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Big fish eats small fish…. With the help of SCORE
Not very nice, is it? This was how we learned that, after more than a year as a recommended “Powerful Link,” one of our alliances had been terminated.
A few days ago, the SCORE website listed Active Filings as a power link under Legal & Tax services. We appeared there for more than a year because our website provides valuable free resources to our visitors and because we were one of the few incorporating companies developing content in Spanish.
SCORE is a non-profit organization linked to the Small Business Administration, a well-known governmental agency. SCORE is supposed to help small business achieve success by providing free tools and resources.
In early December 2006, we received an e-mail from SCORE informing us that our listing had been removed due to the business nature of our website. SCORE representative Christine Chirichella wrote, “You were removed because overall the goal of your site is selling services, not providing free resources.”
At the same time, they added links to The Company Corporation, Business Filings Incorporated, and two other firms that were later removed. The Company Corporation and Business Filings are probably number one and number two in our market. They both belong to large corporations and have near-universal presence. There is no doubt that these companies are even more business oriented than Active Filings.
As Nina Birnbach, Active Filings’ VP told the SCORE representative, “I understand what you are telling us about your policy, but I am very confused. You have left Bizfilings and Incorporate.com on the Score site and they also meet the criteria that you stated in your e-mail. The overall goal of their sites are selling services as well and not providing free resources. They are the same type of companies as we are. I am certain that these sites could not exist without selling a product. CCH, the owner of Bizfilings, is very sales oriented and profit driven. As a CPA I get advertising from them all the time. If they were non-profit, in the business of providing free resources, I don't think I would hear from them as much and they wouldn't advertise on the search engines for business as much as they do.”
For a small and independent company like Active Filings, the exact type of company that SCORE wants to help, a link on the SCORE website was very important. Not only for the visitors brought to our site, but also for the “link popularity” assigned by Google and other search engines. This link contributed to our overall search engine positioning and high ranks we have achieved after five years of hard work.
There is no need to hide the fact that this unfair action taken by SCORE has hurt us. Not only they were unable to support their policy about not linking with business-oriented websites (why does SCORE continue to list Bizfilings.com, Incorporate.com, and many others on their links page?), but also it seems they are favoring large corporations.
As a small company without the resources of these big fish in our industry, we needed this link. Unfortunately, we have no other way to show our frustration other than to draw attention to what SCORE and the Small Business Administration have done.
Perhaps we are missing a part of the story. The lack of an explicit and comprehensible policy leaves us with many unanswered questions. Perhaps SCORE and the SBA would better serve America’s small business community, and Hispanic businesses, by establishing clear, consistent, and easily understood rules about linking with other sites.
About the Author: Robert Neuberger is President of Active Filings LLC a company that provides incorporation and business formation services in all 50 States. He can be found at ActiveFilings.com