage,”Measure for Measure”. What one does comes back to them. So, “Chin Up”,Scott.

  4. Wow… I can’t believe that a “professional” SEO firm would go below the belt like that. I hope that the “hacks” experience the same embarrassment that Scott Felt. “Cant we all just get along?”

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