Posts

The Power of Myth: Can a black-hat take down your rankings?

black_hat1.jpgMy old pal Skitzzo from SEOrefugee revisits what he calls an SEO “myth”: that a competitor can potentially harm a site owner just by pointing links to his or her site.

According to the number of Sphinns, it looks like a lot SEOs agree it’s a myth. That’s understandable, as it would be very unfair for the search engines to allow this type of thing to happen.

Unfortunately the situation is not as simple as it first seems. As has been my practice on this blog, let's dig a little bit deeper to understand why—although difficult and possibly expensive—it is very well possible to pull of this exploit. For those concerned, I explained how to counter this type of attack in a previous post about negative SEOs. Check it out. Read more

You’ve Won the Battle but not the War: 10 Ways to protect your site from negative SEO

rankings_robber2.jpgLast month there was an interesting article in Forbes about the search engine marketing saboteurs. These so-called “SEO professionals” proudly proclaim their job to be damaging the hard-earned rankings of their clients’ competitors. I understand a lot of people would do anything for money, but it’s still unsettling to see such people trumpet their efforts with such gusto. A huge thumbs down to all those mentioned in the article.

Earning high search engine rankings is challenging enough. Now we need to work twice as hard to protect the rankings once we earn them. The Forbes article lists seven ways you can damage someone else's website. I can think of three more — but instead of adding more wood to the negative SEO fire, I’ve decided to create a list of things you can do to detect, prevent and protect your rankings from these types of attacks.

Here are Hamlet’s countermeasures. (You may want to read the Forbes article first to better understand the terms.) Read more

The Never Ending SERPs Hijacking Problem: Is there a definite solution?

hijacker.jpgIn 2005 it was the infamous 302, temporary redirect page hijacking. That was supposedly fixed, according to Matt Cutts. Now there is a new interesting twist. Hijackers have found another exploitable hole in Google: the use of cgi proxies to hijack search engine rankings.

The problem is basically the same. Two URLs pointing to the same content. Google's duplicate content filters kick in and drop one of the URLs. They normally drop the page with the lower PageRank. That is Google's core problem. They need to find a better way to identify the original author of the page.

When someone blatantly copies your content and hosts it on their site, you can take the offending page down by sending a DMCA complaint to Google, et al. The problem with 302 redirects and cgi proxies is that there is no content being copied. They are simply tricking the search engine into believing there are multiple URLs hosting the same content.

What is a cgi proxy anyway? Glad you asked. I love explaining technical things :-) Read more

Legitimate cloaking — real world example and php source code

It's been a while since I posted some juicy source code. This time, I am going to explain the infamous black hat technique known as cloaking with some basic PHP code.

While most people think of cloaking as evil (asking for search engines to penalize your site), there are circumstances where it is perfectly legitimate and reasonable to use it.

From Google quality guidelines:

Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as "cloaking."

What is cloaking?
Read more

Should I cross link my sites for better rankings?

My loyal reader Jez asks a very interesting question. I am sure the same question is on the minds of others in the same situation.

Finally, I am in the process of creating multiple sites around a similar theme. I have unique content for all sites, and will host on different servers in Europe and the US, however the whois for each domain will show my name (The company I used does not allow me to hide this info). Is the common whois likely to make much difference when I begin cross linking the sites?

Cross linking (or reciprocal linking) in a small scale (maybe 10 to 15 sites maximum) should not be a major concern. I've seen many sites do it and they are ranking in highly competitive phrases. Most of their link juice comes from non-cross-linked sites though.

When you try to do this on a massive scale, things start to get interesting. I know this from experience. Read more

Advanced link cloaking techniques

The interesting discussion between Rand and Jeremy had me thinking about some of the things affiliates do to protect their links. I am talking about link cloaking — the art of hiding links.

We can hide links from our potential customer (in the case of affiliate links), and we can hide them from the search engines as well (as in the case of reciprocal links, paid links, etc.).

While I think cloaking affiliate links to prevent others from stealing your commissions is useful, I am not encouraging you to use the techniques I am about to explain. I certainly think it is very important to understand link cloaking in order to protect yourself when you are buying products, services or links.

When I am reading a product endorsement, I usually mouse over the link to see if it is an affiliate link. Why? I don’t mind the blogger making a commission’; but, If I see he or she is trying to hide it via redirects, Java-script, etc. I don’t perceive it is as an endorsement.  I feel it is a concealed ad. When I see <aff>, editor’s note, etc. I feel I can trust the endorsement.

Another interesting technique is the cloaking of links to the search engines. The reasoning behind this concept is so that your link partners think you endorse them, but you tell the search engines that you don’t. Again, I am not supporting this.

Cloaking links to the potential customers.

Several of the techniques, I’ve seen are: Read more