Disclaimer: Just to make sure there’s no confusion, the opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of State of Digital or any of its affiliates, etc etc.
Now, with that out of the way, cue the rage.
Yesterday a press release, uncritically regurgitated by The Drum, made the rounds on various social media platforms. It concerned a company’s “number one UK SEO company” ranking, as awarded by none other than TopSEOs.
Aside from the editorial blunder of publishing this drivel, there are massive levels of fail in evidence here. Anyone in the SEO industry who can rub more than two braincells together knows that TopSEOs is a scam (as should be evident from the links provided later in this post).
Advertising itself as an ‘an independent authority on search vendors’, the marketing material distributed by TopSEOs seems to suggest that a top ranking on a TopSEOs list is a mark of quality. This is, of course, a big fat lie, as rankings on TopSEOs can simply be bought. The more money you give TopSEOs, the higher they will rank you.
Apparently the UK company in question has a lot of money to burn to pay for that (expensive) TopSEOs ranking, although it also seems the actual quality of their delivered services, at least in a few cases, is inversely proportionate to their TopSEOs spend.
A Tangled Web
TopSEOs has been outed for their deceptive practices on numerous occasions (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here – for starters) yet somehow they just don’t seem to go away. Many reputable SEOs have written about them and outed their industry-polluting crap, again and again, but TopSEOs just seems to get bigger and bigger.
This is, of course, utterly farcical. Everyone who works in SEO is aware of our questionable reputation, of the mostly negative public image SEO enjoys, and the scammers that contribute to this public image. Yet somehow we as an industry allow one of the biggest scammers to thrive and continue to spread their manipulative marketing-muck, thus damaging our industry’s credibility even more.
The fact that these TopSEOs scammers give large amounts of money to these industry events is, I suspect, somewhat related to this epic hypocrisy.
The irony here is of course that the companies who host these events also own some of the publishing platforms that serve as stalwart defenders of the reputation of SEO: Third Door Media runs SMX as well as Search Engine Land, Incisive Media runs SES as well as Search Engine Watch, and PubCon is run by the same folks who own WebmasterWorld.
What Can We Do?
Now in the face of such monetary and political powerplays we are not entirely without leverage ourselves. If we are serious about cleaning up our industry and improving our reputation in the wider world, we at the very least have to make sure our top conferences contain nothing but the highest quality exhibitors. That means we need to get companies like TopSEOs out of those events.
For example you could get in touch with Third Door Media, Incisive Media, and WebmasterWorld, and ask them to stop giving space and lending their credibility to scammers such as TopSEOs. In fact, everywhere you see companies like TopSEOs advertised you might want to contact the relevant party, explain the situation (politely, please) and ask them to remove any implicit and explicit endorsement of TopSEOs.
Especially if your own company is involved with these industry events as a sponsor or advertiser, you could get in touch with your sales rep at those events and explain that you do not want your company’s reputation sullied by sharing space with such vulgarly deceptive liars as TopSEOs.
We can talk as much as we want about cleaning up our industry, improving our credibility, and helping SEO mature… but if we fail to act upon these words and oust the scammers from our midst – starting with the highest profile scammers – it will all just be vacuous hot air.