If you have negative complaints on Ripoff Report or somewhere else on the Internet, you may be approached by someone selling Reputation Management, ..Search Engine Optimization or SEO services. Ripoff Reports staff has heard of Reputation Management /SEO companies emailing, calling, or faxing their sales pitch to people within minutes of a complaint being posted about them online. Some of them even falsely infer that they work for or on behalf of Ripoff Report. If this has happened to you, we want to warn you that hiring an SEO company to hide or bury your online complaints may be one of the worst mistakes you can make.
If you are a company or individual that has negative Reports about you, and you are mad at Ripoff Report, .. read this story, you will see, Ripoff Report is the least of your problem. [continued below]....
Below you will see links to independent stories written by those that became victims and links to independent writers.. What is SEO?
The term can refer to many different things, but in general it is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization
the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the natural or un-paid (organic or algorithmic) search results. HUH?
In plain English, reputation management or SEO companies will typically promise to help you hide negative complaints about your company. Sounds good, right?
These companies usually do this by creating positive profiles on social networking and other sites which are designed to rank highly in search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo! (NOTE you can do this yourself for free). These companies may even claim that for a $995 up-front fee and $109.00 per month they can remove negative information from the Google search results. In our experience, that is false. If you see any website that claims to be able to remove content from a search engine like Google, you should view this as a MAJOR red flag.
What SEO or reputation management companies are really saying is that they can create positive web pages that will show up before the negative ones, thereby pushing the negative results lower, maybe to the second or third pages of Googles search results. The negative pages are never removed, they are just a little harder to find. And, these results are often only temporarya negative complaint may be pushed down for a few days or weeks, but then will suddenly pop back up to the top of the results putting you back at square one. Those who have used these services claim that the SEO company will make things even worse.
Of course, you may find that the Reputation Management SEO company has no guarantee of results. IF they do, they are more than likely based overseas, so once they have your money, you may have absolutely no recourse if they fail to deliver results. Get ready for threats and intimidation. See below.
Also, if the SEO Company is promising to actually remove the negative information from Google, they may be breaking the law. Ripoff Report recently uncovered a reputation management scheme, that actually involved injecting unauthorized code into the website -- a criminal offense. The companies who paid for that service not only contributed to the crime but their listing also ended up right back at the top of the search engines once the illegal code was removed.
SEO Companies Promise Help, But May Become Your Worst Nightmare
Ripoff Report has been told that some Reputation Management SEO companies have even threatened their own customers
keep paying, or the Reputation Management SEO company will create even MORE complaints about you! This is shocking, but we have heard these stories over and over again. Links to some of these horror stores are below and more to come. Many have told Ripoff Report they are afraid to post anything about them in fear of retaliation as many have been threatened. Dont let that friendly salesperson fool you.
Heres the problem -- once the Reputation Management SEO company knows who you are and knows that your business is worried about online attacks, they know you are vulnerable. Armed with that knowledge, unscrupulous Reputation Management SEO companies may even engage in digital extortion by threatening to create more false complaints about you unless you continue paying them. THIS IS NO JOKE! A link to an investigation by a consumer Reporter will be posted here and as an UPDATE to this story in a few days from the date of this Report posting.
ONE OF MANY RED FLAGS
While there may be some legitimate SEO companies out there, many are fly-by-night operations which have no physical address. They often call themselves affiliates working with other Reputation Repair companies. Even if the company claims to have a U.S. address, this may just be a rented mailbox or a virtual office (virtual offices are simply addresses offered for rent to make a company appear more legitimate, but the company is more than likely not actually located at that address). Reputation management - SEO companies that are actually based overseas in dangerous places like Nigeria, Romania, Russia, India, and places like Canada, can make it look like that are in California, Florida, Colorado, Texas and places in-between using many different VOIP phones along with throw-away cell phones in their advertising. So if you give them your hard-earned money and dont see any results, you may have little or no legal recourse at all. Even if they advertise on the radio or TV, or if they are a big publicly held company, .. that is no assurance that the company is reliable. SEO Companies Operate under many different names
Some companies market themselves using dozens of different names because they end up blackmailing customers forcing them to continue to pay them, threatening they will make things worse.. Consumers will always find negative comments if they are out there, even if they have to search past page 3 or 20 on search engines, they will find it.
Many SEO companies cannot even hide negative complaints about themselves from the Internet so they have to keep changing their name. Tips for Dealing With SEO Companies
Before you decide to hire an SEO company, here are a few suggestions. First, conduct a search on Ripoff Report for SEO
and the word Reputation
and take a few minutes to read the horror stories that other people have experienced. While Ripoff Report does not generally investigate or vouch for the accuracy of complaints, the sheer volume of reports about reputation management - SEO companies should give you an idea of the warning signs to look out for on Ripoff Report and other places on the Internet. As we stated above, most people are very afraid to speak out about these companies as they have been threatened by these companies that they will make things worse if they dont continue to pay or if they say anything about them on the Internet.
, if you are approached by a reputation management SEO company, ask them to provide you with their physical address in the United States. If they dont have a U.S. address, then you should immediately look elsewhere. Of course, if they give you an address in the U.S., you should run a search and try to determine if this is a real office or simply a virtual one or a rented mailbox. One common virtual office provider is a company called Regus
, so if you see that name associated with a particular address, this is a good indication that its a virtual office, not a real one. Third
, you should NEVER pay anything up-front to an SEO company. Legitimate SEO companies will agree to show results before you are charged anything, so if you are asked to pay first, thats a huge red flag that should convince you to walk away immediately. Again, once you let them know you are slightly interested, more than likely they will make things worse for you and you will be beholden to them forever. Finally
, if you are hell-bent on using an SEO Reputation Management company, never, ever pay any SEO company via any method other than a major credit card. This means no checks, no debit cards, no PayPal, and no wire transfers. If you happen to get ripped-off by an SEO company, only a major credit card can protect you by allowing you to dispute the charge and get your money back. So, if you are contacted by an SEO company that wont accept your credit card, you should assume you will have absolutely no way to get your money back if you arent happy with the results.
BEST ADVISE DO NOT PICK UP THE PHONE WHEN THEY CALL, AND DO NO CALL THEM BACK
By telling a reputation management / SEO company that you are willing to talk to them, you are telling them that you are probably willing to pay them. You could be telling them that if things get just a little bit worse, you will break down and pay them big money to fix it by hiding the problem. That could tempt an unscrupulous company into making your problem worse. No kidding, we have heard of it. READ OTHER INDEPENDENT ARTICLES..
More claims on Ripoff Report from businesses that claim they were ripped off.
12 Warning Signs of a Bad SEO Company
How to Avoid Common SEO Scams and Scam Artists http://womeninbusiness.about.com/od/internetmarketingandseo/a/12-bad-seo.htm
8 SEO Scams That Wont Die / Why this is a scam
By Mike Tekula http://unstuckdigital.com/8-seo-scams/
How to Avoid Being Taken by SEO Scams and Bad SEO Companies
Be and Educated Consumer and Outsmart Web Marketing Scam Artists
By Lahle Wolfe, www.About.com Guide http://womeninbusiness.about.com/od/internetmarketingandseo/a/avoid-seoscams.htm
Google Secure Search shuts out SEO scammers http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/239730/scitech/technology/google-secure-search-shuts-out-seo-scammers
SEO Indexing Services and Why You Dont Need Them http://www.web-design-talk.co.uk/393/seo-indexing-service-why-you-dont-need-it/
SEO Indexing Services and Why You Dont Need Them http://www.web-design-talk.co.uk/393/seo-indexing-service-why-you-dont-need-it/
How fake sites trick search engines to hit the top
by Jordan Robertson http://artoftheprank.com/2009/12/10/seo-for-fraudsters/
Google Adwords and SEO: Beware of the Fraudsters
By Tom Foydel http://stevehill.wrytestuff.com/swa234162.htm
Rather than taking your chances of getting ripped off by a shady SEO company, you should consider other options which we believe are MUCH more effective.
Other Options instead of hiring SEO Reputation Management companies
First, you can always deal with a complaint on Ripoff Report by filing a free rebuttal. Ripoff Report charges nothing whatsoever to post rebuttals, so why not use this opportunity to explain your side of the story at no cost to you? Think a report is fake? Say so! Demand that the author supply proof (copies of receipt, invoices, etc.) showing that they are real customer. As we like to say: Every business will get complaints, but thats not what really counts. Customers dont care about complaints, they care about seeing how a company handled the complaint. If you use a free rebuttal to show your customers that your business really cares about providing the best product/service, this will show that your customers can trust you to make things right if something ever goes wrong. VIP Arbitration Program
Second, if you really think a report is false but dont want to pay for an attorney, you may want to consider submitting the matter to Ripoff Reports new VIP Arbitration Program. Although this program is not free (the current cost is $2,250, a fraction of the cost for an attorney and going to court), the program gives you the ability to submit evidence to a neutral and independent arbitrator (including an arbitrator who is a retired judge) who will review the evidence and make a written decision as to whether a report is true or false. If the arbitrator concludes that a report contains a false statement of fact, that statement will be (((REDACTED))) from the report. No reputation management / SEO company can offer this type of service. Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation & Customer Satisfaction Program
Corporate Advocacy Program / CAP
Finally, if your company has numerous complaints and you feel you may need additional help addressing customer service issues, you can always consider Ripoff Reports Corporate Advocacy Program. This program is designed to work with both small and large business owners who need help addressing significant customer service issues which have resulted in just a few to a large numbers of complaints. If your company has any complaints, you may want to consider enrolling in this valuable program which will help you turn these negative situations into a positive, resulting in better customer satisfaction and more business for you.
================================== What Is
The Corporate Advocacy Program
If you have a business with lots of Ripoff Reports or other types of complaints, youre probably asking yourself three basic questions:
1. What can you do to resolve existing complaints from unhappy customers?
2. How can you identify, isolate and fix the customer service or other issues that cause most complaints?
3. What can you do to increase customer satisfaction and prevent future complaints? All this will result in new found business.
Because every business is different, finding a common solution to these questions is not easy. In addition, because they are so close to the situation, many business owners have a difficult time seeing the problems that exist or even admitting that they have a problem in the first place. Despite the long name, our CAP program is really very simple.
Thats where Ripoff Reports Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation & Customer Satisfaction Program (or CAP) comes in. Despite the long name, our CAP program is really very simple. Using our years of experience in the consumer complaint industry, we have developed the CAP program which we believe is the #1 most effective way to help business owners regain control over the operational, organizational, and other issues which generate the majority of complaints. Removing complaints (which is NEVER part of the program) is like putting a Band-Aid on skin cancer. What we do is better. Just ask any member.
Now, some people claim that the CAP program works like this join the program, pay a fee to Ripoff Report, and well remove the complaints. Nothing could be further from the truth. Removing complaints (which is NEVER part of the program) is like putting a Band-Aid on skin cancer. It temporarily conceals the problem, but it does nothing to fix it. Thats why the Corporate Advocacy Program does NOT involve removal of complaints. Consumers love to do business with a company or individual that can demonstrate how they fixed problems and made things right..
Ripoff Report knows from many years of experience that consumers love to do business with a company or individual that can demonstrate how they fixed problems and made things right with those from the past. Consumers have more respect for a business that can show how good they took care of their customers and when they can admit, maybe there were mistakes made and demonstrate how they erred on the side of their customer. Who wouldnt want to do business with that company? What the heck is it we do if we dont remove reports?
Okay, if we dont remove complaints for CAP members, what DO we do? A lot, actually. Although the program is tailored to the specific needs of each member, we generally include at least three basic steps in every plan we create for our members. STEP 1 - ADMIT THERE'S A PROBLEM
The first and most important thing we do is to get our CAP members to understand our philosophy you cant tell an unhappy customer that they are wrong (even if they are wrong). Trying to resolve the complaint of an angry customer by telling them they are wrong is like trying to extinguish a fire by smothering it with gasoline. Try that sometime and let us know if it works.
So, we start by asking companies to admit that if customers are unhappy enough to post complaints, then regardless of whether the business sees them or not, problems must exist that need to be investigated and fixed. If thats something you dont agree with, then CAP isnt for you. STEP 2 - FIX THE PROBLEM
The second thing we do for CAP members is to reach out to all the unhappy customers who filed a complaint on Ripoff Report and see what can be done to make things right. How do we do this? We send an email to every person who has posted a complaint on Ripoff Report asking how we can resolve their complaint. Some people want refunds. Some want an apology. Some people were already taken care of and were not in need of any further assistance. Whatever it is, we let these unhappy customers know that the company involved has joined our Corporate Advocacy Program and has made a commitment to 100% customer satisfaction
. Of course, you cant please all of the people all of the time so we dont expect companies to give a $1 million refund to a customer who was unhappy with a $10 transaction, but during this step we expect our CAP members to talk to their customers and find an acceptable solution to their complaint. ..To err on the side of the customer. http://www.ripoffreport.com/VerifiedSafe.aspx
The goal of the second step is two-fold.
First and most obviously, we want to see existing complaints resolved so that customer is satisfied. Second, we want to be able to show consumers proof that the CAP member has made steps to fix the problems which are causing complaints. Honestly, educated consumers know that EVERY business receives complaints. Thats not what is important. Instead, smart consumers only care about one thing what did the company do to fix the complaint? If the company acted quickly, fairly, and reasonably, then the complaint can actually be viewed as positive proof that the company will stand behind its product/service if a problem occurs in the future (as they usually do).
Member businesses claim, the CAP program gets them new found business. STEP 3 - PREVENT FUTURE COMPLAINTS
The third thing we do relates to prevention of future complaints. After the CAP member has communicated with anyone who posted a complaint in the past, the business owner should have a pretty good understanding of what caused those complaints in the first place. Armed with that knowledge, the business owner can then focus on making operational changes as needed to remedy that root cause.
But what happens if a future complaint is received about a CAP member? While we hope this wont happen, the reality is that sometimes it will. When it does, Ripoff Report will act as a liaison between the CAP member and the customer. We will immediately forward the complaint to the company and ask them to investigate and respond with the expectation that whatever the problem is, it will be promptly fixed to the customers satisfaction. If the company refuses to make things right, we will take whatever steps are necessary including terminating our relationship with the company if necessary. At the end of the day, we expect CAP members who make good faith efforts to change their practices and follow our advice will see a huge decrease in complaints and a huge increase in customer satisfaction and new business.
Although we feel strongly that Ripoff Reports CAP program is extremely useful for many businesses, we know it is not right for everyone. If you are an individual, then the program is probably not a good solution for you. Also, if you believe that all of the reports against your company are untrue or were written by angry ex-employees and we have evidence to prove that, Ripoff Report will expose our findings as to what we found that shows the Report is false.. if not, then the program may or may not be right for you. We only want to work with companies who agree that change is needed, so if thats not you, then you should look into other solutions.
As stated above.. you always have the option of posting a rebuttal that explains your side of the story. Rebuttals are 100% free, and when done correctly, they can turn a negative complaint into a positive example of why your customers should trust you. Want a good example? Take a look at this rebuttal from a company called Overnight Mattress: http://www.ripoffreport.com/Bed-Bath/Overnightmattress-co/overnightmattress-com-over-n*g-355ee.htm This is exactly how a company can turn a negative into a positive by stepping up and showing that it is willing to customers. After reading this, who wouldnt want to do business with Overnight Mattress? (Full Disclosure Overnight Mattress is NOT a member of our CAP program nor have they paid us a dime. Weve never even talked with them. We just think this company is a good example of how to use a rebuttal properly). A final note
Consumers will always find negative comments if they are out there, even if they have to search past page 3 or 20 on search engines, they will find it. Honestly, if you really dont care about your customers and simply want to hide complaints about you, then SEO may be right for you, but why not step up to the plate and confront the problem head-on? Thats what customers want to see, and thats what Ripoff Report is here to help businesses do! ALL COMPANIES WILL GET COMPLAINTS HOW THOSE COMPANIES TAKE CARE OF THOSE COMPLAINTS IS WHAT SEPARATES GOOD BUSINESSES FROM BAD BUSINESSES
Read about Rip-off Report Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation & Customer Satisfaction Program,.. A program that benefits the consumer, assures them of complete satisfaction and confidence when doing business with a member business. http://www.ripoffreport.com/VerifiedSafe.aspx