Here’s something I missed while I was offline last week. It looks like Matt Marlon, who served as CEO of Traffic Power, has landed himself in jail. I have mixed feelings about this, but the mixed feelings are mostly satisfaction, curiosity, and just a smidge of glee. In my opinion, the stuff that TrafficPower was doing was just bad news.
I think the search engine optimization industry has made a lot of progress in the last few years. It’s a little less common to get cold calls from SEOs that guarantee #1 rankings but won’t tell you how they try to do it. And if a large SEO company wants to try something high-risk with a client, they’re more likely to explain the potential risks to that client first. There are still issues, of course, but I was looking over a list of 20+ blackhat SEO companies that I compiled back in 2002. The majority either went out of business or have transformed into white-hat SEO companies.
For a while now, I’ve had a slight hunch that clients that embrace blackhat SEO on their site are willing to cut corners in other areas of business as well. Earlier today I was reviewing an email from 2001 (!) where Google removed a very large company’s website from our index for hidden GIF links, machine-generated doorway pages, and cloaking. It’s interesting to look back with the benefit of hindsight now. Later on, the company:
- had 10+ employees convicted for inflating revenue
- the CEO was sentenced to 10+ years in jail
- another executive was sentenced to 2+ years in jail
Can I definitively claim that there’s a connection between a willingness to embrace blackhat SEO and a willingness to cut corners in other areas of business? No, of course not. But I have seen several examples like the one I mention above. That’s why I’m glad that as more site owners learn about SEO, the long-term odds of blatent SEO scams going undetected go down.
Hat tip to Aaron Wall for mentioning Matt Marlon’s new location (jail) to me. Aaron and I have had differences, but I give him major points for fighting Traffic Power when they sued him. That led to one of the first times that Google confirmed a webspam penalty in public in order to dispute one of the lawsuit’s claims:
I can confirm that Google has removed traffic-power.com and domains promoted by Traffic Power from our index because of search engine optimization techniques that violated our webmaster guidelines at http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html. If you are a client or former client of Traffic Power and your site is not in Google, please see my previous advice on requesting reinclusion into Google’s index to learn what steps to take if you would like to be reincluded in Google’s index.
Ah, good times.