Sunday, July 14th, 2013...9:40 am

Case Study: Ranking #1 for Blackhat SEO Blog

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Those who follow me on Twitter have probably seen me posting this:

Shortly after followed by this:

The post in question was this review on my other blog, and apparently that blog still ranks #1 for “blackhat SEO blog”. Something I have never really cared about or been trying to achieve, but once it happened I thought I’d look at why it happened.

Truth be told, blogging about blackhat SEO is not as competitive a niche these days as it used to be a few years back. Now everybody calls themselves inbound marketers or growth hackers or whatnot. Apart from my blog, there’s not much actively going on really. Needless to say, it does not require much blackhat in application to the site itself in order to rank there. So if anybody was looking for me to reveal some ultimate blackhat secrets in this case study, you’re in for a major disappointment as there are simply none out there. The blackest of all secrets regarding the IrishWonder@Syndk8 blog is that it is in fact whiter than white.

Looking at usual metrics one would analyse when trying to figure out why a site ranks is probably not particularly helpful in this case. MajesticSEO shows 47 links off 9 domains only. Google Webmaster Tools (yes, there is an account connected to it!) is a bit more informative – it shows a bit over 600 links. As far as anchor texts go, majority of them are either longer tail of the key phrase in question (along the lines of “irishwonder’s black hat seo blog”) going to the home page or the actual post titles for the links to specific posts, sometimes including the blog name itself.

The links themselves are a mixture of my speaker profiles at different conference sites, friends’ submissions of my posts to Inbound (they must have been taking the piss), older projects I have been associated with , etc. Some of the stuff that is probably still taken into account by Google but is no longer visible would be the likes of this shortlist for awards (you have no idea how surprised I was back in the day to have made that list). However, probably the Google connection was more at play here than anything – in the post I just linked to you’ll notice a link to a post on Matt Cutts’ blog listing yours truly as one of the inactive blogs in his Google Reader (R.I.P.) – right I have never been particularly good at updating my blogs frequently.

For a query, Google always has to rank something – you cannot have an empty SERP page. Moreover, what it ranks should better be relevant. With the current scarcity of real blackhat SEO blogs, they ranked (manually? – who knows…) the one they have known for ages (my blog has been started in 2005 and been running since) that still gets updated and posts at least something half useful and relevant (I would hope). Truly case in point of “build sites not links”.

build-sites-not-links

Now, before all the whitehats rush off to celebrate, let me make one more point. The commercial value of my blackhat blog to me is pretty close to 0. As you can see, I do not run any ads on it. I used to have affiliate links to a few blackhat tools but seeing as there is not much out there any more worth recommending and conversions off those old affiliate links never have been very impressive, I do not do this now. I clearly do not link to any of my own money sites from there – I am still in my right mind, thank you. I do get an occasional enquiry because of something people read on that blog, but that’s about it. Now, if I were running a commercial site and my well being depended on it ranking well, how viable a business model would it be to 1) produce tons of content, and that isn’t just some filler content, for years, 2) wait for 8 years for it to rank and 3) your rankings are not guaranteed? ¬†Also, if the niche you target is not SEO, how do you get Googlers interested enough?

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