When your SEO builds links to your website, make sure they do not use someone else's trademark in the link text.
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Recently, a local businesswoman, the sister of one of my clients, asked my advice on a search engine optimisation matter which she found quite disturbing.

She knew something "shonky" was going on, but didn't know what. The problem she described was that a new competitor to her National (trademarked) brand had quite quickly risen to a number two position in Google search results pages (SERPs) when her company name was used as a search term, even though nothing was visible on the competitor's website.

Trademark Registration Links
I suspected immediately why, and confirmed my suspicions once I ran a check on links going back to the competitor's website. The SEO company that the competitor had hired was using a registered trademark illegally in their anchor text (keyword link).

I can only imagine how this came about, but I can certainly guess. The competitor probably said to the search engine optimiser "Hey, we want to get near to 'ABC XYZ' company in Google results", and the optimiser just decided to link back using the registered trademark - even though the trademark was clearly marked on "ABC XYZ's" website.

This highlights a number of things you need to be aware of when optimising your website:

1) Ensure you use an ethical search engine optimisation company who does not employ "shonky" methods to achieve results. You can probably get an idea of their professionalism by the number of years they have been in business, and the number and type of businesses who are willing to vouch for them. That said, nothing beats talking to the optimiser and getting a feel for who they are. Make sure they not only "talk the talk, but also "walk the walk". In other words, listen closely to what they have to say, and make sure they can back up their statements with examples of real and competitive results.

2) If you are serious about your business, and plan on being in it for the long term, register a trademark. It may not prevent some people employing the linking strategy mentioned above, but it WILL put you in an excellent position legally to deal with anyone trying to trade off your business name and reputation - anywhere the trademark is registered that is.

3) When linking back to your website, use a mixture of linking text and URLs - both to your homepage AND internal pages (deep links).

Registerd Trademark
4) Under no circumstances trample on anyone's trademark. The competitor to the business in this article will be in trouble if they cannot remove all the links in which they are illegally using a registered Australian trademark.

5) Use a local SEO company, preferably someone who does not outsource overseas.

6) Your website is your "shop front" - make sure NOBODY damages your brand either online or in the real world.

7) Use a skilled and experienced commercial and IP lawyer for trademark advice and contract creation.

8) If you have registered a trademark, USE IT! No, seriously - many businesses seem to either don't use the trademark they registered, OR they use the trademark, but don't display the registered trademark symbol (®).

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Rob - JustWeb

29.10.2011


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