I stumbled on this less than 20 minutes ago across a twitter conversation concerning rankings for the keyword term “camper men shoes“. Its hardly a big money search term but it seems to be the subject of a bit of mud-slinging-intrigue.


I’m not one to start outling networks – Ive operated my own, and lost domains in the past.

But…. sometimes I just rise to a bit of trolling so here goes.


The story starts at this comment on ‘moz:


but the bit that got me interested was:


I did no networks. I own no networks. I did straight white hat SEO
<<< I love that kind of statement!


So, lets take a quick look:  here is the page in question that is ranking for that query:

and here are a sample of the backlinks that *were* pointing at it:

Link from anchor
http://www.awarnach.net camper men shoes
http://www.timecafethemes.com camper men shoes
http://www.lighting-linx.com camper men shoes
http://www.persuasive2009.net camper men shoes
http://aquariumsupplydepot.com camper men shoes
http://animalesdecompania.net camper men shoes
http://persuasive2009.net camper men shoes


Sure, these three sites certainly DONT look like a network do they? (much)
… not only that, but they are pretty much a stock standard same theme rubbish network of bull**** posts – the kind you can pick up on warrior/dp etc. for $2 a post, writing included.


But that’s not all in this “secret SEO recipe for success“.

Lets take a look at the following sites:
So – we’re putting links on parked domains as well?  Not really that big a deal I suppose – again though, I would probably lean towards calling this a network.


My favourite links have to be the ones on the straight article submission sites though….  you too can have a trawl through all the sites that linked to that page with that anchor text in the last week by downloading the following excel file:

Fun Spam Links Spreadsheet <<DOWNLOAD LINK


So – the secret recipe of SEO success is as follows:

1) find an easy to target term
2) put a page up with the fundamentals right
3) stick a couple of hundred links around the place, that you KNOW you can remove quickly
4) wait a few days
5) troll people on twitter and seomoz
6) rely on stale-ish index’s like linkscape (sorry mozzers!) not picking things up quickly
7) look like a dick when you are outed.


Moral of the Story:  Don’t post bold claims you can’t backup, unless you’re damn sure nobody can figure out what you did!



Founder of WebMarketingSchool.com and a career professional in SEO and web marketing. Experienced in travel, gambling & entertainment niches. Former head of SEO for Omnicom UK, Inbound Marketing Director at Expedia & current Senior Director for SEO at Orbitz Worldwide.



Head of SEO & Content for @orbitz & @cheaptickets. Blogs @forbes, @huffpost 40+ global conferences & keynotes

@iamrofe @screamingfrog lol, well jel - 1 day ago

Categories: Case Studies

Leave a Reply

30 Responses

  • Alan Bleiweiss


    You are now officially my hero! I couldn’t stop laughing through the whole write-up. And, you scored a mega-bonus with the spreadsheet. 🙂 #Priceless

    March 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm
  • Mikael Rieck

    Well there is nothing much to say. Nice work and I agree… If you don’t want to get caught, don’t lie about these things 😉


    March 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm
  • Guy Fitzpatrick

    There is always that very slight chance though that these links could be involuntary…then again it would be a pretty extreme case of negative SEO from taking a quick looking at anchor distribution and the standard of ‘sites’ from seolytics data.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm
  • Rob Woods

    For Pete’s sake, if you are going to do this:
    – vary your anchor text
    – keep your mouth shut
    – expect to get outed or caught eventually
    – calculate your ROI based on the point above

    Pretty much all he did wrong was not do Step 3 well, and Step 7 🙂

    Seriously though, I’m really on the fence on the whole outing thing. I would rarely if ever do it myself, and then through a spam report, not publicly. On the other hand, “old school” SEOs that expect that in today’s environment, they can continue the wild west type SEO that used to work, and to make profits with it long term, have missed the boat. Sorry folks, those days are ending. You can bemoan the fact that people put in spam reports and “out” sites, but it’s only going to increase, not decrease, as more people enter the industry, as the industry becomes more competitive, and as it matures. It’s like the car replacing the horse – the cowboy days are ending. Figure out how to make sites work in the new environment, or become a relic.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm
    • Martin Macdonald

      thanks for leaving the comment Rob – and I totally agree with your point on outing this kind of behaviour. I see it every day, but never out it to anyone – people in glass houses etc.

      Having said that, if you are going to troll people, and try and make out that you know some super special secrets, and your SERP is “100% whitehat” and you are full of shit, then expect to get outed when someone who knows the tricks (and how to find them) sees it.

      Regarding the four points:
      – vary your anchor text
      – keep your mouth shut
      – expect to get outed or caught eventually
      – calculate your ROI based on the point above

      I would argue he got zero out of four 😉

      March 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm
  • Dan Deceuster

    There’s a profound point here that everyone has been missing that I thought to share since it directly affected me. I once used a few link networks. I viewed it like guest posting. I would write an article, put in a few links, post it to their website, bookmark it two or three times, and good to go. This was working great until the spammers came along.

    You see, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with the link networks. The problem came when spammers put out the absolute worst piece of crap articles. They did identical, exact keyword match anchor text thousands of times. They completely ruined the networks. So even though I had great articles, all unique, all in proper English, all useful, and even though I varied my anchor text between 20+ different phrases, it didn’t matter, because someone else did it wrong and ruined the sites that were helping me.

    A link network can be successful if it simply obeys the following rules:

    1. Require all articles to be between 400-700 words.
    2. Require 2-5 links per article, with only one going to your site you registered with the network. The others can go to preapproved domains in a list (Authority sites like Wikipedia)
    3. Use a human proof reader for every article submitted.
    4. Let users submit their own sites to receive articles, but make them different than the ones they are building links to.
    5. Require users to submit 20 anchor texts and don’t let them repeat one until they have gone through all 20.
    6. Make the sites posting the article niche specific, and require users who submit the articles to categorize the article so that sites publish the same type of content.
    7. Have all publishing sites publish at least one article a day with no links that the administrator creates. Don’t have everything you post be loaded with links.

    That’s it. This link network would actually work and be protected from spam by the proofreaders and the categories feature. That way morons can’t ruin strategies that were once useful and effective. Sorry for the rant.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm
    • Martin Macdonald

      absolutely totally agree with the sentiment Dan. The sad truth is I used to do this (with articles in their 1000’s per keyword) on these kind of networks as well.

      I also used to commission reasonable quality (readable, unique, hand written – certainly not shakespeare, but OK) content in bulk and post them to this kind of site.

      Then things changed. Lowest common denominator stuff.

      I stopped those strategies about 3-4 years ago now. Im not saying I dont own a large number of domains, but you’d never see me outing them, as there is a huge investment in time and money on them.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:53 pm
  • Jason

    What did you use to find the links to his site? As you said in #6, OSE takes some time to index them.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm
  • Jason Brown

    Since there has been tons of discussion on my test, let me take moment to clear the air.

    On Friday March 16th, SEOMOZ and Ethan wrote an article promoting their keyword software http://mz.cm/FOjBpx How Much Does That Keyword Cost? [TOOL] The basic premise and example was; “For instance, if we are a small online shoe retailer and we would like to rank for “camper shoes men,” we’re not going to outrank Camper, Zappos, Endless, Amazon or Yahoo, but we could outrank http://www.raffaello-network.com/, therefore, if we were to go after this keyword, the highest rank we could achieve would be #6.” Now when I read this, I am 99% certain that it was Camper Men Shoes. Was the content updated in the mean time, then that is another topic of discussion.

    I looked the keyword in the eyes of Google and checked basic Google data, monthly search count and onsite SEO optimization. I found the data showed some favorable results that this keyword was obtainable. On Saturday March 17th, I decided to put my SEO into effect to prove that higher than position can be obtained.

    So if we do a google search for Camper Men Shoes,, I see position 5 organically. Let us say that I misread the keyword and it was supposed to be camper shoes men, then my Google results shows position 4, barring the shopping results. I am only talking organic results. Google has been playing around with how and when they display images, shopping, video and map results over the last few years now.

    I stated that I do not own any network sites nor use any network sites. I used an outside linking service. There are several different ones out there. I did not spam my articles to get my rankings to soar. I do love all of the comments and will relook at the service. I did pay more then I wanted to rank for the keyword. It was a fun experiment none the less.

    The twitter comments from the SEOMOZ team and supporters, has been a blast. In the end, this was only done to prove that I could rank higher then position 6, which I have done. I proudly accept all of the slams, facepalm comments. The only comments I do not accept is that I did not rank nationally for the keyword was the mission. Mission accomplished. I do not really need the, yes you did rank for the keyword, but I would be nice. Any thank you for the fun experiment.


    March 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm
    • Martin Macdonald

      Hey Jason,

      thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment – its 11pm here now so I will keep it brief, I really wasn’t bothered by which keyword you were talking about.

      The thing that raised an eyebrow was the specific comment:

      “I did straight whitehat SEO” << that plainly wasnt the case - On top of that, you shouldn't ever, ever, ever point out sites you run, with less than perfect link profiles, ESPECIALLY in context that you only do whitehat. Even that wasnt enough to really get me to spend the brief time I did on the post, it was just the general 'tone' of the tweets back and forth, using words like "Lies" etc. I have no idea how long you've been in the industry, or indeed if you are, but SEO is a very tight knit community. SEOmoz over the years have been very good to me, and I sprung to their defence knowing full well that they wouldnt have posted anything like above. Oh, one other thing that I think I found out after posting, is that the original post on SEOmoz was by someone at SEER (I think) - they are a great company as well.. Anyway - thanks for stopping by, no harm done 🙂 M

      March 28, 2012 at 10:00 pm
      • Alan Bleiweiss

        Martin, I think Jason’s last comment clarifies a lot. In his mind, he DID use white-hat SEO. Except apparently, white-hat SEO (correct me if I’m wrong Jason) involves buying links from a company that itself has such a network.

        Obviously those of us who see a bigger picture know full well that white-hat is all about complying with Google’s terms of service, etc. etc. and thus couldn’t possibly involve buying such links, never-mind owning your own network.

        So maybe it’s an educational thing – young, eager and proud SEO finds he can get away with using link buying as his strategy, sees an opportunity to boast, and BOOM – all heck breaks loose.

        I’d hope the bigger lesson that is to be learned here has been clearly presented enough to break through his wall of defense – you never discuss in public what method or tactic you might use, because it’s really nobody’s business. Ego has no place in professional services.

        March 29, 2012 at 1:03 am
      • Jason Brown

        I have not discussed what method I used to ascertain my google data. @Martin, i never said lies. look at my twitter feed. Again my test was to rank in the top 5 for the keyword which is what I did. As for how long have been doing SEO, for several years. I just wanted to debunk a myth that was the opening statement and basis for a whole article. As for my twitter feed, it was normal banter back and forth. I said nor did anything out line and nobody from SEOMOZ did anything out of line either. It was normal banter,

        I am sorry if I offended you or seomoz. I truly am. Sometimes I just get overzealous.

        March 29, 2012 at 1:46 am
  • Darren K

    This is all very interesting reading back and forth all these details on what can and can not be done. Anyone can rank for any keyword, it is just a matter of time and money. It is like magic, the bigger the trick the more it costs you.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:12 pm
  • shane

    Hey Dude,
    Wondering why I can’t access and post, reply on your fourm “SEO Fourm”

    March 29, 2012 at 12:21 am
  • Wandspiegel

    This was a funny read and a great little reminder to put your money where your mouth is, unless your mouth cost’s you money 🙂

    March 30, 2012 at 8:33 am
  • Andy Kinsey

    Haha oh some stupid people… but i suspect they’ve got enough traffic from this kind of post than any other “non” seo they’ve done

    April 4, 2012 at 8:53 am
  • davide

    Great post and great presentation at #linklove. You won’t believe how many dic* like him are doing this crappy work (sadly getting away with it), pretending to be white hat SEO genius, in not-english markets where it is way easier to trick the search engines…

    April 9, 2012 at 10:01 pm
  • Andy

    So after all the fancy algo updates, this completely unrelated page still ranks #6 in google.
    Goes to show that Google’s algorithm, which they potentially could (and SHOULD based on their profit) spend billions on and put a country of engineers on is barely worth ten grand.
    Thats the real shame.
    All the buzz and hype is just to scare people because they obviously can’t do any better on their own.
    At least it pays the bills of seomoz and some other seo experts.

    June 13, 2012 at 11:23 am
  • Mitesh

    i think you have good analysis and work with better trick i love it.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:06 am
  • suchlotsen.de

    I still don’t get what he (keyserholiday) tried to accomplish in the first place. Show off what a genius seo he is?

    June 15, 2012 at 10:37 am
  • Wes

    What exactly is a network? Is there an article I can read to clarify this?

    June 15, 2012 at 6:41 pm
  • James

    I’ve heard rumors that Google look at the c-block of the IP addresses of every domain they index. This is to lower the prevalency of link farms/blog networks being produced in the SERPs. Is this true Martin? Or is it just bunkum?

    By the way, your talk on SEOMOZ was awesome! 3,000,000 links in a second! Genius.

    June 17, 2012 at 10:03 pm
  • Martin Macdonald

    @James: its absolutely true – and has been that way for years now – excessive interlinking from within the same class C is discounted, as otherwise it would be too easy to just point 10,000 domains at a shared hosting and upload a default site on each.. Thats not to say that all links from the same class C’s are discounted, but its a heavy signal against passing value if a large % of your overall link count is like that.

    June 18, 2012 at 9:21 am
  • Paul Myers

    Hi Martin,

    Only just caught this on Moz and tracked back through the posts on Twitter etc. Great fun, and some nice quick research – brightened up a unusually drab Monday morning.

    I think this guy just got caught up in the moment with his masterful SEO results. He achieved what he probably set out to do, get a bit of traffic etc. Thanks for the spam sheets – looks like a great network, I’ll get my paid link building team on it today and grab some of that white hat stuff!

    A lesson learned for James I think. I am sure he will be following a few of your 7 ‘guidelines’ in future.

    June 18, 2012 at 10:16 am
  • Skyler

    Thanks for the post, I love #7 “look like a dick when you are outed”. Also thanks for the spamlinks spreadsheet as well.

    June 18, 2012 at 7:31 pm
  • Karla NYC

    So thats’s the “secret SEO recipe for success“ ?
    Don’t you think you’re overestimating Google’s systems?
    Cheers Karla

    June 21, 2012 at 1:01 pm
  • fkawau

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    July 26, 2012 at 8:24 am