Profoundry, aka Col Skinner, revealed on Twitter today a shocking link network in action.
#SEO FAIL! Stumbled across a link network made by @sozodesign on 64 of their client sites: http://t.co/rHUPf2kKoC & http://t.co/oBNfRB7jMK
— Profoundry (@ProfoundryCo) July 31, 2014
UK SEO agency SOZO design was guilty of placing network links on all of its clients’ sites. We’re not just talking keyword-anchored footers here, these are dedicated site pages designed to get links.
After looking into it further, it appears that the unique CMS SOZO designed for its clients has an additional “hidden feature” – injecting a network.php page onto all its sites. The page then outlinks to other sites on the network, creating a nice little reciprocal link circle. The greedy agency also made sure to place a link to their own site on top.
Some of the pages are even optimised further, like this one: http://www.cranbournehousebandb.co.uk/weekend-breaks-in-bourton-network.php, and try to avoid a footprint by linking to different sites on each page.
What’s most shocking is that SOZO’s clients are unlikely to be aware of this feature, as the network.php pages are not linked via any menus or sidebars. The sneaky agency also removed network.php to avoid any penalties on their own site – classy work, guys.
There are currently over 60 sites in the “network”, all from different industries and locations in the UK. The webmasters of these sites should contact SOZO as soon as possible to get the pages removed, as taking part in link schemes like this could easily result in a penalty later on down the line.
Unforgivable behaviour for a mid-size agency in 2014.
[highlight color=”yellow”]UPDATE: SOZO replied to Profoundry on Twitter and stated they were “working to phase the network out”.[/highlight]
Hi @ProfoundryCo. The network is 100% our clients only. But we take your concern onboard, and we’re already working to phase the network out
— SOZO Design (@sozodesign) July 31, 2014