Thumbtack Slapped for Incentived Link Building
Thumbtack, a consumer-focused service for finding and hiring local processionals, got smacked pretty hard by Google (which just so happens to be a Google Capital backed company) for unnatural links pointing to their website.
The service game businesses using its service "progress points" for verifying their websites by placing a link with keyword rich anchor text on their sites point back to Thumbtack's website. The result? A manual action was taken by Google.
Thumbtack sent an email to all the businesses that have these verified links asking them to either remove the link or add a nofollow attribute to the link.
The email said that they are making this change because their original policy was "against Google's policies," admitting they "messed up" and should not have "given incentives for linking."
Let this serve as a warning if your incentivizing others to link to your website. You will be caught, there will be a manual action and you will suffer the consequences.