Leaked: Thumbtack’s Reconsideration Request To Google

Dear Google Search Quality Team:

We are writing this to request reconsideration of our site in Google’s search results. We have received notice of unnatural links pointing to our domain. It is with great care that we have reviewed each backlink to our site.


It’s me Marco Zappacosta, CEO of Thumbtack…you know, the Thumbtack that Google Capital invested $100m into last year.

Anyway, the links….yes, those sketchy anchor text links you are probably looking at right now…you can disregard those. Our advisers at Google Capital assured us those are “brand citations.” We need to verify websites on our service somehow so what’s the harm in a backlink? I can assure this whole unnatural links thing is purely a byproduct of successful branding.

Let me paste in the message Dave at Google Capital sent us about this whole thing below:

<a href=”https://www.thumbtack.com/ky/louisville/commercial-cleaning/”>Commercial Cleaning Louisville KY</a>

Ahh shoot. Don’t know how I copied that…I swear!!!!!

Let me try again:

Dear Thumbtack Community!

We have an exciting new opportunity for members of our community. While we can no longer offer you 20 points for linking back to our site anymore, if you add this line to your .htaccess file we can offer you 40 points! Just paste this in below and you’re good to go:

Redirect 301 /  http://www.thumbtack.com/

Thanks for being a loyal Thumbtack Professional!

Errr…WTF. That’s not right! That’s a draft in my email inbox. Not sure what is going on here. Let me try one more time…

Yooo waddup! Here is how it works: If you have a dope post that you would like us to tweet out – get you MASSIVE traffic – then put this html (below) at the bottom of the post and send me the URL along with the EXACT text you want tweeted. I will send that shit out and it will bloooowwwww up

Wait! That’s from my buddy Mahbod Moghadam at Genius. We exchange link buildi…”branding” tips on occasion. This copy/paste thing just isn’t working out.

How about I just attach what you need? See the Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free.PDF file that I’ve included. This was included in our signed agreement with Google Capital (see page 35, section c).


We are committed to doing whatever it takes to meet the Google Search Quality guidelines. If you or your team still finds links that do not meet the guidelines, we would highly appreciate an example of the specific links that are outside the guidelines to help our efforts in removing these links.

Thank you for your time and your consideration.

PS – Kiss that $100m goodbye if you don’t approve this in 3 days.

Linking Policy: Please do not link to my website

Linking Policy – Updated 3/25/2014

Dear website visitor,

In order to maintain good status in all search engines, I kindly request that you follow the following procedures when linking to this site. Any inbound link to TrevinShirey.com that violates these guidelines gets you added to ye olde disavow.txt (don’t worry, Google doesn’t really use that data).

I. Do not link to this site from a guest post
All guest posts are bad and this website does not condone guest posting. Clearly, no guest post should ever include a link because that would be spam.

II. Do not link to this site using unnatural anchor text
Please only use one of the following when selecting anchor text for a link to TrevinShirey.com:

– “website”
– “web page”
– “homepage”
– “Trevin Shirey”

Any other anchor text, especially descriptive anchor text like marketing, SEO, blog, etc. is a clear act of spam and will not be tolerated. Users appreciate vague, non-descriptive anchor text and anybody who users anything else is a spammer.

III. Do not link to this site from a a comments section, sidebar or in a forum
Remember when everybody used to find cool blogs through blogrolls? Now they are only used for spam. Remember when people used to interact in comments sections? Google+ is a much better option. And forums are overrun with spammers (expect for Google Webmaster Support Forum!)

IV. Please use rel=”nofollow” for all links pointing to this site
Google prohibits people exchanging money, posts, goods, services, free products, ideas, favors, brainwaves, oxygen, etc for links that pass PageRank. Just to be safe, let’s use a little common sense and avoid any problems by adding this simple tag.

V. Do not link to this site unless you are blogging about Trevin Shirey
Links from unrelated websites are always spam. For instance, if you write about social networking and post this content on a marketing blog, that is a violation. Please only link to my site if you entire website is devoted to….me (Trevin Shirey).

VI. Do not link to me using any of the following methods, regardless of what I create/share/post (via)

Paid links? Spam.
Reciprocal links? Spam.
Blog comments? Spam.
Forum profile links? Spam.
Integrated newspaper ads? Spam.
Article databases? Spam.
Designed by credit links? Spam.
Press releases? Spam.
Web 2.0 profile & social links? Spam.
Web directories? Spam.
Widgets? Spam.
Infographics? Spam.

VII. Do not link to this site unless the linking page is over 1,500 words
Quality content is not possible unless you reach a certain word count….let’s say 1,500 words. That should be enough.

If you have trouble with this policy, here is a handy phrase to remember: P.A.N.D.A – Please Always Numerically Describe All

VIII. Actually, it’s probably best that you do not link to me at all
It’s hard to find a type of link that I can’t prove isn’t some form of link spam. Today’s white hat is tomorrow’s black hat. Please do not link to my website at all.

And don’t worry…just in case your site is part of a guest blogging community, I won’t be linking to you either.



Just kidding.

The decay and fall of Google for search

Note: This is satire

Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using Google as a way to search the web in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more self-serving platform, and if you’re doing a lot of searching then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

Back in the day, Google used to be a respectable thing, much like getting a coveted, trusted expert to find the answers to your queries. It’s not that way any more.

Here’s an example of a search results page that I recently received:

image via seobook.com

If you ignore the bad spacing and read the parts that I bolded, Google offered me a spam results page full of Google-owned properties. That’s a clear violation of Google’s quality guidelines. Moreover, we’ve been seeing more and more reports of “SERP crowding” that are really “GOOG hitting the quarterly numbers” or worse, “we’ll milk every dime out of you until we control the entire online ecosystem.”

Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the search space: a new company starts out as “Don’t be evil.” Then more and more changes pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate search results remain. We’ve reached the point in the downward spiral where people are creating “private search engines” and writing articles about “Google taking over the world.”

So stick a fork in it: Google is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend doing a Google search query unless you are willing to vouch for their shady advertising practices or know Matt Cutts personally. I wouldn’t recommend relying on Google, Google+, YouTube or Blogspot as a strategy for finding information online.

Google.com Growth Hack Exposed

I ran Google.com through ahrefs the other day. Google appears to be moving up rapidly in the SERPs, even answering questions about recipe ingredients. I figured they must be doing some shady link practices because nobody should be able to own that much search real estate nowadays.

Sitewide Links

Right away, I noticed that Google has over 1 billion sitewide links pointing back to their domain! Buy links much bro? Can’t believe I busted them so quickly.



Take one look at Google’s anchor text and you’ll notice a startling growth hack: They link back to Google.com! “Add To Google” is the anchor text for over 20 million pages! Clearly this is some sort of widget building links on auto-pilot. Check this out…they even built a widgets section to get backlinks!

Using Google+ To Mine Backlinks

In order to verify your Google+ account, Google recommends linking back to their site with a followed link. They even have a nice post about it.

Forcing people to pass PageRank back to your domain? That seems like a clear violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Manipulative Anchor Text

Google is a producer of great content…sometimes sites will manipulate the anchor text of the links coming into their site to earn favor in search engines.

For example, Google has over 18,000 backlinks containing the words “lyrics” pointing to their domain. Clearly, they are participating in link schemes here.

Take a look at this manipulative anchor text so they can rank highly for lyrics keywords.


This is a clear attempt to trick search engines and a domain that practices these types of SEO hacks doesn’t deserve to rank in the search engines.

Websites, especially such a well-known site like Google.com, should be able to fully control all inbound links to their site. It’s a shame to see them sink to this type of SEO in order to gain standing in the search engines.