Alex Hatala


Source: SEOSignalsLab

Pick His Brain!

I’d like to introduce one of our members, Alex Hatala, for our next ‘Pick His Brain’ session and I want to thank him for the participation.

Alex Hatala has been doing digital marketing since 2004 covering everything from PPL to affiliate marketing.

He currently runs an agency making solid 6 figures specializing ORM (online reputation management).

If you have any questions related to running an agency or ORM, please feel free to pick his brain.

Here are the rules.

1) I’ll let the thread go on until he asks me to stop. Theoretically, this thread can continue until the FaceBook stock value goes to zero.

2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity. We are here to learn from each other’s success and strategies.

3) Please do not PM him and bother him. If you have a private question, ask for his permission on this thread when appropriate.


Table of Contents

Are there any sneaky tricks to get GMB reviews removed?

To be brief: no. I’m speaking from experience dealing with USA based clients (different countries, different laws).

If it’s a clear fake and unscrupulous review- flag it.

Search Engine Land wrote up a great piece identifying types of reviews Google will remove:…

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Generally, if a potential client asks if we can remove negative reviews, I’ll tell them absolutely not.

What we can do, however, is promote an increase of positive reviews, with the goal of outweighing any few negs.

Case example: last month we had one client with a sad (3) 1/5 stars on Google.

We pushed a reputation campaign and now he’s closing in almost 4/5 stars out of 20 reviews.

So, no sneaky tricks. Just incentivising genuine positive reviews.
Pick His Brain! with Alex Hatala 1

What does a reputation campaign mean? If it’s a task genuine review, why didn’t they were there from the first place?

Generally, we see two different types of ORM campaigns.

1) A person or business that suffers from bad reviews, and those reviews need to be diluted with positive content

2) a business that may not have bad reviews, but what’s a system in place that encourages good reviews through automatic emails/SMS followups, etc.

In a lot of cases we see a competitor publishing bad reviews- very common.

Do you run an online reputation management mostly for GMB’s and/or other platforms?

Our main ORM clientele suffers from negative offsite reviews; such as RipOffReport, PissedOffConsumer and other 3rd party properties.

Our goal for these clients is to push negative properties down and fill front page results with positive, branded content.

The rest of the clients are as you described: suffering from bad GMB or FB reviews.

Those cases are easier to manage because we utilize an inhouse system we offer to clients that promote organic positive reviews (such as automatic email follow-ups to happy customers that link directly to the the GMB review URL).

But, again, most of our ORM clients suffer from RipOffReports, PissedofConsumer or negative press releases/news articles.

Obviously the goal there is pushing down those negative properties and replacing them with positive content (web 2.0’s, social media properties, etc).

What is the most challenging negative reviews you came across and what steps did you take to suppress them?

Good question- the most challenging ORM client is, hands down, RipOffReport. Especially clients that RESPOND to RipOffReports.

By responding, the client is adding content and authority to the RipOffReport we want to bury, which makes it much more difficult.

We’ve had cases where a potential client has responded 5+ times in the same RipOffReport and we simply have to refuse them.

Best case scenario is when there’s a fresh RoP with no client response- those are often easily buried with traditional SEO focused on the client’s brand/company name.

For someone that’s ranking really well for a low search volume keyword, is there anyway that PPC can provide sizeable number of leads by way of adjunct keywords that have substantial search volume but target the inner circle / outer circle instead of bull’s eye?


When start a larger SEO campaign for a client, we often run a PPC campaign for a week at a low budget to get good a good grasp on user search behavior

Discover potentially missed keywords, get accurate search volume data.

So not only would it be possible (depends on the industry) to get a sizable amount of leads on crossmarket opportunities.

But it will also give you valuable data for your SEO campaign.

Is there any sense in going PPC route for the same low-volume keywords that I’m ranking #1 to #4 for?

I’d say no. If you own 40% of the top organic property, I wouldn’t see the point.

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However, if there are competitors or crossmarket competitors running ads on your keyword, that might be something to think about.

Also, like I said, running a low budget PPC campaign for your keyword will give you accurate data and ideas for other keywords/longtails.

It’s a trick not used enough by a lot of SEOers, but I swear by it.

How do you prospect for ORM?

Almost always referrals.

We have mutual partnerships with criminal defense attorneys that have clients suffering from negative press articles (yes, we do a lot of ORM for people charged with crimes), and they often toss the client to us.

Also, ORM is an upsell on top of traditional SEO clients we retain that may have negative or a lack of positive reviews.

How would you act to push down negative results (page 1 – top 10) AND push up existing positive results (from page 2, 3 etc.)?

So I call that the process of ‘diluting’ negative results and replacing them with positive results.

There’s several ways to go about it, but the most common way is doing a search for the company/person’s name and identifying all the neutral or positive properties on the 1st and 2nd page.

Usually those positive/neutral properties are social media properties, Linkedin, Alignable, etc.

We then optimize those existing properties through both offsite/onsite SEO, giving them a nice boost and outranking the negative results.

In some cases the company/person may have no positive/neutral results on the first page.

So we’ll create properties for them (web 2.0’s, social networks, etc) and boost them.

ORM is really on a case by case basis- usually each campaign is quite different from the last.

How do you usually promote Your affiliate link for maximum sales?

Native ads: Outbrain, Taboola, Revcontent and are my major traffic sources for affiliate offers.

How do you handle such situations you push sales?

Most of our clients are referrals from existing clients.

The rest are from cold outreach emails. We shoot out 5-10 a day outreach emails.

A high quality outreach email can result to a phone call, and 50% end up signing a contract.

Cold email outreach is NOT dead.

How to do get email or contacts, addresses of prospects?

We have a paid membership with

Quick research will give us a direct personal email to CEOs and decision makers.

If the email is personalized enough, generally we will get a response.

Cold email outreach is a whole other topic, though.

Which Social Networks and Web 2.0 do you use the most to push down bad results? For example for a person or a company brand? What is your preferred way of doing offsite SEO on them?

The first goto is existing social properties in addition to Glassdoor, Alignable, and company profile properties (again, depends on what the person/company is currently ranking for).

Your off-site SEO question can get a bit complicated- but to summarize our process, we use 1-5 tier link building strategies to boost authority.

In competitive niches, GSA SER and Scrapebox have been and still is an extremely valuable tool to rank 1st tier properties.

In very competitive niches, manual guest post outreach is necessary.

As said, ORM is often a case by case basis. Everyone requires a different strategy. Hope that helps- if you need any clarification, feel free to ask.

Do you do the link building yourself or do you hire someone?

We have a team that we’ve used for years that does link building in some cases of ORM that need special attention.

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However, whenever inhouse is not doing the BL’s, we keep very careful oversight of how backlink campaigns are done.

Anyways, I figure your question boils down to ‘how does backlink building work with ORM?

And I’d answer almost the same way as any high quality SEO campaign.

How you remove negative reviews from google SERP?

Assuming you aren’t talking about GMB reviews about organic SERP reviews, you can’t.

Unless the content follows under EU guidelines.

But that’s almost never the case because we mostly work with US/CA clients

Do most of your customers want to have only the top 10 cleaned or more like top 20 or 30? And is it more like a one deal business where you clean the top 10 and then its done or also recurring deals with your customers where you first clean the SERPs and then monitor everything?

Good question.

In most cases with ORM, we, the agency, are the ones that highlight the importance of what the goal should look like.

For example, we sell the client on statistics like ‘90%~ of all searches never go beyond the 2nd page, so we recommend the first 10 results being cleaned”.

It’s almost always up to us to explain to the client of how users navigate the SERPS, and the easiest and most effective way to combat it.

We usually do a 1-3 year monitoring contract at a fraction of the original annual cost.

For us, a 1 yr – 3 yr monitoring campaign clause in the contract is 100% necessary.

In your experience how hard are tabloid articles like Daily Mail to push down? Do you use links exclusively or some sort of click network? What does it mean when you have pushed down the results in one country but not in the US? How long does it usually take to push down hard results?

Any high authority tabloid/news site will be tougher to push down than something like a social media profile.

In regards to pushing down unwanted results in one country but not the other- I haven’t had to deal with that.

It would make since to start creating more links/profiles/web2s that are related specific to that country (and of course the content being of that country’s language).

If you pushed a negative result down in Mexico, but not the US, it’s likely most of the links/content was of Mexican origin.

Hard results is a subjective term, and the time it takes depends on how much work (and money) you’re putting into it.

Generally for our ORM clients, we set them on a 12 month contract minimum

How do you deal with negative results appearing directly on Google Search Suggest?

Google autocomplete has its own algorithm based on various factors, mostly location, frequency of searches, and actual SERP results.

Because autocomplete draws from existing search results.

Making sure that positive search results with proper meta titles/descriptions being on the first page is extremely important.

Finally, we have a more blackhat method that some case studies have proven legitimate.

I am not endorsing this technique: but because autocomplete is heavily influenced by user CTR, utilizing bots to manipulate the CTRs could work.


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