GoDaddy sure is making the headlines these days. Though people are mainly incensed about the fickleness of their stance on the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), what has been playing over and over in my head is Joost deValk’s post about GoDaddy’s spamy link building techniques. So rather than state my opinion on the SOPA issue and which of GoDaddy’s move was stupider (throw in support or withdraw it), I’d rather talk a bit about my take on their link building technique.
First of all, let me give a recap of Joost’s post (although I urge you to read the whole thing to get a clearer picture of the whole issue). According to Joost, GoDaddy has been ranking as well as they do for super-competitive keywords because of the thousands of links they embed on the websites of their (paying) Website Tonight customers. This wouldn’t be a real problem if the customers know about the links, but apparently the embedded links, which appear at the customers’ websites’ footers, are not something that most customers are aware of, nor something they can opt out of.
So where does this leave us?
While many argue that this model is not really illegal, nor something that straight-out violates Google’s guidelines, I do have to agree with Joost on this one. Not only is this model questionable from the Google Guidelines point of view, but is really more disturbing because of the way they are using their customers to get valuable link juice. Of course, they can always just be more transparent with their customers, but that will entail giving the customer the freedom to not place their logo and the link (with the very specific and ugly anchor text) at the bottom of their sites; something you can bet thousands of their customers would gladly do for the sake of a prettier site.
In the meantime, it also gives us something to think about when it comes to link building techniques. Sure, Google will always maintain that they are all for organic SEO and will gladly penalise websites that engage in questionable link schemes, but with GoDaddy and so many more thriving in Google’s SERPs using all kinds of link schemes, then their actions are proving their words but a lie. So yeah, while I’m all for white hat SEO, it doesn’t take much to understand why people still go for black and gray hat techniques. After all, in the end, it’s all about results.
And yeah, while many might smirk at Joost talking about bad karma, it looks like GoDaddy’s finally getting some their way with already more than 70,000 domains pulling out of GoDaddy after the SOPA issue. Yes, it’s but a drop in the bucket with the millions of domains registered under GoDaddy, still, who’s to say that the number won’t be growing to a lot more than that? Karma anyone?