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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Strange SEO accident

I have a small niche product with only a few competitors. This week I noticed that one of my competitors has gained A LOT in google rankings. Many of his keywords now rank at #2-#3 instead of #8-#10, overtaking my site and tanking my traffic & income.

I started investigating what happened and I found that someone (very likely NOT my competitor) has posted a project on freelancer.com, linking to my competitor's site in the project description. This description showed up on lots of freelancer.com pages indexed by google, giving my competition about 1000  backlinks for free. He had a few hundred links before, it really boosted him upwards.

Now what am I supposed to do? The freelancer project is closed, the link will disappear from freelancer.com search results and hopefully will not be found by google in the next crawl. Will he lose the ranking advantage when this happens or now I am pretty much forced to gain similar amount of backlinks to compete again?

Any ideas? Thanks a lot
Zka Send private email
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Google is always changing its algo. Recently it started to penalize such links but from time to time someone reports a strange situation like yours: somehow what seems a very low value link farm boosts a website rank.
fp615 Send private email
Saturday, February 22, 2014
It could be those links.  But it also could be that your competitors site has not really moved at all.  Often google shows a personalized result to you. And then you see something that is not really what the serps are for others.  I use hidemyass.com for a quick check of this.

The personalized search is exaggerated even more if you are using chrome.  It sometimes ranks sites higher when I am logged in just because I previously visited them.

Also google's rankings are different by country.  try searching from a few different countries ips.  And try google.ca google.co.uk etc.  You will see they are different everywhere.
C. Stark Send private email
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Okay, but the change of my personalized rankings would not affect my sales.
I'm also checking my ranking with tools that show US rankings and the change is visible there.
Zka Send private email
Sunday, February 23, 2014
What C. Stark says about google's crazy ranking system now is true, which is partly why I take less interest in SEO than I used to.

When I DO want to get serious about SEO one old but proven technique is to get multiple backlinks from a large, established site that's trusted by Google...

Yes, that's a hint.

Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Well I need more than a hint as I have no idea how to produce backlinks from high PR pages :)
Zka Send private email
Sunday, February 23, 2014
There are various methods:
- guest blogging (a post you write that is published in a high PR blog)
- articles or reviews
Create a list of web sites that may be interested in your argument, sort by PR, send a mail to them proposing your article.

In the past also signature in forums were ok but now google is quite suspicious about them and may penalize. Same issue for blog comments.
fp615 Send private email
Sunday, February 23, 2014
"Well I need more than a hint as I have no idea how to produce backlinks from high PR pages :)"

You just posted one...

*waggles eyebrows*

Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Yes of course AC, but I don't want to post a fake project on freelancer.com just to get those backlinks which are temporary anyway but may result in problems should google decide to consider them spam.
Zka Send private email
Sunday, February 23, 2014

Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Sunday, February 23, 2014
I would be extremely surprised if backlinks from a single website are the major cause of a drastic change in rank. There could be a 100 other things going on that you don't know about, including Google algorithm changes.

If the system was that easy to game, lots of people would be doing it.
Andy Brice Send private email
Monday, February 24, 2014
Andy, things like this are exactly what I used to do, back in my gray hat days :o)

You use something such as this:


Found where your competitor is getting their backlink juice from, then replicate them where possible, either directly such as offering a free guest blog post or comment on the same blogs or doing the same thing, such as getting a lot of .edu links or whatever they're doing to outrank you.

Asking for quotes for a redesign of your website, linked in the same way as the competitor? Well that's just low-hanging fruit. :o)

Will the links last for long? Nope, but there's no reason they'd hurt and in the meantime OP is losing money.

The very fact the links won't last is quite possibly why it's such a large loophole. Still worth doing though, because of the #1 is # effect, ie when you rank highly people tend to do a quick search and then link to you.

For example if you say 'I'm so tired of updating Adobe Reader, wish there was another way to read PDFs.." I might google "alternative pdf reader" and then say;

"Try this - http://www.foxitsoftware.com/Secure_PDF_Reader/ "

What did foxit do that's so special to get that link? Nothing, beyond already being the #1 result. "Temporary" links that rank you high can still be valuable.

The longer OP stays out of the #1 position the stronger his competitor will become and possibly staying there, so I say yeah, give it a try.

Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Monday, February 24, 2014
Andy: "backlinks from a single site" - actually we are talking 1000+ backlinks. Any project you post on freelancer.com will be replicated under dozens of TLDs, show up on dozens of indexed search results under each TLD. Before that he had like 300 backlinks, now he has 1700+ and these aren't nofollow links.
People default to the first relevant search result it seems, I'm literally getting stomped. Those few of my keywords that are not affected (long tail) do not make sales.
Maybe I should report this to google, not like I expect them to take any action anytime soon.
Zka Send private email
Monday, February 24, 2014
Report what to Google? That your competitor is getting ahead of you and you are hurting? So what? Before, your competitor was the one hurting and you were ahead. You were fine with that. Now that the positions are reversed...

Why should you be the one ranking first and not him? Google doesn't owe you a specific position in the SERP. Your competitor  is competing with you. Good for him.

Reporting to Google is pointless as there is no wrong doing here: Someone gave him links and he got ahead of you.
Sylvain Galibert Send private email
Wednesday, March 05, 2014

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