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I'm not defending the dodgy SEO company but I think a lot of people forget that for a long time buying links was a perfectly "normal" practice and was not penalised by Google (it was a grey area, but at the time - everyone was doing it). Then Google ran an update and lots of sites got penalised for doing it.

In this guys case, it may not even have been an update that did it, but the results of their competition sending a report to Google's web spam team - I've seen this happen to people I've built sites for in the past. It's a morally questionable tactic, but I've seen sites benefit by focusing on bringing their opponents down rather than boosting their own ranking.

Morally questionable? I suppose it is the old dilemma of whether you should tell the teacher that someone is cheating in their exam. I never did, but you certainly should and have the moral high ground because they are not playing fair.

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