How to Use Twitter Lists To Create Reputation Management Problems

When twitter lists first came out and I commented about how awesome they are, I also warned they had the potential to become a tool for evil and create reputation management problems. Since no one paid attention, I figured what better way to illustrate the problem than to see it in action?

I wanted show how it could be used but didn’t really want to damage someone’s reputation (no one’s high enough up on my hit list for that), so I created a dummy list with only one person who didn’t actually do what the list says he did. Go ahead and check out my list on people who bought links and its ranking in Google [people who bought links]. To be clear: Matt Cutts never bought links and, according to Google, buying links is against Google guidelines. This list is fictitious and used as an example. It should be used for entertainment and educational purposes only.

So why did I do it? To show you, twitter, and Google how allowing user-generated pages on authority sites that are page rank black holes is an incredibly bad idea. My page was able to rank in less than 2 days with only 2 internal links/followers. A more competitive phrase will take more followers (aka internal links) and some external links, but by practicing parasite SEO you could rank for a lot of mid level terms.

Google wants you to believe they’ve defused “miserable failure” types of google bombs like this. If you are careful about how you construct them–in other words, avoiding negative words while still giving a negative halo–the only out will be a counter campaign or a hand edit.

So what are some takeaways:

  • Monitor what lists you are on regularly. If something bad pops up, take steps to correct it before it’s too late.
  • If you see this being abused, let a search engine representative know. Don’t expect them to take it down, but the sooner they see it being abused the sooner they will work to combat it.
  • If you run a UGC site, be on the lookout for how people can abuse your system. The last thing you want is to end up with a  squidoo spam problem and have the search engines take action against you.
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