Recently, someone came to me and claimed something preposterous. He guaranteed that if you gave him a list of your search terms to be ranked, he would get you on 90% of the terms, and only then would you pay per month to stay ranked organically. If you didn’t pay, he did something to get you de-ranked quickly. The claim was that he worked on a piece of software for two years to do this. Everyone was astounded.
Without content writing, my initial thought was that a ton of link building was done. In fact, this person would guarantee a thousand backlinks for the SEO effort. Question was, how did he do it?
Now, in order to not reveal his trade secret, this person didn’t reveal any of his clients. However, in an effort to show off how smart he was, he emailed a sample report in PDF format without revealing the clients’ name. That was his critical mistake.
What I did with that PDF to forensically see what he did might blow your mind away.
Opening the PDF
I opened that PDF with Adobe Acrobat (not the reader, but the paid version) to see that the PDF was generated from a web page. In ranking, there were a number of hyperlinks in that page. From there I followed one which led me to the client in question, ZoomRentals.com.
Going to Yahoo and Checking the number of Backlinks
Once seeing that zoomrentals was a real website, I then went to Yahoo Search, which is notoriously more generous with links than Google, and did “link:zoomrentals.ca.” This gave me 1,000+ backlinks from sources like Asian Web Media, etc.
SEO Friendly Links
I then clicked on each link and saw that for the most part, the sites in question were blogs with backlinks and poorly edited rich content for each client the person had. The links however had SEO-friendly display text containing the phrases that each client wanted! My next question was, who would write all that content for free?
The following screenshot is from “IPB Directory,” one of the sites linked.
CopyScape, Plagiarism Checker
Enter CopyScape. CopyScape is a tool that lets one see the amount of plagiarism that has been done on an article. While the free version is limited to only the first 10 results, that’s usually more than enough to get an insight on how original an article is.
Seeing the results told me everything. The person had hundreds of blogs, and copied text and paragraphs verbatim while spinning some words here and there! And, this person is doing well. Next question: how does he manage all those blogs easily?
Answer: WordPress Multisite! Easily create blogs on a whim, purchase domain names for $5-10 dollars, and voila!
Does Google check each site and see if the DNS is the same? Does Google check for plagiarism? Etc etc.
Bottom line is that, even today tricks like those are used to make shady people rich. And, there’s no link farming as on ZoomInfo no apparent links go back to those blogs.
What happens if Google catches him? Who cares? By then he will make his thousands!
In this world, you can be successful no matter what. Choosing the method of success is another thing.