Looks can be deceiving in consumer advocacy. Here’s the truth about what you see.

From the window of my room, I can see Colorado’s snow-covered Elk Mountains against a perfectly blue sky this morning. I’m lucky to be here for a few days with my kids before we head back to the city.

I’d like nothing more than to drive over to the Nordic center in Crested Butte, pick up a pair of snowshoes, and hike through the Rockies today. But looks can be deceiving.

It’s six degrees outside right now. Later in the day, the wind will pick probably up, dropping us into an arctic deep freeze. In those conditions, your face goes completely numb and the words come out of your mouth, “Bla bla bla bla,” because you can’t feel you own tongue.

The consumer advocacy you see on Elliott.org can seem the same way sometimes. It looks good, all those people we’re helping every day. We’ve broken all kinds of records since the start of 2018, with cases up 53 percent from a year ago and traffic up 15 percent.

But today, as we start week three of our winter fundraiser, I want to tell you the truth.

All is not well.

They gamed Google

We audited our search engine rankings last week and made several stunning discoveries. The first one is that the keywords for which this site should perform well are not coming up on popular search engines like Google.

So who is? It’s part big companies who are trying to bury our helpful content, and part loyalty program bloggers who, in addition to gaming the system also unethically manipulate the search engines. They do it by loading popular search terms into the headlines and first paragraphs of their stories in an attempt to fool Google — and you.

Fortunately, you’re not so easily deceived. Your favorite consumer advocacy site is still receiving record traffic. But many, many readers who we could help are being duped by expensive search engine specialists and by morally bankrupt bloggers.

This has to end. Now.

We’re retooling our advocacy, especially on the editorial side, to ensure that if someone has a consumer problem, they’ll find us instead of a blog that will help you churn a credit card or an e-commerce site that just wants to sell you something. I’m retraining everyone in my organization so that they can write more effective stories.

In short, we’re taking our keywords back.

But we can’t do it without your help. Please consider becoming a financial supporter today.

Our IT is a mess

Just like the mountain range that looks like it’s inviting you on a pleasant afternoon hike, this site is also something of a digital facade. Behind the scenes, we’re dealing with an IT nightmare. Our site is built on WordPress but also uses a program called Xenforo in the forums. The Xenforo posts don’t play well with the search engines and are currently kicking up a lot of “page not found” errors.

The solution: A new, SEO-optimized theme and a better forum — either an upgrade to Xenforo 2.0 or a switch to a WordPress-native forum that’s more cooperative with Google, Yahoo and Bing. It turns out that the forums have been hurting the entire site’s ability to be seen by the search engines, so we are pretty desperate to fix this now.

That kind of development work takes time and money. And moving to a new theme is also risky. Choose the wrong one and your readers will leave. Choose one that is sloppily coded, and the site slows down so much that the search engines ignore it. And worst of all, you don’t know if it’ll work until you push the button on the redesign.

Developers are expensive. That’s why we need your help now to turn this facade into the real deal. We need you to save the advocates.

What’s in it for you?

This week, we’re giving away a lot of fun stuff, including Boingo Wireless accounts, Samsonite luggage and a new product that I can’t wait to tell you about. As always, these premiums are given to random new underwriters, so in order to qualify for them, your name has to be on this list.

I hope you’ll consider becoming a financial supporter now. This is the most ambitious week of our fundraiser. We’re more than a third of the way to our goal with just two more weeks until we wrap this up.

Please consider becoming an underwriter today. Don’t let this advocacy get frozen out.

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

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