Black Hat

Forbes.com Caught With Paid Links Again?

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February 16  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

While I’ll usually refrain from posting about specific sites and problems, this is already made public thanks to Google Webmaster Central. Since JCPenny was getting some flack from Google and the web this last week, it looks like other Fortune 500′s are being treated equally. While a site like Forbes.com does have what to appear to be paid links, they’re always quite on target. Despite that, they’re followed links and it seems that the new “unnatural links” message was warranted. I applaud their marketing manager for addressing it, but I don’t think he has any other option as this is Google’s only support line!

This Google Webmaster Help thread got a response from even Matt Cutts himself, which makes total sense when a big name like this asks. The thread covers a lot of interesting ground, and shows you that even the big fish have to clean up things from time to time. While they’ll most likely just have certain pages devalued, a site with this many links and that much trust won’t fall too hard. But having the paid links in question under “Resources” is also bringing more bad attention than good.

Matt Cutts even calls out Conductor Inc in the thread as they’ve been known to sell links via such authoritative sites as Forbes…but again that’s all speculation. Regardless, a few nofollow’s appended to those resources and all would be cleared according to Matt. If you watched this video I posted the other day from Matt, we can see if it auto fixes itself. By the looks of Forbes Alexa ranking, they may already be feeling the sting of the Googlebot.

Let’s hear your thoughts!

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How To Lift A Google Penalty

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February 15  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

Here’s a great new Webmaster Help video with Matt Cutts talking about lifting a Google penalty. A lot of people, and I see it in their help forums a lot, think the only way is to have it manually reviewed. It’s great to hear that you can fix things and let their spiders fix you in good time. If you’re company is feeling the sting of a penalty, we do offer our services and help in getting you back on the white list. There’s no charge to get our advice on a problem you’re having, so get in touch.

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JCPenny Caught With Paid Links?

1 Comments
February 12  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

I just enjoyed reading the long and well done report by the NT Times on the black hat hi-jinx JCPenny has been tangled up in. I don’t need to chat much about it as they went 5 pages deep into uncovering what was going on. JCPenny, by the looks of their Alexa, did quite well this last holiday season!

This is a good warning to all big brands not to game their links and stay away from any anchor text filters…something JCPenny is still stuck in by the looks of it. While it was reported they got slapped up into the 70′s, I’m now seeing them back in the 30′s, but there’s no traffic to be found there. JCPenny could have also been setup in this situation. Of all the huge brands we’ve worked with, they’d never have to resort to tactics like this to get those kind of results. While it’s not easy, these companies most definitely have the budget to do it right.

Just 7 percent of JCPenney.com’s traffic comes from clicks on organic search results, she wrote. A far bigger source of profits this holiday season, she stated, came from partnerships with companies like Yahoo and Time Warner, from new mobile applications and from in-store kiosks.

This is also great for them, any this should be similar for any large company. We always tell our clients to NOT have all their eggs in one basket, especially in case something bad happens. If you’re still relying 100% on search, it’s time to start looking at Facebook storefront options, a strong Twitter presence and get mobile in one way or another.

The one major thing JCPenny could improve on is of course much better product descriptions. If you were a smaller ecommerce site with a weak link profile and brand presence, then you’d be trumped. This is where having such a big company comes in really handy, but don’t feel invincible.

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Google Targets Content Farms and Low Quality

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January 26  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

There has been a lot of talk about Matt Cutts recent remarks regarding the amount of content farms and low-quality (spun and other) content that dominates the SERPs. We saw in the Mayday update how Ecommerce sites with manufacturer content descriptions started taking a dive. This was also seen throughout the real estate industry because of IDX and MLS listing system spread across tens of thousands of Realtor sites.

There definitely is a reason why SEO’s keep talking about content being king, so be ready for that adage to be more real than ever. By the sounds of Matt’s post, I’m suspecting another major algorithm update in the very near future…are you ready? I’m hoping these coming changes play well into our new series of blog posts entitled “Google vs Bing“. I was recently searching for a serious dental product and got quickly frustrated with Google’s results…I was getting hit after hit of the same ripped content ranking nearly for 8 out of the 10 spots. This is what prompted the new series of posts, and I look forward to checking that search term again later for a blog post update.

One misconception that we’ve seen in the last few weeks is the idea that Google doesn’t take as strong action on spammy content in our index if those sites are serving Google ads

This statement I find tricky because sites like Mahalo for example has not stopped growing. That site has taken our content, taken my personal sites content and it is so thin on good material it makes me wonder. I know that site is making Google millions a month, as well other useless sites…so the question I still have in my brain is, would they put a stop to that? If I were a major shareholder I certainly wouldn’t want to see any of that happen…sadly I’m not a share holder.

While it’s not fair to pick on Mahalo as they’ve been attacked enough, I imagine Matt is more after sites like Fixya.com. I had a problem with my BenQ projector and that site dominated the SERPs for just about every result I looked at. This site rarely, if ever had an answer to the problem. It also had one line of text and the rest of the site was saturated with Google Ads and internal links…I couldn’t make out what was going on. By the looks of it, they just input long tail questions taken from other sites, and perhaps tools like Word Tracker. You can see what I mean here;

So basically if you spam a bunch of H1′s and not have any real content then you’ll rank anyway. The Fixya Alexa ranking certainly shows that Google thinks this is currently great. I imagine they’re making Google a mint so we’ll see if the lose some of their traffic due to ultra low quality pages. They have about 50 million indexed pages, and I imagine half are the kind of junk I showed you above. There are already enough Q/A sites as well so it makes me wonder how many of these sites are going to be able to grow like this.

I’ve seen other content farm sites in their infancy, making me frustrated about doing a site in a legit manor. Never the less, I can give you a perfect example of a site that show up huge in the rankings but eventually got the boot. DayMix.com is a site that was basically pulled RSS feeds and it saw some serious growth for a period of a few months. This was the first time I had looked at their Alexa graph in a while and it does look like Google figured them out and put the kibosh on that.

I really like what Matt has to say in the very recent video. We here at Linkbuildr always push for this type of content to our clients, especially in this day and age of getting social media followers. You’re not going to grow that area of your business well just tweeting about product prices and weights. Facebook fans are not going to stick around if you’re just posting pictures of your products…well, unless you’re selling bikinis or lingerie I take that back!

In closing, I highly highly recommend following this Webmaster World thread on the subject, don’t fully listen to me of course and keep a watch on the SERPs. If you’re a little worried about the quality if your content then I’d start looking for a writer, contacting us or getting out Notepad and get to work. I’m excited for a cleaner search result page, and it only backs up the people following the rules as well not expecting to dominate in a month. Good content, relationships and brand images take time to build up so make sure you do it right!

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20,000 Links For $250 Please – What The F$%!

2 Comments
January 25  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

For those of your who enjoyed taking a gander at the hilarious post we wrote in November titled “Can I Get 5000 Links Please“, I bring you an even better one. The freelancer sites are littered with the craziest link building offers one can find. No legit company in the world would be out trying to snag deals like this, but instead these are affiliate marketers going after spam links. This one in particular caught my attention on Twitter and made me almost choke on my coffee here.

The request is for 20,000 links in about 10 days time….riiiiiight. They also state they all have to be dofollow and white hat techniques only. Oh an the best part, they only want to pay a max of $250 USD. While the offer is getting bids from the usual outsourcing companies, there’s no way this guy is going to have his project met in a white hat method. I cannot stress this enough to some of the big brands out there that come to us wanting something like this.

I feel sorry for Matt Cutts and his team having to combat the tens of thousands of websites out there trying to link spam like this, so I’ll be sure to buy him a beer the next time I see him. Keep in mind when it comes to getting a lot of links, do it over time, do it right and don’t spam. We are firm believers of quality over quantity, so build strong relationships on line and the good links will follow over time…not 10 days. The freelancer link builders are only going to get your company caught up in an anchor text filter, or even worse, complete de-listing from Google.

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Link Request Email How NOT To

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November 23  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

I doubt the SEO world needs another post about link request emails, let alone get into the implications of mass link exchanges from homepages(or any page for that matter). I’m just winding down from a long day of building relationships for my clients the proper way, low and behold this email came into our inbox.

Hi,

My name is Abigail Cox, Web Marketing Consultant. Ive greatly enjoyed looking through your site linkbuildr.com and I was wondering if you’d be interested in exchanging links with my website, which has a related subject. I can offer you a home page link back from my related websites all in google cache and backlinks which are:

cleanprotalk(dot)com PR4
americanmominbusiness(dot)com

If you are interested, please send me the following details of your site:

TITLE:
URL:

I’ll add your link as soon as possible, in the next 24 hours. As soon as it’s ready, I’ll send you a confirmation email along with the information (TITLE and URL) regarding my site to be placed at yours.

I hope you have a nice day and thank you for your time.

Kindest regards,

Web Marketing Consultant

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS NOT A SPAM OR AUTOMATED EMAIL, IT’S ONLY A REQUEST FOR A LINK EXCHANGE. YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS HAS NOT BEEN ADDED TO ANY LISTS, AND YOU WILL NOT BE CONTACTED AGAIN. IF YOU’D LIKE TO MAKE SURE WE DON’T CONTACT YOU AGAIN, PLEASE FILL IN THE FOLLOWING FORM: emailsnomore(dot)com ; PLEASE ACCEPT OUR APOLOGIES FOR CONTACTING YOU.

I didn’t bother to block out the name or email address mainly because I don’t care, and there’s nothing really to protect here. While the only positive thing I can get out of her tactics was coming across as a woman. I instantly thought of a sexy web marketer out there thinking my site was hot stuff. Sadly, when you look at the CleanProTalk website you’ll see about 100 links in the blogroll which blows my mind a little…I didn’t think they’d net that many link exchanges, but then again it could be all her own sites.

So for those companies out there who don’t have a marketing team, and if an email like this somehow tricks your webmaster, you should train him or her to sniff these out. The CleanProTalk site in question should have easily been spotted as pure junk not only from the 100+ blogroll links, but at a quick glance you can see from my totally 31337 Gimp skills the crap that’s right in front of your eyes;

- so we have default WordPress sub-heading still in place

- duplicate content stolen from article sites without even linking back

- the 100+ sidebar links

- they didn’t bother to change the default category name

- adsense which tracks back to all their other sites on the web

So what should a link builder do to obtain a link? Well, in my opinion, you should first build your business relationships online and not even bother to do any link exchanges in the first place. There are so many bloody emails like this going out thanks to software and cheap ass outsourcing that you barely have a chance to get your legit message through. We’re living in a digital, social web and there are powerful tools such as Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook at your disposal. It takes time to network with real people, but if you do it right it will pay off in the end. Stay away from lousy sites, blogrolls and link pages because you’re only going to suffer in the long run!

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Can I Get 5000 Links Please?

13 Comments
November 11  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

I’ve been meaning to start up a more humorous themed post once a month and finally I found my first bit of bait. I have the link building keyword as one of my main columns in Hootsuite, and I always see the strangest freelancer jobs. This one stood out because it perplexed me, as well made me chuckle quite a bit. I also like how he wants 5000 links within a few days but requests no blackhat methods! I for one do not know many legit ways to get that many links quickly, nor would I want to. I thought you readers might get a kick from the list of demands needed to get this “job” done;

GUIDELINES:

- Absolutely no black hat or Grey hat tactics. We require white hat techniques only.
- NO ARTICLE or Directory Sites, No Comments,
- Sites have to be 4 Years old at least. And no registration modification of the domain in the last 2 years.
- Links must be strictly from: Google PR5+ pages (home page page rank, iframes, other page ranks do NOT count)
- Back link pages must relate to our site topic(diet, hCG diet)
- URLs must be live as soon as you create them
- Free one-way manual links.
- No subdomains, back links must be on a www.
- Links must be from English, languages websites only.
- Links must be permanent and static HTML. You agree to replace any links which are removed within 6 months after placement.
- Link pages and our text links must be visible, readable, indexable and do-follow.
- Linked sites must be search engine friendly, established and fully active.
- Pages must be indexed and cached by Google, Yahoo and Bing within last 60-80 days
- Domains must be from different IP addresses and different Class-C IP addresses.
- Only these domains .com/.co.uk / com.au /.gov/.edu/,de,.eu,org,.net
- Prefer high ranking Alexa sites.
- No article directories, link farms, forums, spam sites, web rings, gambling, or adult sites, or link directories.
- We reserve the right to cancel any link if not found suitable.
- Links that are not approved will have to be replaced by service provider.
- Reports must be submitted to us daily.

NOT ALLOWED
- No directory submissions, forum posts, article submissions, links from guest books, within newsgroups, yahoo groups, CL sites.
- No black hat and other unethical SEO. spam techniques. Only ethical work will be accepted.
- No links from rel=”nofollow” or “noindex” tag for pages themselves and for anchor text
- No robots.txt blocking, fake PR, banned by Google, Yahoo, Bing sites
- No use of automated software or bots.
- NO PING SITES.
- No links from under construction pages.
- No java links, jump scripts, framed pages, redirects, cloaking, CSS redirects, 301 redirects, dynamic links, flash sites/pages, hidden links, no string parameters, session ID’s, etc.
- No link farms and link exchange programs or web rings such as backlinks.com, Gotlinks.com, Linkpartners.com, LinksToYou.com etc., no rented links, FFA sites, illegal websites, hate-based websites, violent websites, cracking or hacking websites, no blacklisted or spam sites, links from “bad neighborhood” sites (e.g. link farms, porn and so on), ping sites, etc.
- No scraped content, mirror sites, orphaned link pages, link schemes and sites overrun with contextual ads, popups, ads, sponsored links, intrusive advertising, classified sites, labeled links, etc.
- No adult websites or with illegal content.
-Domain page and its URL must not contain words links and sponsor.
- No classified ads
- No dynamic links

So we can see here they’re either insane or really dumb to think this task will be completed properly. This also goes to show you why legit companies need to stay away from freelancer sites when it comes to hiring a consultant. This also goes to show you why Google has implemented anchor text filters within the last few years, and I can bet you this person will end up getting caught.

Anyone have any stories to tell about freelancer site link building?

94.102.60.150 – 94.102.60.153 Comment Spam Update

4 Comments
November 13  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

So I managed to get a listing from Project Honeypot on all the latest nasty activity and it shows the whole C class is up to no good and gives us an idea of the numbers this person has spammed. If you want to support Project Honeypot you can install the WP-Honeypot plugin which will help you fight comment SPAM.

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