Google acquires and then penalises Beat that quote
- March 8, 2011
- by Stephen Murphy
Yesterday Google announced the acquisition of Beat that quote for a fee of £37.7 million – which by Google standards is a relatively low cost acquisition. The cost of the acquisition was not the main talking point however… this was the fact that Google had in theory a major conflict of interest.
Google have as I am sure you know been offering credit card comparison and loan comparison services within the search engine results in the UK for a good while now – over 12 months for credit cards. But actually acquiring an established market player is a game changer.
By acquiring a company such as Beat that quote, Google assumed ownership of a company actively present within the most competitive of search results pages for many financial services products, albeit not on the same scale as the well known dominant price comparison websites, Moneysupermarket, Go Compare, Confused.com and Compare the Market.
In my opinion, Beat that quote had actually given up to a certain extent on competing in this space aggressively – and were perhaps more interested in white labelling their services.
So… surely this gives Google a responsibility to help them improve their presence… and a responsibility to their competitors to treat everybody equally – without favouritism or inside information. Oh dear.
Information on Beat that quote markets
The cynical side of me thinks this will provide Google with so much information on quote and policy behaviour should they need it – that the longer term implications could be huge for competing brands, who have perhaps been able to shield themselves – mainly from Google understanding too much about product conversion outside of the Google auctions.
Today has seen this story develop, with Google now appearing to penalise their acquisition for spammy SEO practices.
Penalising Beat that quote for link building practices
Following the acquisition, many within the SEO community commented on previous work highlighting Beat that quote had some questionable additions to their backlink profile. Google has now penalised beat that quote – with visibility in the SERPs significantly reduced. They aren’t even ranking for “beat that quote” as I currently search.
This penalty is pretty clearly a manual penalisation – although Google would likely have you believe that their algorithms were already at work. Companies hit with a manual ranking penalty will normally time out/expire after a set amount of time – which will usually come down to the severity of the reason for penalisation.
See Matt Cutts’ explanation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES01L4xjSXE&
Reading around on the web there are plenty of examples of Beat that quote implementing risky or spammy tactics to secure growth in the volume of backlinks to their domain. Some key examples of this mentioned by seobook (http://www.seobook.com/beat-it-beat-it) are as follows:
- Building doorway pages which 301 redirect to beatthatquote.com
- Buying links that pass page rank
- Paid reviews & paid blogging
The recent industry focus – uncovering and subsequent penalisation of J.C. Penney and Overstock.com black hat link building practices made punishment of this activity an absolute must for Google, and it does seem to be a smart move by the search giant.
The volume of brand mentions for beat that quote has skyrocketed – so it will be interesting to measure when the website does return to the SERPs, what ranking changes are evident pre and post penalisation. There has been evidence in the past of all news relating to a company being good news for their SERP positioning. Time will tell.1 Comment