One More Complaint Against TOPSEOs – Are they a shakedown operation or legitimate service?

UPDATE 4/29/2010 – TOPSEOS issues Apology - But Is It Enough?

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This week’s buzz in the SEO community is all about complaints against TOPSEOs (and questions for Jeev Trika, one of their owners) – a company that sells rankings and awards within the SEO industry.  While they bill their rankings as a “competition”, people from a number of highly reputable companies in our industry  have come out essentially saying that TOPSEOs is nothing more than a shakedown for money.  And I’ve got one more company to add to the list…

IF IT FEELS LIKE A SHAKEDOWN IT MAY BE A SHAKEDOWN

Early on in my life in business, I was contacted by a company offering to list my company in an “Industry Leaders” publication.  It turned out that all one had to do to be billed as an “industry leader”, was to pay a hefty fee to be included.  This was spun by the sale person as “a great way to gain exposure for your business – a way to let prospective customers know about you and to set your company apart from the competition.”  Well, the whole premise of that nonsense stank to high heaven, and given how many complaints there are now against TOPSEOs and who the people are that are complaining,  it’s pretty clear that TOPSEO’s plays the same game.

I’d come across TOPSEOs previously, though I never much paid attention, other than to laugh at the stupid use of an “up” arrow as the company’s first letter in their logo.  This week however, Edward Lewis from SEOConsultants.com has written extensively about TOPSEOs and has a lot of questions for Jeev Trika.

JEEV TRIKA – THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN

Jeev Trika is listed on their site as a “Partner” whose primary responsibilities at TOPSEOs is

carving out the strategic direction in addition to sales and account management

Most people who have been speaking up with complaints about TOPSEOs have dealt directly with Jeev Trika.  So whether he’s the right person to answer up to these allegations or not is only a guess, but it’s a good one.

WHY CAN’T PEOPLE TRUST JEEV TRIKA?

Anyone who reads Jeev Trika’s bio over at TOPSEOs, might be confused by all this talk about complaints against TOPSEOs and the notion that TOPSEOs is a shakedown operation, because his bio says

His professional services have been garnered by organizations like IBM Global Services, Siebel, Jordan Industries, Cayman Islands Government, and more

And Jeev Trika’s education is listed as

a Bachelor in Computer Science and an MBA, both from Purdue University.

Which sounds like he’s got a serious professional business background.

Except that’s what they thought about Bernie Madoff as well. And look how well that turned out.

COMPLAINTS AGAINST TOPSEOs

Most notably, Edward has documented a laundry list of quite serious complaints against TOPSEOs over at his site.  He’s also started an open dialogue about the legitimacy problems he sees with the whole TOPSEOs “Pay For Awards” scheme over at Sphinn and as of the writing of this article, that posting has received 42 sphinns.  It seems the legitimate SEO community, for the most part, finds what TOPSEOs does to be distasteful at best, a shakedown service at worst.

ADD ONE MORE COMPLAINT AGAINST TOPSEOs

When I first started looking into this to see whether TOPSEOs is a legitimate service or what, I saw some companies listed there that are rather well known in the industry.  Like Bruce Clay, Inc.  Hell – BC?  They’re about as legit as it gets.  But then I saw companies that have the “highest rating” – like “Increase Visibility, Inc.”  Which, according to many different complaints against THEM (read Edward’s article for details on the complaints against Increase Visibility, Inc.), shows that they’ve got no business being awarded any top rating award of any kind,  let alone one bought and paid for with cold hard cash.

So I put out word to people I know and asked if anyone had any more insight.

Arnie Kuenn, President of Vertical Measures, reached out to me and offered to share his experience with TOPSEOs.  He sent me an email that at first he said I could use in my article anonymously, as he preferred to avoid any potential negative light being cast on his otherwise outstanding and highly reputable Internet marketing company.  I suggested, however, that by identifying who it is saying this would carry significantly more weight than the “a highly reputable member of our community” would. Especially given how Arnie is also President over at AZIMA – the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association.

Arnie then went and spoke with his team at Vertical Measures – to get a sense from them as to whether to remain anonymous in this whole thing, or to come out and take a public stand against what Arnie (and so many others in the industry) feel is a a highly disreputable business model carried out by TOPSEOs.  The result of that discussion was that Arnie gave me his blessings to make full use of his reporting on TOPSEOs business practices.

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HERE’S WHAT ARNIE SHARED WITH ME ABOUT TOPSEOs, IN ITS ENTIRETY:

“The beginning of 2009, we were sent an email by TopSEOs telling us we were ranked as a top 10  company in one of the ranking categories on TopSEOs.  In fact it was a top 7 ranking.  Of course we were proud and posted the badge and sent out the press release as provide by and recommended by TopSEOs.

A couple months later, we dropped to #10 and noticed our score for some of the “scoring criteria” had dropped.  So I sent TopSEOs and email asking how this could be when our customer retention has been outstanding and we have never received a complaint.  Here is the exact text of my email:”

Hello,
I see we dropped from 7th to 10th.  I just don’t understand how that could happen.  We have a “zero” for dependability?  That is just not right.  Our clients love us.  Since we keep the client list confidential, how do you know who to contact to ask about us?

Look at the number of 5 star reviews we have on YOUR site compared to the others ranked ahead of us.

Obviously I take great pride in this ranking.  Please tell me what we need to do to move up.

Arnie then went on to share with me what happened next, and this is what caused me to want to vomit over the TOPSEOs business practices, and what has been corroborated now by other just as reputable people in the SEO industry:

“Within 24 hours I received a response from Jeev Trika:

I will give you a call today to discuss ….

This is from memory, but Jeev did call and then explained to me that the top rankings are reserved for the “sponsors”.  That if we wanted to be ranked higher we need to agree to spend thousands of dollars per month sponsoring his site.  He would then move us up in the rankings.  Of course I became pretty upset and confronted him on how he could arbitrarily attribute some ranking criteria, specifically how our customers felt about us, when our client list is 100% confidential.  You can’t find our clients on our website anywhere.

He said they “have their ways” and they use the client testimonials on their website.  I replied telling him that 100% of our testimonials were 5 stars so how does that indicate a drop to “zero” in dependability.  He had no answer.  He just said that I would find it well worth my while to pay to be ranked as we would get tons of leads from the rankings.

I refused to pay and the next month we were GONE from the rankings all together.  I called Jeev to complain and basically his attitude was “make me an offer”.  He repeated that those that paid to be in the top were thrilled with the leads and exposure.  I asked if I “out spent” them, could I be #1 and he said no, not right away because he had to be loyal to the companies who had been paying for a significant period of time.  He had no problem telling me if you want to get ranked, you have to pay.  I refused again, and he quickly got off the call.  On to the next I presume.  BTW, it’s not that hard to correlate the sponsors listed on the home page to the rankings.  It matches up pretty well.”

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SO IS TOPSEOS A SHAKEDOWN OPERATION OR WHAT?

After hearing this from Arnie, someone I hold in very high esteem – one of the most trustworthy, respectable and downright caring business leaders in the Arizona Search Marketing market, I was sick to my stomach.  And this was only fueled further after reading similar stories from people like Jill Whalen (read her comments over at Sphinn).  Can you imagine JILL WHALEN making something up like this, let alone Arnie Kuenn? I only met Jill this year, at the Epic Dinner during SMX West, but I have to say – she absolutely deserves to be respected for her trustworthiness and integrity.  I may not agree with her on everything SEO, but damn – she’s got integrity.  A lot more than I ever had or will have…

But just in case you think – ‘Who is Arnie Kuenn, and who’s this Jill Whalen you refer to?’ (hey – you may not actually be well connected in the SEO industry so those names may not be familiar to you right?) yesterday Aaron Wall from SEOBook threw his name into the mix as someone with A Review of the Top SEOs Paid Rating Service. And trust me – Aaron wasn’t casting any favorable light on TOPSEOs.  Or the crap companies that associate with them by paying for top billing.

TOO MANY YEARS GETTING AWAY WITH THIS CRAP

After Arnie Kuenn shared his own experience with me, he then went over to Sphinn and joined the conversation, and added his voice to the now growing list of professionals in our industry calling for TOPSEOs to stop their antics.

But let’s be clear here – this is something that’s been going on for years now. And others have complained about TOPSEOs previously.  Like Mark Jackson over at Search Engine Watch back in 2008. And before that, over at Vizion Interactive the year before.   And other real business people have legitimate complaints about TOPSEOs.

So why the hell are they still in business playing the same bullshit games?

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CALL TO ACTION

Please – I beg you, if you care about the SEO industry, get involved!

Read a synopsis of all the people who have complained about TOPSEOs over on Edwards site

Get involved in the discussion about TOPSEOs at Sphinn.

Link to all the articles and the Sphinn story to help spread the word.

And just as important as these – if you personally know someone at a LEGITIMATE company who happens to participate at TOPSEOs (check out the TOPSEOs wall of shame)- ask them outright – “Why the hell are you even listed at there?”  Which will give you an opportunity to direct them to all the online complaints against that operation.  And maybe it will embarrass them into removing their listings.  Because they SHOULD be embarrassed.  Seriously.

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UPDATE 3/30/2010 9:51AM

In doing research on Jeev Trika, I found he’s got a LinkedIn profile.  So I upgraded to business account holder status at LinkedIn (the cost was worth this one email alone!) and as a result, I was able to send him an inmail (LinkedIn email) and invited him just now to join the conversation.  My email:

Mr. Trika,

I am writing to you today to invite you to read and join the dialogue on the discussion regarding your company over at Sphinn.com – there have been a growing number of complaints about TOPSEOs and some new articles have come out reporting on those complaints.

We would greatly appreciate you participating in the discussion yourself, so that you may present your side of the story and let the SEO community have a balanced understanding.

We’ll see if he responds.  Hopefully he’ll participate and we can have an intelligent discussion with him about these complaints.

About Alan Bleiweiss

Just another guy. Who happens to have a lot of experience living, breathing and sleeping organic SEO. So that's my primary focus - high end SEO audits and consulting for sites ranging from thousands to tens of millions of pages. In my spare time I blog, rant, write eBooks, and speak at industry conferences.

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43 Comments

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alan Bleiweiss. Alan Bleiweiss said: New Aricle: One More Complaint Against TOPSEOs -are they a shakedown operation or legitimate? http://bit.ly/ap50jo [...]

  2. Halvorsen says:

    Glad to see everyone is on the offensive!!

    Hopefully everyone will stop paying these fools.
    Halvorsen´s last blog ..Officer James Kerstetter – A True Hero My ComLuv Profile

  3. safcblogger says:

    Alan similar to what i mentioned over on the Sphinn article i was listed on that site and when i have revisited there today, i have updated my profile accordingly.

    Having never taken the site up on their offers which always ended up in the trash mail, i never once used any of their badges i did a little digging around myself and “Sponsors” in Arnies experience kind of strikes a chord.

    A little research from one of the employess at TopSeos throws back a site which is listed in at number 8 in Edwards post http://www.seoconsultants.com/topseos/membership

    Of course that struck me as curious.

    Neeraj Kumar and a simple search: ‘”Neeraj Kumar” topseos’ brought back that site and a curious listing on Zoominfo

    I have forwarded the same info to Edward to see if this makes any sense.

  4. safcblogger says:

    Another 2 minutes worth of digging brings back: http://www.topseos.in/brain-pulse-technolgies-web-hosting-and-seo-services this getting curiouser and curiouser Alice in Wonderland style
    safcblogger´s last blog ..Compare Holidays with Click Call Book My ComLuv Profile

  5. James Scaggs says:

    This kind of crap happens when good men do nothing. It’s high time that the people/businesses who regard the interest of this industry above their own interests stand up and put an end to this mockery.

    As long as we allow it or participate in it the thieves will continue to extort us. Let TOPSEO’s move on to another industry like TOPSMM’s. The least they could do is respect the industry and stop leaving a black mark on it.

    @TOPSEO’s – Is this the legacy you want to leave behind? People will remember you, it’s up to you how you will be remembered!

  6. Dean,

    FYI The ZoomInfo stuff is just a compilation of info scraped from the web – not sure what’s valid, not valid or meshed together from that. But it got me thinking, so I did some of my own research and discovered that Jeev Trika is on LinkedIn – read the update here on this article about that…

    James,

    Thanks for speaking up – yes – it’s time we as an industry stand up and say NO to questionable businesses that cause our industry to be seen as questionable in terms of legitimacy.

  7. Rob Woods says:

    Fantastic Article! It’s great to have people as passionate and committed as you, Edward, and Rhea in our industry. I’ve never put much stock in any of these so called SEO verification services. I have always relied on referrals, research, and reference checks for hiring anyone or any company but I’m sure a lot of companies less experienced at SEO fall for these scams and believe that these rankings are legit. Kudos to Arnie for coming out and willing to be public with his experience. His criticisms certainly hold more weight when we know they are coming from someone who is respected in the industry. Take another look at Mr. Trika’s LinkedIn profile… He seems to have never held another job beyond owning the company behind TopSEOs. Of his 3 recommendations one was from someone he was formerly paying, and one was from a Sanjeev Trika who also went to Perdue, which is either an amazing coincidence, nepotism, or Jeev Trika recommending himself…which in my opinion is not the only thing he should be doing to himself.
    Rob Woods´s last blog ..robdwoods: been so busy lately I haven’t been tweeting. Sorry twitter, it’s not you, it’s me. My ComLuv Profile

  8. Rob

    Thanks for the comments. Actually, Though it seems like it could very well be one person playing two people, I think Sanjeev Trika is actually a different person, if you look at his linkedin profile and then check out his site online http://www.strikaonline.info

    It is possible. Not guaranteed, mind you. And given the questionable goings-on at TOPSEOs, it’s going to remain such for the forseeable future. Until Jeev joins the convo.

  9. Rob Woods says:

    a few more observations…

    1. TopSEOs’ sites quote what appear to be favorable reviews from CNN, Entrepreneur, and SmartMoney but with no links to where the quotes originated from. If Mr. Trika takes up your offer to respond I’d challenge him to provide back-up for those quotes which are represented as being about TopSEOs.

    2. I hope someone from Bruce Clay Inc. takes the time to respond and that they are not paying this joker. If anyone in this industry doesn’t need to pay for a recommendation it must surely be them. I would encourage them to remove the TOPSEOs banner from their site rather than supporting this, at best “questionable”, service. They are, however, ranked #7, just like Arnie mentions above…will they also be getting the shakedown to remain top 10?
    Rob Woods´s last blog ..robdwoods: been so busy lately I haven’t been tweeting. Sorry twitter, it’s not you, it’s me. My ComLuv Profile

  10. [...] March 31st 2010 – Alan Bleiweiss posts about Top SEOs – One More Complain About Top SEOs [...]

  11. Tony Wright says:

    Wow, I guess I’m just not in step with the industry lately. First, I thought that Verified SEO was a good idea – albeit being pushed out by the wrong people and now TopSEOs. We wanted to increase our leads for reputation management, so I bought a spot on their reputation management list that is set to come out tomorrow. When I was at another SEO company we used TopSEOs and the leads were incredible. I didn’t ever hear about any shakedown. I assumed EVERYONE knew this was a paid ranking – just like the rankings for the best steakhouses in America that you see in in-flight magazines. I just wanted the leads. I think it’s too late to cancel my ranking this month, but I’m wondering with all of this backlash if I should, and just eat the money I paid – cause I’m sure I won’t get it back. But, to Jeev’s credit, he did ask for three references and called all three to make sure I had done what I said I had. That’s more than the rankings in the in-flight magazines do. Now I’ve got some decisions to make.

  12. [...] Particularly worrying was the insight given by Arnie Kuenn, President of Vertical Measures in this post on TopSEOs by Alan Bleiweiss. [...]

  13. Nick Wilsdon says:

    @Rob Woods

    I was thinking the same actually. The only references to TopSEO I could find on the SmartMoney website was a placed press release.

    http://www.smartmoney.com/news/pr/?story=PR-20100302-000609

    Does that then count as a quote from SmartMoney? Would be interesting to get hold of them and ask about this ‘rigorous evaluation process’ that other people have questioned. Arnie confirmed above that no clients were ever contacted.

    I’d also do the same with CNN and Entrepreneur and find out if they are happy to validate this company so publicly.
    Nick Wilsdon´s last blog ..Industry In Revolt Now Turns On TopSEOs.com My ComLuv Profile

  14. Rob, Nick
    SO far it’s a moot point – just one more nail in the TOPSEOs coffin of trustworthiness, since they’ve not responded.
    Alan Bleiweiss´s last blog ..One More Complaint Against TOPSEOs – Are they a shakedown operation or legitimate service? My ComLuv Profile

  15. Halvorsen says:

    My biggest question is: how the hell do they have time to rate all these companies and issue awards each month? There is no way they could have the time to review all the companies on a monthly basis.

    Anyone who pays for that crap is a total fool. It’s beyond nuts how much money TOPSEO’s makes each month by scamming idiots.
    Halvorsen´s last blog ..Officer James Kerstetter – A True Hero My ComLuv Profile

  16. Apparently, I’m a 2010 basic member at TopSEOs. I imagine a lot of us are.

    I don’t recall ever applying for membership, and certain facts about my profile page there reflect that.

    The “overview” text about me is lifted directly from the home page of my site, which is more a discussion of search marketing than of my own services. This is clearly infringing on my copyright, as the only edits they’ve made to my text involve taking instances of relevant keyword phrases and using them to anchor links to internal pages on the TopSEOs site. On top of that, they’ve formatted the links to look like normal text until the user mouses over them — something I actually advise my clients never to do.

    They’ve also cut the text from my home page at about two-thirds of the way through it (ending it right before I actually start talking about myself).

    They list me as providing PPC management services. I never have.

    They indicate that I accept credit cards. I sort of do, but only if one makes the payment via PayPal. If I openly stated that I accepted credit cards without that caveat I think I’d be accused of false advertising.

    Of course, they do link to my site, so maybe I should just be happy to have a free link and shut up. But wouldn’t you know it, the link is nofollowed.

    Happily, the page isn’t cached by Google, probably because it’s almost completely duplicate content.

    I suggest that any search marketing firms that haven’t paid these people for a listing check up on whether and how they’re showing up on topseos.com. Think of the fun they’d have over there if they got a few hundred complaints all at once insisting on immediate removal from their database.

  17. Tony,

    Your situation is NOT unique – though the majority of people who have spoken up are those who have been run through the ringer, it appears that for whatever reason, some companies don’t get that same treatment. It’s all part of the puzzle – which is truly yet to be completed.

    Had only one company raised a voice in complaint, I would not have written my own article, nor do I suspect Edward or Aaron Wall would have done so either.

    Whatever you decide, I greatly appreciate your having communicated your unique situation here….

  18. Mike – of course they can’t possibly check on every site in the system every month – contacting clients of every company, let alone any other claims they make. Unless it’s all automated, or they have banks of reps sitting at phones all day every day. Which I doubt (though I suppose anything is possible).

    And based on what Arnie K. said, there’s NO WAY TOPSEOs could have actually spoken with ANY ACTUAL Vertical Measures clients. Ever.

    Bob –

    Thank you for taking the time to report on your experience with TOPSEOs – You’re not the first to report that TOPSEOs has butchered the communication of your company offerings. So it’s not a surprise that you report this.

  19. “I assumed EVERYONE knew this was a paid ranking” – Tony
    What content is it on the TopSEO website that you think implies to the consumer that those companies paid for the ranking and are not actually the best? I don’t read it that way.
    David Blizzard´s last blog ..Web SPAM – Should We All Snitch For Google? My ComLuv Profile

    • Mitchell says:

      Read the terms and conditions; and/or try to sign up. It is a minimum $1k per month fee with a minimum 6 month commitment. The more you spend on advertising on TopSEO the higher you can rank. It is a total scam designed for deceipt – so why would they post that? Obviously they want to be considered the “official authority” but can’t be bothered to put the work in to make it legitimate.

  20. I totally agree with David. The site states

    “We identify and rank the best internet marketing agencies and tools.”

    And under the “Apply for Rankings” page the only thing it says is:

    “topseos understands the importance of having a system of measuring quality that is recognized by the industry. To get on the coveted list of rankings that topseos publishes each month means having the spotlight directly on you. Only firms that are able to pass the evaluation procedure that topseos puts forth can make their way to the listing.

    Fill in the form below to have your agency evaluated and be considered for ranking on topseos.”

    And on the “Improve Your Rankings” page it states:

    “Boost your visibility by improving your ranking on topseos. Do you have a new customer, an achievement, a service or something else you would like to highlight about your firm? Share the attractions of your firm with us by filling out the form below to improve your ranking here.”

    And on the “Evaluation Criteria” page it states, in full:

    “Evaluation Criteria for Search Engine Optimization

    Those who are serious about boosting the quality of traffic that is being directed to their site need to put an organic optimization campaign in place. Search engines are such an integral part of how visitors and potential clients find information on the internet, thus it becomes essential that your website is aligned with what the search engine is looking for.

    Though there are many firms who engage in organic optimization activities, the process is by no means easy. Getting a link to the top of a search engine’s results page requires a great amount of strategizing and only a company who understand the intricacies of organic optimization will be able to accomplish that.

    Our evaluation process has been designed specifically to identify organic optimization firms that excel in their performance and output. An in depth assessment looks at how the firm works and is able to achieve its objectives. We get feedback from at least three clients of the firm to understand their performance better.

    A few questions that we may ask clients of an organic optimization firm to gauge their level of expertise are:

    General Queries:

    • What type of needs analysis was conducted before work initiated?

    • What type of a ROI were you anticipating, what was achieved and in what time frame?

    • What would be 3 things you would change about your experience?

    • What was your total investment?

    • Rate your overall experience (1-10; 10 being the highest).

    Project Specific Queries :

    • What are the most competitive keywords you have been able to rank on the major search engines and how long did it take you to achieve those rankings?

    • Did the agency modify the way they achieved higher rankings for you based on the Universal Search model introduced by Google? How?

    • How comprehensive, specific, and useful are the reports that are offered to the client? What metrics do they cover?

    • Do the reports inform you what the next set of steps ought to be to achieve higher rankings and when you can expect to achieve the next set of goals by?

    • How many of your top industry keywords rank in the top 10? Which ones? ”

    SO NOWHERE IN THE ENTIRE SECTION RELATED TO RANKINGS DOES IT STATE ANYWHERE THAT YOU ARE GOING TO BE EXPECTED TO SHELL OUT THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS EVERY MONTH TO HAVE OR AT THE VERY LEAST, MAINTAIN YOUR RANKINGS. IN FACT, SOME HAVE REPORTED (AS ARNIE HAS) THAT THEIR INITIAL RANKING CAME AT NO COST WHATEVER AND ONLY AFTER THEY WERE DROPPED TO A LOWER RANKING WERE THEY PITCHED TO FORK OVER THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS OR ELSE.

    THAT IS BULLSHIT OF THE HIGHEST ORDER.

  21. SEPARATE FROM THE RANKING SUBMISSION SYSTEM THEY HAVE THE “SEO AND PPC COMPETITION” PAGE.

    And THAT competition, which they DO state requires money, supposedly entitles winners to get a DIFFERENT badge that says they won THAT competition. Go to the Badges breakdown page over at SEOConsultants.com and scroll down to the COMPETITION BADGES section. http://www.seoconsultants.com/topseos/badges

  22. Alysson says:

    The service itself perpetrates a fraud from a consumer’s perspective. It provides them with a false sense of security that the companies listed are part of some kind of legitimate industry organization and that they’ve been ranked based on customer experience and merit, rather than how much money the company is willing to fork over on a monthly basis.

    Ranking a company based on no tangible, legitimate or measurable criteria initially and then extorting money from them to maintain that ranking smacks of douchebaggary and shenanigans. If a company had “earned” that ranking from the get-go, what reason would there be to strip them of that “honor” when they elect not to spend thousands a month to keep it? If companies are ranked without even knowing it, as appears to be the case with both Jill and Arnie, what were those rankings based on?

    Clearly neither of them provided any client information that TopSEOs could use to glean feedback from or even evaluate a client’s site to assess its performance. That makes it pretty obvious that any initial ranking is nothing more than a ploy and that the threat of being removed from their lists is supposed to make some feel obliged to fork over thousands a month to stay in. And, in some cases, it’s worked. According to Edward’s research, to the tune of about $55,000 a month. Quite a racket, don’t cha think?

    I guess for some of these companies, one in their “Featured Companies” list specifically, it’s the only way to actually generate leads. I know for a fact none of their leads come from client referrals. Money well spent, from a marketing and lead generation standpoint…nevermind that consumers are putting their faith in a stamp of approval that’s utterly hollow and devoid of actual meaning.
    Alysson´s last blog ..Charles Preston’s Verified SEO = Verifiable Failure My ComLuv Profile

  23. Arnie Kuenn says:

    I totally agree with Alysson. My biggest concern is for the consumers. As I commented over on Sphinn, if you look at the scores for the firms ranked in the top 50 for SEOs, you will see more than half of them have a 79% or lower rating. So out of 1,000+ sites listed in their directory, there are only 19 agencies in the whole world who can achieve an 80% score or better?

    If our company only had an 80% satisfaction rating with our clients we would be out of business! This is a total disservice to the businesses searching for reliable SEO firms and counting on these rankings to guide them. They need to drop this rankings part of their website or post clearly on the site that rankings go to the highest bidder!

    Enjoy your vacation Alan :-)
    Arnie Kuenn´s last blog ..Content Marketing Interview with Joe Pulizzi My ComLuv Profile

  24. [...] one service down, they’ve now banded together to take on another: TOPSEO’s. This time Alan Bleiweiss and Edward Lewis are compiling more data in an effort to expose TOPSEO’s service and those [...]

  25. James Scaggs says:

    @Alan

    Would you be willing to help promote this topic on our SEO community page at:
    http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=7&post=8&uid=110095695685039#post8

    The integrity of this industry is so important that I want to take this topic to Facebook discussion.

    I want this to become viral and I want to reach not only those involved in the SEO industry but also the innocent businesses that are getting duped. I just don’t want to see this thing fizzle out and if we can build a consolidated discussion and presence on Facebook we could get everyone involved in a channel where the people who need this information the most will see it.

    Please let me know if you can help with this.

    Best,

    James

  26. [...] Alan Bleiweiss of Search Marketing Wisdom has published One More Complaint Against TOPSEOs® Are they a shakedown operation or legitimate service? [...]

  27. I bought in to TOPSEOS for a couple of months last year. I knew it was a paid lead generation service, but I have had several students come through my classes that DID NOT realize it was a paid ranking service. They looked at the list to decide on the firms they want to contact without knowing it is a paid service. I think TOPSEOS needs to be more transparent about the paid aspect of the service.
    SEO Training NW | Colleen Wright´s last blog ..Continuing Education Units My ComLuv Profile

  28. Rohan Rajan says:

    I purchased Topseos.com’s Leads Program for three months with paying them $1200 On Sept7/2008. Soon after the Payment I started receiving leads for people looking for Price Quote for their search engine optimization requirement..

    Now When I contacted them back via email they never responded back to me and few of them get back to me with a question that they have never utilized topseos.com to request any quote for SEO..

    Now this was something serious because due to having no responses from their leads for weeks I come to realize that these are FAKE LEADS.. or they might be selling old or unsolicited details of business not interested in SEO at all.

    Soon after I contacted Jeev trika and he completely denied to take any responsibility regarding the quality of leads and ask me to read their “term of use” policy page where they published that topseos.com holds no responsibility for the quality of leads.

    It was shocking for me because I joined their program after reading their LEADS program features it includes the service which filters the leads and they also verify the leads and only depressed the verified leads to their subscribers.

    Soon I realized that this Guy is selling me Crap and I will not able able to get refund of my $2100 invested with their so called “Leads Program”

    I have a very strong feeling that Leads from Internet marketing Business should come ahead and shutdown this company for selling fake ranking reports and services which is diluting the image of search engine optimization industry World Wide..

  29. [...] Before I continue I need to apologize for the lengthy delay in the time between that call and this article.  The fact is that I have a life outside my blogging.  Go figure.  Sometimes I’m swamped with client work.  Other times, personal life takes over.  In any case, even though it’s now been a couple weeks since that call, I think this is still a timely article, and as a follow-up to my own original article. [...]

  30. games says:

    I put in a plug for this website at mine. So, I think many people forget the points you are discussing.

  31. If you’re following this story thread, stay tuned – TOPSEOs posted an apology press release today and vowed changes coming. I have a new article coming out here in the morning reviewing and commenting on the release…

    And thank you to everyone who commented and those who let me know about additional deceptive practices!

  32. [...] vendors were initially ranked, WITHOUT paying, only to end up with lower rankings in an attempt to strong-arm those companies into paying the fees TOPSEOs insisted on.  So that statement is patently false.  [...]

  33. [...] that many companies they claimed to have reviewed, turned out to NOT have been reviewed.  Like Vertical Measures, as well as numerous other companies who’s representatives spoke up in the various Sphinn [...]

  34. [...] – that was posted to one of my TopSEO’s articles.  The one where I question whether TopSEO’s is a shakedown operation or not.   The comment “author” was listed as “Bradford Camenisch”. So [...]

  35. Nick D says:

    After much pondering I believe have unravelled TopSEO’s secrative ranking process, and am amazed at its stark simplicity.

    Every month they just export their bank statement to excel, and sort by descending in the cr column, lol thats it. TopSEO rankings out of the way for another month. :)

  36. Mitchell says:

    I think its time a class action laswsuit was organized. This is a total scam that hurts companies unwilling to be held hostage, and stupid enough to pay $1k a month to be listed in a fraudulent “best of” list. I will spend the $ if I can get enough people who will participate. That is something I will spend my money on.

    • Mitchell,

      I’ve personally never participated in a class action except when I was notified that Microsoft owed me gobs of money for having overpaid for a boatload of their products a few years back. So I don’t know what’s involved or what the legal basis would be here. I’d expect only the Fed or individual State Attorney Generals in the U.S., and magistrates in the other countries TopSEOs operates in could bring legal action against them. But I’m not an attorney. So I’m stumped.

      • I’m not a lawyer either, but as I understand it, the government isn’t involved in prosecuting a class action suit. It’s a civil suit, and the only way it differs from one party suing another, is that one legal team prosecutes the case for a large group of people.

        So instead of it just being me suing Company X, it’s me and many other people all suing Company X because we all suffered the same sort of mistreatment.

        Personally, I’m kind of doubtful that those of us who have chosen not to advertise with Top SEOs have a valid case against them. On the other hand, people who were bamboozled into hiring a crappy SEO company because Top SEOs falsely advertised that they had met some important criteria might have a case.

        • Mitchell says:

          I am not one to typically advocate a lawsuit; but these “lists” has caused many companies a great deal of pain due to their fraudulent representation. They are not lists created from independent reviews and ctrieria; they are lists created to include only those companies that paid to be considered and/or listed. To publically disseminate these lists as anything but that is fraud and is damaging to both the businesses seeking service providers and the service providers themselves. Our company, for example has received calls from clients all week asking why we are not on the list. We have also had conversations with potential clients that stated “we are going to go with a company that made the top 10 list we saw from TopSEO.” Do an impartial, legitimate list that gives all companies equal opportunity and I have no problem. Promote the list as “top rankings of companies that paid us to reviewed” and I have no problem. But to push these lists as “Top xxxx Companies in the US” is absolute fraud. It would be like Google headlining their PPC rankings as “Best Companies on the Internet” instead of “Sponsored Links.”

  37. Anonymous says:

    I recently had a conversation with some people there (Andrew and Jeev). The first 2 minutes were “we’ll rank you on our site” based on an “agreed financial model” I asked him about independent research, and basically it’s verifying references you provide them. He then told me “the better the financial model we agree to” with them, “the higher we will rank.” It is definitely not legitimate and surprised it continues to exist. He was very abrasive when I started poking holes in his practice and told him that based on these 2 minutes, we’re not interested. He then pouted and said “forget about it” and hung up!

  38. [...] The industry seem to have turned their attention to TopSeos -  “identified as an independent authority on vendors” (by themselves apparently) and it makes for a good read. It seems the legitimate SEO community, for the most part, finds what TOPSEOs does to be distasteful at best, a shakedown service at worst. [...]

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