Fred Schebesta

Want to lose your search engine ranking? Try some surreptitious linking.

How to lose your search engine ranking

Google kicked a search engine marketing company (The Found Agency) off their top spots last week.


The Found Agency website has a notice on it clarifying what has happened: “…contrary to rumours circulating in the market, Found Agency has not been banned, black-listed or deindexed from Google”.

Why did this company lose its rankings?

Google has things called manual interventions every now and again that can have a big effect on websites.

These are very rare because Google’s engineers don’t like to fix once offs… they like making internet-wide changes to fix it programmatically.

In this case – I think – the Found Agency got into trouble because someone submitted a request to Google to take note of some of the activities of the company.

What did they do to cause this?

Google has written up what it wants and what it does not want (ie, what it considers spam) in its Webmaster guidelines. Here is the rule that Found Agency offended: “Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighbourhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.”

The Found Agency has a little website called that provides users with a free web counter. In return for the free web counting, Found put a text link on users’ websites – linking to their own site, and thereby sending the Found website higher up in Google search rankings.

It was a risky strategy. I wrote a post in April of 2006 noting all its backlinks wondering what Google would think about it. Well, we know now what has happened.

Even now you can follow the link in the post to see all the backlinks it has from the counters.

What do I think of this link creation activity?

I have a lot of respect for the Found Agency and its innovative trials and techniques it has pioneered in Australia.

Unfortunately it has been pinged here and will need to come up with a new way of search engine optimising its website. They are smart guys and I am sure they will come up with something.

I think innovation in the SEO space is crucial and it’s what drives the science of search forward both from an online marketing perspective and from a web search perspective.

 What do you think? Send your thoughts to Feedback.


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Danny Siegenthaler from writes: Fred, you make it sound soooooo easy, yet the reality is that despite offering many quality services on our site:, a free eBook relevant to our visitors, free articles (over 70) with quality hints and tips; visitors can also get free one-on-one advice from a fully qualified health care professional, yet the conversion rate or rather pageview of our company’s web site is below 2 pages per visitor.

We also rank very well (usually top 5) in google for a range of industry related keywords, yet click through rates are very disappointing.

Granted, our site is about natural skin care and personal care products, which may not lend themselves well to on-line sales – can’t touch, smell, feel them, try them – but considering our visitors come from search engines having used specific keywords to find information they are after, it is a surprising that they only view one or two pages on average…

Any ideas?


Fred responds: Thank you for your comment. It sure is a little tougher to actually implement than to actually talk about.

It seems you have some conversion issues. I would suggest the reason for this is that when you arrive on your site the user isnt hit immediately with what exactly your products can do for them, i.e. the core benefit.

I can understand that the top of your site is for SEO and I am sure you rank quite well in the engines from all the lovely search engine text food on your pages. But I think you could revise this slightly. I would suggest a little bit of reworking by putting the section that starts with the marone header. I would then put some of your product categories below that with a short description of their main benefits. Here is a little example:

Put all the SEO stuff at the bottom of that page or reduce the font size significantly. I would also do the same on your product pages. You are losing (mine) and your visitors attention the minute they land on the page.

That is just a small suggest and may require a bit of a reworking of the pages.


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