Popular Freelance Site 'Thumbtack' Removed from Google Causing Photographers to Hurt

Popular Freelance Site 'Thumbtack' Removed from Google Causing Photographers to Hurt

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]

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Mac MacDonald's picture

I used Thumbtack pretty heavy beginning of this year for wedding photography. I booked 4 weddings from the site. The customer base, from my experience, is more of the bargain shopper variety and helped me supplement my income while waiting to land more traditional wedding package clients.

Eric Mazzone's picture

Thumbtack sucks, I've been on it for going on a year, have spent approximately $50 from it and have gained a total of ONE paying client, after accounting for the time spent on the client though thumbtack, the time on thumbtack, and other related costs, I'm in the hole. Granted the client was nice, but only 1 lead out of 20-30 actually has a realistic budget, the vast majority all put $100-200 total budget or sub $100, most all state they want just a few pics and currently I only bid on the few I do because of the free credits I was given to get me back. I don't expect to get any real leads, nor will I be sad if they fail. In fact I hope they do fail.

Michael Brinkerhoff's picture

That is quite the negative outlook on this service. The customer base is in fact low to medium budget. I have used it since the beginning of the year and have had great results. As a traveling photographer I have simply expanded my city range to be the tristate area. I've spent about $300 in the last 5 months and have gained an extra $11k I didn't have before. This service has given me direct access to out of state markets I didn't have before, its already become a good way to grow your business a little bit. I can't think of any other marketing service that can do that for only $300.

Bottom line is: input = output. You do have to be aggressive, upsell on quotes, and respond quickly even if the client does not. Many Thumbtack users are very passive aggressive and many do not know what they want.

Chris Adval's picture

Casey, you mentioned "Though there are many ways to gather leads for freelancers, having a major source cut off is clearly affecting some of its users."

I don't know of any that does it like Thumbtack, charge around $1.49/credit to bid. Would you recommend any?

I know of freelancer.com, imagebrief, both doesn't work for me as of right now.

Casey Berner's picture

Websites? Not too many. But other ways include friends, social media and just generally marketing yourself.

Tam Nguyen's picture

Sounds like they got what was coming for them.

Casey Berner's picture

Fun fact. They were funded by Google Capital.

Chet Meyerson's picture

Thumbtack has been very hit and miss for me. On the Real Estate side, it's been very beneficial, on the Headshot side, it's 99% drunk people at night wishing they looked like whomever and put out requests. Since we pay to bid a job, you have to be very careful for shoppers vs. real potential customers.

Austin Burke's picture

I haven't had luck on the real estate side, but I am glad to hear you are. I've been debating on lower my real estate price but that can be a risky game in it self as I know I am on the higher end side in my area but so is my quality of work (or so I believe).

Eric Lefebvre's picture

They delist Thumbtack for "unnatural links" but RippOffReport get's a pass? You get a listing on RoR and it's page 1 of most search queries for you in like 10 minutes! and stays pretty high for months!!!

Eric Mazzone's picture

I love how I can't up vote your comment. So count this as an up vote.

Andy Shrestha's picture

Lots of fake stuff going on on thumbtack. may b that's why

Vince A's picture

Interesting. I wonder if this was affected differently geographically. I never received an email from them. I am in South FL and use Thumbtack and Moonlighting App (moonlightingapp.com) to freelance. Difference is Moonlighting is free of charge to service providers to post their skills or bid on jobs.