Washington Attorney General goes after search engine fixer, again

Washington State has sued Internet Advancement, a search engine marketing company for deceptive business practices.

The Washington State Attorney General's Office is back in court, trying again to get a company that sells search engine ranking services to change its business practices.

The Attorney General's office has sued Internet Advancement, a US search engine marketing services company claiming that the company has misrepresented its services, failed to honor guarantees and refund customers and made unauthorized charges to customers' credit cards.

Internet Advancement claims that, for a fee, it can make customers' Web pages appear in the top 25 results of search engine queries, but according to court filings, it has not always been able to deliver on this promise.

One Internet Advancement customer, Peter Zaccerelli said that "after several months not only did my business website not get higher placement or rankings, but it dropped entirely off the search engines," according to court filings.

Another customer, Keith Marshall, complained that the company "used keywords that I don't have on my site," the filings state. With these keywords, Internet Advancement was able to attain the promised rankings, but with keywords that were not relevant, the AG stated.

Internet Advancement, which also does business as 4GreatBuys.com, charges between US$999 and US$3,000 in set-up fees, as well as monthly charges of US$149 for its services, the AG said.

The state had already settled similar charges with Internet Advancement in 2004, but this week it was back in court, asking for more penalties, after receiving 60 consumer complaints about the company's business practices over the past three years.

Internet Advancement representatives could not be reached immediately for comment.

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