Thumbtack, a professional services website used by many freelance photographers, has received a "manual action" from Google which has caused the site to be removed from Google's search results and many photographers are feeling the effects.
A manual action is when Google steps in and manually alters the results of their algorithm and demotes or removes a site from Google's search. Thumbtack has been notified by Google's Search Quality team for using "unnatural links," which co-founder and president of Thumbtack, Jonathan Swanson confirmed on Monday. The removal from Google caused a massive decline in leads for professionals and prompted the company to send out an email to its network.
Swanson told Search Engine Land, “...we do not now, nor have we ever, paid for links.” But as many blogs have pointed out, Thumbtack asks professionals to link to specific sections of their website in exchange for progress points to complete a user profile. This is likely the reasoning for the action by Google, and since then Thumbtack has sent out communication to its professional users to remove links from their websites in order to alleviate the problem.
Search Engine Land also noted that once Thumbtack resolves the infractions and is reinstated in Google's search results, the traffic should return to normal pretty quickly, though this depends on where Thumbtack's search rating ends up after the links have been removed.
In the meantime, users are feeling the hurt as the number of leads for photographers and other professional services has dropped dramatically. Fewer jobs means fewer professionals getting paid. One of those users is Max Chesnut, a freelance photographer based in Seattle who uses Thumbtack. "I've noticed a huge drop in requests for photographers this week," Chesnut said. "It's about a quarter the number and that means the same amount of photographers are all bidding for fewer jobs."
Though there are many ways to gather leads for freelancers, having a major source cut off is clearly affecting some of its users. It still remains to be seen if Thumbtack can recover.
[Update: On June 12th, Thumbtack sent out an email saying they have resolved their issues with Google and that request traffic has returned to normal.]
[via Search Engine Land]