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The dark side of SEO: reputation management, article spinners and ethical dilemmas

In 2008 Canadian musician Dave Carroll was travelling with United Airlines. During a layover he heard a fellow passenger remark that baggage handlers on the tarmac in Chicago were throwing guitars. He arrived at his destination only to discover his $3,500 guitar was severely damaged. After an unsatisfactory response from the airline, he used his musical talent to create a song he dubbed ‘United breaks guitars’ with a music video and all. The song went viral and the incident created a PR disaster for the airline. But now, when Googling the airline, there is no mention of the incident. This is an example of the power of search engine optimisation (SEO) and its role in protecting brand reputation. We chat to Pure SEO’s Richard Conway about this idea and the threat of negative SEO.