By now you might have noticed Shaun and I had some fun at the expense of a poor Indian company. Within an hour both myself and Shaun had taken the top 2 spots for several variants of the spammers name and I was also ranking on the first page of the SERPs for SEO India.
We have now started the clean up and already we have returned the company to its rightful place and will continue to remove from their SERPs any trace of us being there. So how did we manage to cause so much damage with just 2 pages and a few links, against a company with 1000s of back links?
Google pre-emptive indexing
Google is getting quick at indexing new pages on existing domains instead of taking days, crawled pages appear in the index in minutes. This new speed has caused an interesting side effect, in the old days pages would be found and crawled you would get links to the page and it would start crawling up the SERPs. Today things are different Google “predicts potential inbound” links to the page and ranks it as if those links were already pointing at the page. This causes new pages on existing domains to rank potentially much higher then they should for a short term. After the “honeymoon” is over the pages drop back down to their natural position before rising back up the SERPs with any additional links. This boost can be used very effectively for short term SERP control and of course makes a great building block for long term control.
What factors effect SERP boosts?
- Domain Authority – this is a biggie how well the domain is performing is a major factor it’s also the lasting factor.
- On Page Factors – Headings, Titles, the use of keywords in URL link structure, plus page shaping and Link Flow all play their part.
- Links – In the first few hours these are actually not that important but of course for long term survivability you need links.
Of course if your SERPs are competitive in anyway you are not going to get a front page or #1 & #2 slot but you will be surprised how effective such tactics can be for short term gains. We are talking about only a few hours but depending on your goal this could be all you need.
Sealing the pact
When Shaun wrote his first post I did not know what he planned, I joined in because well just because. Shaun had the advantage of a powerful authority domain while I had the advantage of the more optimised individual pages (that don’t leak too much), we both keyword stuffed a little bit for that extra short term boost. However what sealed our posts was the cross linking between both sites. We had in fact cross linked previously thanks to Shaun interviewing me a few days ago and kindly Martin and XMCP also provided additional links to the pair of us. This pretty much nailed our posts temporarily at the top of the SERP.
How long would it have lasted?
My post would have naturally dropped back to the low end of the front page within a week, the Hobo post would have taken a little longer and would have probably sat at position 3 or 4. This is based on just a few links, and that is the difference between authority sites and a site built on NoFollow and DoFollow spam.
How are we cleaning up
As you can see on both Hobo and this site all mention of the company have been removed, I have also changed the URL of the post used.
To help speed the process I have used a tiny bit of cloaking – 301 the post to the named site for search engines while redirecting normal users to the post. This will remain in place for a few days and then I will just redirect everything to the post.
Shaun has asked all those who gave us links to edit their posts as appropriate, a couple of social media sites also are carrying links to our posts which include the company name but because of the lack of inbound links these will drop down the ranking naturally.
Things to learn from this
- Never upset SEOs who specialise in SERP control
- Never upset SEO’s who have friends who specialise in SERP control
- If you’re going to be a unethical company at least try to learn how to do it properly
- Short term domination is very simple if you have some basic authority and well optimised sites
Its worth remembering we didn’t even try to harm this company, with no effort at all we could have had 10,15,20 pages in their SERPs. Let this be a warning to any potential spammers, but also to those of you sitting at top of uncompetitive terms you could lose them very quickly if you are not careful.