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Agency Banned from Google after Link Buying
bhartzer

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 2:59 pm on May 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

An SEO agency, iAcquire, has been banned in Google for buying links on behalf of their clients.

iAcquire was cited as the agency behind Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corporationís link buy request emails. As noted in the comments below, this is probably not the first time an agency has been banned because Google believes that it has bought or sold links ó if thatís why iAcquire was indeed banned. We still donít have an official word from Google on this, but it seems the most likely explanation.

However, itís also likely the iAcquire was banned not for buying links but because Google believes it actually does control a paid link network or operates at least in significant part as a paid link company, despite iAcquireís denials. [searchengineland.com...]



I have to say that this I believe this is a significant turning point in the SEO industry--almost as big as 2002 Google PageRank/Searchking lawsuit [searchenginewatch.com...]

 

indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 5:53 am on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Surely you've come across businesses with a "no-compete" clause...


That confused me. Was Mike King working for Google earlier?

kevina

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 6:10 am on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

3. G's adsense and adwords are paid links.


I am 100% sure Adsense links are not taken into account by the PageRank algo, so there are not paid links.

londrum

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 8:26 am on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

looking at it from a quality standpoint, it sort of makes sense. buying links is risky SEO. why should an SEO company advocating risky SEO appear in the SERPs?

it's like advocating a dodgy plumber

g1smd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 8:44 am on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google allows thousands of sites openly selling counterfeit and fake goods to remain in the SERPs. They've been there for years.

In many cases they also take the money and allow their Adsense and Adwords ads. There's been a bit of a minor clean up of late, but it has been pretty ineffectual as the fakers own tens of thousands of domains.

Rosalind

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 11:24 am on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am 100% sure Adsense links are not taken into account by the PageRank algo, so there are not paid links.


They are in the sense that they are links you pay for, and therefore in direct competition with forms of advertising such as paid links.

timwilliams



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 11:42 am on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's googles game and they can play it however they want. I choose to no longer play on their playground, I am free to get my customers from wherever I want, I will get my customers before google does, I will not allow google to run my business.

Google reminds me a bit of Howard Huges, Incredibly smart but going a little more crazy everyday.

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 1:24 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't think confusing the concept of "paid links" with the concept of paid for "page rank" is beneficial to the debate.

Google has been pretty clear that they are against links that manipulate page rank, whether paid for or not. They have also been clear that they are fine with purchased links that are nofollowed, thus negating any page rank value.

While I agree that google's results seem to be increasingly irrelevant to the subjects for which I search - and often the relevant sites that are at the top of the serps seem to be indulging in spam to maintain their place - I truly believe that google is TRYING to bring the best results to their users in order to increase / defend market share from the likes of bing, ddg, facebook, pintrest, groupon, yelp, and all the other social / search related sites and apps.

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 1:34 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's googles game and they can play it however they want. I choose to no longer play on their playground, I am free to get my customers from wherever I want.


You are quite correct. Any of us could do that. All of us SHOULD be doing that.

In fact, organic search should be the SMALLEST channel in our revenue stream, as it is the one we have the LEAST control over.

Unfortunately, there are many businesses (probably mine included) that have something of a wonky business model and lack a clear value proposition. For those businesses, their main competency was the ability to rank high in organic search. Hence, they became overly reliant upon google.

So while some people are quick to curse google, they are slow to acknowledge that their main competence (the ability to rank well in organic search) would never have allowed them to make the kinds of money they previously made without google's help.

Now that their main competence seems to be losing any advantage, and their business model is unable to sustain them via other advertising and marketing means, they are adamant about pointing fingers at google.

Personally, I am looking to reinvent our business model.

diberry

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 2:34 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

"Google has been pretty clear that they are against links that manipulate page rank, whether paid for or not."

The problem is, all links do "manipulate" the algo - it's just the natural ones don't do it intentionally. Google thinks they can determine intent, but let's get serious: nothing could be 100% accurate in determining what someone intended a link to achieve. Heck, when I get a good inbound, I'm thrilled about what it'll do for my SEO. I didn't ask for the inbound. I did absolutely nothing to make it happen. But if you read my mind, you might even think I had deliberately manipulated it.

So like I said earlier, I'm okay with Google banning a company that openly advertises "We'll help you screw up Google's business model for your profit." What I'm not okay with is the punishments Google hands out for any linkage they *think* may not be organic.

timwilliams



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 3:00 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Personally, I am looking to reinvent our business model.


Well said. I have no beef with google, lost a lot of money because of this last update but that's business. Google needs to do what is right for google. If the serps are messed up, google will pay the price for it if/when they lose market share. I actually feel like we're in a better position than google, we have a unique product that is in demand even if we are not listed in google's serps. People look for us and our brand and if they can not find us on google then I believe that google looks bad. They want to punish us for doing what we had to do to get listed in their results but in doing so they are also punishing their users by not providing the best results.

Google has created a huge mess, relying so heavily on links to rank pages, adsense, going public... I'm not sure that they can fix it without killing it.

OR, maybe they've gotten so big that they no longer need the serps. Maybe they will move forward with only adwords ads, wikipedia, and the knowledge graph on the results page. Maybe, just maybe, organic results are a thing of the past. That would sure solve a lot of their problems. No more antitrust... No more spam to deal with...

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 3:39 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ timwilliams

I actually feel like we're in a better position than google, we have a unique product that is in demand even if we are not listed in google's serps.


It would seem to me that what you are doing is actually the BEST kind of SEO there is; building up your business based on sound fundamentals.

WebPixie

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 4:15 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

People look for us and our brand and if they can not find us on google then I believe that google looks bad. They want to punish us for doing what we had to do to get listed in their results but in doing so they are also punishing their users by not providing the best results.


I agree. We have one site in particular that is clearly the top site in its niche that G- has listed outside the top 100 results. While it is difficult on us we will be fine without G- traffic and 5 years from now I still expect our site to be clearly the top site in that niche.

Going after some link sellers is fine, but I do hope that G- decides to go back to focusing on delivering the best sites in its results, not just the safest sites. It seems that recently G- has been more concerned with punishing "black hatters" than delivering its users the best search results.

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 4:29 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Just a gentle reminder of the topic under discussion. :)

If you haven't read the SearchEngineLand Article [searchengineland.com], then do consider taking a moment to read it. Danny did a good job summarizing what happened and following up with the client and the agency.

crobb305

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 5:28 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure how fair this is considering that many other companies are in the same business. That said, I think it certainly reiterates the fact that links (and PageRank) are still the backbone of Google. We've heard from naysayers over the past couple of years that PR and links don't matter. Nothing could be further from the truth, particularly if Google is going to these extremes (with iAcquire, Penguin, etc)


wow, maybe G doesn't like the agency to flaunt it....

[youtube.com...]

..probably not a great idea in retrospect....


Wow.

BaseballGuy



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 8:36 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

It always amazes me how some CEOs remain so professional in adverse situations.


Sounds to me like the CEO of that agency that got busted has a huge ego.....probably for a good reason. He doesn't fear Cutts and doesn't fear the zoo animals in the algorithm updates.

Bully for him to essentially raise his middle finger to Google.


How long before Google stops throwing a hissy fit not only towards agencies like this, but all webmasters out there?

I mean seriously....they come off like a crybaby mated with a mentally deranged individual.

If Google had the ability to kill SPAM in it's tracks, they would have done so MANY years ago. There is something amiss with this latest "anti SEO" campaign that Google is running. Something isn't adding up.

Why? Why didn't Florida update fix everything? Why didn't Panda fix everything? Why didn't the first half of the Los Angeles Zoo named algorithm updates fix everything?

I know several black hatters who laughed their ass off today (in a private forum) regarding "Panda 1.1". Meanwhile, the small guy suffers again. The writing is on the wall. (hence my presence in a black hat forum)


Enjoy!

Sgt_Kickaxe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 8:47 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Not all link selling is about Google.


Very true. If you accept payment from a company because they want exposure to your visitors that is completely legal and acceptable. Google believes you need to add signals to tell them to ignore these links(nofollow, robots.txt etc) but you don't work for Google and can't be expected to add signals for every company and service out there.

Again - this beast is a 100% Google creation and the onus should fall on Google to figure it out BUT I think its safe to assume a SEO company offering to boost rank with paid links deserves to be banned for trying to manipulate Google rank so the argument above doesn't apply here.

The question Google has to answer is: "Is this link attempting to manipulate rank?". I don't think they say yes on that question to every link that does not have nofollow/robots.txt applied. Google does indeed look for signals in helping them decide, e.g. Is a site of low quality and designed to solely to boost another site? Is a link part of an advertisement and not really a recommendation? I think Google has been pretty active in figuring that out.

I appreciate your quoted argument above but I do think Google is handling it properly at this point. I STILL wish they'd remove links as a ranking factor altogether because I can't tell you how tired I am of dealing with them, nor do I want to go "gather" them just to rank, but hey. This is the next best option, a pro-active Google willing to act when they must.

You don't hear me praising Google often lately(e.g. privacy, panda, penguin etc), but this is worthy imo.

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 8:56 pm (utc) on May 26, 2012]

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 8:56 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Bully for him to essentially raise his middle finger to Google.


No, you have it all wrong. Take a moment to read the SearchEngineLand article [searchengineland.com]. The CEO and some guy at the center of this called Mike King, are both Google White Hat evangelists. Their noses couldn't get more brown.

The CEO, Joe Griffin, and some guy named Mike King (ipullrank) are popular participants at certain white hat communities and speak at SMX. In all contexts they absolutely stick to the Google script, advocating white hat link building. They strictly kowtow to the Google Webmaster Guidelines in all of their articles and comments at certain white hat online communities and at their SMX presentations. Here is how Danny Sullivan describes them:

Griffin is referring to Michael King, who Iíd say has built a good reputation for himself in some SEO circles over the past year in his writings and speaking. Heís spoken at our own SMX events and is slated to again next month. Heís sharp, has lots of insight, and he seemed a win for iAcquire when they hired him about two months ago.

Suffice to say, I was pretty surprised that he appeared mixed up with all this. Heís seemed very white hat.


Also, this discussion needs another correction. The guy who dismissed the banning as a hissy fit was not the CEO. It was some guy named Mike King who iAcquire hired.

Some of the popular white hat SEO evangelists are resembling the televangelist hypocrites Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and the temples of white hat orthodoxy risk becoming the PTL Club of SEO. [en.wikipedia.org]

How does preaching Google white hat link building square with this paid link buying outreach that Danny Sullivan says "might very well violate US Federal Trade Commission guidelines? [ftc.gov]"

These are the kinds of people you want to get behind as your heroes and say Bully for him?

[edited by: martinibuster at 9:34 pm (utc) on May 26, 2012]

Sgt_Kickaxe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 8:59 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I see that someone has already gotten iaquire.com indexed... (minus the c). The void attracts other blackhats and opportunists.

crobb305

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 10:12 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

How does preaching Google white hat link building square with this paid link buying outreach that Danny Sullivan says "might very well violate US Federal Trade Commission guidelines?

I'm wondering if part of the spam detection algorithm(s) look for proper FTC-compliant disclosures on commercial queries. Probably off topic, but when you mentioned the FTC guidelines, it brought to mind something I've been thinking about lately, esp. since Penguin.

cabbie

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 11:30 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Like most publishers, I get swamped by prospective placement enquiries all the time.
I have had dealings with Iacquire and found them to be the most professional, courteous and conservative of them all.
As far as I am concerned, they empowered publishers and advertiser's alike with their approach.I wish them well.

diberry

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 4:54 am on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

I appreciate your quoted argument above but I do think Google is handling it properly at this point. I STILL wish they'd remove links as a ranking factor altogether because I can't tell you how tired I am of dealing with them, nor do I want to go "gather" them just to rank, but hey. This is the next best option, a pro-active Google willing to act when they must.


Well, I believe I've seen sites unfairly penalized for natural links, and sites not penalized when they're blatantly selling links to transfer pagerank. For that reason, I can't quite agree with your first sentence - I think Google should back off from meting out punishments in situations where there's no way to prove "guilt". With this SEO company, there was "proof", which is why I'm okay with that.

That said, I strongly agree with the rest of what you said here. It's always bothered me that links are so critical to the algo, partly because not every link actually is a "vote" for a site. Sometimes you link to a site because it's such a bad example of something, because it offers a worldview you find offensive, etc. I very much wish they'd dump links out of the algo, so they could go back to functioning the way they were intended to.

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 7:33 am on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

On the other side of this, I've seen a site ranking very well with 750,000 paid links (clearly ads - no attempt to disguise them, just ignorance about nofollow) and almost nothing else. The thing is, in this case the business is a very strong local brand - high end stuff, too.

Clearly to me, those paid links are not the reason for the rankings and traffic. And just as clearly, they are only being ignored, not penalized.

cabbie

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 9:54 am on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am not sure what Google's reasons are for showing toolbar page rank but by dropping their public display of website's pagerank could possibly be helpful in combatting the link buying game.

jkwilson78

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 3:33 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

If Google had the ability to kill SPAM in it's tracks, they would have done so MANY years ago. There is something amiss with this latest "anti SEO" campaign that Google is running. Something isn't adding up.


Exactly. What Google cries about the most in public is what they have the least control of through their algo. It's been like this for years. So they send out Cutts to "educate" and scare SEOs.

And it has worked great for them. A large chunk take what Google trots out as gospel and then there are those that have built businesses around preaching "whitehat" while practicing the opposite.

I have a lot more respect for someone who unashamedly admits to being blackhat than someone being a brown nosing pseudo whitehatter.

My favortie line of thinking from some whitehatters at the moment is that "spammy" links can hurt your rankings so clean up your link profile but it's impossible for negative SEO to work by pointing spammy links at your competition...yes...because Google can magically tell that links are for competitive sabatoge vs rankings manipulation...right...

BaseballGuy



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 3:38 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)


My favortie line of thinking from some whitehatters at the moment is that "spammy" links can hurt your rankings so clean up your link profile but it's impossible for negative SEO to work by pointing spammy links at your competition...yes...because Google can magically tell that links are for competitive sabatoge vs rankings manipulation...right...


Just build blog/forum links into your competitor's websites on a daily basis for about 6 months. Then watch how "negative SEO" will work like a charm.

(no really, don't do that...I was just being facetious)

jimbeetle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jimbeetle us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 5:07 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

not the CEO

Sorry about that, MB. Must have misread or conflated different sources.

mendel36



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 12:33 am on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

so what is next for iacquire...I mean really.

Being deindexed is really a warning shot at their clients rather than the agency.

wow, is all I can say. The agency has a list of "johns" that buy links, if the "johns" cancel then the subscriptions end and that signals they were buying links.

So what do you do if you are a client and what do you do if you are the agency.

mendel36



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 12:34 am on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

also..
Maybe this is an unpopular position, but really why so much ranting about the hypocrisy of G. Do they sell links? Yes. Do they punish and mess with SEO agencies? Yes. Do they look at the majority of what we all do as contribution to the "cess pool"? Yes. Has this always been the case? Yes. Will we figure out how to adjust? Yes.

So what? Watch, the iacquire players become the next set of "product managers" at Google in the webspam team.

gyppo

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 1:54 am on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

They did this with an agency in Australia about 4 years ago called "The Found Agency" they were hiding paid links in stat counters.

nuthin

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 3:48 am on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

and then.. now now mr.agency if you are so public in your methods of buying links then you deserve a whack. whackidy, whack.. whack.

Don't understand agencies that have to seek outside paid links anyway. Would have thought they have resources built out for mass domination internally!

Must be too new-school. ;)

viggen

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457816 posted 5:38 pm on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)


@Sgt_Kickaxe
I back Google on this. Google is essentially in the business of building rank lists which means they are in the business of busting those who manipulate those lists and this is a good move on their part.


...show me a single commercial search result where the top 10 results are without manipulation. Google just might aswell close the search engine and start a paid directory for each search...

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