Ranking For Rand Fishkin – Blackhat Boosting 101

Ranking For Rand Fishkin – Blackhat Boosting 101

Today we write a new page of history – the very first guest post on the blog!

I have always refused guest posts in the past as they don’t meet the quality standard that I like to publish.

Even when they were up to scratch, I advised the authors the posts are better off on their own blogs.

But today is VERY different :)

What You Will Learn

  • How I ranked for Rand Fishkin, SEOMoz & Moz.com
  • The EXACT tactics used to for rank above Forbes, Wikipedia, Moz & others!
  • The Tools I used to build links
  • The results after just days of link building work

Introducing Charles Floate!

I started my blog a little while ago, it was initially out of the pure boredom of sitting up, awake, in bed at around 2am in the morning when it hit me that I had a kick ass domain sitting there along with a Matthew Woodward tutorial blazing in the background.

The start of this post is the prologue that led up to this event, if you’re looking to head straight into the cool case study I compiled then just scroll down until you find the pretty huge header.

A Quick Look At The Case Study

I set out initially to rank 2 or 3 different pages for the term “Rand Fishkin” – All pages feature within this article though the main page that I ended up focused on ranking though was this page.

Today it is still ranking first page (close to 4 months after the case study was started). As the study evolved I included more keywords.

The keywords I ended up targeting were:

  • Rand Fishkin
  • Rand Fish
  • SEOmoz
  • Moz
  • Moz.com

My goal was to rank these pages with totally black hat backlinks, that I could then prove would “stick” as most of the white hats out there will tell you: “black hat it’s just not long term”, however these techniques have lasted now months and haven’t seen anything get penalized and almost no rankings drop even after we disavowed all the links.

Why Did I Create This Case Study?

I thought I’d start by giving a bit of backstory for this post, as it can be a little confusing as to why I did it.

Whilst coming up with my blog, I was trying to think of keywords I could rank for as well as products and services I’d be interested in. Around this same time was a bit of a controversial post that I’m sure many of you will have seen, involving Rand Fishkin & his buddies.

Just to clarify for the 1 billionth time, I have nothing against Rand. I enjoy his content and why else would I be posting to his company’s blog to give them yet even more traffic? Except to get a link of course; we all want them damn links!

After I’d made this post, I got forwarded an email from a burner Hushmail account from someone naming themselves the “Pink Hat SEO” – In the email was a conversation posted between Rand and ‘Pink Hat’. Also within the email were the following words:

and you can tell that Randy boy, I could knock his own name off the SERPs if I wanted to

I took that quite literally around a week later when I was emailing Rand for some information about a post I was doing on Penguin 2.0. Which, I may add, he gave a rather generously large statement on and generated quite a bit of traffic!

Back to the main premise though, the statement above really caught my imagination and I thought.. Well if he could “Rank for Rand” why can’t I? I emailed Rand and got his permission as well as the permission of Ruth & Cyrus on the Moz team, who replied graciously with “bring it on!”.

I’d already seen Dan Petrovic’s post on how he hijacked Rand Fishkin – but inevitably only did it for Australian searches, I went after the full Google US terms.

I started investigating a black-hat site that Rand tweeted about a little while ago by looking at their backlink profile and how they were manipulating the Google SERPs.

This led me to a few different bits and pieces which I’ll be going over in the following case study. Enjoy…

The Case Study (Where Things Get Interesting)

The actual link building wasn’t all that interesting, but I thought I’d go through step by step (or round by round) how I approached the link building.

I used a few automated tools along the way, all my spun content was done through a few different services – I’d either compiled my own articles and got them manually spun via contractors on oDesk.

In total I spent under $60 on Content, and got well over a total of 90,000 words spread across ~9 articles and a few social bookmark/forum posting spun content.

Round 1 – SAPE, The Russians are at it again!

The first thing I noticed was the ton of referring domains being .Ru – I already knew of the giant that is SAPE (For those of you that don’t, it’s Russia’s largest link network with around 700,000 domains).

I even did a small post on SAPE which was wholly based around my findings over the next few weeks.

sape meme

However in the end, I decided against using SAPE as I thought using illegally hacked websites to gain my first position was a “bit too black hat”, even for this case study.

Round 2 – The “Semi-Private” Blog Networks

For any of you who are members of the deeply secret (yeah, right) forum Black Hat World, you’ll know that the current rage of buying “private” links.

Although you can view threads and buy them without actually being a member so I’m just going to call them Semi-Private Blog Networks.

I bought a range of the packages available at very discounted rates as it tended to either be in return for Review copies or just a couple of Skype buddies who were running the threads.

I also invested $7 into Link Emporer to grab 30,000 credits, which converts into roughly 150 orders (at 200 credits each). I only went with the Quality blog networks, which still built me well over 400 links total, from DA 15 – 80 sites.

Round 3 – The Scrape and Blast!

I actively use a tool called ScrapeBox for a bit of diversity in my backlink profile, it allows me to scrape tons of potential sites and keywords, as well as check PR and more of potential sites.

In this case, I used the scrape backlinks and blast technique – Where I pulled the list of backlinks pointing to the Rand Fishkin blog, about us page and his Twitter feed.

I imported the link list into ScrapeBox, set up some spun comments and set the names to my anchor text (Rand Fishkin, Rand Fish, etc…) and blasted away! I ended up with around 1,900 successes.

The aim of this was to built a megaton of nofollow backlinks that take around 3 weeks to get indexed by Google and create a larger amount of diversity in my backlink profile than just contextual posts. The spun comments were all Rand/SEO related though.

Round 4 – Automated, Contextual Tier 2s

I used a number of SEO software tools to pull this off, and the premise is to build as many damn Tier 2 backlinks (which are contextual) as possible in a short amount of time and don’t send them to any Indexing service, allow them to be naturally indexed.

I pulled my list of around 550 private blog network posts (which had been spread across the links) and used a number of black hat tools to boost them all – The end result was well over 8,000 links built and a ranging PR from 0 all the way up to 8 – With a few .gov and .edu posts sprinkled along the way.

This added yet more power and PA to my private network posts and helped me create a multi-tier link building campaign.

Round 5 – Automated, Tier 3 Blog Comments, Social Bookmarks and Forum Posts

I already had access to a number of black hat tools from an agency I’d worked for around 2 years ago and asked if I could borrow their RDP for a few campaigns.

I’d already got ScrapeBox for the blog comments, so I decided to take a look at some of the tools on the RDP.

I went with SBBomber by Clyde and XRumer – I spent a day researching both tools and got pretty confident with both systems.

The tier 3s blasted in total built me another 200,000 links – Sorry to the forum owners that suffered my wrath of manual, 4 tier sentence spinning.

Round 6 – The Indexing

I wasn’t too sure on what service to use for indexing for my Tier 1 backlinks. I ended up manually using a fake Google+ Profile I’d been using to build up some authority with, along with Link Pipeline and Linklicious (which were both recommended to me on BHW).

Most of my Tier 1 backlinks were indexed the same day that they were made, and the maximum it took was 4 days. Ahrefs even picked up 20 backlinks on the 1st day I’d started my link building campaign.

The Results Week By Week!

Lets take a look at how the results developed week by week-

Week 1,Content Creation & Posting

I spent the first week preparing all the content I’d be using, I moved jobs and had 3 days spare to do all of this.

I sat down, wrote a ton of content that I’d use for the backlinks and also wrote up the post on my blog, as well as various other posts I’d be looking to rank for these keywords.

Once all the content was written, I looked around oDesk & iWriter for some good content writers and manual spinners – I spent a couple of hours interviewing a few people and I’ll be using a number of them again.

I specifically asked for examples of manually spun content from all writers I interviewed so I knew they had some basic knowledge of SEO as well.

I then built a folder where I could put all of my bits and pieces that I was going to be using.

Week 2, Let The Links Begin!

This was the week I spent building up my Tier 1 links, I started out looking through and contacting a few faces on black hat world, as well as sitting down with the Matthew Woodward tutorial on Link Emporer.

I’d used Link Emperor over a year ago and remembered some of it, but needed a bit of a catch up.

Once all the links were ordered and my Link Emperor credits balance had plummeted to a lowly 0, I waited for the reports.

I’d only ordered links that I knew I’d get full reports on (showing me all the links) and back within 7 days.

I’ll also give a shout to Jon Cooper for his link building strategies post which helped me indefinitely with the names of most of the methods I was using (I always forget the technical terms).

Week 3, Tier 2/3 & First Rankings!

I spoke to my old, old boss and got access to the RDP, started building all my tier 2/3 backlinks from my pool of content.

It was also the same week where I started to see the rankings coming in, granted they were pages 9-15 but it still counts! All of the keywords I was targeting came in, with the following positions (and changes over the 7 days) -

Rand FishkinMonday I saw it hit page 14 with position 141, by the end of the week (Friday) I saw it hit page 10.

Moz.comMonday, it hit page 18 and by Friday was up to page 11

Moz - Monday, it hit page 16 and by Friday was on page 9.

SEOmozThis was ranking on page 20 and didn’t move all week, I decided to build a few more Tier 1s to this with a fresh order from a friend of mine for a quick $20 and giving him the content I got another 20 links built!

Winning!

Week 4, Keep On Rankin Baby!

This was the day I published my newest article on and I saw the following EPIC Results:

rand fishkin rankings

moz rankings

Rand Fishkin actually went upto #7 around 3 hours afterwards and I saw page 2 results for Rand Fish (Which I wasn’t even targeting) and moz.com as well as moz.

The only disappointment I had was SEOmoz, which was still only Page 7 -

seomoz rankings

I grabbed the full report for links built with the anchor text “seomoz” from my spreadsheet and went at attacking it aggressively with Tier 2s.

I also went about building another couple of blog network links with a 2nd Link Emperor account, as I really wanted to hit it with this keyword!

Week 5, The Results Are In!

Week 5 was the final week I wanted to see rankings, I wanted to spend the whole of Week 6 writing up a full report and wanted to hit Page 1 for every keyword, if not position #1!

Monday Morning – I checked the SERPs as per usual and saw the following positions:

Moz – #4 – Just above the Forbes, Wikipedia and Open Site Explorer listings! Just below the Moz Facebook.

Moz Google search results

What I thought was funny was that this was 2 days after I’d done the 2nd post on God of SEO, and it had only been created 2 days prior!

Rand Fishkin – I was now sitting at #7 & #8! That’s pretty incredible to have 2 links on the same page, trying for a 3rd by the end of the week!

SEOmoz – Was sitting at #29, still not seen too much in this, but it’s slowly marching up. Might hit 1st page, you never know!

Moz.Com - Sitting at #2!!! – That’s above the Wikipedia result and just under the 7 SERP Result for the main page, pretty awesome..

I doubt I’ll be able to hit #1 by the end of the week though, but as I said, you never know…

Week 6 – The Write up

So, it’s the final week and we’ve come so far! The final results are as follows:

Rand Fishkin – #3, #5 and #56 (Seen fluctuation and differences in Google US and Google UK)

Moz.com – #2 – I couldn’t hit #1, then again that was taken up by a gigantic 11 SERP result that dominated the first page..

SEOmoz – #15 – The highest that I could hit was page 2. Super competitive keyword and maybe given a bit more time I could have hit page 1!

Moz – #3 – Sitting just above the official Moz Facebook, Wikipedia and OSE, but just under the Moz Twitter (Which isn’t surprising, due to the amount of social signals and followers Moz gets from Twitter.

I didn’t quite hit #1 though I did manage to get some killer SERP results, and I saw quite a bit of organic traffic hit my blog from the Moz related keywords.

The Grand Finale!

I achieved these results in a mere 6 weeks, with just 2 weeks of link building and result checking while putting this entire case study together.

So, I decided to give you guys a quick FAQ, feel free to give me some questions to answer in the comments box below!

You gained a ton of black hat links pointing straight to your site, won’t it get banned?

After all this, I disavowed the entire link profile (start to finish) of the Tier 1s I’d built for this case study, and I also requested that any of the network links I’d built to be removed by the network owners.

Will you be doing this kind of “attack” again?

I doubt it, at least for awhile – If anyone wants to do a follow up, maybe for a HUGE name or corporation name (get permission first of course, you don’t want to get sued for libel) then I’d be happy to offer some help/feedback.

Where did you learn about all the Black Hat Link Building Techniques?

From using a number of black hat forums, and also from people I’ve met along the way in the SEO community.

There’s a ton of literature out there and I’d put down a lot of the methods that I’d learnt from the following people: Matthew Woodward, Blackhat Agent, Jon Cooper, BigBuddy (from Black Hat World), Backlinko and a few other awesome people who have submitted content to various forums.

What “Hat” do you class yourself as?

I class myself as a grey hat SEO. If my client wants to be number #1 for a keyword in 2 weeks, then by all means I’ll help them.

If they want to build a huge content marketing strategy and do tons of outreach across a number of months and build a sustainable authority site, then I’ll do all the manual labour that it requires.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? (Common question, I think everyone should answer this)

I’m hoping to be earning a hell of a lot more than I am now, as well as still be running my God of SEO blog with some even more powerful content.

My main aim for the time being is to carry on learning, rank my current clients with kick ass services and keep growing my personal sites!

My Final Thoughts

So, after all this you might ask, what have I actually learnt and what have I proven?

Well, I’d start by saying I spent $120 over 2 weeks to rank for some pretty huge branded keywords, god knows what I could do with a larger scale budget and some more time.

This is also going further than that though, it’s to the point where I did this purely out of a bit of spite, not for Rand or Moz, in fact that’s far from it!

It’s in spite of this new era of “content marketing” – if this is the only way forward, why am I still able to rank so well with a few black hat backlinks and a few hundred words?

Well, it’s because Google and the likes of Matt Cutts suck you in, they produce a load of fluff to say they’re going to come down on you like a ton of bricks, which in actual fact… you’re more likely to get a couple cuddly toys thrown at you.

I saw more proof of this with my own company. I have a personal company website in which I sell my SEO services, and in the space of 3 months I built close to 15,000 back links, 90% of which were contextual backlinks or paid for.

Results? 3,000 unique visitors per week and 5 enquiries a day. It took Google over 4 MONTHS to hit me with a manual penalty. The result of the penalty? I dropped from #4 on one of my keywords to #7, most of the other keywords are still perfectly fine.

So, after reading all of this, if you haven’t learnt anything…

Don’t believe everything that you read, especially the fluff that has changed our industry, in my opinion, for the worse.

A Sneak Preview

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127 Responses

GodOfSEO
9.10.2013

Thanks for posting this Matt! I am ready to go with comment replies haha!

Any chance you could change the By to my account as well? :3 Just because the authorship is showing you :P

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Yeah I will do when I get home, got a flight to catch and I’m hung over to fuck ^^

Reply

JR John Reply:

Dude. You’re. Awesome.

Why don’t you try for “make money online” and start raking in millions a week selling scammy affiliate products? ;)

Regards,
JR John

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Lol just wrote a reply to a comment saying I’m thinking about going after that keyword with this blog, just need a creative way to do it!

Reply

9.10.2013

“If my client wants to be number #1 for a keyword in 2 weeks, then by all means I’ll help them.”

Lol, you couldn’t even get to number one for a keyword in six weeks.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

^^

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Serge Reply:

It would have been Very Possible with a slightly different approach (i.e. buy some High PR domains for a bit of extra boosting power.

Also, you have to keep in mind, GOS did this as a test, so he wasn’t really aiming for results (had he put a bit more money into it, he could have ranked within 2 weeks). That being said, if a client wants to rank in 2weeks (and they’re willing to pay well), it’s totally possible to rank.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Yeah 100% agree here – even with the same approach but on a larger scale would have given the required results.

Reply

9.10.2013

That’s some powerful stuff Matt!

Imagine you had build like 10+ new niche sites for some competetive keywords instead. That could be a gold mine untill you get penelized(like that will ever happen).

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

True that ;)

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9.10.2013

Awesome, Charles! I expected that you used some more advanced black hat strategies along with these. Kind of guessed about Link Emperor. It’s pretty powerful for Tier 1′s and Tier 2′s.

I’ll be looking forward to your next case study, ranking for Matt Cutts. ;)

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9.10.2013

I don’t see the point.

Anyone can rank for short periods of time, and make some quick money, but it still takes time, effort and money. It’s bad for the web, bad for users, bad for other businesses, and no one wants spam sites in the serps.

Lets grow up and produce quality, useful websites which users will use.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Because Google has a great history of ranking quality useful websites right? ^^

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Jangoz Reply:

Hahaha MW and GoS both became Royalty of SEO :)

BTW what date is the next ‘gay parade’? :D

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I’m far from royalty ^^

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Julian Hooks Reply:

I can’t let this guy ruin my good name! The spam created shouldn’t rank. Long as the final ranking product is good for the user it doesn’t matter what the tiers underneath look like. http://godofseo.co/ is a quality, useful websites which users will use… so what’s your point?

P.s. Change your name.

Awesome case study Charles, you went about doing it the right way.

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julian hearn Reply:

So you really think that godofseo provided a page that someone looking for moz.com, rand fishkin, etc was looking for?

The point is that this is a short term tactic that spammers will use that dont care if their site is useful or not as long as some clicks an affiliate links, buys something, etc. We shouldn’t condone this type of activity and certainly shouldn’t endorse it and explain how to do it. The serps have enough spam already we dont need more.

Plus some webmaster will do this and their website and business will get found and then penalised by google and never return. Not good.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

The other edge to this point of view is you have no control over someone doing this to your site in any niche.

Just look at how easy it was for Charles to do – point those links elsewhere and bye bye rankings.

The SERPS have more spam in them now than ever before in my opinion – certainly in the niches I work in.

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Ian Reply:

If a site leads to a conversion, it was useful.

Only MFA/CPM spammers want traffic that isn’t useful.

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Charles Floate Reply:

Or in the gracious words of 4chan users, I could not be a “moralfag”

Also it’s still #7 here after 4 months and public release :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Yeah I’m still seeing good results here – another month of blog networks and you would have been singing!

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Mark Reply:

Julian,

Don’t be a hater. Charles made it very clear that this “test” was only to prove a point about how grey and black hat link building techniques work. He is obviously aware that white hat techniques are the best way to go if you want to rank someone for the long term. You are correct that spam sites are no good for the serps, and it is apparent that Charles understands that.

Great job Charles! These case studies are important for the SEO world.

Mark

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Depends on the goal – for example in the payday loan/gambling/any competitive niche its not possible to build long term white hat strategies due to the sheer amount of negative SEO in play.

You have no option but to build short term sites, investing in anything more than that is a waste of time, money & resource.

Most companies in this niche have dedicated negative SEO departments.

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julianhearn Reply:

I certainly don’t hate charles. I would simply prefer less spam, by broadcasting these results and instructions we will all have more spam to compete with.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

This approach is nothing new/unknown. Its like basic basic black hat stuff

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julian Reply:

If this is “nothing new/unknown. Its like basic basic black hat stuff” why did you accept a guest post on the subject?

Basically you have told your readers nothing new, correct?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well it will be new to some people but more highlighting what is actually possible without much effort at all.

The good ole build site, spam with blog networks tactic still works just as well now as it did before they deindexed ALN/BMR etc – primarily because people are so scared to use the strongest weapon in their arsenal now.

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umair Reply:

Hi, Julian.

as I have experience. Google can’t judge what is good and what is not. Just see link profile of ( http://www.testking.com/ ). you will be clear. This is about 10–13 years old site and the first website who started providing braindumps for IT certifications preparation.

and then search this exam ( 000-224 ). and see the Rubbish on first page. slideshare, youtube etc

Hope it will be a good reason to make you involve in case studies like that :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

All teh spamz!!

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9.10.2013

Have a look at my earlier comment. It probably got stuck in the spam queue. :/

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Not seeing it mate =\

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9.10.2013

Wow, Matthew, you did a great thing by allowing Godofseo to write a post. I hope to see more of him here :)

@GOS: AWESOME job man! Everything was explained to detail. Hope you write more here and I’ll make sure I subscribe to your blog :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks Stefan!

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9.10.2013

Awesome case study and really impressive results. Looking forward to see you rank for “Matt Cutts”.

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9.10.2013

Not being funny but ‘months’ isn’t long term in SEO. Long term means planning for the future, when you use edgy tactics that Google are looking to clamp down on, it’s not long term.

I’ve dabbled in both sides of things and I regretted one. Guess which?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well both approaches have their benefits/drawbacks – depending on what you want to achieve. For example, long term sites even done properly do not work in competitive niches such as finance/gambling where you have huge companys with dedicated negative SEO departments.

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9.10.2013

Charles/Matt

Interesting case study, looking beyond the “spam” & “ranking for Rand” this actually shows you how easy it is to rank bad content.

Think of it this way you’re an ecommerce store & your competitors ranked all your negative reviews during the busy 2-6 week period such as Xmas or Valentines day? That could cause a serious ORM issue & loss in sales.

Food for thought…

Chris

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Yeah there are a bunch of ways to abuse this – you could just build them to your competitors during may – sept so they drop/get penalised just in time for the golden quarter.

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GodOfSEO Reply:

What about ranking your own companies Good reviews?

Increase your ORM for your business name!

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9.10.2013

Poor Rand (well not so poor) haha…always get caught in the middle of all this. Solid rank, sir Charles :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

If by caught in the middle you mean free PR, then yes he got caught in the middle :)

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9.10.2013

Why not trying for something that isn’t branded? I mean, come on, the competition levels past 3rd place are piss poor.

So yes, it’s great that you ranked for a branded term, but there is a reason for that.

Maybe target a niche that has the same competition levels but isn’t branded? Surely thats a better way of showing off

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GodOfSEO Reply:

This was a bit of industry targeted fun, as Chris Dyson said… Branded are a lot more powerful than most other terms as you can effectively destroy your competitors…

Also, I’ve done this in the past with Niches and I do have something in the works ;)

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9.10.2013

Wow!! What an amazing case study!

I’m curious if you would recommend Link Emperor as an easy/automated way to get links to a main site/page?

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GodOfSEO Reply:

I use it more for Tier 2 stuff but you can always use their really nice Web 2.0 Posts as it tends to be 50/50 Dofollow/Nofollow and tends to be really good content based backlinks.
Along with adding local citations using press releases etc… are always great for Tier 1 stuff.

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9.10.2013

I think I am missing the point.

Where is the business benefit from the case study…can you show the traffic generated from those rankings starting from pre case study to now?

I struggle to see a longer term business model here – unless you take money from clients in exchange for short lived rankings.

My question I guess is what is the point? I always like tests and case studies no matter what hat is being worn but I struggle with this one!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

The point is not everything is about money/business – its just for fun :)

Just like kicking/throwing a ball around a field has no real point

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Jay Dorsey Reply:

Me too.

While its interesting to see the technique and results, and I do appreciate the authors detail, I’ve seen (and duplicated) similar results using techniques shared by Becker using an even smaller budget and next to NO content. Literally, two pages (under 200 words each), and a fiverr campaign for a term with 2+ million local searches and dozens of equally impressive keywords. Create a blog post, put a picture and embed a YouTube video, seed the links, and wait a week.

My sole justification for opting not to use these techniques in sites in the future is the frustration I get when I search google and get crappy linkfarm results (I’m looking at you bigresource.com).

Interesting case study, but it would have been a happier ending if the site was de-indexed in a reasonable time. Surely google can afford to pay someone to frequent forums, find out who is selling links [by buying them] and jam those sites up? Or maybe affiliate marketing makes the world go ’round…

It almost looks like black hat spamming followed by the disavow process is the quickest way to build rankings–rather than zero link building.

Maybe “How to combat” is saved for part 2…

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Blackhat SEO will always be the quickest way to build rankings. Its also much safer than investing a bunch of time and money into a site that can get tanked at any moment with an algo update even using the whitest of white hat methods.

SEO is risk management and educated gambling at the end of the day.

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Jay Dorsey Reply:

To clarify my earlier reply; I get why GodofSEO did it but it seems out of place on a blog dedicated to a zero link building strategy. It left me feeling uneasy about bothering to pursue a zero link approach. For the fun of it is good sometimes but I think it’s well established that google is imperfect and its possible to game it for the results sought.

I love to see the software and strategies named though. At least I can put a name to software that creates comment spam.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well this is an internet marketing & SEO blog and primarily I wear a massive big black hat so ^^

I do wish however that Google would revent back to the old methods of how the review links. Previously bad links were ignore, they didn’t help but they didn’t hurt.

Now though, they hurt rankings – hence why negative SEO exists =/

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Jay Dorsey Reply:

>> primarily I wear a massive big black hat so ^^

That makes it a little more clear. I haven’t had time to make my way full thru the blog, so didn’t really get that impression. I was impressed with your zero link building strategy and didn’t realize this wasn’t your only current project.

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The Rookie Reply:

You really can’t see the point or business benefit for ranking on the first page of google for tough keywords? Seriously? Wow.

Im not saying the phrases were tough to rank for sometimes branded phrases are actually easier since few try to target them. (not going to bother checking these ones) but to say you see no value in being able to rank in the search engines is well, I think you know what Im getting at.

Right or wrong there “is” value in it. Methods didn’t even seem that blackhat at least the first two tiers. Good full sentence spins can still leave good content if done right. Then its basically just syndication.

You spend 120.00 and get ranked for 1 semi tough keyword, that can generate 10 times that money by the time it gets banned, if it even gets banned.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I think what Jon also fails to realise is as long as I have a VPS and a small budget, its possible to remove the vast majority of sites from the SERPS.

You can be as long term and as white hat as you want. If someone wants to remove your site from the rankings, they will.

Happens all day every day in competitive niches – pointless doing anything else.

Quite happy to put my money where my mouth is here if someone wants to volunteer their site for a case study ^^

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Devin Reply:

Ha.

I’m sure my personal blog will be a negative SEO case study any day now.

I received an email from a reader that said my website was hacked and that someone had injected Russian casino links in my posts.

The next day I deleted all the links and beefed up the WP security, but I guess whoever injected those links didn’t appreciate me removing them so they’ve been hammering my blog with spam links ever since.

Ahrefs is showing over 1.2 million links built to my blog since September 29th lol.

Still no warning messages in Google Webmaster tools yet, but I’m sure that’s coming any day now .. :P

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hey,

Sent you an email about this :)

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9.10.2013

“After all this, I disavowed the entire link profile (start to finish) of the Tier 1s I’d built for this case study, and I also requested that any of the network links I’d built to be removed by the network owners.”

That was a smart move. Publically out techniques used, then disavow the blog networks you used to Google while making them look stupid? You can be pretty sure those blogs will be burned to the ground soon – bet the owners are pleased with the value they got from the $7 trial they gave you!

But of course, all that matters is self promotion, innit?

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Another boy Reply:

The comment of clever boy was very clever.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Flashback to 11 months ago – http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tips/why-google-disavow-is-bad-news-for-seo/

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9.10.2013

*waits in anticipation for Rand Fishkin to respond to this*

I admit it would have been pretty cool to see how long the rankings stuck around.

I’m assuming you helped GodOfSEO setup his blog? It looks very similar to yours.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Rand is aware of the case study, Charles wanted them to post it on SEOMoz but you can guess what they said :P

Myself and Charles have spoke a little in the past but never helped him directly

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9.10.2013

Well laid out post Charles, congrats on getting the first guest post spot here!

Although it doesn’t look like the “Rand Fishkin” SERP is as tough to crack as everyone might think.

For “Rand Fishkin” in Google US this post itself already ranks #45 and my SEO assholes page with no content ranks #59.

With those initial spots it wouldn’t take much to push them to first page with some decent black hattery.

Now rank first page for “payday loans” like the mysterious paydayloansformrcutts SEO did, now that’s impressive. I wouldn’t expect any detailed blog posts covering that rank strategy from the creator tho.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well although tougher niches require a bit more work, pretty much the same approach will work it just needs scaling/a bit more time.

Just throw more SAPE type/blog network links and 301 a few domains and voila! Its not long term but you’ll make serious bank

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Jacks Reply:

Doubleseo was the guy behind that. He’s outed his techniques on a few websites and told about how he did it. Worth a read.

I don’t think a few sape links and blog networks will get you ranking any time soon. Would love to be proven wrong though! Maybe if you think it’s easy, it’s worth a try ;)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Got a linky there Jacks?

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9.11.2013

Kaboom.. mind blown. Great post Charles and Matty.

While it’s hard to see that this does have a long lasting result – as you said even your own blackhat methods were penalised (however lamely) after 4 months so I wonder what would have happened here if you let it run it’s course – I think there’s still lots of good take aways here.

Even if you only get one thing from the post, it should be to challenge preconceptions and not follow the herd.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Josh,

This ones all Charles – I just did some copy/pasting and threw in a few images :)

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9.11.2013

do you think google will manually penalise your site if matt cutts find out about this? :-)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Only one way to find out =D

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GodOfSEO Reply:

FIGHT!!! lol

Anyways, no I showed this of in my prologue/Inbound discussion months ago… Still 0 effects and I disavowed all the bad links anyway so I have a perfectly clean and natural link profile now :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Haha us brits :P

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Ol Reply:

Got a right old debate goin on here! Think Charles post is so funny I nearly spat out my cuppa.

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9.11.2013

Its intresting post men.Now, waiting for competition with matt cutts brand

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I’m sure Charles won’t disappoint!

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9.11.2013

Really enjoyed that! Thanks Matthew and GodofSEO. I work exclusively in local/client SEO so I’m always trying to take the less blackhat elements from this kind of thing to apply to those situations.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

The thanks are all for Charles – he did the hard work :)

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Danny
9.11.2013

Very interesting guest post, and one all SEO experts need to understand, regardless of the hat they wear (or many cases think they wear……!

A great example of white hat link baiting by Matt with this guest post! Nice one !-)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Very true.

I would highly recommend to everyone to build a site and do everything they can to try and get in penalised. You will learn more from doing that than anything else!

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9.11.2013

Great post, very fun and informative. These people that believe in white hat SEO need to grow up. I like how GoS and MW are saying things the way they are. There is no white hat SEO just shades of gray.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well as soon as you build a link of any type – you violate webmaster guidelines. So its all black hat in the end

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9.11.2013

The only stuff that sticks when you do this are YouTube videos. Everything else tanks after a period of time.

Spam is slowly dying. 3 years ago this would stick top 5 permanently.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thats good to know ^^

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GodOfSEO Reply:

I’d beg to differ! If you do it correctly then it can work for a LONG LONG TIME!
I still have sites that I made back in April last year when Penguin first came out that have stayed top 3 for their respective KWs ever since. Pulls in some nice bank as well!

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Yukinari Reply:

Andy – Great to have you share your opinion, but those that know how to use BH link building effectively know that this is absolutely not true.

Again, you have to know what you are doing, and if you do, you can BH your way to the top.

Get out there and start playing around and you will start to see what I’m talking about. ;)

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9.11.2013

hey Matthew

how could you refuse guest posts? I understand there are some worries and issues with the method, however, look at the type of content you’ve just published.

One word: awesome!

I’ll re-read it again with close attention, and come back with some questions for Charles, later on…

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hey,

Because they are rarely up to scrath and nothing but thinly veiled pieces of link building shit. There have only been 2-3 that have impressed me and from new bloggers that are better off building their own empire instead of supporting mine.

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Jay
9.11.2013

The reason why you were in the top 10 *BRIEFLY* was because Google loves fresh content. ViperChill proved it right here – http://www.viperchill.com/new-seo/ I checked all your keywords and you’re not in the top 10 anymore because your content isn’t new any longer.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I’m seeing different on this side of the pond. Make sure your checking with incognito/private browsing enabled

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Charles Floate Reply:

Same here, I see myself top 10 for 3 different keywords right now and “Rand Fishkin” on Google UK I see myself fluctuating between 3 – 6 over the past week or so.

Also confirmed by a few other comments above :)

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9.12.2013

Just wondering from this case study, he is using tiered linked building to increase his rankings to his page for those keywords regarding moz and rand fishkin, would his main site have been penalised if he didn’t disavow those tier 1 links in the end?

Cause I thought the purpose of the tier 1 was to protect the main site, so why the need to disavow the links at the end? Was it just cause it was publicly advertised that you are building links for the site?

Awesome case study though, kicking them in balls~

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9.12.2013

every thing is great… but have you disavow all the links ? or only some links ?

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9.12.2013

A thoroughly fantastic post and insight into a black hat strategy!
(Thought I would put my comments in the comments section for a change, instead of e-mailing Matt and mythering him constantly….ahem!)(mythering – Northern English for repeatedly bothering someone!)

Firstly, I’m really glad people like Charles have taken the time to write an in-depth case studies like this for us all to study, no matter what headwear we think we wear!
I’ll be honest, if it wasn’t for case studies, tips and hints and blogs like Matts and Charles, I would be still eating porridge for every meal! Even if you take the article as a way for him to gain more authority to his website, I would gladly exchange clicking through to a few of his links in exchange for this information.

If we build links or promote websites, we should all be aware of all the tactics that work, no matter which ones we decide to use.
I think too many of the ‘white hat Seo’ types have a ‘holier than thou’ mentality. Even if you write a 2000 word article of Times editorial quality and place it on a high authority guest blog for a client, you are giving away potentially great information, but arguably, artificially promoting a website with the link. So, just use the tactic that best applies to that situation or client at that time.

I’ve done work for some biggish ‘Seo agencies’ and they farm out the link building simply because they don’t have a clue about it themselves alot of the times. Their specialism, is having the ability to bring in the big clients as they were, day and night. It is still the guy in the back room on the basic wage who is doing the work for them. That guy had better not balls up the rankings for client as there is too much to lose. Thus, so-called white hat all the way. This is usually where the white hat mentality is instilled.

I think the arguments of black Versus white hat, spam marketing versus white hat marketing will go on forever, but I think it will be argued among the ones who still argue if a Mac is better than a PC……… don’t start!!

Essentially, I’m thankful that the guys who are really getting stuck in to seeing how the SERPS really work are telling us all what they have found. We’re never going to get a step-by-step recipe (unless you want to post one….ahem!), so this is great information.

The reason why Matt and Charles’s blogs become so popular so quickly, is I guess like myself, we have waded through article after article, forum post after forum post, for titbits of information, most being things like, ‘buy this latest course that does everything you want in Seo forever!’, ‘I’ve heard that that is good, but I’ve not used it yet’, ‘I’m just starting to use that thing, but I’ve really no idea if it works well not.’
I mock, but I think we all agree that probably 8/10th of the information we read online about Seo we can firmly dismiss.
Ideally, I would like a one-stop shop website that has all the reviews on tools I am using and potentially want to, all potential tactics and case studies for what has worked and what hasn’t.
Wouldn’t that be lovely instead of wading through the Internet night after night for morsels of information.

I myself got the most success really before the Panda and Penguin updates last year when it was still easy to rank. After, I turned to arguably pure white hat techniques, as my money came in from client link building and I just couldn’t risk using the simple techniques I had done, using some basic black hat techniques. I researched and researched every way to build links that were potentially evergreen. Eventually, the two methods were not massively different in the tools that I used and the amount of work needed. (arguably, I had to write more original content as I didn’t want to use any spun content – just playing it safe And was more conscious of the sites I was putting links on.)

But honestly, why did I choose the simple black hat technique at first?
At the time, it seemed the best information on how to rank came from the black hat community. The white hat community invariably just teaches link/blog out reach. That takes a boat load of time. Writing thousands of words of content for a client sometimes feels like being back at school in detention having to write an essay on the inside of a ping-pong ball! I wanted something as automated as possible. It worked.
Now, I know a little more reading posts like this, understand what has been done, how and the effects it creates. So, can I use this as a tactic for clients websites? Mostly, no, but I know, in the past, I have parted with money for far less useful information.

Now, I think of client link building and marketing as simply marketing and PR.
I don’t really do it myself, but if I wanted to rank a small website in time for Christmas showing the best offers for kids toys and where to get them for a few weeks, doesn’t the black hat Method fit better? If the website ends up being quite good, people may naturally bookmark it, maybe even for next year.

It seems those old black hat techniques still work on a ‘churn and burn’ basis. Good to know that they still do work and can be used for certain circumstances.
Charles I think, clearly states, if the client wants to rank in a very short period of time for a certain reason, he can do that for them. If they need a long-term strategy that will keep their ranks stable, that is another route. Horses for courses.

I presume we are all in the same boat and want to either earn good money for ranking and marketing clients websites or doing it for our own. Let’s just keep the mindset that all the information we write online to do with Seo and rankings, etc. is positive and gets us all to the same point. If these guys don’t do well with their blogs, I will have to resort to buying crappy courses again that don’t work!

Keep up the good work and please keep informing us of how we can better rank websites – white, black, that funky new colour they have in B+Q hat or whatever! (I am now an azalea red, with a hint of bisque hat!)
(p.s. it’s amazing how much content you can spit out with a copy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking!)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the epic comment. Longer than most guest post requests I get lol

The guest post strategy you suggest is black hat no matter what the holier than thou white hat thinks.

The bottom line is if you build any link of any type you violate webmaster guidelines.

So its all black hat in the end.

Plus guest posts are about to get a good spanking :P

I share the same opinion on seo agencies, I’m yet to work with one or see the work of one that demonstrates any real technical SEO knowledge.

Like you say, it just all gets outsourced to india.

Even the big agencies charging £5,000 – £10,000 a month do that.

SEO is just risk management and nothing more at the end of the day. Every action has a certain degree of risk.

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dash333 Reply:

…you can take the comment as I wanted to thoroughly cover a few points or I’ve got too much bloody time on mi’hands……..ahem!
Thanks again for the information. I recon. now, with all your free info. I’ve saves $100 or $1000s on daft SEO tactic e-books and courses. (I was charged 2 years ago £750 for two days with an SEO agency for them to tell me to pump out an automated on site SEO report and email competitors links essentially, thus showing the worth of your information!)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Perhaps you should submit a testimonial ^^ http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/submit-your-testimonial/

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9.13.2013

“However in the end, I decided against using SAPE as I thought using illegally hacked websites to gain my first position was a “bit too black hat”, even for this case study.”

When I read this, I automatically called bullshit and skimmed the rest.

Of course spam still works, it is simply the approach of how you use it.

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Charles Floate Reply:

Okay… Thanks for your comment? xD

Look at recent studies as well, over 60% of SAPE is hacked links (Also confirmed by ViperChill who recently featured my post)

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9.13.2013

Hi,

Why did you choose to disavow your links after finishing the campaign? If I’m not mistaken, you’re using a tiered linking strategy right, that means your pages should be protected, so why the need to disavow after you’re done with the campaign?

Think my earlier comment regarding this didn’t get through.. Anyways awesome case study.

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Ali Reply:

your site is never protected with tiered link building, because of the big amount of self promoting. And google hates aggressive self promoting. Trust me google’s algorithm is smart enough to follow simple links path. And all the links end up with your site :)

it’s all about taking risk or not

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Which is why we mix in contextual links during the content preparation section along with ensuring we have the ability to remove links as and when needed ^^

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9.13.2013

Fight the power I guess eh.

While I don’t think I would go out and try something like this, it’s impressive to think how easy Charles made it sound.

On the other hand, it does make it a bit scary knowing how someone and bump you out of the rankings so easily.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Why not try it? Getting a site ranked and penalised is the best way to learn!

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Iain Reply:

You’ve got a point. I actually had a site penalised/ It was interesting to see what happened to it.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Now try and recover it for extra learnings ^^

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Iain Reply:

I haven’t figured out how to yet. Still working on the getting it back part.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thats the most fun bit :P

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9.13.2013

Yeah, those rankings are gone so that went well, eh?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Still see them here – also don’t forget he disavowed the links that were supporting the rankings

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9.14.2013

Wow! What an awesome way to end a blog post! SEO is alive and well. Solid content by the way.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks :)

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Ram Reddy
9.16.2013

How should the anchor text be varied to avoid a penalty. What percentage would be best for the target keywords, naked URLs and the rest.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

I’m going to teach you to fish on this one. Get a list of the top 10 competitors and plug them into Ahrefs ;)

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9.17.2013

I bet you’re gonna fix that authorship soon, eh Matt? LOL

I’ve no doubt the post is awesome. I sent it to Readability and I am looking forward to reading it on a train journey soon. Very pleased to have found Matt, You, Charles, GodOverYou, and Jacob King. All great reads – really great.

Malc

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Was meant to fix it the other day, then forgot. Tried to fix it last night and it turns out I have hardcoded a retarded way of integrating authorship so got to hack it in some how lol

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9.23.2013

Poser

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Player player ^^

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Jim Barracael
11.5.2013

Sounds promising but I guess rankings won’t be for long until Google will found out about it. What do you think?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Doesn’t matter if Google fix it – point was proved :)

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11.5.2013

“After all this, I disavowed the entire link profile (start to finish) of the Tier 1s I’d built for this case study, and I also requested that any of the network links I’d built to be removed by the network owners.”

are you really that much of a D*ck? you should only ever disavow links that are complete crap and spam. But disavowing good links you are then saying to google they are spam and google will treat them more like spam. you could seriously harm a blog network by disavowing their links.

never, ever, disavow links unless you are 100% sure they are junk.

and sorry but you make some big claims with no proof. and hey if anyone gets 500+ blog posts on a blog network of course they will rank. nothing new here. and also you method was greyhat at most, don’t even think you are doing anything blackhat.

/end rant

anyway I do enjoy reading your blog matthew, just a same you let this poser and scammer post on your blog. you do know he probably filed chargebacks after ordering all the blog network links.

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Jibran Qazi
2.27.2014

You just went HAM on these SEOs! Like a boss!!

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3.15.2014

Hi, In this article you mentioned Link Indexing Service can you please tell me how these indexing services work…….I mean what they do in background so Google will index our links……I have no money to pay right now can i do it manually …… I am really excited to buy SEO tools you showed in tired link building. Hope i would collect some money to buy them.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Yes they are services that get your links indexed, they are not free. I don’t use them personally.

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Reven Reply:

That’s not the answer of my question :( I know they are services that get our links indexed……But i want to know what they do so our links get indexed…..Do they ping, They send our links somewhere else ? What they do after we submit them our links?
If i get to know what they do then i will do it manually until i get some software to build other tire our that links…as you suggested in your tired link building tutorial

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well I suppose that their trade secret and each service does things in a different.

You can always index links by building more links to them them, or getting the URL’s retweeted works quite well as well.

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Mac
4.4.2014

I liked that statement in reply to “What “Hat” do you class yourself as?”. Pretty much everyone in this business is a grey hat now, unless you a big name brand or an excellent product selling itself.

Honestly, when started reading, I thought “what a cheeky sod, I can’t believe he made it”, but then you stated it’s with approval from RF and treated as an ‘project’.

Well, thank you for that, because it proves once again that youcan dance around big g, without it knowing.

kind regards
Mac

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

White hat has NEVER existed. If you build any type of link, you violate webmaster guidelines. Everything has always being blackhat.

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