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Agency Banned from Google after Link Buying

 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 Corporation’s 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 — if that’s why iAcquire was indeed banned. We still don’t have an official word from Google on this, but it seems the most likely explanation.

However, it’s 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 iAcquire’s 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...]



 5:38 pm on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

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...


 2:32 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think they did something blackhat that they are not mentioning. Their spam emails might have done it. As they keep indicating they have learned a lesson.

Google still relies too much on links as an indication of website popularity. This is so over exploited by the websites with money, it's about as useful as meta keywords.


 3:21 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

advocating white hat link building.

This is a sincere question; what exactly is "white hat link building"?

Marketing Guy

 3:58 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

what exactly is "white hat link building"?

There's no such thing IMO. But there's a huge variety of opinion on the subject. Some people would label guest posting as white hat for example, but there are loads of different types of guest posting (some of which is quite spammy and definitely more black hat).

Some people say black hat is just pure spam stuff like comment and forum spamming.

IMO, anything done to manipulate search rankings can be considered to be black hat in as much as Google is likely to take steps to counteract it and therefore it carries a risk. "White hat" is generally considered to be algo proof techniques.

Stuff that might fall into the low risk / algo proof category could be links you gather from press attention, link bait, viral marketing and so on.

Stuff that carries more risk may be directory submissions (SEO directories), forum spam, comment spam, article spinning, link exchanges, link wheels, etc.


 5:09 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google just might as well close the search engine and start a paid directory for each search...

They have virtually done this already!


 6:03 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

There's no such thing IMO. But there's a huge variety of opinion on the subject.

I agree, but the experts at the Google support forum do not. A few years ago, one of my sites suddenly lost visible PR. I posted that I believed Google thought I was selling links (I wasn't), and this was a penalty. All the experts said, nah, you're fine, you just need to build some better inbound links. I told them I had never engaged in trying to create any kind of inbound links - I just wrote pages I hoped people would like enough to share. They kept insisting I should do more, so I asked them precisely what link-building strategies were acceptable to Google, because all I knew about were directory submissions and crap like that. They, um, kind of had somewhere else to be suddenly. ;)

What I took away from that is: Google is they're lying through their teeth about how ranking really works, and they assume most of us know that, but no one is supposed to tell the truth out loud.


 7:25 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

iAcquire's white hat comes in handy for crafting a white flag of surrender

Danny Sullivan reports [searchengineland.com]:
iAcquire admits a blog post that they were buying links and that they have now officially stopped buying links.


 8:10 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

“We’ve never mislead our customers or took them down a particular path. We don’t tell them one thing and do something else,” he said. We can be attacked and say we’ve bought links, but we’ve never mislead individuals [about them]”

That must have been a challenging discussion to have with customers; we want you to pay us to implement a high risk strategy that violates the Google TOS.

“There are a lot of companies out there that have aggressive goals. It’s going to be very hard for them to achieve those goals if they don’t have financial compensation to obtain links,” he said. “That means there are certain verticals we won’t be able to work in.”

Be interesting to see if Google is this draconian with other similar companies. I'm sure some (many?) will not be able to provide meaningful results without some sort of paid links.


 5:03 am on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

I received an email today from someone who I have reason to believe is legitimate selling in context links on related article from top tier websites. I mean seriously top tier like national and international magazines, huge news websites with massive authority.

For low $*** to high $***(depending on the site) he will write an article as a guest writer with a link to your site and get it published.

This type of deal is going to be the future of link development. Small time players need not apply.


 8:10 am on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm pretty sure text-link-ads were penalized/banned for a long while before.


 2:55 pm on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

On small time players, yes. But the kind of links WebPixie is talking about have been standard PR forever and Google lets those by. I mean, c'mon, we all know most "news" and "reporting" is really just PR/marketing, and if there isn't actual money changing hands, there's certainly something reciprocal going on.


 5:35 am on May 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

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.

I am not sure that there is any real way to measure this with any certainty tedster?

Something needs to be driving rankings.


 6:05 am on May 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

This business is a top-of-mind luxury brand in their market. They literally have NO organic backlinks. In fact, in their market the competing businesses just don't know about backlinks.

Their search traffic includes about 45% brand name searches. There are no social mentions for them or their competition. Again, it just isn't part of this market. What they do have is a website whose user stats are outrageous. Bounce rate is under 25%, with 14 minutes average time on site.

Admittedly, that's not 100% proof but it's highly suggestive. 100% proof is very hard to come by in today's Google. As I see it, Google just knows that this business is what users who make these queries are looking for most of all.


 11:38 am on May 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

Perhaps it is time that google started ranking solely based on content relevance and not as a (fixed) popularity contest via backlinks?


 12:22 pm on May 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

Alex, there's already a whole lot more than backlinks in play today. For several years Google (and other search engines) have been looking at what some call the "Holy Grail" of search ranking, and that can be called "user engagement". Browser-based metrics are a big part of this measure, but far from the whole thing. What is sometimes called "brand strength" is another.


 12:54 pm on May 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

called "user engagement". Browser-based metrics are a big part of this measure

I WISH this was used more in ranking! For one of our sites (informational/ecom) we gave google everything, analytics on every page, conversion tracking, the whole ball of wax. exact match domain, 1000's of pages of professional content, our own product, no advertising, no affiliate stuff. average pages/visit: 9.86, average visit duration: 4:47, bounce rate 19.57%, ecom conversion rate (all visitors): 21.83%, All decent stats I would say, decent user engagement, yet after penguin google feels that (1) wikipedia, (2) a 1 page off topic pdf, (3) a 75 word about.com article are all better results to show.
I'd wager any amount of money that we have better user engagement than any of the pages out ranking us right now. I truly do hope that the search engines move to make user engagement a bigger part of the algo.


 4:05 pm on May 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

Focus on building a quality site and the rest will follow.


 4:11 pm on May 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

we gave google everything, analytics on every page, conversion tracking, the whole ball of wax.

IMO that was not a good idea.


 5:03 pm on May 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

IMO that was not a good idea.

I agree, this is one of several sites for us and it is the only one we have any google gadgets on.


 5:22 pm on May 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

Last year, I got rid of anything that could give Google information on my sites. I replaced Analytics, stopped using Adsense on any sites (still use it on my Youtube channel, but they already have all the stats on that), have never used Adwords but would have stopped, and deleted my sites from WMT (is this actually necessary? Maybe it's just Google telling me what they already know about my site, but I wasn't sure and played it safe).

If we would stop providing Google info about our sites, it might put a wrench in their world dominance plans, you know?

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