A post two days ago by a NAPFA member manipulating my words is sad. The author of the post selectively clipped a paragraph from a blog post I wrote three years ago announcing that Advisor Products was adding a “link exchange” feature — a way for advisors to allow an allied firm to request a link on an advisor’s website. But the author in his post conveniently leaves out my warning about how a link exchange might violate Google’s search terms. He also failed to cite a post where I explicitly warn advisors not to use the feature to link to other advisors.
This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only
At the time I wrote the post about the link exchange feature, I had heard that NAPFA members were engaging in a link scheme that could cause them to be penalized by search engines. So, in announcing the link exchange feature, I addressed their link scheme obliquely. I wanted NAPFA members to know what they were doing could be deemed a violation of Google’s policies, and I wanted advisors to know the search-engine benefit of using such a feature properly.
The link exchange feature was marketed by Advisor Products as a way for advisors to link to accountants, lawyers, real estate developers, and other local businesses with which they were allied. While NAPFA advisors were asking Advisor Products to create the feature so they easily could link to each other, whenever we talked about the feature we warned that abusing it could be against rules set by search engines. In fact, I explicitly and very publicly discouraged abusing the feature.
In a post in December 2009
, I wrote: “We’ve seen some advisors create link exchanges with other advisory firms and we do not want to encourage this.”
That same post listed 16 types of local businesses with which advisors might exchange links, including geriatric care managers, auto insurance brokers and more, but did not list other advisory firms as good link exchange partners. We also named the feature “Alliance Builder” to avoid suggesting it be used as a link scheme mechanism.
Advisor Products could have marketed the feature as a shrewd way to improve an advisory firm’s website search engine rankings by exchanging links with other advisors in different parts of the country, which is what this misguided individual suggests we did in his post. But we took the high road, offering the feature but warning against abusing it.
The post maligning me was written a couple of days ago. It followed a recent article
on A4A about how a search consultant saw the author of the post promoting the link scheme at a recent NAPFA conference and blew the whistle on it by writing about it in an advisor trade publication.
I won’t name the author of the malicious post because I don’t want to embarrass him anymore than he has already done for himself, or damage his reputation. However, for a person who holds himself out a fiduciary, his behavior does not inspire trust.
Writing for years almost every day about the advisor business and being a vendor in the business makes me vulnerable to personal attacks like this. It comes with the turf, I suppose. But it hurts to be so unfairly maligned in trying to do the right thing.
Thank you to the NAPFA members who sent a copy of us the post on NAPFA’s private discussion board, giving me an opportunity to respond.