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Some webmasters might not rank super well today but if one "keeps at it" they will indeed achieve success sooner or later, often times later.
But don't pretend that Google favors quality backlinks anymore - it doesn't and hasn't in a long long time.
I think this is gray-hat manipulation at best.
With stolen content and a link farm they were able to acquire real links over a few years... So moral of the story:
Bad guyswill always win. Even if G kicks then out, it is not permanent.
let me fix your quote:
"So moral of the story. SMART guys will always win. "
Don't equate google's guidelines with morals or ethics or good or evil. Equate them strictly with risk tolerance.
For us, the difference between position 7 and position 1 is about 50x clicks. 9 months @ #1 = 450 months @ #7 as far as income is concerned.
What are the risks, what are the rewards, and where is the balance between them?
Without getting into the debate if this gray/black hat method works successfully in Google (always win or not), no one in this forum would say that building your empire on stolen scraped content is "smart" rather than evil...
About two weeks ago our marketing dept. came up with the idea to create a mini network of sites to increase our exposure in the SERPs and to boost our own site's rankings. Not original I'll grant but I started talking to them about the "right way" and such. They basically ignored me, bought 10 or so keyword domains (many of them .net), got a Dreamhost account, setup Wordpress on each, filled them with a page or two each of decent content, liberally scattered many links to our main site on each.
Now, all within about two weeks, every site but one has a Top 10 rank for at least the keyworded domain.
Ok, so from now on I guess all my "right way" talk is going to be ignored. Nice.