Last week the SEO buzz was focused on Google’s call out of Anglo Rank.  Anglo rank is a paid link service that boasts of providing powerful links in several privately networks which were apparently not linked together and near untraceable.  On their website they actually state that, “There are absolutely NO footprints linking the websites together.”  A pretty bold claim to have on your landing page and it has proved to be too bold.

Matt Cutts posted this tweet last week.

Matt Cutt's Comment on SEO

It was clear that Anglo Rank was on Google’s radar and probably the target of an attack (Google has been known to take down paid search, Ghost Rank 2.0).   However, at the end of the week Anglo rank stated that they were enjoying business as usual and that very few sites within their network were hit.

Anglo Rank actually said:

“ANGLO RANK Is not a ‘Network’, It Is a service which resells links from private networks which are there for years with 100’s and 1000’s of sites.

They’ll hit 100 sites here and there and next day there will be 10,000 new sites In these networks. Only way for google to tackle with this Issue is to completely devalue footer and sidebar links and I don’t see this coming In near future [sic]”

Busted

With their customers worried and the company apparently arrogant, webmasters, including those who had purchased links from Anglo Rank, waited to see if Google’s promised repercussions were actually going to happen. While it seemed that the manual action penalties took a bit longer to doll out than Matt Cutt’s may have initially suspected they are now coming in force.  This week several of Anglo Rank’s customers posted that they have received link penalties in the company’s sales thread.  One individual took a screen shot of his webmaster tools page displaying the manual action penalty he had received for unnatural inbound links and posted it in blackhatworld forum.

 

 manual action penalties

 

With their client’s websites getting tacked Anglo Rank has begun backtracking on their service statement.  On their FAQ page they have the question:

Will this hurt my website, sandbox, or get penalized by Google?

Instead of claiming safe, quality, and footprint free links as they did previously the company’s current response is:

 Link Building

Not suprisingly, Anglo Rank has not seen any new business recently.  Rather than focus on attracting new customers Anglo Rank stated that they are focusing on sorting out their affected clients.  After they finish “sorting out” their clients they plan on re-launching the service. Apparently, Anglo Rank didn’t take the hint and they will continue to battle it out with Google and try to slip spam through the safety the web spam team’s nets.

How Were They Caught?

So now it is obvious that the spam website was caught the question is how.  Google’s spam team was able to identify the specific networks that Anglo Rank used allowing Cutt’s to tweet his call-out directly to the Anglo Rank.  To be honest  I don’t know and am sorry to disappoint but here are some theories.

It could have been an upset customer who didn’t receive the performance they expected and reported Anglo Rank to Google as vengeance.   It could also have been someone from Google who purchased the service in order to trace the backlink profile and identify the guilty networks.  Beyond direct contact a competitor site to Anglo Rank or even to a client website may have looked through the link profile hoping for some dirty laundry to toss over to the web spam team in order to thin the her.

However it happened doesn’t matter, at least if you avoid black hat SEO, but for sites that commonly use spamming techniques hoping to get an edge over competitors how Google accomplished what it did is highly interesting.  The black hat forums will be a buzz and a new technique will be developed to manipulate the algorithm but as the years roll on Google’s ability to catch offending sites will continue to grow.

Jamie Bates