Today, in a relatively generic redux of current blog news, Rand at SEOmoz.org made sideways mention of a company called Internet Advancement. Specifically, in talking about a Search Engine Watch post concerning brand loyalty in search, he mentioned that he had dropped in search rankings for the brand "Internet Advancement". Naturally, I became curious.
After reading Internet Advancement Fuels My Rage, I was bound to try and learn something about the company, independently. Rand had talked to the company’s sales staff and gotten their spiel – which was already enough to make me quite suspicious of the company – but I decided to give a quick examination to one of the sites which Internet Advancement themselves used for their testimonials page. (It would be more scientific to do more, but I don’t have the time for that!)
I’m starting with a couple of assumptions, here – first, that the sites used as testimonials were actually worked on by Internet Advancement. Let’s be frank – I’m already suspicious of the company, and there’s no reason to be absolutely certain that these testimonials have any actual grounds to be on the site. Second, I am assuming that Internet Advancement is the only company which has worked on the relevant sites. Tougher to tell – other companies may also leave telltale signs, but we’ll just have to see.
Regardless, many of the testimonials did not actually include URL (Uniform Resource Locator)’s. The site I’m choosing to look at is Arizonahomes4less.com. Now, obviously, having written this article, this site now has one additional link – which could certainly change the results I’m about to report on. Oh well!
Arizona Homes 4 Less: SEO by Internet Advancement
First things first, I note that the site is absolutely hideous in Firefox. I’m not looking at design issues here, so I’m not going to check it out in Internet Explorer, however I feel that any respectable internet marketing company should take the look of a site into consideration! Bad mark against Internet Advancement already.
Second is a perusal of the page code. Title tag: heavily populated with keywords, but with a distinctly spam-like feel. This doesn’t describe the page or provide me with useful information. It is merely a home for keywords. Next: headings. The site does contain one heading, an H1 heading. It contains useful terms at a much more specific level than the title information. The body text contains randomly bolded text, primarily for the words buyers and sellers.
The site really falls down on canonical URL issues, however – the site can also be accessed at DenverJohnson.com, and at JoycePaule.com. So far nothing really horrible has turned up, but certainly nothing worth paying for, either!
Now, one of the points to search engine optimization, of course, is to influence search engine results. So it’s off to Google to see how Arizona Homes does. And, to be frank, it’s not too spectacular. They do not appear in the top 30 results for any of the keywords in their title tag nor for the keywords in their top level header. Ouch! Finally, on a search for their URL., arizonahomes4less, they only managed to rank 4th. Now that’s rather odd, wouldn’t you say? This is a reasonable unique url – I’d expect it to do a little better. The third result was the Google Directory. The second result? Internet Advancements client testimonials page (which, by the way, does NOT provide links to the clients page.)
And the first page? An odd site containing a large number of real-estate related links in no particular order with a search engine which seaches a different site and footer links which all head strangely back to the index page. The site which the engine searches is called 4GreatBuys.com. A teensy little bit of internet sleuthing unearthed this forum thread from I help you. Apparently, this individual had received an invitation to join 4GreatBuys.com from somebody with an Internet Advancement reference address.
Now, I’m not the most suspicious/paranoid person in the world. However, my first inclination here is to suspect that Internet Advancement is operating in concert with 4GreatBuys.com to a) dupe people into paying them money for so-called directory listings and b) using that listing to dupe other people into paying them money for SEO. Link spam city!
So I see little reason to search any further – I’m satisfied that Rand’s rage is fueled with complete justification. This hereby serves as my condemnation of Internet Advancement and the principles for which they stand – cheating and deception.
On a side note, the top of Internet Advancement’s testimonial page includes a set of client graphics which provide access to some very interesting information. I would have expected these links to provide access to the client sites themselves, but apparently Internet Advancement has little interest in providing links to their clients. Instead, they link to reports on the SEO progress that Internet Advancement has achieved. Very revealing of the work process of the company, perhaps?
Update, 2007-07: very interesting and revealing post from a work at home mother who was, unfortunately, taken in by this scam.