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Thumbtack Makes a Quick Recovery from Google Penalty

In August 2014, Google Ventures contributed significantly towards the funding of Thumbtack. This obviously put a lot of pressure on Thumbtack to provide an annual return on investment for its financiers through rapid growth. All appeared to be going well for Thumbtack until its website received an unexpected setback. A penalty was placed manually by its biggest investor, Google.

Why was a Penalty Imposed by Google?

The website was penalized by Google for its violation of the Webmaster Guidelines. Google found Thumbtack guilty of “paying” for links. The Guidelines clearly state that sites will be penalized for any attempt to get a higher Google Page Rank by buying or selling links. Even when no money is involved, Google regards the exchange of services, goods or any type of free benefit in exchange for a link to be a form of payment.

Unfortunately for Thumbtack, the method it was using for link building, which had improved its page ranking by 33% following investment by Google, was against the rules set out by the search engine. Its rapid rise in rank was achieved through badges placed on a big number of websites with a do-follow link. When business owners registered to join the Thumbtack network, they were encouraged to place a linked badge on their own web pages, in return for points that would be of benefit to them in the Thumbtack system.

How was the Google Penalty Removed?

It appears that Google penalized Thumbtack for this practice on June 6, 2015, which was a Saturday. By the following Tuesday, Thumbtack had requested website owners to remove the badge or change the link to no-follow. By June 12 an email from Thumbtack went out to all its business clients claiming that issues with Google had been resolved.

What looks suspicious is how quickly the penalty was removed by Google. It took just one request from Thumbtack for the website to get back its page rank almost instantly. As anyone involved in penalty recovery will know, this is not what generally happens when a reconsideration request is submitted to Googl

Should Thumbtack Monitor All Links Leading to its Website?

Analytical investigations have revealed that when businesses set up a profile on Thumbtack, many of them go to Fiverr, where they pay someone to create a number of anchor text links pointing to their business profile page. As a result, links for local US services featured on Thumbtack.com have been appearing on sites based as far away as China.

It appears that some businesses have been paying digital marketing services to place links for their Thumbtack page on a number of sites, which is another reason for Google to impose a penalty.

The interesting thing about this sort of unnatural linking, which is being paid for by businesses that are registered with Thumbtack, is that it has no impact on the SEO of Thumbtack.com. The reason seems to be because it is a platform for self-publishing. Anyone can publish content there and increase their own SEO by having a valuable link from an authority site with a high Google Page Rank.

Is Thumbtack Now Safe from Google Penalties?

An archived page of previous Google content states that the company provides greater access to the people that they work with. If that access includes knowledge of Google algorithms, it would be immensely valuable to a website that is partially owned by Google Ventures.

The amount of insider knowledge a Google-backed company will gain may never be known, but it is obvious that link spamming is being carried out by some of the businesses registered with Thumbtack.com. Google does have a financial interest in the success of Thumbtack and the website did make a fast recovery after receiving a penalty for its previous link building scheme, which went against the Guidelines set down by Google.

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