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:
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
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.
Further research shows that Google’s invested $100 million in Thumbtack:
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: http://thumbtack.pissedconsumer.com/ (Angry Consumers Abound)
The only links on this page that are actually Not Followed is Google’s link…
I mean Thumbtacks link…