By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

Internet scam report
I received another one of those “statements” a few weeks ago with a promotion that I could get my web site ranked in the top 20 results for only $499.99!

These statements show up at my chiropractic office at least every month and I’m sure all sorts of businesses receive similar looking mailings that at first look like an invoice.

This latest one came from Montréal Canada and it had the word “statement” across the top. There was a registration number and my business listing information was listed as “SAME” (as if I’d ever done business with them before). Registration was due by August of 2007 and my item description was “Top 20 Rank” with an amount rate of $499.99 to be mailed by that date.

There were directions to have an authorized signature and select a credit card, including card number expiration date and security code. Bottom information was be returned to the address listed in Canada.

Along with the statement came a photocopied sheet of paper that included corporate logos for aol.com, Google, Yahoo, Overture, HotBot, AltaVista, LookSmart, Netscape, and even the DMOZ open directory project. The fact that Overture was listed, which had been sold to Yahoo! a few years ago, should be a red flag.

The letter asked… “can Internet users find my business information when they need my product or service?” According to the letter the Web has over 780,000 directories, with each one listing over 3 million categorized businesses.

You may be thinking this is just direct mail marketing as usual and not a scam but the big giveaway was the letters that were in all caps reading “WE GUARANTEE TOP 20 RANKING FOR YOUR BUSINESS!

What kind of guarantee? A guarantee of a top 20 listing in AltaVista.com with a search keyword phrase of “long-haired bucktoothed chiropractor Hollywood”? Something like that? Even if the guarantee was for top 20 single keyword listing (such as chiropractic) in Google, currently the most used search engine, it would not be worth the fee of $500. Looking at the statement it says bill with net 30 terms which has me thinking this company would be billing my credit card $499 a month until I decided to cancel.

I don’t know any reputable company working in the space of search engine performance that would guarantee specific positions in search engines.

My advice is to never act on these offers, whether they come by mail, cold calling, fax, or e-mail. I get them from all four of those sources (and I’ve been getting a lot more from direct telephone marketers).

There are great resources online and you can save yourself lots of heart ache and expense by doing some of your own research. If you’re seeking tips specifically related to improving the function of chiropractic web sites, visit the chiropractic homepage project. To get ideas on improving search engine performance for your website in general, checkout web sites like Bill Hartzer (a search consultant) and Michael Gray (a.k.a. graywolf). You’ll get honest and reliable information from web sites like those.