Topseos Review | The Complaints Awards 2012

(This is an archive about posts on Topseos over the years, and is all 100% professional opinion. As one of the companies “rated” *cough cough* in the past, I think I have a right to comment on it and ‘rate them’ tho I did a bit more work than them so I now rank for their name in Google by the looks of it. My thoughts in no way reflect on individual companies on the list. I’ve removed some links from this post as some were broken)

When I wrote my post about TopsSEOs recently (which was retweeted some very influential seo) and questioned the reporting by the Drum Magazine in Scotland, I found it pretty difficult to find any of the tons of bad press on Google about the company I knew existed. The articles I am looking for are buried under a TON of self-promotional press releases and a myriad of domains and subdomains in (in my opinion) an attempt to bury all those complaints or criticisms about the company, written by trusted seos in the industry.

IN FACTI couldn’t find ONE good editorial link to Topseos site(s) (that I would be proud of) that I didn’t question the editorial authenticity of it.


So, I thought we could have our own little awards ceremony and list the top complaints I could find about Topseos.

Contenders for the Complaints Awards 2012

ADDED: Disclosure: I don’t know if TopSEOS is a scam. I just think it needs to be A LOT more transparent in it’s practices, claims and promotional material.

I reviewed a lot of material, snippets of which are below. (EDIT – 2013 I have removed the links from this post – I don’t want to be accused of manipulating results).

While drinking Santa’s milk and spying on a few of my competitor’s websites (oops), I noticed they had a fancy graphic of an award claiming their link building tool was….
A Review of the Top SEOs Paid Rating Service | SEO
Who is going to pay to tell people that they are good enough and their lives are fine as they are? A fundamental truth of advertising is that advertising the truth usually isn’t very profitable – …
Continues Deceptive Practices | Search Marketing Wisdom
TOPSEOs was built on deception, article scraping, and bait-and-switch practices.  The industry cried foul, [Name Removed] blew it off as motivated by ulterior motives, I called him out, and 3 days later they issued an official apology, vowing to change.  Fast foward a full month, and they continue their ways, laughing in the face of reality…
4 Press Releases 
After the SEO community cried out, and lashed out, at Top SEOs for alleged deceptive practices the TopSEOs brass rushed out to do what they do best the most, they created some press releases. They made claims that they have listened and will clean up their act. Did they? Not according to Alan Bleiweiss in his Top SEOs Continues Deceptive Practices article.
5 $15,000 per month listing fees
There has been a lot of talk recently about how might not be the Independent Authority on Search Vendors they claim to be.
Why I don’t display my numerous TopSEOs awards | Net Magellan
A long time ago I alerted my friend Edward Lewis about this company that purported to rank SEO companies and awarded them badges. I had been working as an in-house SEO at a large IYP…
User Reports
User reports and information about . TOPSEOS contacted our firm after ranking us multiple times in their fraudulent ranking
An Independent Authority?
I wrote about TOPSEO’s earlier this month. Since I’m new to TKG, I asked around to see if we would’ve gotten involved with this organization years ago….
An Independent Authority?
I don’t care if you’re tired of seeing TOPSEOs at the moment. This is something you MUST see to really understand what this organization is doing. I understand why folks around here are somewhat reluctant to get involved as many of you may be paying for your rankings over there. Or, you’re promoting their service on your website properties. I’m guessing some of that will come to a halt here in the near future. There is too much garbage coming out of the woodwork in regards to this company and their related entities.
10 Scam. STAY AWAY
I need to vent- is a SCAM. In order to even be on their so-called list of TOP seo firms you must pay- and pay BIG. I sent an email today and one of the owners of the company said that it would cost $1,000 per month to even be ‘considered’ and ranked on ONE list.
Apologizes – Legit or more Deceptive Business? | Search Marketing Wisdom 
There’s been a flurry of renewed activity in the past few days regarding the fact that TOPSEOs has been caught using deceptive business practices in their operation.  Apparently someone at TOPSEOs, perhaps [Name Removed] himself, finally felt that enough pressure was being applied, because yesterday morning (April 28th), a press release was posted through where TOPSEOs issued an official apology “to the community” for “confusion”, and where they vow “Changes to the Site”.
12 Infamous for Fake “World’s Best Local Internet Marketing Awards.”

TopSEOs Infamous for Fake “World’s Best Local Internet Marketing Awards.”Six reasons you should steer clear of TopSEOs and those who market the acceptance of their “World’s Best Awards.”
Awards For Best SEO Company Not Transparent Enough
Apparently Top SEOS produce rankings and award badges for best seo companies in various countries (including the UK) … except folk are of the opinion you might have to pay thousands
This week’s buzz in the SEO community is all about complaints against TOPSEOs (and questions for [Name Removed], one of their owners) – a company that sells rankings and awards within the SEO industry.  While they bill their rankings as a “competition”, people from a number of highly reputable companies in our industry  have come out essentially saying that TOPSEOs is nothing more than a shakedown for money.
17 Deceptive Practices – An Interview
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 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.
18 False Claims?
My company has been in Top seos in the past, but because we do not buy their leads now, our ranking has dropped. They claim to simpy “evaluate” seo companies, however, that is loaded with B.S. They tell consumers that they should look at their rankings because they have a stringent policy of ranking. Well, if you think that stringent rankings involves how much you are willing to pay Top SEOs, then I guess you should use them! TOP seos is a total scam. If you are person trying to evaluate SEO companies, dont use them. They lie.
19 SCAM!!
Lately many people must have seen SEO companies publishing results about getting top ranked as the best seo company in a given country or best link building company in a given country by TOP SEOs so i decided to look into it further. One of my old client ranks ranks at position one for best seo company in UK for almost last 1-2 years and he told me that they pay a large chunk of money to top seos to maintain this listing. My partner in Australia asked top seos for the top spot in Australia but they were told that its already booked by the same UK company and they can get the 3rd position and lately the UK company stopped their operations in Australia and we were given the top spot again for money. So in short TOP seos is basically a SCAM and there is no actual research done for ranking the SEO companies on the basis of the seo services they provide.
20 Verified SEO: The Latest SEO Scam? a company claiming to rank SEO companies on the service they provide and then supplies them with badges listing their rankings to use on their website and emails etc.   I came across them a couple of years ago and thought it would be good to get the SEO company I work for reviewed and listed so we could use it in marketing collateral, after all, looking at the criteria we ticked all the boxes to rank well.  So we contacted them to ask for a review and inclusion in their rankings and how we got included. Their response? “You need to pay” or to put more detail on it, you have to pay anything from £400 per month to £1800 a month to be considered for rankings.  Hardly sounds impartial does it!
Ripoff Report Directory | Complaints Reviews Scams Lawsuits Frauds Reported or Top Seos rates and reviews companies based solely on how much they PAY, the more money you give the better your rating. Basically I can be a crappy SEO company, pay 1000’s of dollars and they will say I’m number one!
22 Fell for TopSEOs…advice?
So yesterday I check out their site and we were ranked #1 for SEO Copywriting. For about two seconds I was jumping for joy…but after that I got sick to my stomach. In all the chaos with end of year stuff and the holidays I never considered the fact that they didn’t take any references. They never evaluated anything. Here we were ranked #1 and they couldn’t possibly know anything about us. Not to mention that there are plenty of more established SEO Copywriting companies. I’m starting to freak out…
23 Kill The Hypocrisy, It’s Time To Take a Stand
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).
24 Best SEO companies in Australia
So in a few words: If you want us to rank you for what you want to be ranked… you need to pay 1K per month. mmm fair isn’t?


So who actually wins the Complaints Awards 2012 – you ask?

Well, that’s going to be difficult as there could be legal matters. I dont want people putting the Hobo logo on their sites saying I rated them as a “Award Winner”. I will need to get some disclaimer….. hang on….

I will quote this bit from Topseos themselves – which basically says my rankings awards aren’t worth the bits they are written with – that should protect me:

User agrees to not hold and/or [Name Removed], LLC and/or any members and/or any managers and/or any of our partners and/or suppliers liable from any decisions they take. Furthermore, [Name Removed], LLC is not liable for any statements, representations, descriptions, comments, or opinions posted on the Site.  [Name Removed], LLC cannot guarantee the accuracy, integrity, or quality of Rankings. Under no circumstances will [Name Removed], LLC or any third-party providers of the Rankings be liable in any way for any Ranking, including, but not limited to, any errors or omissions in any Ranking/s, or any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of the Ranking/s.

OK – with my disclaimer out of the way – I can now present the Topseos Complaints Award 2012 to……


  1. Alan Bleiweiss – Gold Award Winner | Twitter!/AlanBleiweiss
  2. Edward Lewis – Silver | Twitter –!/pageoneresults
  3. Aaron Wall – Bronze | Twitter!/aaronwall


You want a few hundred thousand spun press releases to go with that award, Alan?

Let me know.

Oh – and I forgot – if you want to keep your award – I want £1,000 a month for it. Or a beer. Whichever is easier.


PS – Yes – Edward Lewis was also a champion of this – a truly animal reporter. Alan edged it by introducing a human element to the investigative journalism that was led by Edward, by actually interviewing the man behind Topseos. Aaron Wall featured as often, it takes someone with the celebrity he has to get the rest of the seo world to take notice.

PPS – I also emitted any single person’s name from the entries quoted from around the web, including the man, the myth, the legend behind topseos. The problem is with the organisation – not one individual. This isn’t a witch hunt and I don’t want to besmirch any one person’s name.

This article is 100% MY OPINION BTW. And that opinion is that they (and their Top SEO Awards) suck balls, wether they ‘work’ as advertising or not for the seo companies who want to be associated with them – which I hear they do – very well. Go figure.


Opinion: TopSEOs Sewage Leaks To Scotland via The Drum Magazine

TopSEOs Sewage Leaks To Scotland via @thedrum

— Shaun Anderson (@Hobo_Web) January 16, 2012


 Jan 16, 2012 – Man. I was so disappointed when I saw the Drum Magazine today – surely recognised as one of Scotland’s – and the UK’s –  top marketing and advertising publications – at least it used to be (or I had that impression) when I worked as a junior in ‘advertising’ in the 90s.

Why the disappointment?

For spreading, in my opinion, more TopSEOS sewage about. This time, wait for it – promoting “The number one SEO company in the UK” – LOL :

ranked number one SEO company in the UK

What an astonishing – even, misleading, claim to make about ANY SEO company in the UK.

Lets be clear – I don’t have a beef with the company mentioned – they are using a marketing channel – and it obviously works for them. Why they need to go into bed with Topseos I have no idea – we got @50 new business leads over the last 4 weeks without paid advertising – at all – anywhere – but that’s up to them – but if they want to put their name to that crap – they are putting themselves in the firing line. Big profits to make – it would seem.

My problem is actually with the Drum for spreading this sewage about companies WINNING AWARDS when they – according to many reports – ARE PAYING TOPSEOS TO WIN THESE AWARDS.

I asked the Drum if they were comfortable with that editorial on their site and (very nice of him, it has to be said) –

– the Drum’s editor, Gordon Young, replied:

Although The Drum likes to make sure all our editorial is as strong as possible, I have to confess we are not infallible. That is where we benefit from the strength of our online community who do a fantastic job providing additional balance where necessary, or at least putting forward alternative viewpoints from those reported in some of the news.

Apparently the content was not paid for, either.

So – this was an editorial?

Well this was a massive fail, in my opinion.

This one article has destroyed any trust I would have had in the Drum to publish accurate news. Hell, even publish accurate press releases.

The TopSEO website rates companies on a number of categories including needs analysis, keyword analysis, on page optimisation, off page optimisation and reporting methods.

That is laughable.

I don’t know of ONE respected SEO, from anywhere in the world, who has came forward and defended the practices of TopSEOS over the last few years – OR ANY of TOPSEOS astonishing claims.

I DO know of PLENTY of SEO who have came forward claiming Topseos awards and processes was – paraphrasing – a ‘joke’.

Want to see what the GLOBAL SEO COMMUNITY THINKS of Topseos and their worthless awards?

  1. An informative new twist in the Topseos Awards, lead generation and accused copyright infringment (of article content) saga – opinion from Alan Bleiweiss on  TOPSEOs Deceptive Practices – An Interview with Jeev Trika
  2. Topseos APPOLOGISE to “SEO industry” – – “SEO industry” not amused it seems.
  3. Topseos APPOLOGISE to “SEO industry” – Alan’s response –
  4. More on Topseos here and here.
  5. $15,000 per month listing fees
  6. TopSEOs on Seobook – he knows a thing or two……

FFS – Need I say more?

Seriously – these topseos awards are a disservice to this industry – and clients looking for good seo companies – everywhere. I can’t believe I am getting worked up about a crappy LEAD GENERATION site….but it annoys every time you go to Google and see these “TOP AWARDS” and “No1 SEO Company” all over PPC ads.

Ahem….trading standards?

Thank you – The Drum magazine – for spreading this sewage about in Scotland, and helping make it even harder to compete as a small SEO company in 2012.

HUGE disappointment.

TopSEOs Sewage Leaks To Scotland via @thedrum

— Shaun Anderson (@Hobo_Web) January 16, 2012

Topseos Awards For Best SEO Company Not Transparent Enough

The industry seem to have turned their attention to TopSeos –  “identified as an independent authority on vendors” (by themselves apparently) and it makes for a good read.

It seems the legitimate SEO community, for the most part, finds what TOPSEOs does to be distasteful at best, a shakedown service at worst. Alan Bleiweiss

Apparently this organisation produce rankings and award badges for best seo companies in various countries (including the UK) … except folk are of the opinion you might have to pay thousands of pounds to be considered for these industry awards.

UPDATE – I asked for Hobo to be removed from the directory, and asked the “best uk seo company in the UK” (according to themselves) to stop bidding on our brand name with this nonsense. Generally speaking, I’m happy with that, now, both have complied with our requests.

As of 2010-03-31, there are 3,247 search engine optimization companies listed. Of those 3,247 SEO companies, 170 are listed in the Best Search Engine Optimization Companies category. @pageoneresults

My experience is we were ranked the 4th best seo company in the UK a few years ago, about a year just after we launched Hobo, (just above Andrew’s team the week that they sold for £60 million or something like that lol).

Actually this is the exact email I sent to Michael when I was informed we were ranked in 2007.

“Title – 4th best seo company in the uk lol,com_rank/task,rankByCountry/country_id,2238/”

(Note the above link is now redirected – there’s no archive on the site but there is a record in the Web Archive). Actually in November 2007 we were 3rd it seems – shows how much attention I was paying.

I’m not sure if I actually submitted my seo company to be ranked or at least included in what looked like a large on-topic directory for seo companies. I honestly can’t remember. Anyway for 3 months we ranked, unpaid. Even appeared in a magazine. Then we disappeared. (UPDATE – No, I just found out it was my MD the amateur – lucky I keep him on accounting detail these days :p !)

KNOW FOR 100% they hadn’t contacted any of my clients at any time and nothing had changed in that 3 months since we had been ranked so I didn’t think it was anything worth “supporting” or anything much worth promoting – that’s the only word I can remember from the communication I had with them –  other than a nice bit of linkbait (if pointless and potentially misleading from where I was standing). (EDIT – i had some sort of telephone communication with them when i (**think**) I enquired about updating my inaccurate profile to see if it improved my ranking (as if!) or encouraged them to contact my current clients – which also did not happen).

So I forgot about them.

Well I would have, if I didn’t see TONS of online press releases out at the start of every month from SEO companies who claim to be the best seo companies in the UK, as voted by a company who themselves herald they have been “identified as an independent authority on vendors“.

It seems a nice merry go around if claims are to be believed. You pay. They award and then you promote the fact you’re a top seo company to customers who are looking for the best seo company. Everybody wins – even the unsuspecting customer if the seo company they get is any good lol :)

Here’s what one company won in the last 3 months:

Rankings (awarded in last 3 months)
  • #1 – Best Search Engine Optimization Company (Canada), April 2010.
  • #1 – Best Search Engine Optimization Company, April 2010.
  • #1 – Best Reputation Management Company, April 2010.
  • #2 – Best Search Engine Optimization Company (Australia), April 2010.
  • #3 – Best Link Building Company, April 2010.
  • #4 – Best Social Media Optimization Company, April 2010.
  • #5 – Best Pay Per Click Management Company, April 2010.
  • #1 – Best Search Engine Optimization Company, March 2010.
  • #1 – Best Reputation Management Company, March 2010.
  • #1 – Best Search Engine Optimization Company (Canada), March 2010.
  • #2 – Best Search Engine Optimization Company (Australia), March 2010.
  • #3 – Best Social Media Optimization Company, March 2010.
  • #3 – Best Link Building Company, March 2010.
  • #5 – Best Pay Per Click Management Company, March 2010.
  • #1 – Best Search Engine Optimization Company (Canada), February 2010.
  • #1 – Best Reputation Management Company, February 2010.
  • #1 – Best Search Engine Optimization Company, February 2010.
  • #2 – Best Search Engine Optimization Company (Australia), February 2010.
  • #3 – Best Link Building Company, February 2010.
  • #3 – Best Social Media Optimization Company, February 2010.
  • #5 – Best Pay Per Click Management Company, February 2010.

If carlsberg made seo companies lol – the company above “enjoys a solid reputation in the online marketing services industry” according to themselves in an article, backed up with awards from an organisation who is  “identified as an independent authority on vendors” according to THEMselves.

It’s amazing to think a SEO company THAT GOOD would stop to think about looking after your little company…. perhaps they can come out and detail their evaluation process and bring an end to the apparent speculation that it’s not legit.

I think it would be nice if TopSeos stated which SEO companies WERE ACTUALLY EVALUATED FOR RANKING AWARDS each month and listed those that are NOT EVALUATED for the awards – like Hobo  – for whatever reasons. My opinion (this whole article is purely opinion) is that’s not going to happen though, is it.


My opinion – I don’t think the seo community needs any body to govern it, if the seo community governs itself. I don’t think these awards are of as much value to customers looking for a seo company as they are to the marketing department of a seo company who is awarded them. I think most awards and badges out there on the net are either fun linkbait, bollocks or plain inaccurate and often misleading. Some are a total scam.

If you are looking for a seo company, I hope you are lucky. It’s a minefield at the best of times. At the moment, we are VERY CAREFUL with the projects we take on to make sure they suit what we are good at and we deliver for our PAYING clients. Chances are, we won’t take you on as a new client if you are thinking of hiring a seo at the moment especially if you have not been referred to us by a current customer – we’ve said NO to the biggest of the biggest international companies because they didn’t fit our small agency.

If you are a small business you might want to check out our free seo guide to get an idea of just what’s involved.

We’ve never asked anybody for work, or sent out a spam email, or paid for leads or used CPC to get leads in 4 years nearly 9 years and we won’t ever (we don’t have a sales team) and I bet there are a good few companies out there in the exact same position you won’t ever hear about EXCEPT from folk you know.

We’ve learned over the last 4 8 and a half  years you can’t win all the rankings, you can’t be the best at every aspect of internet marketing and your better sticking to the type of projects the team enjoy and have experience in and so get better at them. Our business model is in total transition at the moment as we move more and more into affiliates and pay-per-performance with long term clients we already have a good relationship with because if you do SEO you know it’s a long term commitment to get good rankings.

Topseos Rate The Best Web Design Companies In The World, Too?

Supposedly, Topseos rank the Best SEO companies in the world – see this list. Now, they call themselves the independent authority on search vendors, and give out awards every month to the ‘winners’ but the SEO community forced an apology from topseos here.

What you are not told clearly, to win these top awards you need to PAY TOPSEOS a lot of money (aparently) TOPSEOS is a lead generation company it appears.

In fact, probably the leading authority on SEO in the UK, Dave Naylor, said in a recent interview Topseos was a sham and another respected UK SEO Patrick Altoft pitched in here detailing how much these things cost.

Now Topseos also rank the “best web design companies in the world” and whether or not they actually pay for those awards, how they operate in the SEO industry could well be the shape of things to come.

Effectively once a company pays and is awarded the top awards, these companies then PROMOTE THE HELL out of the fact they have WON these awards, using Twitter spam bots and Press releases – see this Twitter feed!

Now the SEO industry (those that aren’t just spammers! I know I know ;)) is trying to educate consumers to this, but I wondered what the web design industry thought of Topseos rankings for best web design companies.

But in a wider sense, it would be nice to get an idea of what web designers and developers think of these paid for awards and if they serve to serve anything other than getting those who pay for the awards, more unsuspecting clients.

Please leave your comments :)

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32 Responses

  1. Sandy says:

    I wouldn’t knock them so much. We’ve never registered with top seos or asked to be included in their “rankings” however we were the fortunate recipient of an enquiry who contacted after seeing our company mentioned. As they say…never look a gift horse in the mouth. On another note…I see you’re promoting raven seo tools which puzzles me – you guys being seos too. Why would you promote something that is very innaccurate, expensive and riddled with bugs? We tested it to the hilt and it is nothing more than a good looking report generator ie all looks and no substance. It doesn’t do anything any better than any if the free tools (or a spreadsheet) and the pricing model is silly money. You went down in my estimations when I saw that advert with your mailer.

  2. David says:

    I hate the whole TOPSEOs thing. I dont think you really can have a top SEO. Everyone has different experiences, different ideas, different ways of working and different personalities. One of our clients stopped using a competitor because they were having trouble working with them. The work the competitor had carried out was spot on from what I could see but little opperational issues such as they liked to communicate via email where as we like to call clients more resulted in the client comming to us. You have to find the right SEO for you.

  3. Starstruck says:

    Great post. I was going to write one about them too, I probably will do when I get around to it as it tied in with a recent one I wrote about a blatantly scamming company. How can this service: Win awards for “best link building company” And multiple awards too! Absolutely unbelievable. I have since deleted their urls from the post, but even reading the description of them will show that at best its theft of your money, at worst its dangerous for the sites you point them at… **** EDIT by Shaun of Hobo – I removed the company names by shortening the URLS – sorry I don’t want to start slagging off individual companies.

  4. sandy says:

    “Hey Sandy, how far can I afford to “go down”?” That’s entirely up to you my good man ;) Seriously though mate – did you actually try this thing out before promoting them? We did and particularly looked at the agency pricing model and were shocked how bad it was – $249 a month (£160) and there’s nothing it does any better than a spreadsheet and some free tools. It’s also still in beta and I think they have a damn cheek asking people to fork out monthly costs on that basis alone. The point is – I enjoy your posts but it doesn’t look very professional when advertising affiliate products that are clearly crap. I would bever advertise anything unless it would benefit users, clients or ourselves and I’d check it out thoroughly before hand.Maybe you have…you’ll know about the crap harvesting, backlinks being displayed in reoports form domains that haven’t been online for over 5 years. Actually, come to think of it, was the whole point of the topseos article to give them exposure like they do on negative marketing articles? They’re probably rubbing their hands at all the publicity they’re receiving. ;) Can I get a cut of your affilliate commisions for adding my comments? Peace!

    • Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

      HI Sandy Yup I tried the software, but that’s the point with most of the affiliates I am promoting… they have a free trial. If you don’t like you don’t pay – folks can make their own minds up and if they like them, I get a commission – I think that’s a win-win and not pushing things too much. For disclosure purposes, the tools I use are my brain, Google, Yahoo link explorer, GA, Hittail and Excell. I am reviewing SEM Rush (review coming soon) and Majestic SEO (both of which I quite like). I’ve never been a fan of most tools, but if they have a free trial, I will probably promote them tell folks about them. I actually have a lot to learn about affiliates, and promoting 3rd parties on the blog. This will be the year of it. You giving me your real email and name yet lol?

  5. Paul says:

    Good post Shaun, Perhaps, if something was said loudly enough a few years back then topseos wouldn’t be getting so much heat from so many industry players, now. I think the snake has eaten its tail, by that i mean it ain’t going to stop, anytime soon, when you see some of the bigger search marketing industry names that contribute to topseos there certainly adding to the sites credibility. Topseos is just another marketing tool, an expensive one at that, but it must offer a decent return, perhaps I shouldn’t have thrown away the top seo companies linkbait I used to run — could have been sitting pretty with a few bob under me belt by know – who knew, eh?

  6. Brett Pringle says:

    I must admit, i almost fell into the trap when we recieved the email about being ranked in the top 10 for reputation management. Thankfully after sometime, i removed the silly badge they offered. I’m blaming a temporary moment of insanity for the mistake. But the first question anyone should ask as an SEO, is why would you pay exorbitant amount of cash to simply be ranked or to have a badge displayed on your website by a company that actually does not specialise in your company field of expertise? Or that is recognised as an authority? SEO paid linkbait?

  7. David Iwanow says:

    I spoke with Jeev from at SMX Sydney today and while he didn’t seek to add fuel to the fire, one of the points he did highlight is that our industry does a wonderful job or burning and punishing each other. We fight against accreditation or certification but then work to point out how someone can’t claim they can claim certified based on what could be reasonable certification measurements.

    • Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

      @David hello :) Topseos don’t have a mandate to claim what do in my opinion. No industry body has ever helped me. I think the idea of seo certification or a governing body is ludicrous and probably self serving. I don’t think these awards for best in business can possibly be accurate either – opinion obivously. I don’t see no industry body questioning TopSEOS claims… isn’t this the thing one of them should be doing by now? Perhaps Top SEOs will show us all how they rank SEO companies and this will all go away?

    • Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

      “reasonable certification measurements”?

      But you need to pay to be ranked the best? These two things don’t hang together for me…..

  8. Starstruck says:

    There is very few tools I would recommend using, and the best are completely free. Aaron Walls free stuff is awesome, I use the seo toolbar and seo4firefox on a daily basis. Its amazing when you see tools getting sold for hundreds and they have about 5% of the functionality of Aarons free stuff. The only ones I would pay for are Advanced Web Ranking and Advanced Link Manager. Outside of that its Open Office for their free spreadsheets and thats about it. On the topseos thing, I can see why companies are listing the logo – clients who dont have a clue what they are doing see it and it is social proof of value. Doesn’t make it any less slimy to those of us who can see what is going on though.

  9. Sandy says:

    “You giving me your real email and name yet lol?” I’ll think about it. Reason – I don’t want the fame whore status that goes with seo discussions anymore. Nothing against anyone making a name for themselves – I let my client work do the talking. That and I don’t have the time to pat all these wet behind the ears know all “seos” who have only worked in the industry for 12 months. If I let you know who I was it would a) spoil the surprise b) you might see me as a competitor and nofollow my ass the other thing and I hope you take this the right way. I’ve been watching your blog evolve for a couple of years now and you do have a habit of naming companies in a knee jerk fashion which makes me very wary. You later retract these names/urls but As someone who works on brand reputation and protection I can only pass on this advice. When you name a company/URL like you did today it is far too late to retract it. The URL you published came up in an excerpt in my google alert on your blog posts. That’s a date stamped record which can be used in evidence and there’s a number of precedents been set resulting in case law. Theres two famous cases in Scotland concerning libel due to discussions which are now case law. It’s a very dangerous path you tread when you do these things and it’s rarely will opinion count if the named company incurs any negative publicity or losses. You do come across as Passionate and I like that a lot. Just be careful who’s watching and paying attention. Fame brings it’s rewards but notoriety could be your downfall.

  10. Sandy says:

    @starstruck the prize for the dumbest “seo” of the month must surely go to yourselves. just visited your post from Shaun’s link and don’t you think you’re a bit of a hypocrite to call yourself an “ethical seo” and brand other company’s as spammers when you’ve openly posted to the whole world that you’re buying links??? Gee whizz

  11. Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

    Sandy I hear you – and Im always surprised when folk say they have monitored the blog for any period of time – sometimes it feels as if there’s no-one out there lol. I actually post less than I have ever done these days and I think that will continue – the seo fame game doesn’t interest me as much as it does when your starting out. It’s pointless and frivolous – why I don’t speak at conferences either these days. I think my time is better spent learning more about affiliate marketing at the moment. I don’t go out of my to cause anybody any problems and I know how to keep private information private. I’ve actually removed posts from this blog as I thought they were inappropriate. One or two people have asked me to remove the odd post too and I have – after they tried to get money out of my clients that was unnecessary – only to find out in forums that the company I discussed still causing folk grief. PS – I don’t nofollow anybody’s links if the discussion is intelligent – and I’m not scared of competitors at all or I wouldn’t blog at all. I have a lot of friends who could be seen as competitors, but I’ve never really looked at it that way.

  12. TradeShow Ninja says:

    “I hear you – and Im always surprised when folk say they have monitored the blog for any period of time – sometimes it feels as if there’s no-one out there lol.” hi Shaun, I guess you can call me “no one” because I do check your blog regularly… and I’m still waiting on that “anatomy” post, if I remember right. :) I think this post is more around-the-water-cooler “inside seo” stuff (I’m not in the industry – I’m just a DIY guy). If I was looking for the “best seo company” I think I would just google “best seo company”. Or am I missing something? Steve, aka “no one” :-)

  13. Starstruck says:

    “@starstruck the prize for the dumbest “seo” of the month must surely go to yourselves. just visited your post from Shaun’s link and don’t you think you’re a bit of a hypocrite to call yourself an “ethical seo” and brand other company’s as spammers when you’ve openly posted to the whole world that you’re buying links???” Thanks. Consider that post a public service to warn everyone off of it. The simple fact is there is not a single seo company who doesn’t buy links for their clients. (Before I go any further I should probably make it clear that I own that site, and I blog on it. I don’t take on any client work from it any more, and the I do not even see any of the leads from it). Buying links as an integral part of seo, there is no avoiding that these days. The way that company is doing it is disgraceful – calling themselves ethical seos then giving you a bunch of dangerous links on dropped domains, then to make matters worse they refuse to remove them when you ask. I have dozens of sites purely for testing things on, so I can test the riskier things, at no point where any of those links pointing at any client sites…

  14. Peter Handley says:

    I’ve been discussing TopSEOs quite a bit of late on Twitter. And in fact, this is something j have been quite vocal about in the last year or so. I know that my companies marketing department did speak to some folks there to ask what we could to improve our rankings there – like hobo, with no effort, and no contact to our clients, we were in the past ranked in the top 10 SEO companies in the uk. I think that this is a hook to get people interested. We are now ranked around position 25 – so they try to hook you in by ranking you highly only for you to fall down – and wonder what has changed, why you’ve fallen, what you need to do to get up their rankings again. Well, the long and short answer is that you do pay for those positions. During our investigations, we were told that the highest ‘available’ position in their rankings was 8th – and 8th certainly wouldn’t be cheap. Our marketing lady wasn’t all that keen on 8th, so asked when other positions might become available to be advised that these were paid up for years in advance. So, lead gen tool topSEOs may be, but independent authority on rating of these various niches within our industry they do not. Btw… Starstruck – I have never bought a link or advised on doing for one of my clients – some have gone on ahead and done it anyway, but I think that the assertion that every SEO company buys links I’d false.

  15. sandy says:

    “The simple fact is there is not a single seo company who doesn’t buy links for their clients.” Really? We don’t never have and never will. I’ve also worked for other agencies that don’t, won’t and never will. Lots of companies don’t and haven’t. The simple fact is that you should do your research and get the facts before spouting “facts”. For those that “do” – they have the common sense and savvy NOT to blast it on a blog post OR link to it from a highly popular blog such as this one. The likes of celebrity SEOs, quality SEOs, respected guys and even Matt Cutts read this blog. If you can’t see how stupid your post is then it will be no surprise when your competitors report you to Google for buying links – which in case you din’t know is against their TOS. How would you explain a ban to your clients. I’ll have to take your word for it that you don’t link to client sites. The award still stands! Shaun – “sometimes it feels as if there’s no-one out there lol.” Naw – we’re out there. Sometimes we just don’t feel the need to post. More interesting just to sit back sometimes. :) Enjoy the weekend.

  16. Starstruck says:

    Okay Sandy let me rephrase that. 90% of successful SEO agencies buy links. I agree there are a very small minority that don’t. There is zero chance of competing in “mobile phones”, “insurance”, “credit cards” or any other competitive serp, without buying links – you know that and I know that. If a client wants to buy links then they need to do it without being exposed to unneeded risks, which was the purpose of that blog post – it showed what that scamming company were doing. If you have never bought a link, and never will, I would say you either work in house for a company who doesn’t need to because they have a huge authority site already, or you have never ranked for anything competitive… How is anyone possibly going to report me? You know who my clients are? Didn’t think so. Shaun – would you not say article submission networks are buying links? They only exist for search spiders, not humans.

  17. sandy says:

    @starstruck “Okay Sandy let me rephrase that. 90% of successful SEO agencies buy links” Eh??? Where did you pull that figure from? 100% of the companies I’ve worked for are successful SEOs. You haven’t got a clue have you what the real figure is and you’re simply pulling these figures from thin air aren’t you? If you can prove it then please show us the data for your 90% figure. “There is zero chance of competing in “mobile phones”, “insurance”, “credit cards” or any other competitive serp, without buying links – you know that and I know that.” Absolute nonsense. I work in two of those niches and not one single time have any links been bought. I know that for a fact. Have you actually worked for any of the companies competing at the top of these markets? If you have then you’ll know what’s involved but I seriously doubt that you do. Do you think apple buy links for their iPhone launches? Don’t be ridiculous. These companies use virals, PPC, articles, press releases, product reviews, google MC – you name it. They also have brand behind them and a competitive edge. Leaking a product prototype or an interest rate for example will draw more natural links that you can shake a stick at. These companies don’t need to buy links and if you think such companies would risk losing their market share then you obviously have no idea what could be lost if they were caught buying links. They spend millions on their SEO – not a few thousand pounds a year. Reading into what you say here, you clearly don’t come across as someone who has worked in a global environment, with global clients or took part in an SEO diligence audit by a corporate company. If you have then you would know that these are the sort of questions you have to pass before getting through to a stage two part of a tender. All the successful SEOs I know of have been through these process. 100% transparency is essential when dealing with Global clients. Every proposal I have ever seen, been involved in over the past 4 – 5 years has specifically asked about buying links. To which you have to prove, open up your books, scrutineering etc – you name they cover it. Only the successful companies get through to latter stages and none of them would get through if they were purchasing links. Fact! All of them successful SEOs – fact! How would anyone possibly report you? You say it in black and white in your blog post don’t you? What better evidence does Google’s manual review team need to start investigating your link profile? Oh well best of luck to you. ;-)

  18. Starstruck says:

    Sure, Apple don’t buy links – but they come under “having a massive authority site” already. I’m not going to start outing individual sites, but go look in any of those serps I mentioned. Look at the backlinks of all the top 10 sites who are not household names. How many of them have blatantly paid backlinks? I’m guessing 80%+ I have worked for one of the largest link selling organisations before, I can say with absolute confidence that most of the big agencies are buying links. I have watched what you would call major seo agencies buying links for ftse listed companies like they were going out of fashion. Anyone saying anything other than that is going in, is burying their head in the sane. ““There is zero chance of competing in “mobile phones”, “insurance”, “credit cards” or any other competitive serp, without buying links – you know that and I know that.” Absolute nonsense. I work in two of those niches and not one single time have any links been bought. I know that for a fact.” You might know for a fact you didn’t buy links, but you can’t say that about anyone else in those serps. Again without pointing to specific url’s, if you go search for one of those things, you are not going to be able to show me a top 10 ranking site that isn’t a major brand already, that doesn’t actively buy links. “How would anyone possibly report you? You say it in black and white in your blog post don’t you? What better evidence does Google’s manual review team need to start investigating your link profile?” So one or two of my clients has evaluated the risks and might have started buying links. I don’t link to my clients, and they don’t link to me. So there is no one to investigate, and nobody to punish…. I think the post I made was pretty clear – I tested their service, then had them remove the links. So there isn’t any paid links from them pointing at any site I have control over, therefore there is nothing to penalise. I approved your comment on my own blog too, but rather than drag it out and force me to reply to the same thing in two places, I’d appreciate it if you either reply here or there, not both :) thanks

  19. sandy says:

    “I’m guessing 80%+” Everything else you’ve said so far has been a guess so no surprise there. “I have worked for one of the largest link selling organisations before” This gets better – so you worked for a spammer then. You then go and buy links from another spammer? If you worked with one of these agencies then you would also know where to source links without having to buy from another spammer. (That hole you dug is just getting deeper) “I have watched what you would call major seo agencies buying links for ftse listed companies like they were going out of fashion.” Oh really? This gets even better. So now Google’s team can check the all the ftse index and go through all their link profiles, watch what they’re up, watch them like a hawk etc. Google would love a scalp like this. So if you know these SEOs then why haven’t you reported them? You could use it to your advantage. Better still out all these “major SEOs” so we can all report them and make life easier/fairer for everyone else. If they’ve got an unfair advantage then they deserve to be banned. They’re spamming – end of. “you are not going to be able to show me a top 10 ranking site that isn’t a major brand already,that doesn’talready buy links” FTSE companies are major brands are they not? Now you’re saying they’re not buying links? What is it to be? I’ll be honest with you – I do not believe anything you’ve said and from what you do say you haven’t worked at these levels and it looks like you are making things up without any evidence whatsoever. FTSE companies in these niches could lose millions per day if they were caught buying links and banned. Shareholders would go crazy and it would be world news. The seo companies would be sued and put out of business. The due diligence alone for trusting any SEO at this level takes months to evaluate, process and protect. Have you ever seen a contract written by a team of dozens of FTSE company lawyers on SEO? These things are watertight and whiter than white – so again you’re just guessing and really do not have any evidence to back up at all. Everything you’ve said has so far been full of holes and there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that you have no experience at such levels. I’m not posting on your blog – not even read it. Much prefer this blog and Shaun has been good enough to let this go off topic (apologies Shaun – I’m guilty for fueling the fire here) You can have the last word if you want @startsruck – you just are not credible in anything you say. If you have facts to back it up then by all means show us and we can all benefit – otherwise nothing you say is believeable.

  20. pageoneresults says:

    Wow, they claim to have analyzed over 9,000 Firms and that they have a Rigorous Evaluation Process, where have I seen that claim before? Let’s take a look at this from a numbers perspective. How long do you think it would take to analyze 9,000 Web Design Firms? How about the analysis and rigorous review of 4,000 SEO Firms? Or the 10,000 Law Firms and Attorneys listed at And what about the Retirement Communities listed at I’ve done some rough calculations based on the above published e-Ventures numbers… Total Time: 10.5 Hours Per Rigorous Company Evaluation 10.5 Hours X 23,000 Firms Evaluated = 241,500 Hours 241,500 Hours / 14 Rigorous Evaluators = 17,250 Evaluator Hours There are 8,760 hours in a year There are an average of 2,080 work hours in a year Ya, I know, a mish-mash of numbers that are best guesses. I went through the entire evaluation process claimed by e-Ventures dba and estimated the time it would take to perform what they claim to do in their rigorous evaluation process. is nothing more than another shell for e-Ventures LLC to obtain leads for their Leads Programs. It appears that the same issues present with TOPSEOs are also present with this site. Not to mention the other sites in the e-Ventures LLC portfolio of companies. Attention Consumer: Please do perform due diligence when hiring any companies from Don’t let the badges, endorsements, etc. fool you. Always perform background research on anyone you may be hiring for contract services. One quick check is to enter their company name and the words scam, complaints, ripped off, sucks, etc.

  21. Adam says:

    Its see through PR simple as that.

  22. David says:

    What a load of bollocks all that is – I would love a “Proud Not To Be On Top SEO’s” bage ;)

  23. Ralph du Plessis says:

    Thanks for posting this Shaun. In particular the catalogue of references at the bottom.

  24. Mark Hall says:

    The topseos and the drum are both laughable and utterly pathetic. Like you if your great or even just good at what you do your results and word of mouth will take care of business no need for fake awards.

  25. Andreas Pouros says:

    My agency (Greenlight) came 3rd apparently (stated in the Drum’s article) but we don’t pay TopSEOs a penny. So, I’m confused. Are we saying that TOPSEOs charges some agencies and not others (!) or that they are just incredibly poor at communicating their methods?

  26. Scott McLay says:

    TBH I just laughed when I saw the article – its not worth getting p***ed off over. If these fake awards are clients look for over knowledge and results then they are welcome to them, I would rather work with clients that have more sense than to fall for that c**p

    • Geoff Jackson says:

      I wouldn’t pick and choose my clients so selectively, there are many businesses out there that simply don’t classify “the web” as part of their speciality… And that’s why they call upon us. For those businesses who need assistance with an online marketing strategy, searches such as ‘top SEO companies’ and ‘top marketing agencies’ are going to be a pretty reasonable place to start from… Leading them to the likes of the drivel on TopSEO’s. Not fair from a consumers point of view, they won’t know any different – they won’t even bother to research TopSEO’s to view content such as this.

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