• http://pestcontrolseo.wordpress.com/ Thos003

    “If you’re a marketing company, you should build some online personas so that you can protect your own brand.”


  • http://www.imagefreedom.com/ Matthew Egan

    Yea lol, I’ve heard someone else we know say exactly that.

  • NoPaidLinksHereHonest

    So are they going to change their name to iAcquireLinksButDontSpendADimeOnAnythingObviousAtLeast?

  • Seth Nickerson

    “These aren’t my drugs, I was holding them for a friend.”

  • http://twitter.com/cryptblade cryptblade

    HAHAHAHA, Thought the same thing.

  • http://twitter.com/cryptblade cryptblade

    “Scuse me while i kiss the sky” man – this is schadenfreude.

    I worked for “SEO companies” that did exactly what these guys did. “yeah mr and mrs. small business chumps. we can optimize your website for 17 keywords. we optimize 10 pages, then you pay us $500 a month for links. simple. now sign your measly savings away!”

    let that be a lesson all you chump SEOs. 

  • http://www.cutey.co.uk/ cutey

    Why are these taking such a battering? Get hundreds of emails from huge company’s buying links, every month.

  • http://twitter.com/BillRoss Bill Ross

    Trying to keep this positive as I have respect for Mike as an SEO…

    “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]”

    — It’s the responsibility of the agency to be white hat, educate the
    clients, and not buy links. Just because you let your clients know that
    you are doing something against Google guidelines does not mean it’s ok
    to do.

    “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.”

    —To me that just sounds like iAcquire can’t build enough value for clients without cheating. Yes its hard, if SEO were easy everyone would do it. I understand budget limitations and the high expectations of many clients, but again this choice is driven by $ and they got caught.

    “Griffin said that King only joined two months ago and “he hasn’t had the
    opportunity to penetrate into our fulfillment operations.””

    — So in the 2 months Mike did not “have time” to ask “do we buy links
    for any clients”? Seems to me if he was so against buying links as is
    represented, that should have been one of his first questions when coming aboard.

    Overall this just sounds like a list of excuses, rather than owning up
    to the fact that iAcquire did not do justice for its clients to build
    value for them, but rather took their money and put it into short term
    high risk activities. (boy that sounds very similar to all the banks and
    their poor choices with investing the tax payers money).

    I feel bad for Mike, as he seemed like a good SEO, hope he bounces back from all this craziness.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    As someone who once inherited a paid link portfolio I’ll stick my neck out and say in Mike’s defense that it’s NOT easy to persuade clients to drop those links, even when it’s clear by all reasonable indicators that the links are not reliable.  2 months is a short transition period for any off-site SEO strategist to work in.

  • Alan

    My guess is guest posts will be the next SEO technique in the firing line. Technically every time a guest posts on your site a transaction occurs. Even if no money physically changes hands. I mean you are getting a “free” article on your site that you would normally pay for and they are getting a “free” link. The dirty little secret in the white hat SEO world is that lots of these “free” guest posts are paid for with cash. It just doesn’t get reported to Google! So I bet this will be the next technique in a long line of techniques that Google once loved but now hates.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Alan, I think guest posts already were in the firing line from Penguin. Google seems to have downgraded the credit for some of these, from known article sites. That’s not the same as a penalty or going against terms, however. Just that they don’t count for as much.

    But yes, the broader point is that it can get very tricky about what exactly is a paid link. That’s one of the problems I’ve long had with Google’s war against them, because of barter links, product exchanges, you name it. But the case that sparked all this off was a pretty straight-forward paid link request that Google’s long warned against.

  • Adam Machado

    I love how “white hat” link builders love to rag on everyone else for not falling in line and  kissing Google’s butt (Envy?).  I feel sorry for all the businesses who fall for all the white hat F.U.D.,

    “For 10 times the amount of money, I will someday get you ranking high enough to pay for my services”…..”but at least you can sleep at night knowing you never took any risks”.

    Any business owner that isn’t willing to take a small bit of risk to move ahead deserves to be stuck in 10th place.

    Any business owner dumb enough to believe that they either be 100% white hat or they are guaranteed to be penalized also deserves to fail in their business.  Millions of webmasters have built “Grey” hat links and are still doing quite well (and will continue to regardless of future Google updates).  Many of them have made a ton of money, while their  competitors were too scared to take any risks. Too scared or to ignorant not to be brainwashed by “White hat” link builders whose only tactic for getting clients is to create boogeymen.

    Anyone who has ever built “grey” links intelligently knows that the likelihood of getting heavily penalized is so extremely small that it way outweighs the risks.

    repeat.. “built links intelligently”.  And yes, there is a middle ground.  You can be an intelligent link builder and also be grey hat.

  • netviper

    So are these guys the same as textlinkads.com? I see them all over search engine watch.

  • http://kercommunications.com Nick

    “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]”

    Did you also tell them the risk involved?

    I wonder how many businesses have been harmed by the lack of integrity and these multiple personalities – oops “personas”.  Putting a nicer label on dishonesty doesn’t make it a good thing.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Not to my knowledge. It’s hard when iAcquire doesn’t want to list some of the subsidiaries / personas that it may have, but Text Link Ads is a long-standing company that’s been around for ages. I don’t believe they were sold or are part of iAcquire.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    For some businesses, white hat or die is actually good advice. That’s because if they are small, unnecessary to Google’s listings, getting caught doing something black hat can kill them. Dead. Talk to some people hit by the Penguin Update, or the Florida Update, for that matter.

    As for “grey hat,” Google’s rules don’t allow for this. They don’t have some range of color. You either play by its white hat rules or you don’t. Grey hat, black hat, doesn’t matter — you still might banned, so understand the risks and don’t think that because you were doing something you considered “grey” that everything is fine. It might not be.

    There’s plenty of unnecessary rhetoric and hostility on both sides of the white hat / black hat debate. Nothing new there other than that you get new generations doing the same old debating.

    But there’s also nothing new that being black hat can get you busted, perhaps bad. If someone wants to go that route, they should fully understand what they’re doing, what the possible penalties and risks are and be prepared for the worst. I think whatever your hat is, many would agree with that advice.

  • http://twitter.com/connections8 James Norquay

    You also need to remember Mike King was on the road for a lot of that 2 months, I mean he was in Australia at SMX sydney for a good while. He seems like a very good dude so I feel sorry that he has been caught up in all this. 

  • http://twitter.com/bendrush Ben Rush

    What iAcquire were doing and ultimately got punished for is absolutely no different from what most SEO agencies do. I don’t feel sorry for them because I don’t agree with what they were doing, but I also don’t think its fair for anybody to necessarily single them out as the evil empire.

    As for Mike (who I don’t know at all, but have seen posts from before) the guy cannot be held responsible for the actions of iAcquire or there ongoing tactics only 2 months into the role even if those operations directly reported into him.

    As Michael correctly stated above, you don’t just rock into a business and change the operating model overnight – if anyone thinks otherwise then frankly they are very naive.

    I’m not saying hes necessarily innocent of any criticism, but I certainly wouldn’t pass any judgement on him personally. 

    From my perspective they were caught trying to game the system as so many other agencies are still doing today.

    Its a lesson for us all – if something doesn’t feel right then do something about it rather than reacting after the event.

    *I hope they stick around and recover – they produce some great content on their blog.

  • Peter Kern

    The problem with Google is they concentrate too much on black/grey/white SEO whatever… instead of concentrating on displaying the most relevant and quality results. They completely lost their mission on which they based from the beginning.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidJo45324615 David Johnstone

    The problem is not that Google punish grey/black hat techniques, it’s that they reward these techniques so well, while NOT rewarding white hat techniques for the little SMB trying to do the right thing in competitive market.  Sure, you get some sites that go too far and get penalised, but the small SMB doing the right thing will be outranked by the more savvy grey-hats above them.  That’s just reality – no matter how much we hear the “white hat” mantra, no mantra can change reality. 

  • http://twitter.com/DavidJo45324615 David Johnstone

    Don’t know if netviper was trying to make another point Danny – in that TextLinkAds sell dofollow links and searchengineland.com are advertising them.

  • http://twitter.com/BillRoss Bill Ross

     James and Michael,

    I don’t fault him for what happened as I know the challenges that come along with inheriting clients on a global level, and agree he is a stand up guy. I think I am more disappointed with how iAcquire handled the situation and how, again, SEO in general has been tarnished by a well known company.

  • ConquerorTravel

    I agree, Google is the new Inquisition that burns us (almost) all!

  • ConquerorTravel

    Exactly, you cannot succeed with 100% white-hat techniques because all others, in any field, still buy links. I know really big names that buy heavily links after all these Google updates and don’t care about the fact that Google could catch them – they are too big and Google won’t penalize a big brand, isn’t? You don’t see the SERP? It’s filled just with brands!? And MOST of them buy links in a way or another right now. The only guys who really suffer are small business owners! Is that fair, BIG SATAN aka Google?

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    I can understand the pressure to perform that some clients put on their SEO agencies. They need results yesterday and you have to deliver or risk losing the client. I have a line in the sand that I stick firmly to, but I can understand why some companies might be willing to bend a little for certain clients, especially if they had been doing it for a while with no adverse results. 

  • Peter Kern

    Exactly! how is it possible that some rubbish company description on YELP or QYPE can be more quality than this business original website?

  • http://twitter.com/BillRoss Bill Ross


    “As Michael correctly stated above, you don’t just rock into a business
    and change the operating model overnight – if anyone thinks otherwise
    then frankly they are very naive.”

    Playing Devils Advocate: I agree to an extent, but don’t you think that anyone who is as ingrained in inbound marketing as Mike would have asked the question (do you all buy links for clients?) before accepting the job?

    I don’t think he was hurting for a job based on his experience and yet he inherited a lot of risk by associating himself with a company who bought links for their clients.

    Again I don’t blame him for the issues, as I said above he is a stand up SEO, I am more frustrated with how it was handled by iAcquire and their lack of responsibility with their client’s businesses.

  • ThePinguino

    How can it decide what’s relevant if results are manipulated?  So they need to determine what’s actually relevant, what’s manipulated, what’s genuinely average, etc.  Think about it a bit more.  You’d be complaining even more if they didn’t do anything about spam/manipulation.

  • Peter Kern

    It looks like manipulation is more important for them than quality and related website.
    They want SEO to be destroyed. Is it so difficult to understand? They want more money from adwords instead of people paying for SEO.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    He actually said Search Engine Watch is advertising them, not Search Engine Land. I don’t think we carry those ads. I don’t deal with the ads, regardless.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Well, the point of Penguin was to better punish those techniques. The results, if you read many comments, was that Penguin was just an attempt to punish SMBs further, because only apparently honest, hardworking non-spamming SMBs got hit.

  • SilvaSharlene

    think whatever your hat is, many would agree with that advice.  my classmate’s half-sister makes $84 an hour on the computer. She has been without work for seven months but last month her pay check was $15579 just working on the computer for a few hours. Here’s the site to read more CashLazy.&#99om  

  • http://twitter.com/DavidJo45324615 David Johnstone

    “The results, if you read many comments, was that Penguin was just an
    attempt to punish SMBs further, because only apparently honest,
    hardworking non-spamming SMBs got hit”

    Ha….way to polarise the debate.  According to you, if anyone got hit by Penguin, then it’s just sour grapes because it’s their own fault…hmm, askthebuilder.com may have a different opinion to you. 

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    No, I didn’t say that it’s just sour grapes. I said that Penguin was designed, according to Google, to do exactly what you say you want — punish spam. But if you read many of the comments from those hit by Penguin, they say it was an attempt to wipe out small businesses — and many of them rarely say that any of those businesses were spamming.

    The bottom line is that Google is in a tough spot. Whatever it does, someone’s got an issue. Punish paid links. Don’t punish paid links. Go after spam. No, you didn’t get spam, you got innocent businesses.

    Penguin certainly did hit some innocent sites, along with a lot of spammy ones. If we hadn’t had it, then other innocent sites that never saw top results were harmed as well.

    Frankly, it’s not a job I’d want, to try and figure out all this stuff. There are always losers, always winners, but it’s rare the winners speak out.

  • http://twitter.com/bendrush Ben Rush

    Hi Bill,

    Do we know he didn’t ask that question? actually – if he knows his stuff (as he seems to) then I suspect he knew they actively purchased links as part of their client strategy without even asking the question.

    I still don’t think that should reflect negatively on that individuals decision to take a job at that organisation though.

    We can only assume at his intentions and what he’d been told and promised when he took the role.

  • Stefan Hull

    I’m amazed people continue to frame the debate in terms of ‘black hat’ and ‘white hat’. That just locks us into interminable discussions about tactics. I’d rather talk about managing risk.
    It’s fairly clear the direction that Google is moving in (to serve up the best possible results to protect and increase its market share and drive associated revenues) even though the results might not always reflect is stated aims.
    There are agencies and clients that will continue to use tactics that don’t necessarily support this strategy. That’s their call. I just hope they’re aware of the risks and happy to take them.
    Personally and professionally I’d rather spend my time helping my clients become genuine authorities because I think it’s (a) the right thing to do (for my clients), and (b) the right thing to do (for my clients’ customers).
    I’d also rather spend time working for clients that share this worldview.

  • http://www.sparringmind.com Gregory Ciotti

    Maybe someone can enlighten me: how is it possible to distinguish a link from a guest post from a natural link?

    Some guest posts that I’ve done never contain the phrase “This is a guest post by…”, they just add “Greg is the founder of…” at the bottom, so what are the signals that an article is a guest post?

  • http://www.sparringmind.com Gregory Ciotti

    Maybe someone can enlighten me: how is it possible to distinguish a link from a guest post from a natural link?

    Some guest posts that I’ve done never contain the phrase “This is a guest post by…”, they just add “Greg is the founder of…” at the bottom, so what are the signals that an article is a guest post?

  • KramerEdward77

    my friend’s aunt brought home $17621 last month. she gets paid on the internet and bought a $566900 condo. All she did was get blessed and work up the guide revealed on this web site===>> ⇛⇛⇛⇛► http://enternet-Job.blogspot.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/JamesJBarton James Barton

    This is a worrying trend for me as I am setting up a pay by post type forum. This is designed to keep out spammers and help people highlight their not necessarily comercial messages eg promote their good causes or philosophies on a virtual ‘noticeboard’. Any thoughts on this in relation to the above article?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jwhere John Kent Williams

    The only links that are not paid for are social links that someone did on their own.  All other links that required any time by oneone at the business being promoted is a piad like.  This topic is so much crap.  Counting links as a vote for the validity or varasity of a site is so much crap.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.roesler Peter Roesler

    I think Google really needs to valuate the sites on core content, usability and whether it gives the visitor what they want.  Paid links or not I just want to Google something and find the answer in the first 3 clicks, which I rarely do. I don’t think paid links is a good strategy, however, many times the sites that are willing to pay are the better sites.  When I analyze the links of many of the top 3 people of Google, I can pretty much guarantee you, that many of them have black hat, or paid links.  I think Google should just ignore paid links and take the page rank away from the site selling them.  This keeps your competitors from hurting your rankings and will keep the best content in the top 3 spots.  I also think Google shouldn’t give Page Rank away so easily, it needs to be earned, it’s trust.  If it was more limited the results would be better. 

  • PeterRoesler

     I agree, let’s get some better results instead of expired domains in the top 10, facebook pages are overall junk.

  • guerreroseo

    the bigger seller of paid links is Google himself (adwords) but they have the power to eliminate competitors (not themself from their own index…) and this is why in Europe we have to put laws against this monopoly. Unfortunately newbies do not understand that they can search also with Bing…and they still continue to give power to the google index… and we will have to listen and see how google give us lessons on doing the things well meanwhile they do what they want with their own pages (have you seen how they spam their pages with all their products : adwords, gg shopping, gg places ?… sometimes you have to go way down to find natural searches… c’mon !!! we have to open our eyes and don’t think that GG is the unique operator in this business…

  • Sgt. Mac

    I have two paid links on my blog which I have had for about six months. IAcquire started both, just small text links which they paid me for monthly. After a month or two, I was told that I would receive payment from DigitalPros.org. which I have received until this month, when neither payment arrived.

    I just did some searching then found your site. I had no idea that these links were illegal and had no ideal that iAquire and DigitalPros.org were now banned by Google. I have not received any notice from either entity regarding that payments would stop, or any notice from Google. I suppose now, I have no recourse to resume payments.

    Your article now says that paid links will no longer be allowed, is that right? I have other text links such as Amazon and Clickbank so don’t understand why these were banned.