Case Study: Why I reported someone for black hat SEO

So I was trying to get a site higher on the almighty SERP the other day and I came across something I can only describe as dubious.

All the usual suspects were there, but I also found a new player. Before, I hadn’t even noticed the existence of this site. I guess it wasn’t ranking on the first page, so who cares right.

Well that day it was number two, and it pissed me off. Another big site I am competing with, I thought to myself.

Before I go on, I guess you should know more about my situation. I was trying to rank for “fort lauderdale web design” with brightpinkstudio.com. We have one page ranking on 70 now, and, unless anyone from Fort Lauderdale is reading this right now, I doubt this article will change much.

In the last week or so, I had examined my competition’s backlink profiles, whilst trying to get my own link building strategy going. The tool I used was seoprofiler. I am not advertising it, surely there are better tools out there, but their free version did allow me to surf through thousands of competitor backlinks, so it definitely did its job.

Here’s what I found when going through this site’s backlink profile:

Duplicate content

Notice all those links added 3 days before my survey? Their URLs only differ by a number at the end. The actual copy on the page reads:

“Work with One of the most Recognized Online Reputation Management Company In 10454”

I don’t know, maybe they’re from the future or something. But I do hope people are better spellers in the future. Here is another excerpt:

“As company wanting to establish itself online, the solutions of a trustworthy online reputation management company in 10454 are very important. As more individuals are turning to the web to obtain services and products they desire, it is essential that you have the appropriate image and credibility ahead across as a credible company that can be relied on. It is consequently essential that you make sure that your picture goes to its ideal always to look trustworthy and credible.”

There were about 200 of these created that same day. Talk about link velocity, right ..

Hijacking a .org

The next red flag I noticed was a link from museumhill.org, the site for the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe.

Since they are an art museum, it’s odd that they are talking about direct mail. Odder still is that their blog posts read like this:

I suppose this is a hack job, as it’s not uncommon for black hatters to target .org sites for cloaking. However, there doesn’t appear to be any cloaking here, and I guess the good people at the museum just haven’t wised up to the fact that they are advertising weight loss products and vacation rentals.

Checking their Facebook feed, I noticed they haven’t posted anything this year, but all the spammy articles from their site have been added recently. I alerted Google and messaged them, but haven’t heard back.

Scrolling the link profile for my shady competition, I found another instance of black hat, this time even sloppier.

Commercial anchor text and just that

They basically just published a few hundred pages that look like this — minimum content, a lot of links with their keywords as anchors. It was funny to see an ad for SEO services on these pages. At $599, it’s literally a steal. They also encourage you to do their design work with them, so that your site can be as nice as this one.

A week before this, they published dozens of pages that just contain duplicate content. It seems to be their go to move.

I was tired of scrolling after that, but you get the idea. I guess this is a cautionary tale, as their link profile reads like a manual on what not to do SEO-wise.

It took two days, but the site no longer show up in search results. Maybe I should do this to all my competitors …