Verified SEO: The Latest SEO Scam?

The SEO world joined forces this week in a bid to rid the world of a small slice of the SEO scamming world.  Due to its reputation as a “dark” or “mystical” art the world of SEO is one which is littered with companies trying their best to scam innocent companies and individuals out of their hard earned money.

A small number of them however have decided that the best prey are the SEO companies themselves and by leveraging the naivety of their potential customers a way to make money out of SEO companies is to offer up accreditations, rankings or verifications to help them gain new customers.  Great idea hey!? In theory yes, if these verifications had any substance behind them and weren’t based purely on commercial gain for the company providing the service.

One I have been aware of for a while is topseos.com. a company claiming to rank SEO companies on the service they provide and then supplies them with badges listing their rankings to use on their website and emails etc.   I came across them a couple of years ago and thought it would be good to get the SEO company I work for reviewed and listed so we could use it in marketing collateral, after all, looking at the criteria we ticked all the boxes to rank well.  So we contacted them to ask for a review and inclusion in their rankings and how we got included. Their response? “You need to pay” or to put more detail on it, you have to pay anything from £400 per month to £1800 a month to be considered for rankings.  Hardly sounds impartial does it!

Seoconsultants.com is in the process of calling out topseosso I will happily leave them to it. But topseos is not the only one at it, and not the only one being called out.

The latest company to enter this market is Verified SEO. Apparently a group of “industry experts” who will gladly verify you are indeed a bonafied SEO professional all for $99 a month (previously $199). This week however the world of SEO decided enough is enough and challenged verified SEO (in the form of Rishi Lakhani) to prove they really are SEO industry experts.  After all, if they were that good, we would have heard of them right? But the more the SEO community digs into the story behind verified SEO the less substance there appears to be behind their claims, and thus far, there has been no official response from the “industry experts” behind the project.  I guess they are just another bunch of SEO snake oil salesmen looking to make a quick buck off unsuspecting companies.

Id like to lend me weight behind the campaign and proclaim, that I am proud that neither I, nor my company, is a verified SEO, or a top SEO!

Just Say No to Verified SEOtopseos

Update:

Verified SEO, in the form of the founder Charles Preston, have now had their say in a comment stream which can be seen here.  Charles’ argument is that Verified SEO is a legitimate service but one that was not thought out well enough.  He says the service was not meant to be any form of scam, just a legitimate verification service for SEO providers.  The service has since been discontinued after all of the controversy.

7 thoughts on “Verified SEO: The Latest SEO Scam?

  1. Why are you still calling this a scam? I proved last week that it wasn’t. If you want your readers to truly value your blogging you must always print the facts and this post is not factual. I understand you may not have seen the discussion I had with the community over at http://cre8pc.com/2010/03/26/seo-expert-seo-expert/ where I explained what I was really trying to do.

  2. Hi Charles, thanks for stopping by.

    I did see the initial posting you mention at cre8pc but have been too busy to catch up on the full discussion. I would point out at the point of posting, my post was factual, you had not yet entered the debate. I would also like to point out that (unlike others) I wasnt making a personal attack on yourself, more on organisations such as this. Reputations are not the be all and end all, although when setting up a cerification service there needs to at least be some weight behind it that makes it worthwhile.

    As to whether Verfied SEO was a scam or not, the jury will remain out on that one I suppose. As pointed out in the comments at cre8pc $99 dollars a month as an on going service which doesnt appear to provide much doesnt seem like a well thought out model to me, and could be construed as a “ransom fee” for retaining the verified SEO badge.

    I agree the industry needs to find a way of getting rid of con artists and helping out small businesses in finding honest suppliers but I dont think topseos, or the verified SEO model are the way forward. In such a young industry, very few have the right to put themselves out there as qualified to provide such a service, and those that do are only make things worse for the companies providing a legitimate service but who refuse to pay te pay for a listing or a badge.

    As you have had your say, and have some valid points, I have updated the post with a link to your response, and will add a question mark to the title allowing my readers to make up their own mind.

    Rob

  3. Charles, I don’t understand how you “proved” it wasn’t going to be a scam? You made a statement that your intentions were not to scam, people make false statements all the time. I’m not saying I don’t believe you, just that you shouldn’t try to spin this or scare Rob into changing or deleting his post.

  4. @Rob

    Thank you very much for the changes you made.

    @David

    Hrmm…me trying to scare someone to not post something online? Me? That’s sort of the pot calling the kettle black ain’t it? I was asking Rob a question and then pointing out that I had clearly explained my intentions to the community on Kim’s blog and then asked him to please reflect that in his post. If someone posted something false about you on their blog would you not want to try and rectify that?

    I tried to launch a business that I honestly thought would offer a valuable service and I was subjected to something akin to an online lynching. The “presumption of innocence” is a fundamental right among most modern democracies. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. If someone wants to accuse me of attempting to “run a scam” then they need to prove that beyond any reasonable doubt before they begin labeling me as a scam artist. That is the ethical way to handle situations like this.

    I did prove that I wasn’t running a scam by first admitting that it was not a joke and then by taking full responsibility for the whole affair in a public forum. Had I been a real “sleazy character”, “scam artist”, “cock waffle” or any of the other epitaphs that were so easily hurled at me I would not have done that.

    I also explained very clearly what I was trying to do and my rationale behind it. If you read it you can see that it makes sense coming from the rationale that I had at the time. No where in there do you find something that looks like a scam.

    “Ransom fee”? How does that work exactly? I wasn’t forcing anyone to do anything, I was not extorting anything from anybody and those are very serious accusations to be making without any proof.

    I was merely trying to provide a way for an SEM provider to show that their previous record of success with past clients had been vouched for by people who had industry experience so that potential clients could feel more confident in doing business with that provider. That’s it. On paper it looked like a great idea. I didn’t know I was going to need a mandate from anyone to do something that I thought would help consumers make better decisions about who they hired for SEO. I was not setting myself personally up as a judge of any SEO provider I was creating a way for their past records of success to do that for them. The average consumer doesn’t care who we are or if so and so knows so and so, they just want to know if we can get the job done and not rip them off. That’s neither here nor there at this point…

    Prior to this event my online reputation was spotless and you will not find one single past client of mine who was either A. not satisfied with the work I did for them or B. didn’t receive a refund. No negative reports in the BBB, or ripoffreport or anything else.

    I was not a dabbler in SEO either, I built and sold a company doing it which means I had to have the whole thing systematized and have a steady client base in order to have a business someone would want to buy.

    Before I sold Click Response I had achieved first page ranking for “seo services”, “website marketing” and many other seo related keywords. As of today that company is listed on the first page of Google for the keyword “seo” – that is my legacy and that is who I am.

    My apologies if it seems rude of me to take offense to a group of people I have never met before judging me and slandering my name all over the internet without any proof to their claims. I would expect any one of you to take offense as well.

    I am not trying to “spin” anything, this is the behavior of a falsely accused person who has put a lot of time and energy into this industry. Even though nobody knew who I was I have paid my dues and have done my share in promoting this industry by doing good work and taking care of my clients for over a decade, by instilling confidence in consumers that SEO can create ROI and is worthy of investment.

    By not ever getting a site de-indexed, by educating consumers, by delivering results. Granted, I know anyone of us can sit around and deride each others work on some level and nit-pick each other to death on how things “should” be done but at the end of the day the only person’s opinion that matters is the client’s opinion.

    If I was man enough to own up to my mistakes I expect all of you to own up to having jumped the gun. I understand the industry has zero patience for scams and rightly so. However if we are all talking about “ethics” and setting ourselves up as judges of right and wrong we need to be applying those same standards to ourselves.

    I don’t want an apology or acceptance, I just want to set the record straight and to move on with my life.

  5. “I did prove that I wasn’t running a scam” – Charles
    That was a long winded method of arguing that you proved something you can’t :) I’ll try to make it easier for you. Let’s say I point a gun at you and the cops show up so I drop the gun and scream “April fools”. I can not prove my “intentions”. It doesn’t matter if I am not delusional and I know exactly what I was going to do I can never prove it, I can only make statements.
    I can change my story and say I only cried “April fools” because I was scared, I can then claim I was only testing police response time.
    Your best defense would be that nobody can prove it was going to be a scam either, hope that helps you.

  6. Pingback: Verified SEO – Related Posts

  7. Perhaps it’s time someone create a real, independent authority in our business. Perhaps Google should charge for a seal of approval after carefully evaluating what individual SEOS are up to.

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