Business development / Cybersecurity / Internet / Marketing

Why reputation manager had to manage its own

A "series of cyber-attacks" led to a Google penalty for the Center City company, said CEO Mike Zammuto.

Mike Zammuto, president of, in his new Washington Square office. (Photo by Peter Key for the Philadelphia Business Journal)

Center City reputation manager saw the tables turned when it faced a series of cyber-attacks last December and subsequently got penalized by Google, said CEO Mike Zammuto. Google removed the penalty late this summer, he said.

Google has penalized many websites by lowering their Google rankings if they believe a company is attempting to game the search engine, including, notably, Brooklyn’s Rap Genius. But was not trying to game the search engine, according to Zammuto, rather the company came under “a series of cyber-attacks that included DDoS attacks and negative SEO,” he wrote. “Starting then a large scale, daily effort by an anonymous party to build spammy backlinks to and other related websites.”

Here’s how the company responded to our inquiries about the penalty: “We built a team of highly trained and qualified individuals to begin the process of requesting the articles be taken down and add the sites to our disavowal list to demonstrate to Google that these links were built without our approval,” Zammuto said.

Some criticized how tackled the problem, since they also went after “good” (non-spammy) links. (We first learned of the Google penalty when a rep contacted asking us to remove links to from story pages, a request we declined.) That’s an easier way for companies to tackle an SEO problem, according to an SEO expert we spoke with. Rather than picking and choosing all the spammy links, they go at it in bulk, the expert explained. Here’s another blogger’s take on the penalization. also hired an SEO director named Chris Granwehr this summer.

Companies: / Google

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