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.