Don't Fall For The "Most Dependable" Award

Aug 14, 2008 • 7:53 am | comments (9) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Industry News

Back in June, I told you the story I had with and other SEOs had with the Most Dependable awards being given to SEOs and Web Design companies, amongst others.

In short, a company named Goldline Research calls you, telling you that they create an "editorial" page in a popular magazine, like Entrepreneur magazine and others. The page will highlight your company as the most dependable in your niche and region.

The catch? If you are selected, you need to pay a fee. After going through the contracts myself, I noticed the fee was $3,500. I was a bit skeptical about it, but when I spoke to Goldline about that fee, they were honest and told me that it was to cover the costs of printing, research and so on. They said the content was editorial and these magazines would not let them buy an ad if they abused the editorial part.

In any event, I personally decided not to enroll my company. Why? It just felt off for me.

Yesterday, we were told by Miguel Salcido of eVisibility, an SEO company I respect, that they fell for it. Miguel told us and updated the HighRankings Forum thread, saying he just received a bill from Goldline Research for the amount of $5,500! He had no idea he was going to receive a bill for it and was shocked to see it. In fact, he was embarrassed they fell for it. He said:

We were blown away and VERY angry as we never expected the invoice. They never mentioned it to us at all, I confirmed that for the 5th time with our CEO.

I feel so bad for Miguel and company. Miguel added:

We are embarrassed that we were involved in this. We were genuinely excited about it and felt that it was legitimate.

So, please, if this helps one other company learn that there is a fee behind this award, then I am happy. I won't argue that $3,500 or $5,500 might be money well spent for advertising in a popular magazine. But you should know you are spending money and what this is all about.

Forum discussion at HighRankings Forum.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: August 13, 2008


Miguel Salcido

08/14/2008 03:48 pm

Thank you for the kind words rustybrick. We issued a press release touting our award and were hammered for it by the community. But we were genuinely naive to this company's tactics. We were never solicited for the $5,500 and we will NOT be paying it! So as promised, we are pulling our press release and we do not condone these paid awards. We earn out respect from our clients, employees, and peers through putting out great work and through accountability! One of the main reasons imnotadoctor and myself LOVE working at eVisibility!

Rich Brooks - flyte

08/15/2008 11:30 am

Whether this is actually a scam or not may be a matter of perspective. I've been approached more than once in the 11 years we've been in business w/similar schemes. Once a firm wanted to do a video about our company that would run on CNN during business shows; the segment would be hosted by Lou Gossett Jr! However, we had to pay for the costs which--I believe--came to about $10K. (They were up front about it, after the 20 min. pitch.) However, I have a friend who creates "Best of Portland/Miami/etc." shows for Fox that highlight shopping, eating and entertainment in a city. She makes her money by the fees paid by the companies featured. If anyone thinks that these companies didn't pay to get "best of" compared to the equally good store/restaurant/theater next door, then I feel they're being a little naive. Now, if a company doesn't TELL you that they're going to charge you, well, that's just dishonest.

No Name

08/15/2008 10:33 pm

I think that is when you tell them where to put their bill. I believe in full disclosure up front. If eVisibility had no idea they were being charged then I would not pay it.


08/16/2008 07:42 pm

Hi folks. We want to jump in here and set the record straight on a number of comments about our recent SEM list. It appears that there is some confusion in the marketplace regarding our company, our services and our business model. We started Goldline Research more than four years ago to solve a simple problem: How do I find a dependable professional that I can trust to give me good service? The Internet is a great resource, but it’s not always easy to find “the” firm that you are looking for (especially with all the search engine jockeying going on out there). Industry associations are useful but not everyone joins the association, and not every industry has one. Friends and colleagues are great sources as well, but often they don’t have recommendations to offer. We realized that there were lots of people experiencing the same challenge, and we believed that there was a market need for a company that would help consumers identify third party-reviewed service professionals. Our business model is similar to other companies such as J.D. Power, Good Housekeeping (and a whole bunch of others out there like them). We started researching service professionals in a variety of industries where consumers had a hard time finding a dependable provider. Our research process entails five broad steps, including determining industry-specific criteria, conducting detailed company interviews, talking with customer references, reviewing public records and quantitative analyses. Over the years we’ve expanded our industry coverage and strengthened our research process. To date, we have interviewed nearly 10K professionals in ten different industries. We don’t have any allusions that what we do is the be-all or end-all. We just think it’s a cool, helpful service to both consumers and to the companies we research and publish. While I’m at it, there is another point of confusion that I want to clear up. We tell *everyone* that we speak to that we are not Inc. Magazine or Forbes or any other magazine. We don’t pretend to be working for any of those publications, nor do we pretend to be “Inc. Magazine editors”. We are also upfront that we do charge a fee for our work. We wish we didn’t have to charge fees, but, until Uncle Sam starts providing this service with our taxpayer dollars or subsidizing our business, we have to keep the lights on. We do our best to minimize our overhead expenses, but as mentioned earlier in this thread, Inc., Forbes, etc. cost more than $100K for a one-off advertising page, so promoting the companies that we think are dependable in those magazines isn’t cheap, and nearly all of the service fees that we charge go to pay for the publication. During our interview with a company, we tell them about our service fee. We only charge fees to the firms that make it to the final list. *Every company* that wants to be considered past the interview stage in our process signs a contract agreeing to the fees and the services we provide should they make it to the final list. There is no “bait and switch” going on here as was alluded to at some point in the thread. And, no, we do not discount our fees (or make our service free) to “bigger” players to make our list more credible or charge different fees to “smaller” players. Everybody pays the exact same fee no matter what. The companies that receive our seal of approval see some useful benefits. Many of our clients have told us that our seal of approval helps provide them with credibility in the marketplace in that this helps them stand out above the fray. We also know that we help get them access to major local and national publications for promotional purposes that they would otherwise not be able to get to because it would be cost prohibitive. And, if that wasn’t enough, we do our best to help firms with their marketing. After all, many of small and medium-sized firms that we talking about (of which I’m guessing many of you on this thread are) are trying to grow and become more successful, and this has proven to help them with that. Over the last four years, we have completed more than 100 research lists. People keep coming back to participate each year because they are getting value. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t exist. We really appreciate the lively discussion here, and, if you have suggestions for ways that we can improve our offering (useful suggestions, please; the flame messages aren’t very helpful), let us know or give us a call.


02/02/2009 09:12 pm

Yeah we just lost a bid on a contract for a economic development website because the other company had that "Top 10" junk on their website. We've been offered this for the past 6 years running and we refuse to pay the $3500 for the little ad. Hope others gets the heads up and doesn't fall for this scam! For the right amount of money, I'm sure there are companies out there that will name you "King of the Internet"........LOL

No Name

03/10/2009 11:52 pm

Goldline Research endorses a know scamming outfit in the "debt settlement" racket.. "creditanswers" one of the biggest ripoffs on the net.. many people have been hurt by this type of racket and it's hard to believe someone hasn't done anything about it.

No Name

04/27/2009 06:26 pm

thanks - we just rcv. the call and it seemed a little fishy. not gonna fall for this one...

No Name

04/28/2009 09:54 pm

Our company was scammed by Goldline Research. We received a call telling us we had won an award for the top 10 most dependable Web Design Firms in the Southwest. We were told that the cost would be 3500 but it would be split by the other ten companies. We were told that the money would be spent on the cost for printing and research as well. I considered this to be reasonable so I went ahead and went for it. I was told by the guy on the phone Ted Paff that when I received the contract to not worry about the 3500 on the contract that the other firms would be signing it as well and that the real cost would be reflected on the invoice. I repeated the cost to him several times that it would only be 300 aprox between the ten companies and was assured that this was the cost. I went ahead and signed the contract but when I got my bill it was for the full 3500 I called the company and was told that I was lying and that I signed the contract and knew the cost. I tried to explain to the company president what I was told and was promptly told that I was also lying because he sits next to this Ted Paff and that he hears everything that he says and that none of his employees would ever misrepresent just to put someone on the list. I am now in collections for the 3500 and I am not going to pay for it. I feel that I was mislead and completly lied to. If anyone else has had this happen to them please post to this thread I am considering a class action against this company. I believe that the fact that there are so many of these posts against their company that this shouldn't be ignored.


08/22/2011 09:38 pm

I found that these folks also "review" insurance brokers, attorneys and a handful of others. In the case of insurance brokers and securities-registered brokers... beware! Advertising is strictly regulated in your industry and the vendors you use need to be compliant with regulations as well, or you can shoulder the blame in a regulatory exam. This company doesn't even comply with its own stated parameters, per my investigation. Their website claims a broker must have a 95% client retention ratio and at least 9 professionals in its office. The broker whose contract I just reviewed stated a 90% retention ratio and left the number of professionals blank on the contract form, but got the "award" anyway. While a mention in a national magazine may not be cheap or easy to get, it shouldn't be portrayed as any kind of evaluation by a set of standards unless those standards are valid and actually enforced. In this case, neither is, in my opinion. There's nothing in this overpriced package that anyone with a graphics program couldn't produce, except for the list in the magazine. The $7800 total paid by the broker I reviewed seemed like a lot for that, but, more importantly, could be considered misleading the consumer, since the "award" is meaningless. The potential misrepresentation, in both insurance and investment industries, is what could do serious damage to the company that falls for this sales pitch. Buyer beware!

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