Dallas SEO Expert Testifies as Expert Witness in Federal Court

April 18, 2012

Dallas, TX (PRWEB) April 10, 2012 Search engine optimization expert Mike Stewart testified in late March before a United States Federal Judge during a hearing on motions in an international trademark case. Stewart, who operates Dallas-based SMBSEO, was an expert witness in the case regarding the impact of similar business names in the geotargeting environment of today’s search engines.

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The hearing, Civil Action number 3:10-CV-0165 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, involved a Canadian owned company operating under the name Cash Store Financial Services, or CSFS, and a Dallas-based company operating as Cottonwood Financial. Cottonwood Financial operates short-term lending stores in several states under the trademarked name Cash Store. CSFS also operates similar stores in Canada under the name The Cash Store. Until recently, the similar names did not cause a problem because of the vast difference in geography and customer base.

However, CSFS is now a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange and has several million US investors. They distribute information online and through hardcopy to US locations, often under the names CSF, CSFS, Cash Store Financial Services and The Cash Store. As US information distribution brings the CSFS branding across international borders, a trademark issue and brand dilution may be occurring. Cottonwood Financial is bringing legal action against CSFS in an attempt to prevent the Canadian company from using the Cash Store name.

During Mike Stewart’s expert testimony, he presented screenshots showing location-based search results pertinent to the case. He was able to show that searching from a computer with a Dallas-based IP address for terms like “cash store financial” or “cash store financial services” returned results indicating that the company had physical locations nearby. Canadian company CSFS does not have Cash Store locations in Dallas, but Cottonwood does. Google’s geotargeting logic, which attempts to align search terms with top results in the geographic area surrounding the user, causes the issue.

According to court documents, Cottonwood’s pleadings attempted to prove that the Dallas-based company would be harmed by the dilution of the trademark. Possible harm could include loss of business, negative brand connotations and dilution of online marketing efforts. They filed a preliminary injunction to prohibit CSFS from using the Cash Store name within US communications. CSFS filed a motion to dismiss the case.

According to court documents, dated March of 2011, Judge David C. Godbey stated that “Cottonwood does have a strong likelihood of making a case for dilution.” However, according to the most recent court documents, he has not determined whether Cottonwood made it’s case for all legal action requested. Last year, he granted a partial motion from CSFS to dismiss certain aspects of the case. At the same time, he also granted Cottonwood’s motion for preliminary injunction. CSFS will not be allowed to use the name The Cash Store in US communications until the case is fully decided. According to Mike Stewart, with his recent expert witness testimony, the pending final ruling from the court case may indeed go in Cottonwood’s favor.

Businesses that rely on search engine marketing or online branding should keep an eye on the outcome of this case. The implications already seen provide compelling reasons for businesses to take proactive actions like keyword research to ensure their trademark and online brand is not threatened.

About SMB SEO LLC SMB SEO LLC, a Dallas-based advertising agency, helps small and medium-sized businesses grow in revenue by dominating online, mobile and social media marketing channels. SMB SEO offers a cost effect, transparent, and holistic search engine marketing service solutions that includes Organic Search Optimization, Local Search Optimization, Paid Search Optimization, Link Buiding, Content Marketing, Listing Optimization, Video and Website Development services. SMB SEO recently relocated to the Urban Towers Offices in Las Colinas at 222 W. Las Colinas Blvd. Ste 1650 Irving, Tx 75039. SMB SEO is proud to be a corporate member of the Dallas Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association, the oldest and largest search marketing meetup group in the US. For more information, visit http://www.smbSEO.com.

About Cash Store The Cash Store is a trusted financial lending company with more than 270 locations across the country. The Cash Store specializes in providing customers with a fast and convenient way to meet unexpected financial expenses. The Cash Store is not the average lending company and prides itself on providing a stress free environment and simple approval process. For more information on services, visit The Cash Store on the web at http://www.cashstore.com.

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House panel approves broadened Internet snooping bill

July 30, 2011

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In today’s news…

House panel approves broadened Internet snooping bill – Patriot Update.

Big Government takes snooping a bit further…

This is just one reason why I am a Conservative Libertarian and not a Republican.


» Oops! Official Secret Service Twitter Account Bashes FOX News – Big Government

May 19, 2011

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Funny stuff. It appears our secret service can’t manage a HootSuite account for Twitter, but they have to monitor news sites? I don’t know whether to laugh or be really scared.

Social Media gone wrong care of the US Government.

» Oops! Official Secret Service Twitter Account Bashes FOX News – Big Government.


Not So SuperMedia Keeps Shareholder Out of Annual Meeting!

May 11, 2011

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I am here in Southlake at the SuperMedia 2011 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.

When I signed into the meeting at 9:05 I was told the meeting was over. What else did you expect from this crony executive leadership? Then they childishly moved the meeting to another room. With all the executives and board of directors members standing around chatting.

It is now 10:22 a.m. central standard time. I am going wait a few more minutes to take a couple more pics to prove the meeting was not over by 9:06 a.m. when I arrived. The woman at the desk explained to me that the meeting had already finished.

I am filing a request for the shareholder’s meeting minutes with SuperMedia’s legal team.

Pictures and additional details are coming soon. I would appreciate someone sharing the meeting minutes vs having to work with the company’s legal team.


SEO Crooks, Yellow Crooks, and Snake Oil Salesmen – Are all the same!

January 2, 2011

In the early days of modern medicine, men went around selling various unproven and untested concoctions to people with claims of amazing cures and an instant relief of whatever ails them. Greed and fraud is why our Government decided to step in and end this predatory business practice by creating the FDA.

Greed is the word that best defines crony capitalism. Greed and gluttony are traits that seldom gain attention amongst the executive culture on Wall Street. The average surgeon makes just around 2 million $ per year, the average Hedge Fund manager earns well over 800 million $ per year. Why? Greed. That money should be shared with investors in an equal proportion to the amount invested.

Over these last few months, I’ve been paying close attention to the solicitations from so-called SEO scam artists (aka: professionals) who make false claims and guarantees to improve client rankings or get them on the first page of Google. It seems that little thought or focus on the sales call goes into how they intend to accomplish the actual task. Is it because want to avoid giving away the secret? Or is it because they have no real PLAN?. In many cases the client already ranks, but it seems as though some SEO companies think that every small business or website needs their help with web rankings, so they feel the need to continue to spam website contact forms and scrape email addresses off of websites to solicit new business with these statements.

It is said that 50% of advertising wasted. It should also be said that “50% of contact form emails are solicitations.” Thanks for creating a crappy user experience spammers!

Beware of so-called SEOs that Guarantee to Improve Your Rankings. There’re a number of what I call SEO Snake’s Oil salesmen out there who will claim to help you rank for 1,000 keywords. There are many instances in which some dubious SEOs will help you rank for terms like “divorce lawyer outrageous settlement Dallas”. But seriously, what’s the likelihood of someone typing something like that?

The worst old sales tactic in sleazy yellow pages sales was the “I want to update your listing” phone call. This is total lie and complete BULLSHIT! They don’t give a rats butt about the business FREE listing. The purpose for the call is to sell an ad in the “most used/distributed/awesome phone book.”

Fast forward to the days of the internet, Search Engine Marketing companies have are using the same tactics to sell internet marketing solutions. They begin with “We want to LIST or SUBMIT your site to Google or major search engines. We can help you make sure that you are listed with local online directories. BLAH BLAH BLAH BULLSHIT BULLSHIT. It never stops.

I had an interesting call with a fella from ReachLocal recently that actually made me somewhat proud to be a holistic search engine marketing practitioner. With the new ReachCast product they are actually discussing techniques that I employ for my clients, such as content strategy and social media bookmarking. I have never been fond of the companies automated PPC bid management system, but minus the lack of focus on the clients website compared to the focus on the “Cast” page, I think ReachLocal has managed to standout as the ethical standard for large internet marketing firms. If they had the focus on 100% pricing transparency as it pertains to clicks they would see a huge drop in client complaints.

Another large internet marketing firm is Local.com. Local.com recently purchased the web design and content writing approach from Octane360. If you compare ReachLocal’s Reachcast service and Local.com’s Octane 360 offering, you will see that they are similar and equally overpriced compared to what a small agency like mine offers, but considering the offerings from the Yellow Pages companies, not a bad at all! Local.com has pushier sales people though.

I have seen way too many SEO firms claiming to be able to help my clients rank on Google, yet when you ask them about on-site and off-page content with links they go blank.  My company SMB SEO provides every client with Google or Woopra Analytics, Google AdWords PPC reports, and customized keyword Web Ranking Reports. Why? To create transparency by ensuring to the client that we are making progress on our commitment to achieving the desired result for the client. We also provide call tracking from CallMeasurement.com.

Search Engine Marketing is not like the yellow pages. It is not a commodity. SEOs must schedule activities such as articles, press releases, social media message distribution, and video content in order to maintain a results focused approach. Without a schedule ( insert transparency on what you are paying for ) they are just scanners who are charging you for the idea of the result, much like how yellow pages publishers continue to sell their antiquated products.

Don’t be a scammer.

There are only three reasons that folks call my company:

  • They need help because they don’t have the time to do SEO themselves.
  • They do no know how to fulfill the requirements for proper local SEO and PPC.
  • They want me to help teach them how to do it themselves.

Pretty simple, right?

Unfortunately for you, shady and sleazy companies ( typically those who are not socially responsible while often overpaying executives ) are the ones with resources to hire sales reps to solicit search marketing services. They often use industry lingo and confusing contracts and then back these iron clad contracts up with legal teams. Don’t get me wrong, pursuing profit is not a bad thing, so long as it allows the business to invest in paying more American workers and donating to American charities. You know, social responsible companies.

I am praying that business owners are smart enough to know better, but considering the type of companies that fall victim to the “$850.00/month” credit offered by some media companies like the yellow pages, these predatory practices will continue. For big companies the act of repairing reputations just takes a lil $.

Check out the bbb.org, ripoff report.com, or jobvent for examples.

If your SEO Company does not offer a planned schedule that includes a content strategy and measurement of successes, you are likely not going to get either of them. I recommend staying away from such a firm. A good start in finding a good search engine marketing expert is to search Google!


World’s Most Toughest Dictator On Video

November 21, 2010

I caught this video on G4 and wanted to share it.

Aren’t you thankful for our two party system of politics, is such a much better form of government?

 Did you also know that Hitler has an idol in todays age?

This guy needs to see the blade of a Wasp Knife.

Scares me to think that we haven’t demanded UN intervention?

Proud to be an American. Atleast I know I’m free. I sure won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me.

You?


The Worst Case of Sleazy Sales Tactics in History by SuperMedia

October 23, 2010

To some organizations business is a collaborative process. Grunts at the bottom share suggestions to decision makers at the top on policy related issues. Solutions to problems that impact the good will of clients and the success of the consultants or grunts. In other organizations, unless you are in a position of power, your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions are worthless. You are more or less an assembly line worker who can only impact the decisions that you have been given “authority” to control. Decisions such as what to do when you have a customer complaint.

Companies of the future are nothing-like companies of the past. The old ways of doing business just plain sucks compared to the “Google” or “Zappos” type business environments. You don’t find many mindless slaves who are told to do as they are told without permission for contribution of ideas for improvement.

Before I ended my employment with Idearc/SuperMedia in 2009, I happened to hire one of the best family law firms in the Dallas area to represent me for my Mother’s estate. My Mom died tragically in a motorcycle accident in October of 2008. While at the Idearc/SuperMedia office during this time, I witnessed first hand the questionable actions and backstabbing tactics on behalf of SuperMedia’s sales management team. This deeply disturbed me. I attempted to correct this problem as an employee but was ultimately pushed out the door by Bill Brewer, the new head honcho of Texas Sales at Fuller Drive in Irving Texas. Bill, in all his infinite wisdom, had been on the job for just 2 weeks.

On SuperMedia’s website they claim:

We stand side-by-side with plumbers and painters, landscapers and exterminators, roofers and dog groomers, movers and mechanics. We are the voice of house cleaners, window cleaners, carpet cleaners and pool cleaners. We are their catalyst of commerce.

So to resolve this longtime customer issue, I sent this long email last week to SuperMedia’s management team and public relations department decision makers.

from

Mike Stewart <dallasseoguru@gmail.com>

sender-time

Sent at 4:08 PM (GMT-05:00). Current time there: 8:11 AM. ✆

to

Andrew.Shane@supermedia.com

cc

scott.klein@supermedia.com,Peter.McDonald@supermedia.com,Sandra.Williamson@supermedia.com,Cody.Wilbanks@supermedia.com,mike@smbseo.com

date

Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 4:08 PM

subject

Hammerle Finley Law Firm – Potential Win Win Here?

mailed-by

gmail.com

Thanks for talking with me this past week. First, a quick recap of the Hammerle Finley Law Firm Verizon Yellow Pages advertising account, and then some suggestions for a good resolution for SuperMedia.

From the information I have gathered, HF has been a loyal customer and a big advertiser with the company for more than 25 years. They first started dealing with GTE Yellow Pages in 1984, basically at the infancy of lawyer advertising. Because they grew so quickly to a large and respected law firm in the community, a lot of area law firms followed their lead with advertising dollars. In fact, the sales reps often bragged to them about how they sold so many ads based on “what Hammerle was doing.” Pete Hammerle, the law firm’s Executive Director and marketing guru, actually was asked, and appeared, on a customer panel at several kickoffs/seminars that GTE put on for their marketing managers. It was a very good relationship, and HF placed the bulk of its marketing dollars in the company’s yellow pages. By 2007, HF had decided that it would drop all of its yellow page advertising with competitors and contract only with the Company (by then it had morphed into Idearc.) Considering the degree of fragmentation in the yellow pages market by this time, I think this was a very strong commitment on part of Pete.

Unfortunately, their move coincided with the dramatic drop-off in quality and ethical standards at Idearc. I saw that while I was on the inside, as you have seen me rant about on my websites. I know that I don’t have to convince you of the problems that mired down Idearc at that point.

Because they had concentrated all of their advertising in the Idearc books, HF was able to identify the problems with the Lewisville distribution of the book. Their telephone calls dropped off dramatically when the competitors’ new books came out. They found out that their clients had never received the 2007 Idearc book. Then, in June 2008, the 2007 book was delivered bundled with the 2008 Dallas Yellowpages on a “secondary distribution”. When Pete Hammerle complained, Idearc compounded the problem by denying that there was any delivery issue, and gave him a sheaf of delivery receipts containing forged signatures. (Note that Idearc publicly made it a selling point for later books that they had installed a tracking method to fix their delivery problems). By the time the 2007 book was delivered, it would only be in the marketplace for 60 days before being replaced by the 2008 book.

Then the Denton Yellowpages came out, and their advertising was so full of mistakes that it was worthless to the law firm. HF had paid for a solo forced tab, such as had appeared in countless years before it, but that year, for the first time, the salesman sold two forced tabs in the book – and the other forced tab was to another law firm that appeared before the HF tab in the book just a few pages in front (likely a coupon tab.) Some HF attorneys were completely left out of listings, and attorneys who had been removed from the advertising by HF were left in. They were invoiced $1500 more a month than the contract amount.

When HF refused to pay for the mistakes, their salesman, Scott Mobley, responded by saying they would be dropped from the North Collin County book. Left without any advertising in the area, HF went ahead and signed up for advertising with competitors. It turned out that Idearc left their ads in the book (albeit with many mistakes) and then invoiced them for the entire book.

The ultimate problem, however, came when their long-time Idearc salesman, Scott Mobley, started working with the head of the family law section for HF who was secretly plotting to take the law firm’s entire family law section, move across the parking lot, and start a competing firm. Rather than refuse to help this management employee steal half of the law firm’s business, or to disclose the manager’s plans to HF, Idearc’s sales rep Scott Mobley and his manager John Klein, who were assigned to Hammerle Finley’s account once again, schemed on how to get both accounts in the book. Two Idearc cohorts met with Pete Hammerle and said Scott Mobley was too busy and they were bringing in another salesman to work the HF account. They then proceeded to try to sell HF new advertising priced to include all of the attorneys in the Firm, including the 5 attorneys they knew were planning to leave. When the HF lawyer manager moved out with the entire section, it was in large part because he had Idearc advertising that was already under contract (signed while he was still an HF employee) and well under way.

(That last issue is one that is going to be raised in a lawsuit {and quite possibly on my sites} against Idearc and is going to lead to some really bad publicity at a sensitive time for the new company.)

Rather than resolve these complaints, Idearc sued HF.

With all of this history, I know you are wondering why I think there may be a way to salvage this long-time customer.

If it had been any other year, or any other top management, or if any type of ethical constraints placed on salespeople, then none of those events would have happened. When the complaint was received that the books weren’t delivered, then the company would have admitted that delivery problems were a huge issue that was being faced by the industry and given HF credit. When the misrepresentations and mistakes were brought to light, the company would have listened, evaluated them, and given a credit. The company would not have said it was pulling the ads, and then billed for them. And, most importantly, the company would not have allowed its employees to help a rogue manager commit fraud.

I’ve spoken with Pete at length, and I know that he is willing to believe that the old group and its philosophy is gone, and that the new company will be different. He is interested in the products and the new management direction at Idearc. He is a savvy marketer, and sees that there is a definite advantage to a web campaign that ties-in with the Firm’s website. He would like the door opened to talk to someone about a new contract. And where HF goes, so does the bulk of the legal advertising dollars in Denton County. He is willing to explore advertising, but he cannot do that while he is at odds with the company.

If you really want to show the world that the old Idearc is gone, and the new SuperMedia management is going in a successful direction, then I think you have a chance to do that here. For more than 20 years, Pete and HF were one of your biggest supporters and swung a whole lot of business your way. They are willing to do that again. When you do a risk-reward analysis, I think you’ll see that chasing a very difficult lawsuit (and facing a counterclaim) is bad business, and having a new contract, with new money, as a showcase for a new product is very good business. I’m willing to help you sell that to Pete and HF. Can you give me a response as soon as possible on this?

Cheers,
Mike Stewart

“Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination.” — Albert Einstein

P.S. Hammerle has a new website http://www.Hammerle.com, the only remnants of the old site is the thumbnail on SuperPages.com. The thumbnail is of the Lawyers.com site. It would be great to get someone in “I-Care” to correct this. Just like past problems, it would be nice to move forward from that outdated website design, lol.

So, what was SuperMedia’s formal response? TALK TO OUR LEGAL DEPARTMENT. I don’t talk to legal departments. The response from SuperMedia doesn’t shock me. They had the opportunity to win a big on back. They screwed up, but they sit behind some God forsaken bullshit 4 page microfont contract and want to keep the philosophy that the company has no corporate conscience.

From Seth Godin’s Blog:
The corporate conscience

There isn’t one.

Corporations don’t have a conscience, people do.

That means that every time you say, “It’s just my job,” or “My department has a policy,” or “All I do is work here,” what you’ve done is abdicated responsibility–to no one.

It’s convenient and even comfortable to blame the anonymous actions of many working in concert on a evanescent brand or organization, but that starts you on an inevitable race to the bottom. Organizations have more power than ever before. They are better synchronized, faster, and possess more tools to change the economy and the people in it than ever before. And the only option available to the rest of us is for individuals to take responsibility (it’s not given) for what they do and how they do it.

The very same tools that permit organizations to synchronize their efforts are now available to you and to me. I guess the question is: will we use that power to humanize the systems we’ve created?

PS It’s not just about being a good citizen: when bad behavior comes back to hurt the company, it hurts you, too.

Considering that “Attorneys and Lawyers” account for 13% of the revenues for yellow pages publishers, I am sure once my new “Attorney Yellow Pages Advertising” website is complete, lawyers everywhere will have a new place to discuss these sort of injustices.

As a libertarian, not that it matters other than my addiction to all things political, I firmly believe that social media will be the deciding factor in how business is done. No longer do you get clients from name recognition alone. Reputation is vital to the success of any business entity. Activities like those mentioned above do not go unpunished. We have been forced to pick sides, whether it be Democrat or Republican, since the early days of voting. Social media and online reputation has thrown a wrench in the way the gears of business turn. You can not avoid your questionable actions. Future elections will be decided in social media, not yard signs and bullcrap TV ad promises.

My response to SuperMedia’s management teams response to this email? “How about telling the legal department to call me!”

looks like the old walking fingers is flipping us the bird, huh?

Otherwise, I will be seeing you folks here later. Standing by the good guys. You know, the big local law firm that has padded the pockets of your crony executives and sales reps for countless years only to be stabbed in the back by your so called “media consultants”.  Just a bunch of mindless cold calling commission sales reps. They (specifically all the new folks you hired to cut salary costs) don’t know the first thing about real media buying.