But the world of SEO is changing. Not just in terms of what tactics are best, but I feel Google is helping to shape a new mindset in SEO’s, that outing your competitors maybe the quickest way to get viable results.
This post will take a quick look at the story of iAcquire’s ban and 5 takeaways you can incorporate into your own SEO thinking.
The iAcquire Ban
iAcquire is a search agency that work for a number of big brands. They were covered on SEOBook a couple of years back due to their link diagnosis tool. In that post Aaron Wall makes the point that it’s probably not in your best interest to hand over link data to a company who themselves offer SEO services. In that post Aaron also made a connection between Text Link Ads and iAcquire, which suggests it’s no surprise iAcquire offer this kind of service to their clients.
iAcquire made the (pretty stupid) mistake of trying to purchase a link of a blogger, who blogs about social and marketing – Josh Davis. After 30 hours of research Josh spun up this post telling the world of what they were up to. It didn’t take long for that post to find it’s way to Matt Cutts:
and just like that your whole brand disappears into a sea of negativity
One blog posts, a couple of tweets to Matt Cutts, information digging by Google and your business is gone from the SERPs. This is the first time Google has apparently de-indexed an agency and it’s affiliates for selling links.
1. Getting Thrown under the Google Bus is Real Son !!
The world of SEO is now rife with outing. When Google started to de-index blog networks on mass, it sent requests to ask where the unnatural links were coming from. You can now stick up a blog post outing agencies, businesses or firms looking to purchase links and they could be out of the SERPs in no time at all.
For example, I have received two requests for paid links on one of my sites from two companies, both in the gambling sector. Examples below (I received 5 from the same person, who like iAcquire, kept asking for my attention).
I am handling the advertising and promotions for XXX.
My client site would like to advertise on your site in a form of
in-content link advertising.
Maybe you can add my links on your next post?
Please let me know if this is possible and how much will it cost me for
I am hoping we can move forward with regards to our pending discussion on
my inquiry about advertising on [XX]
Please get back to me so we can further discuss the details.
If I wanted my 5 minutes of fame, I could simply whip up a post and let it go. This may not be something I have an interest in, but believe me, there are a lot of people who want a bit of that spot light.
2. Take Responsibility for your Agency
It looks as if iAcquire were made to take the complete wrap for this. The client stated they had no knowledge of what iAcquire was doing. If they had zero knowledge, then perhaps whoever was managing them should be fired. The job of any internal resource is to manage their agencies. Look at what your agency is doing, ask for link reports, ask where the links came from and make sure there is something in the contract about financial repercussions if something like this happens. Agencies are less likely to bend the rules if they know there is a monetary penalty for getting caught out. Know what your link building agency is up to. Stories like this are great examples of why big brands need to hire internal resources with online knowledge.
3. Take Responsibility for your Client
If your client is happy for you to bend the rules and this has been agreed on up front, then it should be noted in your contract. When stories like this break, it looks far better for the agency if they can release a statement to say our client had agreed upon our strategy and was in full knowledge of what we were doing. Ok, so you may still get steam rolled by Google, but at least you don’t look like some type of dodgy back street link dealer.
4. Don’t do real stupid things
Can you believe people try to buy links of this site. I mean, there are a lot of stupid SEO consultants out there, don’t be one of them. In this case the wrong type of person was approached for a link. Look at the whois of the site you are approaching. Think, is this person going to through me under the Google bus. If you have any doubts about the results of your approach, go write a guest blog post instead.
5. Don’t believe the hype
The SMX conferences are great. Lots of amazing networking opportunities, lots of amazing best practice sessions on how you can beat competitors with white hat link building. Don’t believe everyone is using what they show at the events to drive results. In competitive keyword spaces, content marketing only get’s you so far. It’s really not that surprising that a large SEO agency is buying links.