There’s a lot of controversy around the web about the search ranking achieved by one of Google Ventures investments, in August 2011 RetailMeNot raised $10 million led by Google Ventures (since RMN have raised more $230M and went public with stock symbol NASDAQ:SALE. on 6/17/13) . Eventhough Google Ventures have more than 258 investment, this one in particular is under close scrutiny, and for a good reason, this company is dominating Search engine ranking in a way that have raised eyebrows and have been called by many as unnatural!
Comparing the SEO achievements of coupon sites, Priceonomics discovered that RetailMeNot ranks first in Google search results for 187 out of the 263 keywords tracked. Dealcatcher.com, the next closest company, only ranks first for 7 keywords. Coupons.com, another recent IPO in this space, only has the number one spot in the Google rankings a single time.
Analysis of the value of the search traffic reveals that RetailMeNot is getting approximately $10.5 million dollars in monthly search engine traffic!
RMN is ranking 1st for several keywords, outranking the companies offering the coupons!here’s some examples:
#1 Google Ranking for “Amazon Coupon”
#2 Google Ranking for “Walmart Coupon” – used to be 1st position
#1 Google Ranking for “Best Buy Coupon Code”
#2 Google Ranking for “Target Coupon” – used to be 1st position
Is Google Ventures the Arm to help Google take full advantage of the web?
In case there’s a slightest part of truth concerning the GV and RMN ranking, then some serious investigation should be conducted on Google search business, especially after the recent settlement between Google and the EU, when the search giant accepted to show as much competitors in top positions as it shows it’s own services. A liaison between RMN ranking and GV would mean that not only Google is pushing to 1st positions it’s own services but also companies it invested in, and thus making money when it’s users least suspect.
In case there’s no manipulation of results for companies they invest in, the simple links coming from Google venture and the know how and tutoring provided by Google people (especially in ranking) would be considered an unfair advantage and in a way a betrayal to users.
We reached out to our website optimization service provider, and their response could clarify this mystery and clear Google ventures from this conflict of interest accusation! According to SEO4Search (our SEO consultant), the main reason RMN is dominating the search position is that RMN have been dominating the Affiliate links for a long time, and they get hundreds of thousands of affiliate links to their site, these links are less important that standard link, but are links nevertheless and they do pass link juice. Another factor mentioned is on site SEO optimization, using every single trick in the Search engine ranking book, even sending nofollow links to competitors, as if every single page is crafted by hand rather than template based, and simulating the wikipedia strategy as a one stop page to cover this specific subject /keyword.