Google’s internal motto is “Don’t be evil.” But the company recently launched a program that gives anyone–including your most unethical competitors–the power to essentially vandalize your website.

Google’s new application, SideWiki, creates a sidebar on your website where anyone can register and leave a comment. You’ll have no power to moderate this.

This opens your site to all kinds of abuse. Your site could become riddled with vulgar, meaningless comments. Competitors can offer your products at a lower cost, and post their affiliate links.

Sylvie Fortin did an excellent post about SideWiki on the Marketers Board. You’ll have to scroll down past a bit of advertising, but here’s the link:

Her post includes some real-world examples of perverted and vulgar comments, sleazy spam with affiliate links, and even Nazi propaganda.

What can you do about this? There are three tactics that come to mind right now:

1. Enough pressure on Google might eventually get them to kill the program or give you some say in what gets posted on your website.
2. You could Flood your own website with worthless, inane, spammy comments so that visitors ignore the sidebar altogether
3. Maybe it’s time to aggressively seek testimonials, and invite your best clients to flood SideWiki with kind words on your site.

Aside from all that, it’s important to keep SideWiki, along with all social media, in perspective. It all comes down to strategy.

For example, I spend a good hour or two a day on blogs, FaceBook, Twitter and such, but ultimately I get the best results from good old fashioned, time-proven marketing principles. Like being consistent, sending the right message to the right people for the right impact.

Nobody in business can ignore what happens on the Internet. But it’s just as dangerous, naive, and lazy to disregard all of the tools that can promote your business offline as well.

Here’s the good news. You’re not alone in figuring out how to make sense of this. If you want some help, or just a chance to bounce some ideas around, I’m offering free teleconference strategy sessions on a first-come, first-served basis.

All you have to do is call or shoot me an email and I’ll put you on the schedule. There’s no charge and no obligation for these calls, but I’ve only got a couple hours a week to do this.

I’m already booked through the end of October, but I can still do a few of these in November, if you can beat the crowds.

That’s it for now. Be sure and check out Sylvie Fortin’s post on SideWiki. Here’s the link again:


    1 Response to "Marketers beware: Google’s SideWiki may vandalize your website!"

    • Brian R

      I surely understand why many webmasters don’t like SideWiki and fear that competitors will use it to add comments to your site that will be as helpful as the comments that graffiti artists add to bathroom walls.

      You should monitor the SideWiki comments on your own site(s) closely and act promptly on negative comments. There are now tools available that can monitor SideWiki comments for you, and alert you when new comments are posted.

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