Planet13 - 7:15 pm on Jan 12, 2012 (gmt 0)
Tell us, Planet13, what gave it away that the links were not natural?
Ummm... I used my ultra-secret technology paid-links detection algorithm, based on cutting-edge electronics developed by aliens, smuggled out of Area 51!
Wait a minute... That circuit board doesn't say Area 51... It says "Studio 54" What they hey?!?!?!
Ok, ok, I confess; I simply asked the owners of the penalized sites whether they paid for those links or not ;)
In reality, often I didn't have to ask: they pointed them out to me ahead of time because they were PROUD of the links they got, most likely because the SEO companies they hired were PROUD of the links they built.
But also, there were other giveaways:
- The links appeared on different sites with the same basic CMS template layout (except for different colors).
- The anchor text was exact match (or near exact match).
- The link appeared at a more or less consistent place in the text of the first paragraph.
- Other pages had links to other sites that seemed out of place.
- the writing style of the text was very similar from site to site.
- The domain names of the sites were all very similar in structure, such as keyword 1 + keyword2 + Other-word (like "resources" "tips" "info" "deals" etc.,).
- No physical contact information listed on the sites (no phone number, no physical street address, etc.,)
- Most importantly, the link just felt like it didn't belong there. sort of like, someone is writing about baby back ribs, and there is text along the lines of, "You might want to [link]buy a vacuum cleaner[/link] to clean up the mess after eating these ribs.
These were the type of links that were being built by SEO companies that purportedly charge between $500 and $900 per month. And when the sites crashed and burned, guess what the suggestion by the SEO companies were:
Wait, wait! Don't tell me... uh, Build More Links?
If only the client could just increase their link-building budget, why, those SEO companies were SURE they could "get them over the hump" and regain their rankings.
Now, the only thing left for me to do is to figure out how to stop my ultra-secret backlink-analysis software from automatically playing Y-M-C-A by the village people every time I run it...