Vertical Leap, the leading managed search engine marketing firm, exposed the seamier side of search engine optimisation today. The discovery also revealed a major potential security risk for companies who are not only unwitting accomplices in obtaining fraudulent links by unscrupulous website optimisers, but who may well see their own ranking positions crash as a result.

Gina Bray, Sales Director, commented that the anomaly only came to light after Apollo, the Vertical Leap’s Campaign Management System, highlighted a slight drop in a particular client’s search engine ranking results.

“Routine investigation by one of our Campaign Delivery Managers uncovered thousands of hidden links at the base of every page of their website. The site had been hacked and unauthorised links from the site had been established to dubious websites without the owner’s knowledge.”

Although campaigned for only a few months, the site had been progressing well, in part due to the legitimate and relevant links established as part of the Process Plan drawn up by Vertical Leap.

Despite this, hackers had been able to clumsily link the website with hundreds of low calibre and irrelevant websites and as a result its clear focus had been compromised and its positioning penalised by Google.

But as Gina and her team soon discovered, the problem was not isolated to one website. “As our client uses a major Internet Services Provider, we thought it only right to alert them about our discovery and they reported that many other websites on the same IP address had been similarly hacked.”

Of course, Vertical Leap took instant action on its client’s behalf to clean up the website links and the ISP did the same thing. But the event highlights once again the extraordinary competitiveness of SEM and the wide gulf in how different companies approach it, and not least the importance of hiring a reputable search engine marketing agency.

“Once again this is vindication of our full management approach to search engine marketing in uncovering this,” says Gina. “ After all, it’s not the rogue website opimisers who suffer loss of business through penalisation by Google, ultimately it is the unfortunate companies they pick on. In this case I am delighted that we were able to take the right steps quickly enough to save our client’s ranking positions and to rectify a situation that might of gone on for months without anybody realising.”

Notes: Vertical Leap is a leading search engine marketing company, providing its clients with a fully managed and comprehensive ‘campaign’ to improve ranking results and website performance by actively promoting visits from motivated sales prospects at an all-inclusive, fixed cost. Vertical Leap is committed to providing unrivalled search intelligence to enhance that service with is own proprietary technology, Apollo, the ultimate campaign management system delivering informed data in real time to maximise Return on Investment. Vertical Leap has offices in the UK, USA and Australia.


Tel: 0845 123 2753

Vertical Leap Ltd, Customs House, 10 Hampshire Terrace, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 2QF

Tel: +1 214 347 4903

Tel: 1300 665 323

Published on: 12:00AM on 14th May 2007