You're Kidding? T-Mobile & Talk Link Buy Renewals Over Twitter

Mar 20, 2014 • 8:24 am | comments (51) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

T-Mobile & Link TransactionYou know selling and buying links is against Google's guidelines right? You also know that many get away with it. But if you are going to sell links or buy links and you are a major brand, do not do it over a public Twitter channel.

Vince from posted publicly on Twitter asking T-Mobile, the huge mobile provider in the US, how can they get in touch with T-Mobile's "link building manager"?

That led to an exchange that blew my mind. In short, Vince specifically tells T-Mobile that the backlink they purchased "two years ago" is now "up for renewal." What? Stop there right? Nope, Vince then goes on to provide the source of the link, which is over here and explains the destination URL is over here and the anchor text is "T-Mobile Blackberry phones."

Are you kidding me!?

(1) Why does need to buy links for "T-Mobile Blackberry phones"?

(2) Who on earth does this type of negotiation out in public on such a public and popular Twitter handle, such as T-Mobile?

Are you kidding me? Lesson to be learned. Don't do link sales and purchases in public, especially if you are a publicly traded company.

Here is a picture of the exchange, if you don't believe me and you can still see it live at this Twitter thread.

Twitter: T-Mobile & Web Design Link Exchange

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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Praveen Sharma

03/20/2014 12:30 pm

This is crazy. Matt - have you noticed? :)

Scott@ Kawntent

03/20/2014 12:50 pm

I guess some people don't know anymore when to use twitter.....and do private business meetings. Way to destroy your public image. What's even more stupid is that twitter has its own PM system, so if they wanted to use twitter, they could've AT LEAST used that.


03/20/2014 12:52 pm

Wow, the problem is when "social media gurus" are free to say whatever they want without corporate intervention.

Kyle Risley

03/20/2014 12:57 pm


Durant Imboden

03/20/2014 01:14 pm

I don't know who does what at T-Mobile, but it seems unlikely that someone with the Twitter handle "@TMobileHelp" would have anything to do with (or know anything about) paid links from third parties. So unless Vince is a complete idiot, why would he be contacting Twitter Support about a link scheme?

Kyle Risley

03/20/2014 01:56 pm

He is, in fact, a complete idiot.

Kyle Risley

03/20/2014 01:58 pm

Some more winners: Stay classy.


03/20/2014 02:23 pm

All major brands buy links. I work for a large public company and they also buy links. Why? Because they all know that the punishment from Google won't last longer than 7 days.

Spam Cutts

03/20/2014 02:39 pm

I applaud Barry for bringing this to Googles attention, it’s so widespread that brands need to be named and shamed like this and google needs to take action. Please continue to point these out Barry!

Mark Warner

03/20/2014 02:40 pm

I don't think that a customer service employee dealing with social media queries constitutes a negotiation for anything, they probably just see this as an advertiser and they are doing their job to put them in touch with the right people. As for this Vince guy, I'm not sure commenting is worth Barry's bandwidth.

Mark Warner

03/20/2014 02:42 pm

If you can't find T-Mobile on Google, that makes Google look bad.


03/20/2014 02:50 pm

Buying and selling links in NOT.. NOT NOT NOT against googles terms. Buying and selling links that pass PR .. that is a different matter. That is a no no!!! You can buy and sell as many links as you link and google would not care a hoot as long as the links are nofllow.

Nicholas Chimonas

03/20/2014 03:17 pm

Shouldn't this post be titled "iAcquire bought links for T Mobile"?

Barry Schwartz

03/20/2014 03:39 pm

Because I doubt iAcquire is involved anymore. This was probably past two years ago, like they said. iAcquire paid for that already

Nicholas Chimonas

03/20/2014 03:43 pm

Ah right, I forgot about that. Thanks for the reference

Mike Gibson

03/20/2014 03:44 pm

Got to love iacquire. Once you go black, you can't go back.

Nick LeRoy

03/20/2014 03:44 pm

When did "outing" link purchases become news? This is just a slap in the face to the SEO community. Next story.

Barry Schwartz

03/20/2014 03:46 pm

I did not out anyone. It was “outed” when t-mobile and publicly did this exchange on Twitter. I am just covering how stupid they are for doing this. I am sure someone at the Google search quality team follows T-Mobile’s twitter feed, as a customer.


03/20/2014 03:54 pm

Dont forget - this could be an intentional Hatchet Job...

Nick LeRoy

03/20/2014 03:54 pm

By prominently blogging about the stupidity it just brings light to the topic. I for one would have never seen the tweet otherwise. I don't see how this offers any value to the SEO industry? Seems like it only brings attention to the mistakes 2 individuals made.

Barry Schwartz

03/20/2014 03:55 pm

It is so that the social media blogs can pick it up and learn from. So the next person who runs a social media campaign for a large company doesn’t make the same mistake.

Nick LeRoy

03/20/2014 04:08 pm

at least we learning something about large corporation social media awareness.. it only took the potential death of the above sites.

F1 Steve

03/20/2014 04:14 pm

don't worry nick, if they get a slap they will be back in google 7 days later, no harm!

Nick LeRoy

03/20/2014 04:17 pm

I could care less about T-Mobile. Google looks like garbage if they don't show up in their SERPs. It's the little guy (not even im sticking up for.

F1 Steve

03/20/2014 04:35 pm

I think outing the big boys helps the small players, how can the small players compete SEO wise if the big boys are allowed to do whatever? You cant, take down the big players and the smaller white hats stand an equal chance.

Abdul Wahab

03/20/2014 04:36 pm

It looks fishy...


03/20/2014 04:45 pm

t-mobile shouldn't be worried, definitely in the too big to ban bracket despite the naivety of this staff member


03/20/2014 04:47 pm

I thought most of the little guy ranks about 100+ in Google, just past all the stacked listings of big brands. Adwords is the only place Google wants small businesses to appear in search these days.

Chris Tam

03/20/2014 05:25 pm

TMobile deleted their tweets and Matt Cutts just responded. LOL


03/20/2014 05:47 pm

Barry, I am not sure if someone at the Google search quality team is following T-Mobile feed as a customer but i am sure Google search quality team do read the posts on seoroundtable.

Michael Martinez

03/20/2014 06:37 pm

I think you did the right thing, Barry.


03/20/2014 07:13 pm

where did matt respond?


03/20/2014 08:25 pm

Only response I saw was this one, but I love it.

Chris Tam

03/20/2014 08:26 pm

That's the one. At the time of my post, he tweeted that a couple minutes ago.


03/20/2014 08:50 pm

And thank you for covering this Barry. It. Is. Hilarious.


03/20/2014 09:13 pm

Ya, in my first post I was reading the reading the original tweet message. My bad, fixed it!

Matthew Barby

03/21/2014 09:30 am

I'm pretty sure they outed themselves...

Matthew Barby

03/21/2014 09:31 am

These were dofollow links.

Jacob King

03/21/2014 12:11 pm

This seems like total BS to me. There is no telling that the person managing that Twitter acct knew wtf this guy was talking about and if this guy isn't completely insane. The only thing somewhat incriminating was - "Thank you! We will reach out to renew." Again, who knows who the hell sent that tweet. what if this entire exchange was just some spammer saying some dumb shit to them, gotta run the story quick tho. I'm gonna start tweeting at big brands about the links they supposedly bought and see if it gets the story on here.

Vineet Waldia

03/21/2014 12:38 pm

could be a hacker hired by competitor. and no body is questioning iAcquire

Zach Chahalis

03/21/2014 01:54 pm

Looks like the link has been removed from the Web Design page as of this morning as well.

Claude "CodeAngry" Adrian

03/21/2014 05:50 pm

If it's true (though I doubt it) then moral of the story is: Don't buy links from idiots who will out you on renewal!


03/22/2014 10:10 am

Unless we think about it with Google's brain in our heads, there's nothing wrong about this exchange, since advertising is normal marketing practice.

Kyle Risley

03/23/2014 05:59 am

It could be an outing (though I don't know why this web design company would be targeting T-Mobile), but a look through the anchors used for that URL (the old one, not the one it redirects to), turns up some pretty blatant manipulation.

Steve Erlich

03/24/2014 03:43 pm

I swear, this made my week. Thank you so much for sharing this Barry. Cutt's response has me absolutely rolling... I can just picture the "wth" look on his face when he typed this: @VitaliyKolosWDL ಠ_ಠ

Steve Erlich

03/24/2014 04:02 pm

Agreed... Like a news reporter, as a blogger, your "job" is to report on what is going on in the industry. You don't have to take a stance or defend your stance. A great post. Its newsworthy, its something I can and have shared, and its relevant. Google's in a tough place in these situations too and I think people fail to realize that. You can't remove T-Mobile from search results because that compromises their SERPs validity. But its also bad for business to let them get away with trying to game the system (which Google has with many big brands for years). It sends the wrong message out to webmasters around the world. So how do you keep T-Mobile relevant and high in the search results for your consumers while showing the "little guys" that the big boys can't do whatever they want? This is I'm sure, high on Google's priority list, but until I have a valid answer, I won't critique what they are doing currently... Anyone can complain, it takes a strong mind to come up with an answer.


03/25/2014 09:10 am

But why not?! It is time we set out the facts and destroyed the myths! Many major brands buy or sell links. Google should treat linkbuilders in an other way, than penalize the sites. We all know it, Google know it....the way it is now, isn't right for anybody!


03/25/2014 09:46 pm

I smell penalty... I know this kind of thing happens but it is real shame when big brands especially, the ones not short of links, need to resort to paid links.

Backups kid

04/10/2014 03:45 pm

I don't blame tyhe tmobile staff who has no idea about this. But the link seller is just shoddy. Killing his website (by risking a ban) and throwing discretion out of the window like this.


05/13/2014 05:48 pm

lmao this guy posted in WMC. Apparently, he had 2 link penalties before this, got them removed and now he can't get the new penalty removed. Not the brightest bulb.!category-topic/webmasters/crawling-indexing--ranking/Ek2x5UAQIb0


05/13/2014 11:06 pm

Yea, but if you Google his URL you'll see that he was smart enough to get a instance of his site to rank #1. But yea, discussing paid links ANYWHERE is stupid. Remember Google hears everything, do you think he saved his list of Paid Link clients in Google Docs?

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