Search Engine Optimization Firm Sued, Required to Pay More than $100K in Fees

Apr 14, 2008 • 9:34 am | comments (10) by twitter | Filed Under Search Engine Industry News
 

Kevin Heisler writes at Search Engine Watch that an "SEO agency" called Internet Advancement has been sued by Washington State and required to pay over $100,000 in fees for scamming its clients. Among the restitution includes penalties against offering services to new members and requiring refunds to be handed to scammed clients.

Some of their failures are outlined in this complaint (doc link) document. They include:

  • Defendants represent they will be able to secure top 10 search engine rankings for their customers. In fact, in many instances, they are unable to do so.
  • Defendants represent that their customers will obtain increased sales by obtaining defendants’ services. They have told customers to expect a “flood of traffic,” have promised thousands of “hits” a day, and have said the customers’ “only concern will be having extra employees to fill the orders.” In fact, in many instances, defendants’ services do not result in increased sales.
  • Defendants represent that they have a “96% success rate” with their “over 47,000 clients.” In fact, they do not.

So what did they do wrong? They made false promises and lied about their service offerings. Additionally, as Kevin Heisler notes, they made unauthorized charges to clients' credit cards and lied about their standings with the Better Business Bureau.

Hopefully, for the sake of their clients who were scammed out of thousands of dollars, this company will be put to rest.

Forum discussion continues at Search Engine Watch Forums.

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Comments:

Eric Pender

04/14/2008 03:26 pm

It's firms like these that, in aggregate, can give our industry a black eye. It's cases like these that give credence to those that support industry standards for SEO. I think it also puts more emphasis on how being a member of a professional SEO industry organization can add a ton of credibility to an agency.

Benjamin Burns

04/14/2008 04:43 pm

I second Eric, I strongly agree that the SEO industry needs some sort of professional standards. Any firm which mentions "guaranteed top 10 placement" needs to re-frame from placing this into a contract, unless it's on any keyword set i.e. low or no traffic and easy entry to top positions you're still at fault for saying "Guaranteed". ON the on-set between client and company the expectations needs to be laid out on the table in clear dialogue and contractual agreement. I hope someone over at SEMPO or our other institutes in the industry comes up with standards similar to the Web Analytics Association. Well... simply a lesson to all those firms out there.. to not cheat the client! Cheers! Benjamin Burns

Benjamin Burns

04/14/2008 04:46 pm

Hey guys my URL was incorrect in the previous post opps:)fixed.

Dean

04/14/2008 06:31 pm

This whole industry is full of scammers like that, from building sites, hosting sites and marketing sites. I get a good amount of clients that have has a bad experience with their past web company. It makes it a challenge to sell SEO services with companies like this. But all we can do is give good service, under promise and over deliver.

No Name

04/15/2008 05:37 am

it's always unwise to lie about something legal :/

Rob Abdul

04/15/2008 12:42 pm

It is always unwise to lie about anything!

LaSheita

04/15/2008 04:36 pm

Every other meeting with a new client results in some terrible story like this. And our current clients forward new and recent claims received by email to us. While it keeps us on our toes responding to these claims, they can be annoying... Wonder if there is a way to report these groups/individuals/entities?

Jeffrey Henderson

04/16/2008 07:57 pm

The idea of having standards in the SEO field is ridiculous. Our job is to help clients make more money by getting traffic from search engines. There are a million and one different ways of doing that, all of which have varying degrees of success. This would be like standardizing recipes. Who would go to restaurants if every place had to follow the same standard recipe? It'd be ridiculous. SEO is no different.

No Name

04/17/2008 03:49 pm

There is already a set of SEO standards and they are arbitrarily enforced by Google.

Bill

04/18/2008 12:09 pm

SEO Standards are not the answer. The standards that are applicable are common business standards. You don't mis-represent your products and services. This is not an example of a bad SEO practices - but of a bad business practices.

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