Seems someone over at Logoblog.org took a whole bunch of offense at one of our recent articles and ripped off a full-tilt-boogie hit piece called “Changing colors of logo design SEO.” Let’s take a few minutes to address that post, some of the accusations made in it, and find out why ‘Nora Reed’ took everything so personally.
The following’s is kinda long and pissy, so if you’re not into cross-Atlantic inter-blog bitching and moaning, our latest Snippets piece is probably more your cup of tea. That being said, if internet squabbling is your bag, then feel free to read on. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about search engines and whatnot, entitled We’re all in this together: SEO and logo designers. Not a big deal really, a rather long rambling overview of some of the challenges that designers face when marketing their services on the internet. I had already started the article months ago, but was inspired to complete it with the publication of similarly themed articles by David Airey (here), Graham Smith (here) and Duane Kinsey of Logobird (here). In less than half-a-day, an odd, self-described ‘strike back’ Changing colors of logo design SEO post was published over at Logoblog.org, a supposed ‘unbiased’ logo design review site, by someone calling themselves Nora Reed. Apparently the article’s also being peddled in multiple locations, that version titled “Google challenged by top logo designers” which is even dafter than the first.
Not even sure why Logoblog.org took such umbrage with all this, especially since their website was mentioned exactly once in the 5,000 word article, and only in this 16-word sentence: “Two are owned by Guru Corporation, the company behind Logo Design Guru (#3) and Logoblog.org (#7).” That’s it. But get offended they did, ripping off a hit-piece that was weirdly personal, long on invective, short on substance. Didn’t even link to the articles, or designers, they seem to have an issue with. Been kinda busy since then, so I’m just getting around to finishing this – a rebuttal of sorts to Nora, in the form of an open letter. Nora’s quotes are in block, my responses aren’t and we’ll start with her opening missive. People offended by long-winded articles should probably turn back now:
Any of you happen to come across lengthy posts by some self-proclaimed masters of design industry? It seems like few “companies” and “freelancers” have an intense opposition against Google and its search mechanism. Nowadays, some absurd cases are seen active in the logo design industry, creating bizarre hypes about Google.
Generally speaking, self-proclaimed means just that. If you can find an instance where I called myself a ‘master’ of anything, except maybe mucking things up, please let me know. I really don’t want to speak on David, Graham or Duane’s behalf, and other than this I won’t, but I’m not aware of them ‘self-proclaiming’ anything similar either. Not sure why the bunny quotes around companies and freelancers, but I’m sure you have your reasons. And while I’ve been called much worse than an “absurd case” I have no idea how one goes about “creating bizarre hypes”, even if I was inclined to do so. Hell, I don’t even know what the phrase means.
“Opposition against Google”? Nonsense. The bottom line to my original article is that spammers fuck it up for everybody and that it must be incredibly complex for Google and other search engines to keep up with idiots gaming the system. You know, with little stats counters, doled out under the pretext of giving free site statistics to unwary website owners, but with little embedded links in them, specifically for inbound link-love purposes. And then selling access to those links as part of SEO services. Stuff like that.
Undoubtedly, whole world massively depends on Google and its search assistance but no one has been able to explain how Google mechanism actually works. Taking this advantage, a handful of companies and freelancers seem to be propagating “their” philosophy of Google mechanism. They have gone as far as challenging the authenticity of Google by ridiculing its search results and surprisingly only for the term “logo design’.
Wrong again. Nobody ‘challenged’ anybody. In the article you’re kvetching about, I opined that “logo design” ISN’T the only search phrase that matters, and in fact, is probably a waste of time concentrating all SEO efforts on it. David voiced a similar opinion, and wrote that rather than chasing SEO Nirvana through shady tactics, designers would be better off writing quality, original, material. You did read the articles didn’t you? I suppose your use of the word “authenticity” is a case of auto-translation mangling the meaning of your original word, written in whatever language you began this screed in. Guess the same is true of “ridiculing”, cause nobody did any of that either.
But if, as you say, nobody knows how Google’s “mechanism” works, wonder how your friends at Logo Design Guru can sell SEO services that seem to claim they do? Why, I can even buy a whole bunch of links, 20 of ‘em, with something they call PR4+, for $150 bones a month. Hold on a sec. So the site that you rank #1 for logo design, also sells packages of links for SEO purposes? While the articles you’re taking such an issue with, more-or-less advise designers to do the same sorta thing, but without paying, or charging, and more importantly, organically? Oh, I think I’m starting to understand this little skirmish a whole lot better now. And while I guess you thought your zany ‘Link Love’ infographic illustrated all sorts of ‘Black Hat’ shadiness, I’m wondering what you think of this one from Logo Design Guru’s website:
No too much I expect.
Yesterday, Steve Douglas from thelogofactory.com further gave his words of favor, saying “Seems a lot of designers are starting to notice that all is not right in search engine land. And they’re right. It isn’t.” Why do I get the feeling these people are close relatives of Google?
“Words of favor?” An odd turn of a phrase that but okay, “Words of favor” it is. Not to nit-pick or anything, I’m not from thelogofactory.com. That’s a website. I’m actually from The Logo Factory, an honest-to-goodness incorporated design company. I guess where you’re from, that’s an uncommon notion, because being from the “LogoBlog.org” website is the only way you can identify yourself, there being no company called “Logo Blog” and the real company behind your site hidden from view. Oh wait, forgot about this:
To set the record straight, LogoBlog is owned by DK Tech in UAE. Its sole purpose is to provide logo design related and useful resources to its users.
So now Logoblog.org is operated by some DK Tech from the United Arab Emirates – a bloody great marine fittings company?. That’s awesome. First time I’ve heard that. And the first time, in four years, that you’ve claimed it. With that in mind, and risking being labeled as some internet ‘spy’ again, I have to wonder what the odds are of Logoblog.org being located on the exact same server as corporatelogos.ws, another Logo Design Guru and Mycroburst, ahm, fan site (at least according to the notices at the bottom of every page which state “Copyright 2009 Logo Design Guru, Inc.”). Pretty long I’d imagine. And while your crack about being a “close relative” of Google must have been hilarious when you first wrote it, the auto-translation thingy has mucked up whatever humor the concept originally contained.
Logo designing is a growing industry and being a part of it is a battle of nerves. Those who cannot stand the test of times either lose the race or lose their nerves… what say? Steve Douglas from thelogofactory.com loves to spend more time spying on other blogs than on his own. Although Steve has a chronic habit of spying on other blogs and making up distorting articles (a dishonorable technique of generating traffic), I would advise if you spend more time on SEO, you won’t be conjuring flaws in Google.
Huh. Spying and writing distorting articles you say? In six years, and almost 600 blog posts, we’ve mentioned Logoblog.org exactly seven times. That, by the way, includes this article. “What say?” I’m thinking you’re reading between a whole bunch of lines that others aren’t.
Must admit, I find this notion of “spying” and “distorting” weird, ironic even, coming from an outfit that can’t seem to keep their hands off our work and our website. For what it’s worth, we’ve never written about this, but since you’ve seen fit to let it all hang out, let’s do just that. Take your cranky little ‘logo review’ of tanning logos from last summer (no doubt for SEO on those keywords – yep, it would be #1), featuring, out of all the work we’ve done since 1996, one of my favorite logos. I like it so much that I actually wrote a blog post, over a year-and-a-half ago, that suggested if I were starting The Logo Factory in an alternate universe, that this is the kind of logo I’d love to use for my studio. Apparently, you weren’t so enthusiastic.
According to your Logoblog.org ‘review’ (I have to assume it’s yours because it’s under a Nora Reed byline), this logo is:
“An example of a terrible design for a tanning facility. The design is cold and hard and nothing about it implies tanning at all. Perhaps a factory-like building on an island would work better and brighten up the image a bit more.”
That’s fair enough, I suppose. Despite the fact that no-one asked for a logo review by our competitors (pretending to not be our competitors) I had to smile at your ‘unbiased’ and, one supposes, ‘expert’ review. See, the client was adamant that they didn’t want a ‘typical’ run-of-the-mill tanning logo with “islands, oceans, sunsets and palm trees.” That’s an exact quote from the original project brief. The people paying for the design wanted something different that emphasized an industrial factory, not the corny and overused logo cliches that you suggest would save this logo from itself. You”re certainly entitled to your opinion about our work, but if you asked us, professional courtesy and all that, rather than just nicking it from our site (that little magnifying glass is a dead giveaway), we’d have told you that. You didn’t, so we couldn’t. And while it appears you didn’t like our logo, which is your right, a credit would have been nice. You should know too, that I sent Joe several e-mails about this issue since last summer. He chose not to reply to any of them.
Although I could do so very easily, I’d never drream of taking logos from another online logo company’s website, Logo Design Guru’s let’s say, placing them on a website, or a couple of websites, that didn’t (wink, wink) belong to The Logo Factory and ‘reviewing’ them because 1) I wouldn’t be unbiased, 2) they didn’t ask my opinion and 3) it would be unethical as all hell. I’d also be tempted, like most people would, to game the reviews in our favor. It would also be nice to know who you are, so that we know who’s doing the reviewing. I think Graham Smith alluded to that in this comment on your site. You know, after you trashed him personally too. Without linking to his article either.
When it comes to my time, and sadly, I spend way more of it writing crap for my blog than I spend reading others. Time just whizzes by when I try to write original material, rather than repurposing other people’s work, or raiding logo galleries for examples of logo concepts (an important distinction) that our shop hasn’t designed, just to rank a page for this keyword or that. That wouldn’t be playing by the rules now, would it? I have many chronic habits thanks, some good, some bad, but none involve making up distorting articles. Though I suppose I can understand how you feel this way. What with these little numbers detailing my earlier experiences with your websites back in 2008, including knocking off a good chunk of our portfolio for another of your ‘unbiased review’ sites, companylogos.ws. Oh, that’s right, you have nothing to do with the companylogos.ws website either, though you’re probably aware that this site links to Logoblog.org on every single page. And names Logoblog.org as numero uno in the Top Logo Design Blogs category. And like you, Company Logos‘ ‘unbiased reviews’ name Logo Design Guru as the bestest logo company in the world too. Oddly, still no mention of Landor or Pentagram.
While we’re talking about “dishonorable technique(s) of generating traffic” and all, tons of our work, taken right from our logo design portfolio, is on that site (which looks awfully like it’s designed to feed people to the Logo Design Guru site proper) in a section that can be accessed through a big button labeled ‘Click Here’ See Our Portfolio” (images below).
Note the word ‘Our‘. That’s ‘Our Portfolio‘ as in belonging to whoever operates companylogos.ws. Now that’s chutzpah. And for what it’s worth, our work remains on that site, despite numerous requests (starting a year-and-a-half ago) to take it off, and even though it claims we’re ‘partners’, which is odd, ’cause we ain’t. And no-one from your organization ever asked, which is weird, as that’s usually how partnerships start. Don’t be shy. You can ask now if you like.
Don’t misunderstand me Nora. I mean, who wouldn’t appreciate a competitor, raiding a portfolio (including some of our own copyrighted material) without permission (invalidating agreements we have with our clients) for SEO on various logo categories, trash-talking us in bogus reviews (2 out of five stars you say?) while getting the most fundamental facts about our company wrong? For the record, we haven’t been at the address you list in ten years, and moved six years before your site went live. Also, while you claim that we offer “services to the high end clients that are willing to spend thousands of dollars on every logo design,” telling your readers that this price tag puts us “against the requirements of most small and medium sized companies” and as much as I’d love that to be the truth, nothing could be further from it. Considering how you lot are stretching the truth about us all over the place, and have been for years, I found your paragraph title “If you can’t beat them, defame them” in your ‘Changing colors’ hit piece one of the more ironic statements I’ve read this year. Could probably throw in last year too.
By the way, I talked to Rob Marsh, VP of operations at Logoworks, another company you list as a partner, about all of this. Funny thing, he ain’t aware of any ‘partnership’ with them either, telling me
“I particularly dislike the ratings sites, because they appear to be legit to customers but don’t disclose their shady ownership arrangements or their obvious conflicts of interest. I could argue that we are a victim of these practices (we are), but the real victims are the customers.”
In terms of their work on the companylogos.ws site he had this to say “We do not support or condone the use of our or our customer’s trademarks for any purpose outside of those outlined in our terms of service. This is not a right we would be interested in assigning to anyone, at any price.” That’s pretty well what we’d say too, if anyone went to the trouble of asking.
You’ll also recognize one of the screen captures in this post about blog content scraping, when a content producer helped themselves to our illustrative logos article, but gave up editing it into a new version, about half way through. I had to ask three times to get that removed (1st below, the rest here).
I’d think that pinching other people’s stuff, in order to generate SEO for various splogs is a little more ‘dishonorable’ than me writing about it, no? And if you’ll notice, I blurred out all the names when I did write about it, because I didn’t want to embarrass the folks behind the content scraping, but talk about the issue in a general sense. In this article on copying logos, not only didn’t I name anybody, but I took extraordinary lengths to make sure search engines didn’t connect the post with the subject of it. Unfortunately, your strange little vendetta didn’t allow me that option as for some reason, and known only to yourself, you’ve made this brouhaha intensely personal. Like the search tags (below) you’re using when peppering free article sites with versions of your post.
Which is fine. Just don’t whine about this page later.
Your advice on “spending more time on SEO” is appreciated, but that’s the backbone of the entire article you’ve taken issue with. When people are spending so much time on SEO, they often stoop to questionable tactics to do it. I might suggest you spend less time on SEO. That way more of the material you’re using for it, would be your own and you wouldn’t need so much smoke, and so many mirrors, to do it.
Speaking about “nerves”, and if I understand your use of the word correctly (which I’m not sure I do), it’s probably worth mentioning that all the people you’re attacking use their real names, unlike the people in your organization who don’t, preferring to use anglicized sock puppet handles in order to track comment links on various design blogs. Say hi to Charlie B. Johnson for me. Denis and Jessica too. Should probably add Charlie John to the list as well. Hell, I don’t even know if Nora Reed is your real name, which is one of the reasons I feel okay about using it here. I understand that it’s easy to be brave hiding behind an alias, but in future, if you’re going to devote an entire blog page, several Twitter feeds and a whole bunch of free article sites to trashing three or four people personally, at least have the balls to link to the articles, and reputations, you’re so eager to trash. You’ll notice I was the third person to Tweet your post.
Wow, a Facebook posting too?
Jeezus Nora, you and your little puppet pals have spent an awful lot of time humping your hate screed all over the internet. But I’m still left wondering why you’re opposed to designers making up their own mind by reading everybody’s opinions. What are you so afraid of?
But I understand, how can one be left with much time after all this post raiding and spy reports? By the way, it was really brave of you to finally admit that “We’re all in this together”. I Agree!
Again with the “spying on websites” stuff? While I dig the James Bond vibe, spying on websites is a rather odd notion. Others would refer to this as reading websites. And then writing about interesting things I’ve found. The stuff in the middle, the ‘spying’ I suppose, is usually thought of as research. You know, before going off half-cocked on some issue de jour, nailing down some basic facts by performing 007 undercover spy work. Otherwise known as clicking on some publicly accessible web links. We sometimes refer to it as Beagling. Though all this spy talk gives me an excuse, after all these years, to finally publish the James Bond logo on our blog. Nice.
Bottom line, I’m still not sure what your issue is, as I generally write what you refer to as ‘spy reports’ only when documenting how other websites have abused our, or our clients’ intellectual property. That’s fair game, no? Having web stuff knocked off is a huge issue in the design industry, and a lot of it tracks back to shady SEO efforts, which is kinda the theme of this little bickerfest. Accordingly Nora, it’s generally only people who’ve been caught short would think that such articles would be classified as ‘spying’. Most others view them as discussing industry issues. You’re on board with industry issues, aren’t you, being an independent logo design blog and all? I thought so.
While I’d love for you to point out a single instance when I ever copied any blog post from anyone, I do like that you use the concept of “post raiding,” strangely similar to the concept of logo raiding I wrote about a month or so ago. That practice involves nicking other designers’ logo concepts from online galleries in order to populate keyword stuffed posts, often on multiple blogs, designed specifically to rank for this keyword or that. While nobody was named in that article either, I’m heartened to see that your various sites have gone back and added links, and sometimes even credit, to the work you’ve been using. Very nice. You’ve still got quite a few to go (I can help you if you like), but I’m sure you’ll get to those eventually. And I notice your WordPress splog, mentioned earlier, has been deleted, shortly after David Airey was wondering how a picture of his hand, with his logo sketches, showed up there.
“We’re all in this together” was a silly kumbaya sentiment that was only used as the title of the piece, but I guess it lost something in the translation. Funny thing is, I’m generally a cynical old shit, but was trying to avoid a negative title. You know, something along the lines of Dooshbag Spammers Ruin it for Everyone. That would have been more in keeping with my personality I guess, but I was trying to conjure up a sparkles and pink ponies vibe. Alas, your nasty little screed blew that all to hell.
Undoubtedly, excessive Grey Hat turns into “Black Hat”. And Steve Douglas has left no stone unturned in doing exactly so. Here are excerpts from his post. Someone recently asked me this “why do you link to your competition on your blog?” And it’s true, I’ve never been shy about linking to any site using (in most circumstances) ‘do follow’ links. Well Steve, the bare truth is that it’s not the competition you are linking; it’s merely the “intimate ones” you interlink and support. Even a newbie can figure out that the only interlinking you do is limited to “the chosen ones”. Now what color hat SEO would this come under? Here are the blogrolls of this friend circle (logobird, thelogofactory, imjustcreative, logodesignlove) continually interlinking each other’s blogs…”only”. Great work, team!
For the record, that quote comes from a lovely dinner conversation with Ross Kimbarovsky of Crowdspring and his wife, when the Mrs. and I were in Chicago recently. Don’t want to get him involved in our little dust-up but I’m sure he’ll back me up if anyone were to ask. You think linking to other design blogs is Black Hat SEO? Holy crap Nora, you may have an issue. Let’s look at some of the sites in your Logoblog.org ‘review’ directory. There’s Logo Design Guru. There’s Mycroburst. There’s Corporate Logos. There’s Logo Snap. So, when you link to your sites, and they link to you, it’s all cool. When four designers link to four other designers it’s a Black Hat ‘Team’? Even when NONE of the sites I’m linking to belong to me, whereas ALL the sites you’ve placed so highly in your ‘unbiased’ reviews belong to ONE company? Who happen to sell links for SEO purposes? Gotta admit Nora, that seems like a really odd position to take. I’m sure even the “newbies” you refer to can read between those lines.
But getting back to my blog roll (more awesome Logoblog.org info graphics), apparently you missed the point. So let me clarify. I link to lots of people in blog posts, but as you’ve so kindly pointed out, I hardly link to anyone in my blog roll feature, with only 4 or 5 sites mentioned. There should be dozens. See, I was actually commenting on how lazy I’d been in growing online connections with other designers. Though if we ever want to compare interlinking between sites, we could take a look here (bottom left, a link to Logoblog.org on every page), here (middle right, a link to Logoblog.org on every page), etc. We could go on, but I’m sure readers would get bored reading about linking here, just as they got bored about linking at your place. The takeaway here (just like the original article) is that designers should link to other designers, even their competition, in a manner similar to what outfits like yours are doing. Though organically. Naturally (for example, I thought your post about the cost of various logos was pretty interesting. That’s a ‘do follow’ link by the way). And for free. Though now that we’ve taken a closer look at how your SEO works, I guess I finally understand why you wouldn’t want other designers to know that. And why you didn’t have the cojones to link to any of the articles you took such delight in trashing.
The babbling does not end here. Steve further contradicts himself with another “enlightening” verity about SEO: “For each of these sites, there’s a set of support splogs and websites, often hosted on sites like WordPress or Blogger. Those sites toss inbound links at both the secondary level of the network as well as the target site. For what it’s worth, and other than content scraping and logo raiding for content, we’re still probably in Grey Hat territory.”
While my writing can certainly be described as babbling (hell, I’ve called it that often, this post probably qualifies), not sure where the contradiction lies. Contradiction generally means that I have claimed something as true, then made a later statement that proves the earlier to be untrue. More auto-translation problems again I guess. You see, I was referring to support sites owned by the same company as the ‘target’ site. Maybe I wasn’t clear about that, so thanks for helping me clarify. “Verity.” Really? Or are you saying what I described isn’t happening? I guess you can, now that this WordPress blog’s been deleted, huh? Though it’s a shame about that pesky Google cache.
After reading the ludicrous stories put together by this “friend circle”, I learnt that connecting blogs and making relations isn’t so hard after all. Even more startling fact is that their comments section is full of statements from “only” within their group. Have a look at the comment section at thelogofactory.com minutes after the post went live.
Considering the links coming from, and going to, Logoblog.org, your notion of a “friend circle” could be seen by some as almost comically hypocritical. That, dear Nora, is your parent company’s stock-in-trade. Oddly, you refer to the articles mentioned as “ludicrous,” yet other than snide remarks and catty little inferences, you neglected to say what you thought was in error. About anything. Which is kinda odd for an entire page that was supposed to, ahm, how did you put it, ‘strike back‘ on Google’s behalf. Though I bet they’re relieved.
In terms of the ‘comment section of thelogofactory.com’ and comments being posted ‘minutes’ after the post went live, let’s do what you suggest and take a look:
Article originally posted on April 27 shortly after 7:00 am (I like to write early mornings when it’s quiet).
First comment: 4:12 pm (9 hours later).
Second comment: 5:09 pm (10 hours later).
Third comment: (some social media trackback thingy from Twitter) 7:43 pm (12 hours later).
Fourth comment: 8:18 pm (13 hours later).
I mentioned David’s, Graham’s and Duane’s articles, so naturally they were first to comment. That’s this social medializing that everyone’s always going on about. Commenting in the open, in a publicly accessible ‘no follow’ comment section isn’t exactly the height of nefarious Black Hat activities now, is it? And hardly comparable to the multiple levels of subterfuge utilized by your organization and your various websites, specifically for SEO purposes. In terms of David, Graham, Duane and myself being the “only” commenters on the article, the comments you selectively screen-captured and highlighted, were followed by a couple of unrelated comments from readers and then a tussle with a sock puppet who thought your article was a ‘really good slap on (my) face‘ (whatever that means) while posting from an IP in Pakistan (this commenter wasn’t from your organization, but from a similar outfit that seems to be taking some internet marketing tips).
In any case, I don’t know how time is gauged in whatever part of the world you live in, but someone posting a comment on a blog article 9 hours after it’s been published isn’t even close to “minutes after the post went live.” Unless we’re talking 540 minutes after, which is what 9 hours works out to. After that, the section died off, because I never saw the point of posting sock puppet comments, simply to make my blog look busier than it is. Or that I have support that I don’t. Same goes for those little ‘Twitter This’ buttons.
Oh, I almost forgot. Claiming that there’s “only” comments from this supposed Black Hat gang, and cropping the graphic to only show three, when your own infographic plainly shows that there were seven, is not only disingenuous, but breathtakingly stupid.
@Steve ‘Ring Leader’ Douglas.. it’s good that you’ve revealed the identity of the ring leader. However I don’t really need to explain any further as it’s no use maneuvering an empty vessel. Besides I cannot afford the time to write up “Epic” replies like you… so I won’t drag this any further.
I used the phrase ring leader in quotation marks as a snark on the silly notion of, well, a ring leader. Thought you’d understand that. Designers don’t need, or want, a ring leader, and the tone of my original suggestion was that designers should ‘work together‘, if only on the most basic levels. By the way, that suggestion will largely be ignored, so if I had delusions about being a ring leader, I’m going to be a very, very disappointed one. I think you’re trying to insult me (again) by calling me an ‘empty vessel’, and while you may even have a point (I think you’re referring to my empty head, no?), the way you’ve written it, it might appear that the ‘empty vessel’ you’re having difficulty maneuvering is Nora Reed herself. Should probably clean that up for future readers.
And while you had oodles of time to write your ‘strike back’ post (why you felt the need to strike back is anyone’s guess), and tons of time to plaster versions of it all over the internet on those free article sites (if you’ll remember, we talked about those too), you don’t have time to discuss the wildly inflammatory accusations you’ve made about Duane, David and Graham? On dozens of websites. Without once linking to the articles, or designers, that these submissions are ripping on?
That’s too bad. Because, as you’ve so kindly noted, I do. That’s right next door to Sam Anderson, some cat from Cheektowaga, New York, whose Knol account, opened last week, only features a version of your ‘Changing Colors’ post. Strangely, he didn’t link to any of the articles or designers he’s trash-talking either. He did, however, link to Logoblog.org using the anchor text ‘logo design’ in a couple of spots (remember our talk about anchor text?) Even stranger, his profile seems to be linked to your Twitter account.
That’s kinda odd, huh?