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The man behind TOPSEOs weighs in on the recent controversy over his "pay to play" awards and ranking system, fraudulent and misleading contact form submissions process and propensity to plagiarize content from well-known search marketing professionals in order to feign legitimacy.  Alan Bleiweiss certainly went above & beyond the call of duty reaching out to Jeev personally and giving him the opportunity to defend the TOPSEOs questionable business practices.
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from ArnieK 1583 Days ago #
Votes: 1

It took Alan a while to get this written, but well worth the wait.



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from NateSchubert 1583 Days ago #
Votes: 5

"Pay to Play" is unethical, sure, but if the Search Marketing industry was a swimming pool, it'd be that public pool on the poor side of town that nobody seems to want to keep clean. There are many of us who do our best to be ethical, but frankly there are so many more who don't care. They're in it to make some cash and leave. Without some established standards, we'll be fighting them off as long as the industry exists.

The real concern for me with respect to TOPSEOs is the fact that they have no problem utilizing the Bait & Switch tactic. Potential clients think they are taking action on TOPSEOs.com to contact Company A but get Company B instead. Bait & Switch is fully illegal, as in AGAINST US LAW.

Anyone who has suffered through this should contact the Better Business Bureau immediately, or companies like TOPSEOs are going to stick around.



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from pageoneresults 1583 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Jeev Trika's rebuttal to my view on that tactic was cold, matter of fact, and pure “unethical business 101″. He said - when that form gets filled out, we do send a notice to the email we have on record for that company. We then invite them to join our leads program (the one for the hefty fee). If they decline, it’s not our problem. We then pass that lead along to another company.

How much do leads cost? $2,850.00 for 3 Months, $5,500.00 for 6 Months or, $10,000.00 for 12 Months.

I've been telling folks that they are being used over there to lend credibility to a platform that has been setup to be nothing more than a FFA (Free-For-All) lead generating machine. They don't care, all they want are the leads. They could care less about the business practices of the platform they are supporting for those leads. Take a look at the Paid Membership, look at the names in our industry that are supporting the TOPSEOs deceptive business practices, that's not right and I'm going to call them out too.

Also keep in mind that you don't need a Paid Membership to buy leads, those are available to anyone willing to join the Leads Program. So, when you see those Basic Membership Badges, don't be misled into thinking that the company with the badge is not involved, they could well be one of the shills in the shell.



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from AlanBleiweiss 1583 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Edward, you're absolutely right.  The Problem is that I bet many of the "basic" members never bothered to do any research or due diligence.  And I think someone (us) needs to wake them up to the reality of what's going on.

More important I think someone (us) needs to notify all the companies that are just listed in the system without memberships to find out if they've anonymously tested to see if they get the leads to their company from those contact forms.  And to find out if they're happy with the TOPSEOs service as a result of that factor. Or perhaps find out if any want to join a possible class-action lawsuit... Just wonderin-mind you - I'm not about (yet) to call all those companies across all the sites.



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from Hobo 1583 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I tested it @2 weeks ago. I never recieved any email. No response to my query either at the originating email address so their claim that the company is contacted is not correct in my case. I assumed they might have thought we were all testing it but apart from the dubious awards, the strange wording on their site - this lead generation thing (ie looking as if you are contacting the actual company listed) is just WRONG - the cheek of it, in my opinion.

I also discovered it was my MD who may have submitted us years ago (we think - before we realised it was a pay-for-play) and I had dealings with them to correct our profile, but the login he has does not work for the system in place at the moment, so no apparent method of deleting your profile either, which I think is wrong too, as it looks as though we are getting "ranked" against companies, some of which have less than favourable reviews all over the net!

My MD also asked to be removed from their directory totally - via their contact form - NO RESPONSE as typical.

I'd really like to see a method by which we can remove our profiles from the directory, instantly.



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from pageoneresults 1583 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I've been in communication with what appears to be a TOPSEOs Paid Member. After pulling the trigger first and then asking questions later, I've come to find out this company tried the service in 2008 and then discontinued it due to failure to perform.

But get this, they still have a Paid Membership Badge attached to their listing so it looks like they are a paying member when in fact they are not. I wonder how many of the Paid Listings are expired and haven't been updated? Are those there as plants to make it look like the Paid Membership is much larger than what it really is? TOPSEOs are putting companies at risk of collateral damage by not keeping the listing information up to date.

The badges are globally updated. This company's listing has not been paid for since the initial test in 2008 yet the Paid Membership Badge has been updated each year since then. Right now it looks like the company is a Paid Member for 2010. I can tell you this did not leave a very good impression on the company I've been communicating with. It caused some grief in the process too. I'm hoping they'll join us in this discussion at some point.



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from AlanBleiweiss 1583 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Hobo,


If I ever get to speak with Jeev again (Hey may wish to clarify some things I've written about) I'll be sure to ask about your situation.  I presume you didn't get contacted not because they didn't send out an automated "hey - we have a lead - want to pay  us for it?" email, but that the address used all those years ago is now defunct?  Is that it?

In any case, they really need to have a properly functional mechanism for companies to request (demand?) removal, let alone update contact info....


Edward

This brings up yet another angle to the whole deceptive practices issue - if a company is no longer a member, but TOPSEOs keeps them there, it's using false information to make TOPSEOs look more robust than they are.  Another not-good thing.  Go figure.



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from Hobo 1582 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I'm positive all my emails are working (even old ones). I got no response from my test email even though I stipulated it was urgent (I think).

PS I just checked through my mails from years ago - this was THE VERY FIRST "DIRECTORY" my MD submitted our new company to so he could get an idea what this game was about. I even congratulated him on it lol

The point is I am not looking for leads or actual work at the moment.

I dont want to be part of a system that ranks seo as I dont think this can be done accurately or transparently, and this is what (I think) the site has matured into. i certainly dont have all the facts to make a judgement on anybody elses experience than my own.

Nobody knows how good another seo is at a particular thing, and a project differs from one to another, with different goals to be judged on. My main problem was never the lead generation program - we never took part in it.

It's the ranking and awards system.

I dont want to be ranked by any company with no mandate to do such a thing if the spaces at the top are reserved for those who pay the most. I dont want people to think we have any part of this nonsense.

I mean is this how this thing works?

This list of best seo companies - if we grabbed that table and worded it differently it would be a joke.

Instead of:

"The Best SEO Company In The UK as voted by Topseos, independent authority of search vendors"

are we now to think it's more appropriate that it should read:

"A seo company who paid the most to some company called Topseos that month to come top of these awards"

(That's if this is the case. Are we positive they who pay the most get the top awards? Would like topseos to confirm that one)

And what's with the silence in response to the criticism? That speaks volumes.

In your superb article you state the things that would make them more credible. Whatever.

I have simple wants at this stage:

  • I'd like to be able to remove my company details from that directory as at the moment, it's not clear we are involved at any point in getting "ranked".
  • Id like my login I have a record of to work, so I could delete my profile.
  • id like emails I send requesting this acknowledged by Topseos in a timely manner - even a few days later would have been fine if not entirely professional but I know how busy things can get. I am horrible at communication in a timely manner so I would forgive a little if this is the case too.

If i got that I would be satisfied at this stage, and let the industry at large work out if the awards system and lead generation aspects of this business model has any merit.



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from Alysson 1582 Days ago #
Votes: 1

As anyone who's been following this adventure via Twitter already knows, when I found the scraped content in the TOPSEOs "Knowledge Zone" from Kim Krause Berg and Kalena Jordan, I filled out one of the contact forms as an average visitor would.  The contact process itself is incredibly misleading, at best...and blatantly fraudulent, at worst.

I chose to submit a form in an attempt to contact Kim, as I wasn't able to find any profile related to any of her brands at the TOPSEOs site...just the blatantly stolen content that was posted in a manner that suggests Kim is a voluntary contributor to their "Knowledge Zone" and somehow affiliated with their brand in some official capacity.

I filled out the form using an e-mail address, name and website that is not publicly linked to me.  I hoped in doing so that the form would be processed as any normal contact form submission through their site would be.  I've heard nothing.  To my knowledge Kim was never contacted regarding the lead.  And no other company has contacted me in reference to it.

If I were an average person looking for SEO help, this would reflect very badly on Kim and I'd be left to assume she was simply ignoring my request.  In and of itself, this is an issue that TOPSEOs should address because they are willfully causing potential damage to someone else's business reputation.



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from AlanBleiweiss 1582 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Shaun,

I completely understand where you're coming from.  The fact is that there's too many complaints against TOPSEOs for this to be a case of misunderstanding - you're not the only one to want removal and not get any response back, though some others have, somehow, gotten removed upon request.  So I'm not sure what that specific issue is, other than to believe, at this point, that TOPSEOs staff just doesn't care enough, as they have bigger revenue generating fish to fry.


And yes, I do believe now that if you want the highest rankings you have to pay - or somehow otherwise be in a business relationship with TOPSEOs.  Which means the whole rating system is a fraud.  And since you have now confirmed that you've not gotten any notification about leads, it's one more nail in their professional coffin.


Alysson

Your effort in the process is greatly appreciated.  And you're right - the average person doesn't know better, doesn't ever see the essentially hidden disclaimers, and even if they did, they're so misleading as to be laughable and worthless.  Site owners suffer, the SEO industry suffers.  All at the hands of the greed-mongers without ethics over at TOPSEOs, and Jeev Trika stands on top of that pile.



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from Hobo 1582 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Excellent - I have been removed from Topseos. Thanks.



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from AlanBleiweiss 1581 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Shaun,


I'm sorry for your loss.  My condolences.  Maybe when TOPSEOs goes out of business and they start a new venture under a new name, they'll be nice to you again and reinclude you without your permission or knowledge.  One can only hope right?  /Sarcasm



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