I’ve been struck over the last few days how many, supposedly, SEO experts are being hit by the Google Penguin Update. These include iAcquire, WPMU and a number of writers on the Search Engine Land daily newsletter. The problems of iAcquire and WPMU are well documented.
The first mentioned Penguin victim, iAcquire, has been caught actively buying links on behalf of their clients. A definite Google “No, no,” if the paids are not “no followed” and are for the purposes of gaining PageRank. iAcquire are now issuing apologies, blaming a failure of internal management controls.
The second mentioned Penguin victim, WPMU, has been caught using automated links on a large number of sub-domains, as well as a few trivial link building issues. It seems these links worked for a while but have been penalised by Google during the Penguin update. WPMU is a highly credible firm specialising in WordPress. And, indeed, we use the WPMU plugin on this blog. WPMU have carried out a major PR campaign to recover their positon. At the same time cleaning up their link base.
The third class of Penguin victim includes a number of SEO companies. Some of which merely allude to the problems they are having with their rankings post Penguin. They make posts about lost rankings, not actually owning up to the fact that the lost rankings are actually for their own clients.
The irony of all of this is that is that the personalities involved with these organisations often appear at search engine marketing conferences extolling the virtuesof their uniquely successful and clean (White hat) SEO practises. In actual fact, more often than not, these unuqiuely successful techniques rely on a black hat background. In the case of iAcquire, this appears be a large scale operation.
My own view, endorsed by others in the SEO trade is that link buying and link rental (the latter is often confused with the former) is a widespread practise. Indeed, many supposedly expert SEO companies do nothing more than rent large amounts of paid links from the large link rental companies. These companies, both the link sellers and the link buyers, will need a drastic change of business model.