Graphic SEO: Buyer Beware

One of the most disconcerting parts about working in this industry are all the fly by night operations that pop up and offer prospects unfounded promises. These sites offer website owners grandiose promises and sometimes downright lie. I had the unfortunate incident of dealing with such a website owner. Sadly, this is a common occurrence in the industry. Therefore I wanted to add a few general tips to watch out for, using Graphic SEO as a case study.

Research the company / site owner.

The owner of Graphic SEO is Joseph Alvini, a college student, who has no staff. The only alleged “expert” at the firm is himself. When hiring a firm, my suggestion is to find out more about the company’s owner. Is it a one man shop? Is the owner of that shop an actual expert or simply a self purported one? Before plunking down any kind of money with a firm do your homework.

Is the company a legal entity?

Check with the company’s city to see if it is actually a registered business. For instance, Graphic SEO currently has no business license and is operating illegally. There are plenty of legitimate companies out there. Do not waste time with one that does not even take the time to operate legally. Trust is essential in life and business. I find it difficult to trust any person or company that is operating without going through the proper channels.

Does the website have a phone number?

All reputable websites should have a contact telephone number. It is an indication that they care about customer service. Longer standing companies tend to have a toll free number to further prove their commitment to customer service. I am always weary if no contact number is prominently displayed or upon calling it nobody answers. The SEM industry is convoluted and confusing. Ensure you are dealing with a company that cares enough about their customers to actually speak with them.

There are of course many other common sense suggestions before conducting business with a firm. My hope is that this helps people save a few dollars and prospective clients steer clear of businesses, such as Graphic SEO, that are operating illegally and with little genuine concern for their clients. There are many excellent local and international search engine marketing companies that exist. Please simply be careful before sending one money.

6 Comments »

  1. crazysem said,

    May 22, 2008 @ 2:02 pm

    I spoke with this college kid. Thanks for the warning Agilis. A reputable SEO company is hard to find. I certainly did not like the fact that after discovering the site’s telephone number it directed me straight to a generic voicemail.

  2. agilis said,

    June 10, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

    Update…

    After posting this information, I received the following email and multiple calls from the alleged CEO of Graphic SEO.

    “Dear Mr. Yorzinski,
    I am sorry that you are so troubled by my having a business that you
    feel competes with you, that you have to resort to discrediting my business on the internet and make claims that are false. I would prefer that you cease and desist from this behavior so that I do not have to take further steps to protect my name and my business name. Upon advice of counsel, I’m writing this letter to you so we can avoid court proceedings. Please, seek advice from a professional to understand the financial liability you may incur by continuing this practice of of discrediting me and my business. I would prefer our relationship remain professional and cordial.

    P.S. Upon receiving this letter, please, scan this letter with your signature so I can have receipt that you have, in fact recieved this email. I will be sending this to you through multiple emails, only one reply is necessary.

    __________________________________________________________________________(printed name)

    __________________________________________________________________________(signature)

    Sincerely,
    Adam Dodson
    CEO of Graphic SEO LLC”

    It is safe to assume the original article on this site received attention. Graphic SEO now displays a telephone number on the contact page of their website. Also, as of 5/27/08 Maryland approved the company’s registration as an LLC after one of the company’s authorized persons paid a $196 in fees, $70 of which went towards an expedite fee. There are also two people listed on the articles of organization as adult individuals authorized by the persons forming the LLC:
    Adam Dodson
    Joseph Alvini

    http://www.agilismarketing.com/graphic-seo.pdf

    As of the date of the above filing, obtained from the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, legally Graphic SEO is not a one man shop.

    One odd portion of the email sent to me is that nowhere in the blog’s original post is Adam Dodson’s name mentioned, yet it is referenced that it discredits his name. The email also stated that false statements and claims are made on the blog. This seems entirely untrue based upon the postings published date. Rather the appearance left in my mind is that the alleged current owner of the business, an individual who had no known prior association with this entity, went ahead and filed an expedited articles of organization after somebody stumbled upon this post.

    Furthermore, the email reference counsel. I cannot help but wonder any alleged counsel who would suggest sending a cease and desist type of letter via email around 8:00 at night.

    I am also left with curiosity as to who Adam Dodson is and his experience in the SEO industry. The original posting is intended to caution buyers before making a purchase and suggests conducting research on a company before spending money. As all smart business owners know, this helps ensure they are dealing with trustworthy individuals and entities. The email received from Adam Dodson only further cements the importance of conducting such research. This holds true regardless of any future steps Graphic SEO or other search engine optimization firms elect to take regarding their businesses.

    My hope is still the same: that company owners do not plunk down money to any individual or group that exhibits suspicious practices. Especially considering that there are numerous reputable companies that offer internet marketing services and a solid track record to back up those services.

    Additional information worth noting:

    The website’s current and previous WHOIS information is as follows:

    Registrant:
    joseph alvini
    16 n gorman ave
    baltimore, Maryland 21223
    United States

    Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
    Domain Name: GRAPHICSEO.COM
    Created on: 08-Apr-08
    Expires on: 09-Apr-10
    Last Updated on: 08-Apr-08

    Administrative Contact:
    alvini, joseph jalvini@aol.com
    16 n gorman ave
    baltimore, Maryland 21223
    United States
    (443) 957-1404 Fax —

    Technical Contact:
    alvini, joseph jalvini@aol.com
    16 n gorman ave
    baltimore, Maryland 21223
    United States
    (443) 957-1404 Fax –

  3. agilis said,

    June 13, 2008 @ 3:47 pm

    I called Graphic SEO multiple times, in part curious as to this company’s response times on the telephone number listed. If I reached a person I also wanted to ask if they wished to add a comment to this blog. Unfortunately, I received nothing but their voicemail stating they are a premier SEO company and to please leave a message.

  4. agilis said,

    August 13, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

    Agilis Marketing received two telephone calls from the number 443-450-4736 yesterday, the first at 10:44 EST, both callers left no messages. Upon looking up the number I discovered that the number appeared on the Graphic SEO company website. Curious as to the nature of the call, I returned it and Adam Dodson picked up the telephone line.

    I asked a simple question along the lines of, “What can I do for you?” The response received is to take down this posting. I initially responded to his request with a one word question, “Why?” The short answer to Adam’s response: He will pay Agilis $300 and Joe Alvini is no longer a part of the company. I let him know that I will give him a call back.

    After doing a little research (more on this later), I called him back and let him know that I could not accept the $300 “bribe”; that the public has a right to know factual information in order to make an educated decision as to who or what company an entity elects to hire for SEO services. There are quite a few scam companies that give the legitimate SEO companies a poor name. Mr. Dodson then gave the phone to their “accountant”, a female who sounded quite young by the pitch of her voice. This female than tried to tell how it is “gracious” of them to offer me this money and I should accept the deal. I listened to her a little longer and quickly became frustrated. I made it clear that I will not accept the $300 “bribe”, and then hung up the phone.

    I wanted to share the research I conducted before calling back Graphic SEO. I thought perhaps the company performed a few misguided steps in its infancy and this posting is no longer warranted. Unfortunately, I discovered the opposite.
    First of all, there is extremely scary information about the person I spoke with as reported by the Maryland Judiciary Case Search Results:

    Case Information
    Court System: DISTRICT COURT FOR HOWARD COUNTY – CRIMINAL SYSTEM
    Case Number: 6T00066079Tracking No:096091113952
    Case Type: CRIMINAL
    Document Type: STATEMENT OF CHARGES
    Issued Date: 07/02/2009
    Case Status: ACTIVE

    Defendant Information
    Defendant Name: DODSON, ADAM BRADLEY
    Race: WHITE, CAUCASIAN, ASIATIC INDIAN, ARAB
    Sex: M Height: 510 Weight:140 DOB: 04/03/1984
    Address: 7 MONMOUTH RD
    City: CATONSVILLE State:MD Zip Code:21228 – 0000

    Charge and Disposition Information
    (Each Charge is listed separately. The disposition is listed below the Charge)
    Charge No: 001Description: ASSAULT-SEC DEGREE
    Charge No: 002Description: DISORDERLY CONDUCT

    Now, how can I tell if this is the same Adam Dodson, well the address matches that listed on the Graphic SEO site under the contact information section…

    7 Monmouth Rd.
    Catonsville, MD 21228

    While this case is pending, and there is no final ruling on the case, it is still extremely disconcerting information to discover. Please remember the court of law has issued no ruling on charges listed above. Still, even posting the data makes me wonder if I this might anger Adam and put my personal safety in jeopardy. Luckily, I am well respected, protected, and my place has strong security measures, thus I am not overly concerned.

    Another search proves that Joseph Alvini is still the resident agent of the company. The only difference I noticed is that the Whois information now lists him only as the technical contact for the website and Adam Dodson is named as the administrative contact. Then I went back to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation and looked up the company again. As far as I could see no information changed, except perhaps now the company is marked as no longer in Good standing. My query on MD’s site returned the following data:
    Taxpayer Services Division

    Entity Name: GRAPHIC SEO LLC
    Dept ID #: W12549663

    Principal Office (Current):
    7 MONMOUTH RD.
    CATONSVILLE, MD 21228

    Resident Agent (Current):
    JOSEPH ALVINI
    16 N. GORMAN AVE.
    BALTIMORE, MD 21223

    Status: ACTIVE
    Good Standing: No
    Business Code: Other

    What exactly qualifies as a company in good standing? My understanding, which is not necessarily correct, is a company that pays their taxes. Further review on the significance of “Good Standing: No” is warranted.

    All that said why would any entity choose to conduct business with a company that raises such a large number of red flags? The industry operates in an extremely saturated marketplace with low barriers to entry, there are many clearly reputable companies to hire. Although the take away from this post is still of course: buyer beware when conducting business with Graphic SEO or any such companies where red flags pop up. I never utilized, nor ever will use the services of Graphic SEO, and thus cannot speak as to whether the company deliveries as promised to its clients. I suggest that my readers strongly take into account, my rationale behind this decision.

    I wish everyone the best of luck in finding a reputable SEO company. It is a battlefield out there, but a little research can go a long way and steer you in the direction of a business with accolades rather than the opposite.

  5. James said,

    September 15, 2009 @ 12:54 am

    This guy [assumed reference to Adam Dodson or Joseph Alvini] called our company (after clicking our PPC ad – expletive) and asked us to help him crowd you [assumed reference to this page and/or website] out of the organic rankings. Shady concept from a seemingly shady company.

  6. agilis said,

    September 19, 2009 @ 8:59 pm

    Thank you for the letting me know James. I hope you do not mind the brackets I added to hopefully allow a smoother read for those visiting the website. As a follow up I went to view the MD records to see if the court reach a disposition in the earlier captioned matter. It seem only fair to display the information. An interesting point I noticed is the case did not result with a dismissed imposition but rather STET. Anyways, part of the data returned is as follows:

    Charge No: 001Description:ASSAULT-SEC DEGREE

    Plea: OTHER PLEA
    Disposition: STET Disposition Date:09/04/2009

    Charge No: 002Description:DISORDERLY CONDUCT

    Plea: OTHER PLEA
    Disposition: STET Disposition Date:09/04/2009

    My understanding is that a disposition of STET means Stet a suspension of the prosecution with opportunity to reopen the case. A majority of these result in no additional actions. Nonetheless, a significant number are reopened because a defendant is arrested on other charges or does not live up to an agreed upon condition under which the Judge allowed the STET disposition.

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