Am I The Top Online Marketing Writer?

Friends, I try not to brag too much about the various honors and accolades I receive, but this one was just too big to not discuss: last week, I was awarded the prestigious Top Online Marketing Writer of the Year Award.

The organization that awards the prize — The Top Writers Foundation — has a rigorous process to determine the winner, as noted on its Web site: At Top Writers we evaluate and rank writers in order to identify the best authors. We have created our proprietary methodology for identifying the best writers and ranking them based on their merits and competitive advantages. This method takes into consideration the changing nature of writing as a whole.

Needless to say, you’ll soon see this award prominently display on my company Web site, in my bio, and, of course, in every sales pitch!

Now before you congratulate me, I have a little confession to make: I made this whole thing up. The award, the foundation – it’s all bunk. Sadly, the concept of a fake award or ranking, however, is not fiction. Indeed, the language I quote above was taken verbatim from a Web site that rewards SEM firms who pay them the most money with a rank as a top SEM (or SEO, or a dozen other categories).



The companies that pay handsomely for these false rankings in turn miss no opportunity to crow about their well-paid-for prize. Indeed, I made the mistake of visiting the Web site of the current “top SEM firm” (sic) a few weeks ago and have been endlessly bombarded with retargeting banner ads reminding me of their prestigious No. 1 ranking.

Clearly, this whole scam works for everyone involved; otherwise, the “top firms” wouldn’t pay for their bogus prizes, nor would they use them in all of their advertising. Perhaps the only folks who don’t benefit from this scheme are the duped clients of the award-winning agencies. Can you fault someone for trusting their marketing campaign to what appears to be the industry’s best agency?

Ultimately, this begs the question: Are people so influenced by the opinions of others (and especially authority figures) that we should all shout about our high rankings and recognition, regardless of whether any of it is actually true? Morality aside (and to be clear, that’s a big thing to ignore), the answer seems to be yes. Stanley Milgram’s famous study – aptly titled “Obedience to Authority” – observed that volunteers could be convinced to administer a lethal dose of electricity to other volunteers, simply because an actor in a lab coat told them that they must do it.

In a more relevant online example, a one-star improvement in ratings on Yelp was directly correlated to a 5% to 9% increase in revenue for restaurants.

For those of you who have resisted using AdWords review extensions in your SEM campaigns, now might be the time to reconsider. If savvy business owners can be tricked into choosing a third-tier SEM agency because of a fake award, imagine what the impact of legitimate, verified customer recommendations will have on your AdWords performance? Actually, you don’t have to imagine it – according to one study, review extensions drove 66% more site visits!

So there you have it: awards, ratings, and customer reviews – whether real or not – seem to have a stunningly positive impact on the bottom line of the companies that earned them (or fabricated them). Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to spend some time updating my bio. I just got accepted into  Who’s Who Among American Business Executives – the best $129 I’ve ever spent!

8 comments about "Am I The Top Online Marketing Writer?".
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  1. Steve Plunkett from Cool Websites Organization, June 16, 2015 at 12:18 p.m.

    sorry.. that would have to be @dannysullivan 

  2. David Rodnitzky from 3Q Digital, June 16, 2015 at 12:26 p.m.

    Not according to the fake award site I made up!

  3. Steve Baldwin from Didit, June 16, 2015 at 12:34 p.m.

    Congratulations -- this article has been voted BEST IN CLASS by the editorial board of

    Your award can be picked up by inserting the DOFOLLOW code available at the home page of

    Enjoy your fame while it lasts!

  4. David Rodnitzky from 3Q Digital, June 16, 2015 at 12:56 p.m.

    Thanks Steve, what an honor. Is there an award badge I can put on my Web site? I'll pay $500 for one . . .

  5. Abby Bandel from Barilliance, June 16, 2015 at 2:09 p.m.

    This is a great post David. Utilizing tools that build trust on e-commerce sites do indeed increase conversions. Barilliance recently launched a new social proof product (Live!) that enables online retailers to present 15 Types of notifications such as “3721 people are shopping now”, “last purchase of this product was from Chicago 12 minutes ago” and “15 people are looking at this product right now”.  The notifications are dynamically created. Machine learning algorithms constantly learn and ensure that the most effective messages are presented, for each visitor based on the user’s buying intent and conversion barriers

    We’ve been beta testing this new product over the last 6 months and most sites experienced up to 10% increase in conversion rates when we a/b tested the solution against a control group.

  6. David Rodnitzky from 3Q Digital, June 16, 2015 at 2:13 p.m.

    That comment is a stroke of barilliance.

  7. David Mountain from Marketing and Advertising Direction, June 16, 2015 at 3:42 p.m.

    While writing this comment, I was informed that I had gotten an award for Most Meta Comment.

    Eat my dust, other commenters!

  8. David Rodnitzky from 3Q Digital, June 16, 2015 at 7:32 p.m.

    You just blew my mind.

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