Policía comiendo donuts

The paths of SEO are inscrutable. Most of us who are dedicated to selling online make great efforts to put our website appear on top of the search results. If your site doesn’t show up there you don’t exist, right? I am sure you are sick of hearing this mantra.

What if I told you that there are times when you don’t want to appear at the top of the ranking? No, I’m not crazy. This can happen to you. As an example, today I’m going to explain to you one of the craziest anecdotes that have happened to us at Nelio lately.

Don’t miss this one…

Our Relationship With FastSpring

FastSpring is the e-commerce platform that we use to manage the entire payment system that we have set up to be able to sell our premium WordPress plugins: Nelio Content and Nelio A/B Testing.

Secure Orders with FastSpring
FastSpring logo.

It is a company from Santa Barbara, California, United States, which makes it a lot easier for us to collect payments from clients we have located around the world. In addition, by being a reseller of your products, they manage the entire mess of VATs and other international taxes. That’s a big win for a small company like ours.

It’s been a while since Ruth explained in more detail why we use their platform. And we also had the opportunity to interview Hamilton Kiah III, the company’s Digital Media representative.

There are many other companies to set up a recurring payment platform, but from the beginning FastSpring has served us well and allowed us to do everything we needed. Our relationship with them is really nice.

Now that you understand the context, let’s go to the main story…

When The Civil Guard Knocks on Your Door

October 18, 2019. City of Badajoz, western Spain. The Technological Crime Investigation Team of the Civil Guard (the oldest law enforcement agency covering the whole of Spain) receives a request. An unauthorized charge to a citizen’s credit card must be investigated. In the bank statement, a keyword catches the attention of agent Galindo: FastSpring.

As a good researcher, he does a Google search to see what results he gets in this regard. This is what he finds:

The first search result for FastSpring in Google Spain, in Spanish, is us!
The first search result for FastSpring in Google Spain is us!

Full-Service SaaS Ecommerce Platform… OMG! Agent Galindo cannot understand anything. His English skills are not good. Luckily, the second result is in Spanish: “¿Qué es FastSpring?” meaning “What is FastSpring?“. And the answer is the site of a Spanish company: Nelio Software. They even have an email address with which to contact. Agent Galindo has everything he needs. He has done it again. The case is solved.

Car explosion.

October 18, 2019. Barcelona, Spain. Nelio Software Headquarters. Ruth, our CEO and legal manager, receives an email with the following attachment:

When you receive this in your email, you take the scare away.
When you receive an email like this one from the cops in your inbox and you are a small company like us, you get really scared.

In her head resonate the following words extracted from the attached document: Criminal Prosecution (“Enjuiciamiento Criminal” in Spanish), Police Proceedings (“Diligencias Policiales” in Spanish), 1,127.66 euros…

The first thing she does is get in contact with both David and me: what the hell have you done? She even hears the noise of the special forces approaching. The end is near…

Swat team getting out of a van.

The truth is that all this has been a dramatization. Agent Galindo does not exist (we never knew the name of the Civil Guard officer who sent us the message), and I assume that the epic tone that I have used is a bit extreme. But what is real is both the anecdote and the email with the document we received (to which I have anonymized certain data because we do not want any more trouble with the Spanish cops).

We explained by phone to the Civil Guard of Badajoz that it was a mistake and that we had nothing to do with the 1,127.66 euros, something they quickly understood, as you may expect.

SEO was a bad move here. Appearing as the first result in Spanish for the keyword FastSpring has given us more headaches than joy. We still get emails on a weekly basis from someone in Spanish asking us to refund their money (sometimes with very bad manners) for a specific product (which we do not sell).

It is as if someone makes a payment with PayPal to a restaurant (for example) and claims to us, who have nothing to do with PayPal or that payment, that we return the money. We have had to do a lot of educational work explaining that we use FastSpring as a payment platform, like many other companies in the world, and that we only sell WordPress plugins. Two, specifically. And nothing more.

At that time they usually understand that they have been wrong contacting us, but it is something that continues to happen to us. Even Ruth added a paragraph to the page of our website that appears in the first position of Google Spain explaining the case. You can see it here:

Explanatory paragraph on the page of our website where we explain what FastSpring is and how we use it.
Our solution: add an explanatory paragraph on the page of our website where we explain what FastSpring is and how we use it.

But people don’t read anything and the text does not stands out too much, so the problem keeps happening. If you have any other ideas that may help us here, we are open to suggestions ?.

Surely you will wonder why I explain an anecdote from October 2019, when at the time of writing this post we are at the end of May 2020. Well this is the answer: our dear agent Galindo strikes back… (let me again use the epic tone we all expect here.)

May 28, 2020. Agent Galindo has been temporarily transferred to Toledo, very close to Madrid, the capital of Spain. There is one case that no one has been able to solve and his expertise is required one last time. Agent Galindo is about to retire and has never left a case open. This time it won’t be different…

Again, a charge investigated for being fraudulent. But this time the amount is what catches his attention: 1.19 euros. Maybe the offender wants to send him a message? Who dares to risk his life in front of agent Galindo for such a ridiculous amount? He would know soon…

After reviewing the concept that appears in the bank account, a word reminds him of an earlier case: FastSpring. Again, our dear agent uses the search engine that gave him that much joy in the past, and again finds Nelio as the first result. The case is closed. There is no one as effective as agent Galindo. He has achieved his goal: to retire without a stain on his record and with all cases resolved. He can now rest with his boat…

Horatio from CSI series.

May 28, 2020. Barcelona, Spain. Nelio Software Headquarters. Ruth checks her email again like any other day. Again, startled, she finds the following attached document in an email from the Civil Guard:

When the Civil Guard knocks on your door, for the second time...
When the Civil Guard knocks on your door, for the second time…

She contacts both David and me again, but this time she is really calm: «don’t worry, guys, it’s just €1.19. I will deduct it from your salary».

Women dancing while raining money.

Again, another email from the Civil Guard, this time from Toledo, with the same problem that happened to us last year. The funny thing is that the charge is only 1.19 euros. Taking into account that our products have a minimum cost of 29 euros per month, it is clear that it was nothing related to us. And this could have been verified by the Civil Guard itself. C’mon Mr. Galindo, you could do better…

In addition, who goes to the police to claim 1.19 euros? Only the walk and the time it takes you to do all the paperwork will be more expensive than that. But hey, if someone really took your money, I think it’s good to report it.

Anyway, now you have already been able to see that sometimes being the first on Google can give left you a bad taste, even if it is momentary. Greetings from here to all agents who watch over our safety.

PS: Note the irony and humor in this article. I hope no one is offended by reading it. In these uncertain times, if we cannot have a laugh, what are we left with?

2 responses to “Unexpected SEO Implications: The Cops Are Coming For You”

  1. Stephan Avatar

    This is at the same time hilarious and somewhat scary. Something similar happened when I wrote about a parcel forwarding service which I liked. Many people assumed I was in charge of this company because… well, they found me through a search engine.

    I eventually put a large warning above the article and tried to explain it using an analogy: “I’m not this company! I only wrote an article about the company. If you take a picture of an elephant, it doesn’t make you an elephant, does it?” The original is in German (but you can still admire how large and colorful it is): https://hypermegaglobal.net/zum-buergerwehr-28-54516-wittlich/

    1. Antonio Villegas Avatar

      Thanks for the comment, Stephan. I like the warning you used. Definitely, “If you take a picture of an elephant, it doesn’t make you an elephant” ?

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