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Google’s Own Money Backed Site Gets Slapped With a Manual Penalty for Use of Blackhat Links

Google’s Own Money Backed Site Gets Slapped With a Manual Penalty for Use of Blackhat Links

by Ben Wittams-Smith9th June 2015

Thumbtack Promises to disavow the unnatural links that have led to the site being penalised by Google

Thumtack, a Google backed website that helps employers find experienced personnel, has been handed a manual penalty from the Google spam control team for “unnatural links to your site”.

Jonathan Swanson, the co-founder of Thumtack has revealed that the website has since seen a major drop in both traffic and rankings from Google, and is set on resolving the issue.


What is a penalty for “unnatural links”?

This type of penalty comes as a result of an SEO or the website owner attempting to manipulate their rankings through link-building. As Google states in the Search Console help section, the practice of buying links or taking part in any type of link scheme with the aim of acquiring links in an unnatural way is a violation of Google’s term’s of service, and will result in manual action being taken against your site.

Once hit with a manual action, a website will generally experience loss of rankings.

Fixing the issue involves reaching out to websites that you have purchased links from and asking them to remove these links; add a rel=no-follow attribute to the links; or redirect the links through another page. A reconsideration request will often be necessary, letting Google know that you have tried to remove the spammy links, and that you will never attempt to manipulate your PageRank again. The last step is to use the disavow tool to tell Google which links should be ignored.


Why Thumbstack was hit

Swanson suspects that they were hit as a result of this post which calls out Thumstack for asking for links. The post highlights the fact that Google have invested in Thumbstack, and begs the question of whether or not Google will penalise a website that it has invested in.

Google has battled with both the U.S. government and the EU Commission with regard to its monopolising of the internet, and Google is therefore sensitive to accusations of this nature.

This could possibly be the reason why Thumbstack have been penalised.

Swanson has stated: “To be clear, we do not now, nor have we ever, paid for links,” Swanson said. “We have always strived to work within Google’s guidelines.”

The evidence however does point to Thumbstack having given incentives to clients who link back to certain parts of the website, which is against Google’s guideline.

Thumbstack is not the first Google invested property that has been hit by a penalty. Google’s page for Chrome, and (a site acquired by Google) have both been penalised.

The question however is, how many of Google’s properties are gaming the system and still getting away with it?

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About The Author
Ben Wittams-Smith
Ben Wittams-Smith is a content writer for Just SEO and the Company Director of JSEO LTD. As a specialist in SEO, SEM and digital marketing, Ben regularly contributes content and provides analytic insight in these areas.

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