Search engine optimization company The Rainmaker Institute, which markets its services to law firms and bills itself as a "law firm marketing provider", has found itself on the receiving end of a RICO lawsuit for providing SEO services that violated Google's webmaster guidelines.
The Rainmaker Institute charged Seikaly & Stewart of Farmington Hills, Michigan, $49,000 for optimization services to increase their firm's visibility in Google.
From the complaint it seems that at issue is the type of links that The Rainmaker Institute was using to link to their client sites. There are mentions of auto-generated links, and the links from what appears to be blog spam, as well as links that were poor quality, with the vast majority of them created through link farming techniques. It seems to have been hit by the Google Penguin updates.
Also at issue was the original content that the company was supposed to be providing as exclusive content. Instead, articles were then republished on multiple attorney websites that it is believed The Rainmaker Institute also worked on.
The lawsuit was filed as a RICO lawsuit because, according to the complaint:
The RICO scheme was based in part upon a series of fraudulent representations and misrepresentations about the defendants' experience and skills in the use of what is known as Search Engine Optimization ('SEO'); and in part on the execution of scheme to perpetrate an ongoing fraud upon various attorneys and small firms after they had purchased the worthless marketing services.
The Rainmaker Institute also continued to sell the same services to more law firms, even after it was aware of that their practices violated Google's guidelines. Their website also is actively selling the service currently.