BAD SEO! Bad! Internet Advancement Gets Busted and What It Means

Ian Lurie

Bad Monkey
Internet Advancement is going to have to pay about $450,000 in penalties and refunds after the Washington State Attorney busted them for:

  • Deceptive advertising: They guaranteed top 25 rankings for their clients.
  • Charging customer credit cards without authorization.
  • Failing to respond to customer complaints etc. etc..

Internet Advancement charged folks between $1000 and $4000 ‘set up’ and then $149/month for SEO.
I’m not one to dance on anyone’s grave, but Internet Advancement won’t be going out of business, so:
And so on. I am sick of having to compete with crooks and liars who have no business goals except “rip off as many customers as possible”.

What This Means

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: If it sounds to good to be true, it is. $149/month might pay for a link on a spam site. It won’t get you spit in a rainstorm when it comes to long-term, successful SEO.
Internet Advancement promises things like ‘submission to major search engines’ and ‘META tag optimization’. Both are outdated, worthless tactics that should scare any savvy customer away.
But they don’t go after savvy customers. They use the promise of high rankings to lure in naive ones. Then they made money by charging their cards again and again and hoping the clients wouldn’t notice.
In short, this ruling means that Internet Advancement Is bad, and that they’re getting their comeuppance. Except that they’re still allowed to be in business, which frustrates the hell out of me.
More in a moment about what this means for the SEO Standards debate.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. I agree. We’ve got enough of a challenge trying to help clients increase their presence online (organically) by building up and optimizing their web site without having so-called “SEO” companies ripping people off. Now if we could only find a way to reach potential clients about those web design company’s who still take money and do very little in the way of optimization for clients…maybe we could get a better reputation.

  2. @jessica what makes me crazy is talking to a client who says something like “Why can’t you…” and then describes some ridiculous concept/trick/promise they got from a crook like this.

  3. Any one guaranteeing SEO results should have a money back clause.
    I tell my clients that SEO is a ‘best practice’, as the search engines determine that they feel is relevant to the search terms their users enter.
    That being said, usability and SEO go hand in hand. Building a site that is readable to the user and the engines is always best practice.

  4. I know about what you guys are saying, I used to work there at Internet Advancement. I wanted to get out of my dead-end job, and was lured in by a call from Harry Jackson, only to find myself, along with about fifty of my other coworkers, all fired (laid off) two weeks before Christmas. It’s bad enough when you screw the customer, but when you screw your employees as well, you’d better be ready for retorts like this one to be made public. It’s lucky for you I can control my emotions, because you deserved to be more than punished for what you did. You ruined 60 families’ Christmas in 2007 by letting them go two weeks before the holiday? What kind of heartless, gutless punk company does that? Internet advancement, that’s who! It’s my turn! You suck!

  5. I received a phone call from this company in December 2006 asking me if they could optimize my site and do all of the internet marketing. I felt it was expensive and told them I needed to think about it. They emailed me their “sales talk” (which I still have a copy the email). I called them back and told them the answer was NO. They decreased their price by 50% and I still said NO. Today, cleaning out paperwork in my garage, I came across the original email and decided to check their website and was thinking of using their services. I found no website. I decided to search for them on Google and found all of the negative news on them. I am very thankful I did not use their services when they called me. Whew!!!

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