About a week ago, Google penalized the local service directory site Thumbtack for unnatural links to their site. The owner of the company confirmed that the site had received a manual penalty, and would take the proper steps to reverse the penalty. The manual penalty most likely came because of an email sent out by the company to its registered contractors asking for links to the site in exchange for “progress points”, the system that improves the contractor’s profile completion.
A couple days later the company sent out an email asking the contractors to remove the links or add a nofollow attribute to the links. Then just a couple days later, the manual penalty was removed, and the site’s traffic has recovered. This has upset some SEOs because of how difficult it is to remove manual penalties and recover from them. Unnatural link penalties can take months to remove in many cases. It especially does not help Google’s case that Thumbtack has been backed by Google Capital. How is it that a manual penalty could be removed in under a week just by sending out an email asking for links to be removed? Regardless, many consider Google’s financial backing of Thumbtack to be a factor.