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Professional Webmaster Business Issues Forum

    
When you know something smells with a client...
Client information causes a re-think about them...
Terabytes




msg:794209
 4:35 am on Oct 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi!

I've watched this site for quite a while, and I have to say the people that participate here are for the most part serious about what they do, and how they handle situations. Hence, my need for some advise on a touchy subject.

I was approached by a new customer this afternoon in need of a website ASAP. They currently have an ad running in about 1.5 weeks for a product they wish to sell. The ad will direct readers to their website for the product. (yes, we all know that they should have started on the website earlier instead of waiting until the last possible moment) They already have hosting in place and I feel that I can get their website ready in time...(this is not the problem issue)

I have explained to them about the "sandbox" issue with new domains, and the time it takes to get indexed, and the time it takes for results to start showing within the SERPs.

(ready?)

They explained to me that they have a longtime friend that works for Google (3 years at Google), they went on to explain that this friend will help them evade the sandbox time and get them good ranking within the SERPs right away... 8-O

After pondering this for a few hours, I wondered the following things:

a) why have I been busting my butt learning SEO and fighting to get myself on top of the heap if someone like this can just walk in and be at the top?

b) the new client may just be full of garbage, however he does not seem like he is...

c) if something like this is possible under the table, and it got out, it would ruin my business forever being associated with that type of incident. ( I can almost read the newpaper headlines now...)

d) do I contact Google and explain my situation, perhaps this person could be caught within their company and stopped. I have no proof at this time however, something could be setup to catch them.

On the other hand, since I've been in this business for about 8 years now, I'd love to actually see it happen just to know it's really possible. If it IS possible then the SERPs ARE actually tainted, even now.

I realize we're all human, and some of us do things for one reason or another...or another...or another

I'm seriously considering calling this customer back in the morning and backing out of the deal. (No, I don't know any names yet or anything like that, you all know as much as I know at this point) The money would be good for the job, however I have issues with it.

Any help or advise or assistance you could give me would be greatly appreciated. This post is no joke and I'm dead serious about the situation.

Thanks in advance! You guys Rock!
Tera

 

flood6




msg:794210
 4:47 am on Oct 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

What if the client had told you that after you completed the site he was going to spam forums with his site (or some other method you don't approve of) to promote the site. Would you still be considering backing out of the deal?

I think a job is a job. I draw the moral line at making a child-porn site or some hate site, but pretty much anything less than that (I think) I'd be willing to do.

I would guess either the client is full of it, or he's got some friend at G who has made promises he can't keep.

I would just build the site like it was any other and in a week's time if it is dominating some killer keyphrase, you'll know the client was telling the truth and you'll be a wiser webmaster/human being for it.

buckworks




msg:794211
 5:07 am on Oct 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

  • It's not easy working with someone who has unrealistic expectations.
  • Regardless of whether the "friend" can do what the guy claims, someone who thinks it's okay to enlist an unethical friend to cheat the system might also think it's okay to cheat you.

If you take the job, be sure your contract with him is really, really well thought out.

flood6




msg:794212
 5:36 am on Oct 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm not trying to call you out, buckworks, but if you engage in any SEO outside of google's guidelines, aren't you trying to "cheat the system"?

If I had a friend in G who offered to put a site of mine at the top of the SERPs for an otherwise "unobtainable" keyphrase, I don't think he'd have to wait too long for my answer.

You may not take the friend up on this offer, but I imagine most would; and have no problem sleeping at night. Further, I don't think those who did accept this offer would be any more likely to cheat a client or vendor.

buckworks




msg:794213
 7:01 am on Oct 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

but if you engage in any SEO outside of google's guidelines, aren't you trying to "cheat the system"?

Perhaps, but you'd have to describe some specific instances before I'd try to draw any lines. In any game there are degrees and degrees of cheating. It's also possible to play hard without playing dirty.

To use an example from another field, it would be one thing to hire a lawyer who knew every loophole in the books and used them to your advantage. Bribing the judge would definitely cross a line, though.

Terabytes sought opinions about the situation because he/she had misgivings. I think those misgivings are well-founded. One of my reasons is that I'd be uneasy about both the conscience and the cluelessness of someone who doesn't have their act together and is, in effect, basing part of their business plan on being able to bribe the judge.

It all just sounds like a recipe for trouble.

piskie




msg:794214
 7:50 am on Oct 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Include the right phrases in your contract and if anything comes of it, you should be covered.

"We use SEO practices within Google TOS and dissociate from any client innitiated manipulation outside these TOS...............or something simmilar".

sem4u




msg:794215
 7:59 am on Oct 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

The whole thing sounds fishy to me....I would back away and let someone else take them on. Just my opinion!

nvision




msg:794216
 8:35 am on Oct 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you have more negative points against this whole situation, go with that gut feeling and keep your conscience clear.

Terabytes




msg:794217
 3:57 pm on Oct 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

to everyone:

Thanks so much for the input!

since this is really a business ethics decision, I have worked too hard to get to where I am today to allow a potential client a chance to screw it all up for me, I have decided to back out of the deal.

I just can't risk the possibilty of losing what I have and the possiblity of having all my other clients scrutinized if the deal went wrong...

You guys rock!
thanks again!
Tera

EileenC




msg:794218
 11:37 am on Oct 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Tera - I'm late to this discussion, but I wanted to throw in two more cents. The "gut check" is a valuable business tool and never to be underestimated. The few times I've ignored what my gut check was telling me, I really regretted it. Money lost is easily regained; integrity lost is harder to get back.

Terabytes




msg:794219
 12:55 am on Oct 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I just wanted to update everyone that helped on the status of this issue...

the client contacted me after I told them that I didn't want any part of the deal, screaming and telling me what a horses @$$ I was...

He actually again contacted me this evening, asking me to reconsider my decision... again I told him I didn't want any part of the deal...

Due to the fact that I deal with a partner of his on a totally seperate deal (and we have a great relationship), that partner allowed me to see an email this jerk sent to them after I turned down his deal..

The email in part: (referring to me) "He is either not equipped to handle our job, because I gave him a ton of information, or he is doing something illegal with his searches and does not want Google to find out.

He completly turned the situation around to make him look like the good guy.. (Jeeeezzzzz!)

I guess the gut call is the best....I'll keep that in mind for future endevours...thanks again everyone for all your help.

Tera

photocartoonist




msg:794220
 8:02 pm on Oct 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Trust your gut and your conscience. It will save you alot of money in the long run.

it is not always feasible to be 100% sure, so with a new client I require money upfront. Yes. And I have never lost a real client because of this.

That being said, the one and only time I convinced myself that it was alright to just take the money, even though I "smelled" lots of ethical issues with the client, I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run. Said client was lying to their other vendors, so even checking with them did me no good. Money talks.

My advice, don't do business with people you think are unethical. You can't always know in advance but if you get wind of something, don't ignore it.

Essex_boy




msg:794221
 12:20 pm on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

You did the right thing avoiding him - If they dont appear straight just avoid them like the plague

glengara




msg:794222
 12:38 pm on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

*this friend will help them evade the sandbox time and get them good ranking*

Sounds easy, but I doubt it is, it'd be a sacking offense too, I'd imagine...

photon




msg:794223
 1:38 pm on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

You could contact GoogleGuy to see about setting up a sting operation. :)

neo_brown




msg:794224
 2:31 pm on Oct 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

It would be good to know if he does actually get the rankings he expects.

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