Blogger Josh Davis recently put out an investigative report exposing the marketing firm iAcquire for engaging in paid links for clients. Once Google caught wind of it, iAcquire was de-indexed from Google's search results.
Now, the company has openly admitted to "financial compensation," though it says it has been transparent about this with its clients. On Tuesday, iAcquire put out a blog post talking about the ordeal. Here's a snippet:
There are many methods to develop link relationships. Based on the client strategy we deploy a variety of approaches to link development, and in some cases we’ve allowed financial compensation as a tool. Removing financial compensation from the link development toolset has been a long term goal for us. We are using these recent events to be a catalyst to expedite those plans effective immediately.
We do not mislead customers nor operate in any manner contrary to their wishes or directives. Every strategy we develop is done in conjunction with knowledgeable online marketing specialists from iAcquire and our clients. Our process is transparent- every aspect of a campaign is available to our customers. In the past, we have responded to the frequent needs for urgency and speed from our clients. We are going to take this opportunity to discuss with our clients the best approaches to ensure a long term strategy and horizon for their program.
The company has been engaging in a lot of related conversation on Twitter:
@jonahstein We're not that concerned with being deindexed--we weren't driving much traffic through search anyway. But thanks for the...
@jonahstein but of course we are working to comply with google in order to return to the search results
@craigaddyman Can't speak for everyone else but we haven't stopped working hard to be the best SEOs we can right now
We may soon see other companies being exposed in similar fashion, as Davis recently told WebProNews, "I have come across some other smaller companies which seem to be doing it (maybe one other large one, but I am still researching that).”
Google penalties from paid links, as we've seen in the past, can have big effects on big companies. Overstock.com even blamed Google's penalty for an "ugly year".
Update: Davis now tells us, "I am not currently researching other companies large or small that may be buying undisclosed links. While my research for the initial piece did unearth what appeared to be other paid links, that was just a byproduct of my initial work. I have not further pursued examining any more links. It took so much time to do the 'Search Secrets' piece in thorough manner, I don't intend to duplicate that amount of work again."