Link Building Strategies: Blackhat Edition

2 Sep

Unlike with the previous Link Building Strategies posts, I’d like to start with a short disclaimer-like opening. Like the title says, this is the blackhat edition. Well, not technically blackhat, but it sure as hell isn’t a strategy that I’d use for clients. So you’re probably better off not to use this tactic for your money making cash cow…

Even in very competitive markets, there are still lots of sites performing pretty well with nothing but questionable incoming links. You probably know the feeling of seeing some company (or affiliate site) ranking above yours because of tons of paid links.

What do you do in such a situation? Do you move on building great content while waiting for Matt to accidentally stumble upon your competitor, do you file a paid link spam report, or do you go for option number three?

Let’s say you want to rank for ‘blue widgets’, which happens to be a pretty competitive phrase. You and me both know that obtaining links from one or more websites that already rank for ‘blue widgets’ could help you on your way up the SERPs.

Unfortunately, the first page only contains 8 direct competitors that probably won’t link to you. And a double Wikipedia listing, of course. Depending on the backlink profiles of those competitors, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem. If you’re lucky (yes, I said if you’re lucky), all those competitors are buying links pretty blatantly.

Some backlink profiles just show that either the webmaster probably hired an SEO who’s better at pitching his services than at servicing his clients, or that the webmaster read somewhere that buying sitewides on .info blogs with TLA & PPP ads is a good thing to do.

In stead of filing 8 different paid link spam reports, there is, like I said, a third option. How about if you just pretend to be filing spam reports, while leaving the window open for your competitors to escape?

Let’s start with contacting those 8 competing websites (and feel free to scan the rest of the top 100 for dodgy link profiles as well, while you’re at it) and letting them know that you’ve seen their link profile. These webmasters (or their SEOs) probably know that Google frowns upon buying links that pass PageRank, but nevertheless, you could mention this to them (don’t forget to send them the URL for the snitch paid link report form as well).

Because you’re a very kind person, you still leave an opening for your competitors. Just let them know that you’re willing to skip your duty of reporting them to Google, if they are willing to add a link to your site on their website.

Of course, not everyone of your competitors will respond in absolute delight, but at least a few will link to your site and at least a few others will start cleaning up their link profiles. Getting links from your direct competitors never was this easy…

Like I said at the start of this post, I certainly don’t recommend doing this for clients or money makers, but it can work OK for those fun friday afternoon projects. It can, however, backfire just as easily as well.

9 Responses to “Link Building Strategies: Blackhat Edition”

  1. neil September 2, 2008 at 4:16 pm #

    good article, its hard to compete with paid links sometimes

  2. Dave September 2, 2008 at 11:28 pm #

    If your competitors are using “dark forces” to get on the top you can bet they will try something to put your site even deeper in the SERPS when sending a mail like that :o


  3. Arnie September 3, 2008 at 4:25 am #

    Wiep – first love how your site is coming along – nice job. Second, maybe you should have called this the “blackmail edition” :-)

  4. Wiep September 3, 2008 at 8:37 am #

    Dave; like I said there’s no guarantee that such a strategy won’t backfire :)

    Arnie; Thanks, and yeah, perhaps ‘blackmail edition’ would’ve been a better choice ;)

  5. Link Building Blog September 4, 2008 at 5:01 pm #

    Great post Wiep! I’ve had a couple competitors be totally fine linking back after a client has linked to them. We didn’t send an email, rather it sparked them to contact us…although I can see this method back firing like you said.

  6. Patrick Daly September 4, 2008 at 6:03 pm #

    What better way to gain new business than to have your competitors advertise for you? Great work!

  7. Menno September 9, 2008 at 9:01 am #

    Wiep, you are hitting the nail on tje head. It seems so easy to corner your competitors, but i am afraid this will always end up in a dirty fight. But the suggestion is right.

  8. Kashif December 23, 2008 at 10:03 pm #

    Hey like already said my Arnie, this black hat is black mailing but not at all a bad idea to tease some of your competitors and if lucky enough then can even get quality links from them :D

  9. Joel McLaughlin May 22, 2009 at 7:05 pm #

    Interesting information. I have to agree, many websites out there are not succeeding because they are being beat by people buying links. Although, hard work does pay off and doing things ethically will win in the long run.