As illegal money lending, loan sharks, and financial scams continue to run prevalent online, one thing is for sure: there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. On the same token, there’s also a lot of misinformation online regarding situations of this nature. Case in point: the recent controversy over the lead broker company T3Leads, weird search engine result pages on Google, and search engine hackers.
Apparently an investigation–conducted by investigative publications such as The Mirror and The Independent–have taken place which deems T3Leads as a company that manipulates search engine result pages, such as Google, in order to drive more traffic to online payday loan offers. They’re investigation recently “uncovered” that two-thirds of the sites ranking on the first page of Google for payday loan search queries did not have consumer credit licenses. Additionally, they state that,
Without a valid license, the sites are breaking the law
The truth of the matter is that, regarding licensing, the majority of the sites ranking are not “breaking the law”. They are lead generation sites that are manipulating search engine rankings. Now, I am in no way condoning selling desperate families into payday loan debt traps and will never have any intentions to do so. However, the amount of misinformation spread around the internet can get kind of annoying at times. Let me repeat myself. The majority of websites that are ranking for search query terms such as payday loans are not breaking the law because of licensing requirements, but manipulating search engine results pages to rank high for such terms, and thus, sell the leads they acquire through a lead broker. A lead broker such as T3Leads. However, there some payday loan sites that are actually breaking the law, in terms of hacking into other websites in order to make this manipulation happen Yes. Is this T3Leads fault? No. Is this Google’s fault? No. Should there be something done about this madness? Yes. But what? I agree that a major overhaul needs to take place in regards to regulating uk payday lenders, but blaming companies like T3Leads and Google are not the solution. Let’s take a look at the result’s pages for the search query “payday loans” in the US, as well as the UK.
As of today’s date, the following search engine results appeared for the search term payday loans in United States datacenters.
The Top 10 U.S Rankings For Payday Loans
The above screenshot is taken from Ahrefs.com. From the screenshot above, we can see that 50% of the top 10 positions for the search query payday loans are affiliates/publishers. Only 3 positions in Google are actual U.S lenders with real licenses. So does that mean the affiliates/publishers are breaking the law? As long as they have the correct terms and conditions on their website and they are acting within the law, then they have every right to sell leads.
The Top UK Rankings For Payday Loans
As far as the UK is concerned, I’m surprised I don’t see Wonga anywhere! Additionally, as you can see in the lower rankings, there is an intricate web spammer pushing his way to the top. Also, there is a compromised website in the #10 spot.
However, our initial look into the SERPS discovered that the issue is not with T3Leads. In fact, they actively monitor their network for such leads and do not pay out on them.
You can’t blame Google either. Even though they spend billions of dollars on advancing their search engine–and have even came out with 15+ algorithms that have closed many loopholes–their search engine is not perfect.
And believe it or not, you can blame the hackers either. When so much money is at stake in the payday loan industry, those who manipulate search engines will find a way to get their site in the top positions. It’s reportedly been said that having a #1 listing on Google for payday loans can gross a company over $50,000 a day.
I certainly think that more regulation should be implemented in the deferred loan industry…especially the UK where citizens are at most risk…but what?
What are your thoughts?