Best Web Design Agencies Deceptive Rankings

January 23rd, 2015

Every month, bestwebdesignagencies.com comes out with its rankings of the best web development companies around. The rankings are easy to digest and appear on the surface to provide a great service for businesses and individuals in the market for web design help.

But there’s more to these rankings than meets the eye. For starters, though the website calls itself the “independent authority on web design and development,” most if not all of the companies they rank pay them to be listed.

The website states on its “How we do our rankings” page:

We charge a standard fee from agencies and software vendors for our time to evaluate. If an agency or software vendor doesn’t have the finances available and we deem them to be a star performer based on research done on another tool or service, we may still highlight them on our Rankings list.

A recent press release announcing Best Web’s January picks for “best explainer video agencies” fails to mention that companies pay to be evaluated. And this crucial information isn’t readily available on its homepage either.

TINA.org reached out to the site but has yet to hear back.

Meaningless evaluation?

More troubling than failing to adequately disclose that companies pay to be ranked, is information suggesting that the site and agencies work out a deal prior to the evaluation wherein a company, in essence, pays for a specific spot in the rankings before the site has even begun its review.

A reader, whose company applied to be evaluated, said the site offered two No. 2 spots on separate lists for a total cost of $1,000, before Best Web even conducted its review. The cost was described in the proposal as a “standard evaluation fee.”

The reader said previous to receipt of the proposal a salesperson had “clearly indicated” in a phone conversation that a higher ranking could be bought for a higher price. The reader declined the offer and alerted TINA.org.

Well, maybe not the ‘absolute best’ companies…

The aforementioned press release states that the site vets thousands of companies and only the “absolute best” make the rankings. But another section of the page explaining the ranking system tones down such a claim:

These rankings only include agencies that we cover with our analysis. There are certainly many more companies than the select few that are included in our rankings…

And yet another section of the same page may be the most revealing:

bestwebdesignagencies.com cannot guarantee the accuracy, integrity, or quality of Rankings.

The site contains 46 different lists ranking companies in areas from infographic design to flash development to search engine optimization to cloud storage. But consumers should know that most if not all of the agencies paid to be there and that the best company for the job may in fact be found somewhere else.

For more of our coverage on misleading rankings, click here.

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