How was Thumbtack founded

Unnatural links: Google penalizes Google involvement

09.06.2015Johannes HauptNo comments

So far, Google has invested a high double-digit million amount in Thumbtack, a marketplace for services. Should the service fail, however, Google is not entirely uninvolved: Due to unnaturally created links, there was now a severe ranking penalty, as a result of which Thumbtack lost massive visibility in the organic search.

Thumbtack mediates a wide variety of service providers (painters, moving helpers, DJs, masseurs) for private individuals. Founded in 2008, an impressive USD 150 million in venture capital has flowed into the marketplace to date. US $ 100 million was raised in a funding round in August 2014 led by Google Capital, Google's investment arm. This means that the internet company should have secured a stake in the double-digit percentage range.

As is usual with such marketplaces, Thumbtack also receives a large part of its visitors via organic search - from Google, its investor. So far, however, the service has not only used Google-compliant means in order to appear at the top of relevant search queries.

Points and badge against backlink

In the past, Thumbtack wrote to providers listed on the platform and promised them a verified badge and extra points if they linked their profile from their website - with a hard anchor text such as "lawyer" or "building cleaning". An SEO measure with the aim of being classified as relevant and prominently listed by Google for these contested keywords - and a clear violation of Google's quality guidelines, which strictly prohibit "the exchange of goods or services for links".

Thumbtack himself sees it differently, of course. When asked, Marketing Director Sander Daniels said on Twitter last week that there was no question of buying links because there were points instead of dollars.

Bad press forces Google to take action

After Thumbtack's link building measures were thematized in US SEO blogs in the last few weeks and, in particular, related to Google's investment, Google now apparently felt compelled to take action. Anyone who searches for Thumbtack on Google has for a few days now received all sorts of social media profiles and messages about the company as well as pictures of thumbtacks (German meaning), but no hits from the domain thumbtack.com itself in the top positions. The specialist blog The SEM Post reports a 25 percent loss of visibility as a result of this manual action and suspects it will get significantly worse. The company said on Twitter that it is "currently working with Google" to clear up this "misunderstanding". The wire should be short - it will be interesting to see how long the punishment will last.

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