– Is Google Making Money on Organic Search?

Recently, the company Thumbtack appeared on two of my clients organic result pages.

I added my client to Thumbtack thinking, nice local citation. About a week after setting up the citation, I get this:


Unnatural link building scheme


Hi [client],


You can get 30 more points if you add a link to your Thumbtack service profile on your personal website. Instructions are below.


Your profile will feature a profile badge.


Let us know if you have any questions,

– The Thumbtack Support Team




1. Copy and paste your profile link to your website with a description of your profile

<a href=”“>legal</a>


If you would prefer to add a button or a badge instead of a link, you get one here.


2. Once you are done, respond to this email with the URL of the link, badge, or button.

I’ll verify the link and will credit the points and badge to your profile. 


This Strategy Violates Google’s Link Building Guidelines

The points they offer to clients who provide the links helps them rank in their system. They then ask for credit money in order for clients to bid on quotes with five others. Each credit is valued at $1-$5 based on the vertical.

My clients who are PI lawyers would have to pay ~$10 to bid on a lead with 5 other firms.

Google Investment

Further research shows that Google’s invested $100 million in Thumbtack:

Link removal is bull shit

Looks like this profile was built and still dominates after all the Penguin updates.

Questions: Will Google punish a site if they have their hands in its pocket?

It remains to be seen whether Google acts on the information I have provided when I reported Thumbtack’s link acquisition tactics.

Have any of you come across a similar situation?

It seems to me that despite Google’s continuous protestations that organic search results are independently determined and not manipulated, this appears to be a way for Google to make money on organic traffic.

By providing companies in which they have a direct financial investment with superior positioning, Google can avoid the appearance of organic search results manipulation.

Thumbtack’s advantage in this case comes not from Google actively assisting them, but because Google permits them to violate the standards that punish our sites.

Thumbtack, in essence, has an exemption from applying white hat SEO tactics. They can be confident in pursuing tactics that allow them to rank without any fear of potential consequences.

Google Antitrust Issues

While antitrust efforts in America against Google’s abuse of its dominance in the search market have gone nowhere, there seems to be a more robust regulatory framework in Europe.

Hopefully, the antitrust challenges to Google’s modus operandi in Europe will wake up the Federal Trade Commission.

Lastly: (Angry Consumers Abound)



The only links on this page that are actually Not Followed is Google’s link…

I mean Thumbtacks link…


Foundation Optimization – A Local SEO Index

Local SEO Index Image

If you want to rank a local listing in Google for competitive terms it’s important to have a good understanding of how search works. This index covers everything you need to know about optimizing a local listing.

Once you complete all these local SEO recommendations you will have a great advantage on your competitors and you will also capitalize on other marketing opportunities.

We used Moz’s Local SEO survey and included great content to guide you throughout the SEO learning process:

  • Learn
  • Apply
  • Experiment
  • Rank
  • Evaluate 

The following are the Overall Ranking Factors from Moz’s Local Survey:

  • Place Page Signals Scored 19.6% Categories, Keyword in Business Title, Proximity
  • On-page Signals Scored 18.8% Presence of NAP, Keywords in Titles, Domain authority
  • External Loc. Signals Scored 16% IYP/aggregator NAP consistency, Citation Volume
  • Link Signals Scored 14.4% Inbound anchor text, Linking domain authority, Linking domain quantity
  • Review Signals Scored 10.3% Review quantity, Review velocity, Review diversity
  • Personalization Scored 8.3%
  • Social Signals Scored  6.3% Google+ authority, Facebook likes, Twitter followers
  • Behavioral/Mob. Signals Scored 6.1% Clickthrough rate, Mobile clicks to call, Check-ins, Offers

Below we’ve listed each of these factors and made recommendations to great articles and guides. These links are in order from most important, to least, they can teach you a good amount about Local SEO, how to properly layout your foundation and optimize your listing.

Place Page


External Loc.







Staying on top of all the ranking factors is not a one man job, don’t be a jack of all trades, master of none. Use tools, find help and create quality. I’ve seen listings rank in 2 month with little work and some take over a year. Keep your head up and stay focused or hire someone good. If we missed any content that belong on this list please email us and well be happy to add it.