By 5 years ago in SEO

Broadband Help Digital Point Coop Penalty

I find it interesting to hear tales of people being penalised by Google because it gives us information on where Google is drawing the line and what their current position is on various SEO techniques.

The Digital Point Coop network is quite well known and some sites appear to use it to great effect, certainly the most famous of them never seem to get penalties.

According to a post on Broadband Help they recently received a penalty resulting in 95% revenue loss. Happily Google has removed the penalty after they submitted a re-inclusion request.

For several months (October ’08 to mid march ’09) we have been, and are involved under contract, in a business partnership with another Internet company. We entered into this partnership hoping to get much needed investment in resources to move the site forward.

The nature of our current contract prohibits us from mentioning any specific details of our partner, but we can comment on our own site problems.

Unfortunately, this business partnership has turned out to be what can only be described as as “disastrous” for us for reasons described below.

We ended up receiving no assistance or resources as we had expected or led to believe.

What we did receive (without our prior knowledge or consent), was Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in the form of several hundred thousands of incoming “paid links” from a network known as “Digital Point Coop Network”. Such practices violate Google guidelines and, understandably, we received a penalty from Google in the form of demoting broadband-help.com in Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS).

The nature of this penalty has been so severe that, between November ’08 and Jan ’09, we lost around 2 thirds of our search engine traffic.

The financial consequences of this loss of traffic has been severe. As a small company, we rely heavily on search engines and the resulting affiliate sales from our site. Our affiliate revenue in November, December and January decreased by a whopping 95%.

The good news
The good news is that, following appeals to Google, broadband-help.com, is back in SERPS pretty much where it was before our “penalty”. This means that we can continue to operate the site for the foreseeable future.

It’s not clear from the post whether the site had Coop links on their pages as well as just getting links from other websites. If they didn’t run the network on their own pages then it opens the door for some very easy competitor sabotage.

Ironically for a site that (unwittingly) was involved in one of the more spammy SEO practices I found this on their “SEO Policy page”:

It is our fundamental belief that SEO (link exchanges in particular) is detrimental to the quality of information returned in search engines.

For a site so heavily reliant on Google traffic this is a very strange statement indeed.

By Patrick Altoft. at 11:36AM on Tuesday, 10 Feb 2009

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events. Follow Patrick Altoft on Twitter.

comments

  • http://www.zath.co.uk Zath

    You’d have to think that they had some links on their site that they’ve not mentioned, otherwise like you say, what’s to stop any competitor spending a bit of money on buying some spammy links to point to your site and essentially take it out!

  • http://www.jonathanstewart.co.uk Jonathan Stewart

    It’s really strange how some sites get kicked out but others seem to be able to go much further with the Digital Point network and no action gets taken. Broadband Help have got 280,000 links, but there are others that have got several million links from the network and are still performing really well.

    I’m really surprised that Google can’t spot this and simply discount the links – a much fairer way of dealing with them to prevent any malicious Googlebowling, rather than outright penalising people.

  • marcus luttrel

    So let me get this right: If I want to ban my competitor I just need to buy/hire or whatever some of these Digital Point links?
    I dont buy it; Google would not allow that. Its too simplistic.
    I would buy these links for the 6 or 7 sites above me and BOOM by default Im numero uno.

    So I agree with Jonathon Stewart, Google will just discount certain network/farmed links.

    Many, many of us buy links in some form or another. Sometimes we admit it, sometimes we dont. Some people use obvious networks and farms and some dont.

    Its a risk, but as we can see from this chap, it is not the end of the world even when we do make mistakes.

    A reinclusion request later and we get back.

    By the way I see broadband-help in 10th (which is some way ahead of me!) so well done!!

  • http://www.twitter.com/jagadeeshmp Jag

    I agree with marcus luttrel and what do you think about Google pay per post in Japan if its true?

  • DaveSnake

    The CO-OP is not an easy way to hit competitors, the weight needed to get 100,000′s of links does not come easy or cheap, you cannot buy weight, you need huge indexed sites to put the code on to then launder the weight to point at ‘clean’ sites. Also it is broken and has been for a year or so. The server is stuck in time so new sites are not being added behind the scenes and old sites are stuck with the same weights regardless of it the weight is actually changing in real-time. So if broadband help and all the loan companies want out they cannot, their links will continue to point at their domains even if they delete their accounts from CO-OP, so too sites joining might be seeing lots of weight in their accounts but in reality they are getting 0 links. Either way the CO-Op is a mugs game, there are better, cheaper alternatives that are not detectable by Goog.

  • Anon

    Hi all,
    Firstly, I am talking hypothetically here.

    **If** this were my site, I would be quite amazed that it were possible for outside influences to affect SERPS. Well, this was indeed the case for one of my sites very similar in nature and name to “broadband-help.com”. I suffered a very similar penalty from Google and the resulting aftermath was very similar. I did not engage in link networks and had a policy that actively discourages mutual link exchanges. I too had “partners” and they also took the decision, without my knowledge or consent, to use a similar co-op network to “promote” my site.

    **On “Link Exchanges”**
    Like the site in question, mine has a very similar policy on link exchanges as I believe that the general context of “link exchanges” for commercial reasons reduces the quality of search results. I believe that It’s far better to spend resources on generating quality resources and attracting good inbound links that way. Obviously, creating good content takes time & effort and there is time needed to encourage organic growth.

    Using networks like the DP Coop are considered by many on-line companies/SEO’s to be the “short cut” (cheat?) to producing natural SERPS without having to go to the effort of providing quality content.

    I remember years ago when searching for something took ages: You’d get back pages of irrelevant cr4p in SERPS based on who which web-sites used black-hat SEO (hidden text, META stuffing etc). Thankfully, these days that type of “SEO” doesn’t work and we, by and large, get good quality information in SERPS. Co-op networks seem to me to be a an attempt to return to those “Black Hat” SEO days. I hope that, from the perspective of a “searcher”, this doesn’t happen and Google jumps on this decisively and effectively.

    For me, I understand and agree with Google penalty for my site. The worrying thing is that, without my knowledge or consent, it was possible for outside parties to effectively shut down my sites revenue stream.

    I’ve posted this anonymously for various reasons which I’ll leave you to think about. I am sure there will continue to be some scepticism here that what I’ve said is true. Fair enough…All that I can say is that I have no axe to grind with anyone. I’ve posted this here whilst looking at the last 3 months dire revenue from my site. Thankfully, now it’s back in the SERPS and I’m not facing the decision to shut my site down.

    If someone can benefit from my experience here. My take on all this is to be careful who you choose as business partners. Mine did little other than try to “cheat” the SERPS and we (yes, my “partners” site also suffered the Google penalty) both ended up suffering the consequences.

    Anon