Negative SEO Case Study

negative SEO studyNegative SEO has been around for a while now, but it is rarely talked about on the major SEO sites. However, after the recent blog network deindexing and mass “unnatural links” emails sent out by Google, discussion about negative SEO has really been on the rise. In essence, negative SEO is the act of lowering the ranking of another person’s website, either done to hurt that person, or done to raise your own rankings.

There has always been debate about whether or not negative SEO is truly possible. In support of the theory that negative SEO works, Google has recently started sending out warnings regarding links that appear to be unnatural. Some people have viewed this as an indication that negative SEO does in fact exist. It is by no means conclusive evidence, but it does appear to support the negative SEO theory. Negative SEO has always been talked about, but one recent act in particular has sparked the conversation again. Two members of the website TrafficPlanet.com conducted a study of their own to see whether or not they could employ negative SEO tactics to harm the ranking of two specific websites.

Self-proclaimed “SEO Guru”, Dan Thies (seofaststart.com), and NegativeSEO.me were both the targets of the study by the two TrafficPlanet.com members. The study involved using so-called negative SEO tactics, namely a large ScrapeBox blast, to decrease the rankings of Dan Thies and NegativeSEO.me. Prior to this study, Dan Thies ranked highly for keywords such as “dan this”, “seo”, “seo service”, and “seo book”. NegativeSEO.me ranked number two and one for keywords “negative seo” and “destroy your competitors”, respectively. These are clearly two websites that should be hard to impact by negative SEO tactics, as these are quite competitive keywords.

Why was Dan Thies targetted?
negative SEO case study

An enormous ScrapeBox blast was carried out on each of these sites, and shortly after the Scrapebox blast had begun, Dan Thies tweeted that he had received an unnatural links message from Google. In addition to the unnatural links warning message, Dan Thies’s website experienced significant drops in rankings for numerous keywords. We are unsure if NegativeSEO.me received an unnatural link warning, but we do know that they also experienced significant drops for their keywords. For example, NegativeSEO.me previously ranked at position number two for the keyword “negative seo”, and is now down to number six.

Does this put an end to the debate about whether or not negative SEO works? Maybe, but some people, Dan Thies in particular, don’t believe so. The users who conducted the study have publicly stated that “negative SEO is possible”, and are calling for Google to sort things out and fix any problems. Mr. Thies, on the other hand, is blaming a recent theme change on his website for the drop in rankings. He says that he experienced a similar drop in ranking when he tested this theme back in January, so he is expecting it to be back to normal within a week.

To us, we believe that negative SEO is possible, and this is a pretty clear case of it being used. It seems that such a large quantity of low quality links in a short period of time can negatively impact the ranking of a website. If Mr. Thies is correct, and his drop is only due to a theme change, it still doesn’t explain why Google would send out an unnatural link warning. Clearly Google is watching links closely, and while we believe that negative SEO tactics do work, it will be interesting to see whether or not these rankings stay altered.

Read more:

Dan Thies on Google groups

Traffic Planet Negative SEO Thread

SEOMoz Discussion

5 Ways to Make Money Online Without A Website

making money without a websiteThere are many different ways to make money online and not all of them require you to have a website. Some people don’t have much experience setting up websites or can’t afford to pay for hosting and domains. Here are a few ways to get started making money online without needing to have a website…

Fiverr - This is a great way to make money doing some strange and unusual things. Just go look at the front page of Fiverr.com and you will see people selling everything from a pirate testimonial to editing out an unwanted person from your pictures. If you have a good imagination you can think up some crazy stuff to do on there and make some decent money quick.

YouTube – You can make money using the Youtube Partnership program which works with Adsense and you can also promote affiliate offers in your video description boxes. Some people are making a killing with Youtube, you just have to keep putting up interesting videos and gaining an audience. Just like Fiverr you need to get creative and offer something that people will want to watch and tell their friends about.

Squidoo/Hubpages – If you haven’t heard about Squidoo or Hubpages, basically these are Web 2.0 sites that allow you to post articles on their sites and give you a percentage of any Adsense earnings that they make. These sites have several advantages because they are considered authority domains and can be very easy to rank. You will also get traffic from the community on the sites, especially if you interact and follow/like other Hubpages or Squidoo pages.

Facebook Fan Pages – With Facebook you can setup a fan page for practically anything within a matter of minutes. If you can find a hot niche and get a large following it is super easy to promote different affiliate and CPA offers to your fan base. A fan page with several thousand followers is worth it’s weight in gold because it is very targeted traffic and with the right offers you can make a killing.

Article Writing – This one requires the most work but can also be the most rewarding. Website owners are ALWAYS looking for people to write articles for them. If you like to write and can crank out a few hundred/thousand words per day you can make a lot of money writing content. There are dozens of different sites where you can offer your services. Here are a few to get started with – iWriter, Elance, oDesk. Article writing is definitely the easiest way to make money fast, but it will take some time and can require more work than the other methods listed.

Just pick one that you are comfortable with and focus on it. Don’t spread yourself too thin and try to do everything at once. You could very easily make $500 in a week writing articles if you stay focused and work hard. Like they say, nothing in life is free so if you want to make money you have to apply yourself and put in some effort!

Top 10 Social Networking Sites 2012

Experian Hitwise recently released their figures for March traffic stats of the leading social networking sites. Facebook of course is still on top by a long shot and Youtube is in second with a surprisingly huge lead over Twitter, Pinterest, and other popular social sites. It has been very exciting watching how fast Pinterest has grown and I would be willing to bet it will overtake Twitter very soon.
 
 
Here is the full list of Top 10 Social Networking Sites by Visits:

top social networking sites
 
Two sites that really stuck out on this list were Yahoo Answers and Tagged. I had no idea Yahoo Answers still got such a high amount of traffic, it’s time to get back on there and start dropping some backlinks to my sites. You have to be Level 2 and the links are no follow so they don’t provide much of a SEO boost, but they can still be great for bringing in free, targeted traffic to your site.
 

The next site I wanted to discuss is Tagged. I had never even heard of this site until I saw this list. A quick check on Wikipedia reveals that it is a social media site that has been around since 2004 and focused on meeting new people and playing games. One thing that caught my eye was this line – “In May 2010, ComScore reported that Tagged entered the top 10 U.S. Online Display Ad Publishers for the first time.” Could Tagged.com be a great source for cheap PPC ads? I’m going to have to look into this more..Anybody have experience using Tagged?

Are You Ready for the Next PR Update?

page rank updatesThe last Page Rank or “PR” update was on February 7, 2012. Google has stated that they update website’s PR about every 3 months, so the next update should be rolling out soon. Here is a guesstimate on when they will be updating in 2012:

Projected PR Updates:
May/June 2012
Sept/Oct 2012
Dec 2012

Have you been getting ready and building authority links to your site? One of the easiest ways to increase your Page Rank is by commenting on relevant high PR blogs in your niche. In the last update I had five different sites that were only one month old and went up to PR2-3 just from blog comments and/or trackbacks.

With Google focusing more and more on social signals it would also be a good idea to make sure your website has a strong social presence on the big sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. This will also help boost your SERP’s rankings and bring in more traffic, which is always a good thing :)

Another great way to boost your Page Rank is by submitting guest posts to high PR blogs. I would say use a high PR blog network to expedite this process but after what happened with ALN and BuildMyRank, you are much better off manually submitting guest posts to authority sites. This involves more work but will pay off in the long run!

Good luck with your PR goals in 2012!

Interview with a Web Consulting Startup

web consulting startupToday I spoke with Nate from Innovative Web Consulting, a new startup company that offers web design and SEO services for local businesses. With Google acting crazy lately banning Adsense accounts left and right, deindexing sites, rolling out new algo’s every week, and basically just being a huge pain in the butt for webmasters a lot of Internet Marketers are turning to more “offline” methods of generating income.

One of the most popular and lucrative routes is by offering SEO and web design for local companies that don’t have much of a web presence. That’s exactly the route that Nate went and from our talk today it sounds like he has been very successful with it so far. Here are a few points we discussed about his new business:

Alex: How long have you been running your offline business?

Nate: I have been running the offline business on and off for about a year now. Have really gotten serious about it in the past couple months. Have been busy and sidetracked with other things. Really hitting it hard at the moment.

Alex: What types of services do you offer?

Nate: I offer SEO, Logo Design, SMS marketing, Web Design, Reputation Management, and basically anything. The beauty of offline is that if you dont know how to do something you can still offer it and outsource the work. My main focus as of now is SEO.

Alex: What is your average income each month from offline clients?

Nate: For me I do it depending on how much their keywords get searched, how difficult it will be to rank, and how much they get per lead. For example, a lawyer gets a high return per lead. So they would get charged more than a restaurant who needs a lot of customers for it to be worth it. My prices range from 150-1,500 right now. Will most likely go up when I get a little bigger.

Alex: How do you find new clients?

Nate: If you take anything away from this interview, take this. Referrals are HUGE! You do a good job for someone they will want to refer you to their friends and family. At that point you dont even have to try and “sell” yourself. They will contact you and want your services.

As far as finding new clients I have tried Direct Mail, Cold Calling, and Emailing. I suck at cold calling so that didn’t work out too well. I had a company do it and it was getting costly. Emailing and Direct mail seem to be working well.

The thing I am doing the most now though is building upon referrals. I offer my clients 100 dollars credit to any businesses they refer to me and they accept the job. If someone was getting charged 500 dollars a month by me for SEO and they got me 5 clients they pay nothing. We help each other out.

Alex: What was the hardest part about starting your own company?

Nate: Hmmm I would say trying too many different things out at once. I read so many guides on how to do things. I would get excited try that and then see something else and try that. I wouldnt focus on one thing at a time.

Alex: Can you share any tips for people looking to get started with offline SEO/Web Design services?

Nate: Find a good team of outsourcers. It will make your life a lot easier. Don’t try to do it all yourself.

When you first start off write down a list of everyone you know. Family, friends, businesses etc…. Contact every single one of them saying you are starting a web business and wanted to know if they wanted a discounted website. Start from there. Even putting a simple facebook post “Hey everyone I am starting a web design company. If you are anyone you know needs a website please get in contact with me. I am offering discounted websites for my first clients”

Alex: How would you compare making money online vs. offline? Pros, Cons, etc..

Nate: Online was definitely not for me. I own 50 domains at the moment and barely made anything with them. I got a lot ranking pretty high but could never get a decent CTR. Also constantly competing with other sites. It is much much easier to rank local sites for keywords then ranking for lets say “Ipad 3 release” or whatever. Too many people going so hard to get some 10 cent ad sense clicks.

Also with offline you actually interact with people and HELP other peoples businesses grow which is an amazing feeling. I build relationships with my clients and genuinely want to help them grow. I have some clients down south by the beach and TWO of them told me if I ever want to vacation I can use their beach house haha Simply because I am helping them so much. Never even met them.

Offline just suits me and I am making this into a career. Couldn’t be happier :)

Wrap-Up:
Nate seems to have definitely found his “niche” in the offline web design business. Just like he said, the great part about doing local stuff is that you’re not competing against hundreds of other websites or SEO wizards. Ranking a local site is a cake walk compared to trying to rank a high volume, high CPC keyword. For those of you that are tired of dismal Adsense earnings or finding it hard to make a decent income with Affiliate Marketing, offline may be the way to go.

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