Google Bans The Agency Who Buys The Link

May 25, 2012 • 8:53 am | comments (48) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine

Google Ban SEO Agency Blame GameLast night, I reported on Search Engine Land that iAcquire was banned from Google possibly over link buying allegations.

I do not have the whole story yet but this is what we know.

(1) iAcquire was 'outted' by for buying links through affiliates of theirs for Dun & Bradstreet.

(2) Last night, Google delisted from their index:

iAcquire Delisted

(3) Michael King, the Director of Inbound Marketing at iAcquire heavily implied iAcquire didn't remove themselves but rather it was something Google did. He tweeted:

(4) Some of the cited affiliates of iAcquire were also delisted (actually all of them that I know of):

internetreach delisted

(5) We also received word from Dun & Bradstreet's legal council that they sent notices to all these affiliates about removing any links and also forwarded those notices to the press and to Google. So they informed Google about all those affiliates. How they know who the affiliates are, they said they did their own investigation they told me they pulled the list of the site that did the original investigation.

I believe we will share that letter on Search Engine Land later today when we have more details.

First Time Google Bans An Agency Instead Of Targeted Site

This is so significant because this is the first time that Google has targeted an agency for buying links for the clients. I should be fair and say, maybe Google found that this agency and their affiliates were not only buying links for their clients but also for themselves. So maybe Google delisted them because they indeed bought links for themselves?

Either way, we've only seen large public brokers and underground link networks being penalized, along with the target sites but not agencies.

Some in our industry think this is a horrible thing. Google is terrible for going after the agency.

Others feel that Google did the right thing because this agency allegedly put this client at risk and other clients as well.

Either way, this is a pretty significant step in our industry not matter how you feel about the situation.

Postscript: I should add, as Michael Martinez points out, that there was an other SEO agency that was banned from Google for violating Google's guidelines. This agency was named Traffic Power and was banned in 2006 or so. I honestly would not equate Traffic Power to iAcquire because (1) Traffic Power was the result of hundreds of sites being deindexed from Google and (2) they did some really sketchy stuff beyond asking to pay for links. But they were an "SEO company" and Google did confirm they were banned for violating guidelines. Keep in mind, paid links back then were not an official violation of Google's guidelines.

Forum discussion at Google+ & Search Engine Land Comments.

Previous story: New Google Penguin Update Rumors: Penguin 1.1


Ramesh Nair

05/25/2012 01:08 pm

It's amusing that a section of the popular online marketers are silent about the issue. Maybe they too have things to hide?

Jonathan Hochman

05/25/2012 01:20 pm

Barry, any chance iAcquire was also smoking their own dope? If they buy links for clients, might they not buy links for themselves, and when one is discovered, so is the other? I am skeptical that Google would retaliate in this way. It feels wrong.


05/25/2012 01:21 pm

Everyone has something to hide :)

Jonathan Hochman

05/25/2012 01:21 pm

"First Time Google Bans An Agency Instead Of Targeted Site" -- purely circumstantial evidence. Correlation is not causation.

Semil Shah

05/25/2012 01:22 pm

No comments on Iacquire blog, no tweets by ipullrank and there is no discussion on top sites. There is a something.. which hold nerves of all big online seo marketers.

Barry Schwartz

05/25/2012 01:22 pm

Keep reading Jonathan.

Steven Lockey

05/25/2012 01:27 pm

Love it! More please. I'd like to see all the link spammers banned!

Jesse Friedman

05/25/2012 01:31 pm

Im showing one result for them when searching.

A. Chris Turner

05/25/2012 01:33 pm

No matter the reason for deindexing, this reflects bad on us (SEO/SEM) all. I have respect for those who have been at this for a while, but I would say they should know better than this. I agree that something sounds odd that Google would drop the Agency for the links to a Client, as speculated. As time goes on I am sure more evidence will surface, but in the end I hope iPull and iAcquire recover as I am sure they will, but that is not up to anyone outside of the search giant. (Thinking of BMR). Like @fdc46454acfdc4474045a00f2f3f344f:disqus said, we all have something to hide.


05/25/2012 01:34 pm

Actually many times it is not the client saying "go out and buy links for me.". The agency is usually the one making the decision--the agency is committing the offense not the client. Google continually says "don't buy links" we should not be surprised that the go after agencies who are buying them.


05/25/2012 03:13 pm

This is mentioned in the article mate...


05/25/2012 03:46 pm

I don't know how I feel about this, sometimes clients have all the risks explained to them and they still insist they want you to buy links for them. They see it as an easy short cut. That said maybe this will give agencies the stick they need to wave at clients when they try and insist on it.


05/25/2012 03:48 pm

I find it hilariously ironic that Dun & Bradstreet was buying links. A company which makes an insane amount of money from credibility goes directly against the rules to ruin their own credibility. What a dumbass move.

Michael Martinez

05/25/2012 04:06 pm

Barry, how could you spread disinformation like this? This is NOT the first time Google went after the agency? Have you forgotten about Search King? Traffic Power? And there have been others in the past? People are repeating these statements and you have inadvertently raised a fuss over NOTHING NEW. Please retract your statements because the last thing we need is a new SEO community hullaballoo over Google Standard Practice.

Barry Schwartz

05/25/2012 04:09 pm

Those are different cases. Search king was a link network selling page rank. Traffic power was doing really sketchy stuff. Scamming clients and such This is a different case. Like i said.

Stephen Foreman

05/25/2012 04:19 pm

The Google kiss of death. Seems like all Black hat SEO, link building or Pagerank boosting are going to be eliminated in the long run, it's just a matter of time.

Clayburn Griffin

05/25/2012 04:27 pm

I think Google should de-index all SEO agencies permanently

not matt cutts

05/25/2012 04:29 pm

hardly, go search google for "buy links". they are making a special case here while letting brazen offenders get away with it. I think Google is embarrassed by the fact that reputable companies are driven to use paid links because so much spam gets through.

Stephen Foreman

05/25/2012 04:32 pm

I don't mean as in days and weeks, but over the next few years Google will likely make link buying near impossible. Some will always slip through the net though - they are just making an example of a couple of the big players and hoping for a ripple effect.

John Stevenson

05/25/2012 05:03 pm

I detect some bitterness because Steven isn't very good at getting sites ranked.

Barry Schwartz

05/25/2012 05:24 pm

I did update my story but I don't agree this is nothing new. Explained above.


05/25/2012 08:49 pm

I detect John Stevenson will be jobless, because getting sites ranked is a clear SERP's manipulation and will be totally illegal soon.


05/25/2012 08:56 pm

I doubt this will happen, because every big market is full of parasites, who can't do there own profitable business, but always can pretend they do know how to do business profitable. But in general it would be good for industry.


05/25/2012 09:00 pm

Another good move from Google. Grey SEO must die.


05/26/2012 12:19 am

previously there was less stigma about link building.. the "negative seo" link bombing.. the press it seems, pushed a few buttons.. people can easily manipulate google? What? SEO?? what is that? isn't it some kind of social media???? as i was saying.. (lol, see if i get flamed for saying seo is an offshoot of social.. ohhh.. the irony..) anyways... in the past. they did the same link wheels they did for clients.. sometimes they included their own website on these big link buys, because they could never justify paying that much for their own links.. ????? of course.. the general rule is.... if you are doing cloaking.. don't use google analytics and webmaster tools.. lol..#justsayin

Sunny Ujjawal

05/26/2012 04:48 am

This is not THE END ... still so many link building agencies are smiling in G search results


05/26/2012 09:31 am

does this mean companies like National Positions are next

Sam Casuncad

05/26/2012 10:53 am

Google is not so serious. It wants us to know they are in an all-out-war against link buying. What's next? rotation of the sites that will appear on the top page of the SERPs?

Richard Merry

05/26/2012 11:18 am

I really dont know what to say on this matter. I'm sure there's SEO people, consultants, agencies that are doing some real black hat stuff and maybe they should be penalised (but penalised only), but the problem I have with all these going ons with Google and the question I need answering is, what is white hat SEO (off-page) these days? Now, I just dont know what to impliment for my clients and I am at a serious loss.


05/26/2012 08:53 pm

The anti penguin link buying advertisement on this post is really funny :) On the site they use 'we can make it look natural' and such :)

Darth Seo

05/26/2012 09:51 pm

Seo illegal lol sure pal

Louis Slabbert

05/26/2012 10:24 pm

You clearly don't know the meaning of SEO. Google themselves have published guides on SEO over the past few years. Following their guides correctly will by design do SERP manipulation (in other words change the results eventually to include your page if it is relevant to the search term) Banning SEO is like disqualifying all Olympic athletes that practiced hard, and only allowing the Athletes who have corporate sponsorship (Paid adverts) to compete.

Louis Slabbert

05/26/2012 10:26 pm

And after that all agencies that provide magazine advertising?

Come on

05/27/2012 01:54 am

Just discount the links and don't ruin people's livelihoods over this kinda thing. Obviously, the executives at JC Penney and Overstock didn't know last year that the SEO agency they hired was buying links. But Google pulled a dick move and punished them in the SERPs. Maybe Matt Cutts thought it was righteous, but the companies lost profits and real people lost real jobs over it - people who had nothing to do with anything.

Digital Marketing Agency Kent

06/13/2012 12:47 pm

If you buy a link or exchange link with some other website you are using black hat seo and google didn't allow black hat seo.

06/20/2012 10:39 am

no - link buying and selling will never cease to exist. if it does, then the entire internet would stop working LOL. please think things through more clearly and try again. google does not "really" care about link buying and selling unless you are making too much and not contributing to THEIR salaries somehow. look at any corporate media website and you will see bought and paid for links passing pg rank in thousands of articles and posts. happens every hour of every day..... but keep being little google butt kissers and see where it gets you eventually. you will be outed by google themselves one day, then you got no where to SEO community will have you then, you be labeled as snitches and sellouts who never fully got the "real picture"

06/20/2012 10:44 am

thats false, glad your not my SEO

06/20/2012 10:53 am

whats funny is the people who outed them (llsocial) are GUILTY of selling links at their own site in articles and reviews - you just can not technically prove it. ha ha now that is some shady snitchin business right there...go and out your competitor in public make an embarrassment out of them while you yourself sell links to companies at your own site!@! LOL tell me this link here is not a paid review sure looks like well planned written "review" and the links pass page rank. of course they are getting paid to do reviews and place links. god i swear so many of you out there are still very naive and way to trusting of google and their corporate gang sponsors, media, and the entire link selling/buying fraud that is GOOGLE INC

06/20/2012 11:03 am

P.S. to admin of this site, previous comment was not directed at you, it's mainly directed at the fo0lz out there who think they have to act like the dam police and go snitchin on people when if they were actually any good at SEO and marketing THEY would be out doing what their clients ARE doing! f$%^n losers! only thing good about this incident is that it was iacquire who got outed and some small struggling guy. and thats exactly how it should be you want to out people for buying and selling links then start going after the big boys you can start right at any major media network. FOX, CBS, REUTERS, WSJ, etc, take your pick, they all do and they do it every single day. o snap - did i just "out" the entire fraud that is our "SEO" , GOOGLE INC., economy, media, and bought off corrupt officials.oooppss my bad hey google, when can we see total de indexation of major corporations and corporate media?? - since they are obviously guilty of buying/sellings links into the tunes of tens even possibly hundreds of thousands of links over the last 15 years or so no0bs out there better start wising up and understand who your real enemies are here.

06/20/2012 11:07 am

stupid typos. what their *competition* ARE doing! *not* some small struggling guy. and no way to edit - and disqus which i hate to death along with the rest of these stupid comment plugins. worthless junk that clutters your site up.

Barry Schwartz

06/20/2012 11:14 am

FYI, your username is annoying. Do you have a real name?


06/20/2012 11:48 am

not really lol. sorry i value privacy and still like to practice common sense but if it annoys you change it to stopoutting

Barry Schwartz

06/20/2012 11:55 am

This is better. But your previous name was your site's URL. So how is that privacy? Why is it not common sense to use your own name?

Stephen Foreman

06/20/2012 12:10 pm

I could take offence to your comment, but seen as it's just a way to boost inbound links to your website (clever), and you are trying to be provocative it's not really worth my effort. Anyone in SEO with a brain knows the difference between the link buying I am talking about and the multi-national link building that goes on between companies and corporations. To say that the entire Internet would stop working if link selling stopped however is the most ridiculous comment I have ever heard. The web thrives on organic information and eventually natural links WILL carry more weight than their black hat method counterparts. It's not a case of butt kissing Google, more a case of being intelligent enough to work out that in the long run poor sites with fake links are still poor sites.


06/20/2012 12:21 pm

common sense aspect is knowing that you should never have your real name out here on internet if you can avoid it. I understand your position and your business you want to build an online business and reputation, and i am sure you do not particularly care if they track your every move. for others its a different story. there is a reason why blackhat and affiliate marketing stays popular. because you can make a killing and you get to stay completely private. and sorry but proof of where this world is headed is more than enough to keep me from ever putting my real info anywhere online. there are websites and articles more than 10 years old that clearly instruct very good reasons why people should never use their real name and infos online when interacting online. and back years ago this was well known by many people and was respected information. nowadays, people would laugh at such articles, and pull the "conspiracy theorist" card. while they willingly give away their info totally unaware how its going to turn around and explode in their faces's already begun, they know this in the back of their minds their just to egotistical to admit it now. ill be in the shadows lol'n as usual..... anyways good day admin


06/20/2012 12:25 pm

really? im trying to boost inbound links with crappy non clickable URL mentions in the name? stephen - go and look at any corporate media website for more than 30 minutes. Billions of dollars of PAID LINKS passing page rank for many years. if they didn't happen, then there would literally be millions and millions of websites and business that never made it online. put the pieces together from there.

White Hatter

08/16/2012 03:27 am

When is National Position going down for their blatantly over optimized "SEO Company" 9,173 times and only 441 branded links to their index page. When Penguin hit they were de-indexed for a very short period of time. Did anyone else notice or am I the only one watching my competition come up! Smells fishy to me I wonder what their adwords total budget is and who's pockets are being lined with Benjamins. It's time to call this kinda crap out. If we have to fallow the rules as the little guy the should also. This industry gets shadier and shadier every day. Look at Yelp for example. Feeding the world $H*> while they filter out bad reviews for $$$$. Google needs to be called out as well, specially since they let a bs like this come through their search results. This world is backwards full of BS fake traffic that makes the big guys billions of dollars a year. It is a cesspool and something must be done! Can you tell I'm irritated? lol

Internet Marketing uk

11/26/2012 10:23 am

if they didn't occur, then there would basically be large numbers and an incredible number of sites and company that never created it on the internet. put the items together from there.

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