A few people have written about the Found Agency getting “demoted” by Google. It used to rank #1 for many SEO-related terms for a long time and now it ranks much lower.
The journo has cited seo-sydney.blogspot.com which says, “The Found Agency has used a black hat link building strategy, which consisted in sponsoring a free web counter.” The post references another blog: searchspamcop.blogdrive.com which says, “How about using a ton of ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ backlinks wrapped around a (http://www.counterdata.com) Counter used mainly for blogs”
A comment there says, “Those guys were putting hidden links up on statcounters and all sorts of stuff like that.” I don’t know about the hidden links, but I found one below and there’s nothing hidden here.
There is a text link for the word “SEM” pointing to the Found Agency. This is not a hidden link and it isn’t “black hat” in my opinion. It is simply a tactic used by many people to get backlinks.
Until Google tightened its definition of a “good” link, it was common to try and get thousands of links any way you could. The Found Agency isn’t the only one to issue counters for this purpose. A few sites used to issue “awards” to anyone who applied and they had to link back to the award site. What about the numerous SEO companies that place a “Search Engine Optimisation by XYZ.” link on their clients’ home pages? Are links from butchers, bakers and candlestick makers any better than the random sites that linked to foundagency? Will we see a massive drop in their rankings? There was another famous stats counter whose users lost their rankings about a year ago – I can’t remember the name.
This is not black-hat SEO. It is simply “getting away with it until Google catches up”.
[I am happy to say that I did not allow this practice at my last job, as it could have crippled our rankings for SEO terms, which weren’t too hot to begin with, being a relatively recent entrant (2004).]