I’m about to pour one out for my white hat homies out there but with a grey hat twist, here we go.
From years of experience in link building, I have seen the “trust” element that many SEOs speak of firsthand. And in my early days of link blasting, Google would really stump me with some sites, and then with others, just a light blast would dominate.
At the time, I concluded the problem was lacking diversity in link type (it wasn’t anchor text diversity, my anchors were quite diverse). But as time went on I started to observe some sites performing well that consistently had some element of a positive brand signal.
Then I soon realized that manipulating these signals was vital to be a successful grey hat link builder. So I started braining up anything I could that was scalable and would cause G to accidentally give my sites the brand card. I say accidentally, because most of the time these sites are not brands, they are complete shit, but I am attempting to use Google’s brand bias against them.
There are three main areas where you can incorporate these elements in your campaigns (if they are not already naturally occurring); Link Signals, On-Site Signals, and Search and Social Signals.
Create Social Profiles – Not social signals, but profiles with activity. The big 3 at least. FB, Twitter, and Pinterest. The more the better, and get some activity going on these profiles to make them look legit.
Create a Fake Persona – Create a fake name, snag an avatar, make an about.me, the whole nine.
Than go drop some pro blog comments on the cream of the manual approve crop using variations on your made up first and last name. If the name is “Bob Dole”, use “Bob” and “Bob Dole” for your comment drops. Easy money.
Build Links from a Diverse Set of Platforms – This is by far the biggest and easiest thing automated link builders miss. Automated link tools are coded to hit OPEN SOURCE PLATFORMS!! Sure users can scrape and add their own sites but if 95% of your links are composed of 5 different open source content platforms, you’re in the danger zone.
And earth to tiered link builders, the list of Ultimate Demon accepted platforms can leave an a an awful footprint (what myself and many link builders use for Tier 1 links).
Web 2.0: Elgg, Dolphin ,PHPizabi ,Jcow ,Phpfox
Wiki: Mediawiki, Wikkawiki, MoinMoin, Tikkiwiki, Dokuwiki
Articles: Article Beach, Article Dashboard, Article Friendly, Article MS, WordPress
Bookmarking: Pligg, Scuttle, Scuttleplus, PHPdug, PublicBookmark
Directories: phpLD, PDP weby, WSNLink
Doc Sharing: iDocScript
Videos: Phpmotion, Clipshare
Now if you have a baller site list and get successful submissions to all these different platforms then you’re going to be fine. But say your web 2.0 submissions skew heavily towards only Jcow blogs, then you’re in the danger zone.
The Solution – Get links from other site types!! Custom web2 platforms like Squidoo, press release sites, manual quality blog comments, guest posts with a body link, image links, etc. Pretty much anything that requires getting off your ass or having something custom coded.
Note: I did not list anchor text diversity because we should all know about that by now. Since we’re on the topic though, here are the anchor text ratios I play with.
Exact match – 5-15%
Partial Match – 20-40%
Brand and Naked Url – 40-70%
Generic – 5-15%
I put ranges down because I often mix it up depending on many factors. Along the lines of brand signals through anchor text, here is how I hammer down on branded and naked url anchor text.
And some spintax, because let’s face it, who doesn’t like spintax?
Besides the obvious shit like bounce rate, page views, return to search, etc. let’s talk about some elements that any link builder can incorporate on-site.
Logo – Get one, hit up Fiverr if you have to.
Favicon – Hit up Fiverr again if you’re feeling spunky.
Comments On Your Posts – Big brand blogs don’t have 100s of posts with 0 comments. So create hundreds of fake avatars, have some comments written, and drip them in.
For my super white hat sites, I will have my writers go to the actual posts and write totally legit comments. Half in a complimenting or critiquing nature referencing something specific in the post and half asking a specific question. For the comments with questions I will have my VA go through and genuinely answer the questions. Also ads some fresh quality content.
If you want to get super black hat with it you could use Scrapebox. Now isn’t that ironic?
Link Out, and Link Out Right – Don’t be greedy and link to some authority relevant sites where it makes sense. Hoarding link juice is about as old school as meta keywords.
Search and Social Signals
Search volume – Not for your keyword but for your brand (domain). You can take it even further and have volume for your “brand” + “keyword”. If you haven’t thought of this before then prepare to have your mind blown. Authority sites have search volume for their brand and domain name. Let’s use CNET, SEOmoz, Moz, and ShoeMoney in G’s keyword tool for example.
Cnet – 5,000,000
Moz – 823,000 (you sly dogs got yourself an EMD)
SEOmoz – 110,000
Shoemoney – 4,400
The term “CNET” gets 5,000,000 global searches per month. Holy shit!
Let’s take it a step further. “CNET iPhone”
33,100 global monthly searches!!
What could be a more powerful signal than thousands or millions of searchers themselves typing your site + a keyword?
Or the better question, how can we manipulate these signals?
Hit your own site through proxies. Now this is a topic that requires a post and tutorial in itself so I will just leave you with a taste of an idea I’m testing.
With some sites I’m currently blasting links at, I’m hitting the sites through a variety of brand keywords and url variations through Google while rotating proxies. If there is anything there, I will be sure to post about it.
Social signals – Give me a decent sample of authority site crushing with killer content and zero social shares and I’ll take back the next statement.
Quality sites usually have some social shares. Now I don’t think social shares in general have a huge impact on rankings but they are a piece of the overall trust puzzle. Without them, you could be in the danger zone again.
Hit up Fiverr, Syndd, or any other bogey social signal provider for a little love. Don’t go crazy though, be careful with those G+s!
Or you can always create some good content and try to put it in front of the right people. The choice is yours…
Marinate on all this and ask yourself the following question when it comes to the sites you’re trying to rank.
What can Google track that is difficult for SEOs to manipulate?
Now make sure you incorporate at least some of those elements in your SEO game. Otherwise you’re a sitting duck.
I’d like to close by giving a shout out to the best looking man in the world. Without him and his stunning good looks, this post would not have such an ass kicking title.
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