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The iAcquire Affair; did D&Bcc get hit as well?

Last week the big story was about iAcquire and some other agencies being knocked out of Google (de-indexed) for their role in the Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp affair. For those living under the proverbial rock, a blogger outed them for a series of communications seeking to buy a link on the behalf of D&Bcc and subsequent denial from same.

Dear Google

Now, the question still remains; why did they take such harsh action against the marketing firms? As the story evolved, Danny mentioned a few firms referenced in a letter from D&Bcc ““ in doing a little research, here’s their current state of affairs;

  • (not indexed)
  • (not indexed)
  • (seems ok)
  • (seems ok)
  • (not indexed)
  • (seems ok)

Interestingly some of those sites have the same contact details, (InternetReach, MediaFinders and iOutReach) but at this time, aren’t all de-indexed.

One twist to this story, intimates that DigitalPros is a somewhat newer arm as highlighted by a commenter on the original post, who published a communication from iAcquire in late April 2012;

Digital Pros

Question remains; why are only some of them being de-indexed? Anyone remember the blog networks that were nuked? One wonders why BuildMyrank is still in the index.


As we know, it was much of their networks which were de-indexed, not the site itself, could mean that BMR wasn’t caught their hand in the cookie jar per se and some of the companies involved in this story were? Because from what I can tell this, this and this post.. seem almost an admission no?

Why ban a company that talks about a practice?

Is the real question here now. I find it hard to believe such a situation where merely writing about a tactic that is outside of the Google guidelines would be putting a marketing company at risk of being de-indexed. The most logical scenario in this is that the marketing companies may have been using some of the same tactics, or other approaches that put them at risk. The story merely put them under the microscope.

If the inverse is true, then websites such as this one would start having to seriously police what the writers talk about. I personally, just don’t subscribe to the theory that some publicized emails alleging impropriety is at the root of this. You might also want to read this post about iAcquire from Arron, and make your own conclusions as to the connections.

I’ve been wrong before though.

Another option is that Google believes them to be operating link networks of their own, given the connections made to some of the other domains we noted earlier. That theory of course brings us full circle back to network purveyors such as BuildMyRank whom is still indeed in the index.

Google Bans An Agency Instead Of Targeted Site

That was a statement made a few times in connection with this story. And certainly a fairly troubling one. The take-away from the story for me was that consumers need to be aware what staff, contractors and subcontractors are doing in their name. Sadly, ignorance is not really an excuse.

As such we decided to have a look via Search Metrics tracking tool at recent activity for D&B;

D&B Rankings

Looking at the DBCC sub-domain, it looks much the same;

D&Bcc Rankings

According to this, it would seem that they started tumbling between the 13th and 20th of this month. Were they banned/de-indexed? Certainly not. But we do have to wonder if Google has indeed taken some action against D&B.

And of course there’s the obvious; why would the marketing company (even is they’d done suspect link building on their own site) get completely nuked and D&B only slapped around some?

Where’s the line? I remember a recent post from Bill Hartzer that outlined a process from American Express Market 3d in which they detailed content being dropped on their own network;

“Our SEO content writers create an original blog post related to your industry and post on a proprietary network. One of the most important aspects of the written blog post is our control over the anchor text and the relevancy of the blog. “

I’d have to think that using a proprietary network is tantamount to admitting yer playing around the edges no? Seems this page is still indexed (barely) as are some from the sister site.


The outing debate

At the end of the day we are left asking more questions than we have answers to. The goal of such a post to me would have been a cautionary tale (of knowing what others do in your name). It could have been reported with names and numbers removed and still accomplished the same thing. So, one has to also question the motives of the blogger that originally reported it.

All too often sadly, companies are put at risk by those working for them. The need for results outweighs the risk assessment process. If the SEO company in this case is falling on their sword or if the client actually knew the tactics and risks involved, we may never know.

What we do know is that outings are rarely good for the industry’s image.

There is an element of ‘DOH‘ to this as well. If yer participating in paid links strategies on behalf of clients, then some due diligence might be a good idea when doing outreach. A lot of blogs that sell advertising will have a rate card. If one isn’t present during the process, you might just want to be a little more careful about asking to buy a link. Consider that the visibility this blogger got from the post was likely far more valuable than the $30 being offered.

Just sayin’ ……….

Buyer beware

At the end of the day, those hiring and SEO firm or doing it in-house need to be aware of the risks and what those working with them are doing in their name.

Sadly, this happens far too often for my liking. My firm does a fair it of consulting work with forensic audits, in most cases after the site has been hit with some form of penalty. In many instances we find a ton of crap link building that the client was unaware of and not just paid ones.

Usual suspects often include;

  • Links on shoddy networks
  • Comment links
  • Profile spam
  • Egregious social bookmarks
  • Forum spam
  • Link wheels (or whatever they’re called these days)

We see two general issues; little to no reporting of the activities by the SEO company or no advice as to the risks involved. The element to this story of “they knew they were doing it, just won’t admit to it“ isn’t always the case I can assure you.

I don’t really care what kind of tactics you use. That’s your business. I just worry about those that have their livelihood affected because of a lack of transparency. In fact, in some cases it may actually be far more problematic than Google, it could even be illegal.



  1. Ken Jansen May 27, 2012

    Always love your stuff David. It seems like false links would be the emperor paying the crowd to tell him how nice his clothes are. Even though he is naked. With D&B being all about credibility it weakens their brand in my opinion.

    I understand many businesses need to contract out some of their SEO, but it would seem the hiring company would still have someone doing a little overseeing of what is happening. Someone had to authorize a monthly payment – what did they think it was for?


  2. SNCadmin May 27, 2012

    Hey Ken… Happy Sunday!

    Oh I have no doubt it does happen. There’s often many layers to the search marketing dept in corporate. For example, we’ve been hired by a company that was an arm of a larger agency, that actually is the one with the contract. Meaning, there’s 3 levels of contractors involved. To say the original corporation would know of everything some 3rd teir provider is doing, isn’t always true.

    Thus I do like the nature of this cautionary tale, I simply wouldn’t have reported with with names included at the outset. It’s going to be some poor fella further down the food chain that get’s fired.

    But yes, greater care must be taken by all of those whom are involved in the vetting and hiring practices. And those providing should be more forthcoming of the risks involved when dealing with clients. At the end of the day, we have no clue if that was the case and that iAcquire may just be falling on their swords like a good soldier.

  3. Ken Jansen May 30, 2012

    Hi David, Happy Tuesday,

    3 levels removed? Wow. That is farther that I thought things went. But I am on the low levels with my own tiny fiefdom. I had not imagined the work being so far removed from the client.

  4. SNCadmin May 30, 2012

    Aye, it can get pretty sticky. Example

    Big Brand Corp hires A
    A has division company B
    B hires C to do work
    C uses D as part of said work as contractor

    That’s four now (and am in relative situation atm). To make the assertion that some folks have as far as “they must have known” is a bit off target imo. I can see how it may happen.

    That doesn’t excuse though. If those at A don’t treat the SEO process with the respect it deserves, then certainly Big Brand Corp is at risk. Pressure and quality assurance measures should be made clear and paramount from the outset so all those in the chain grasp the gravity. Solid contracts with consultants and contractors ain’t a bad idea either (so THEY get thrown under the bus).


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