Posted April 24, 2007 10:41 am by with 7 comments

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With the recent brouhaha Matt Cutts raised over webmasters reporting paid links, I’ve had a few customers ask me how they might protect themselves. Since I was on the subject, I wanted to give you all some real world examples of how to cover tracks from the prying eyes of your competitors.

There are limited resources for webmasters to do competitive intelligence on another website’s link building activities, and of those resources, all of them return only limited results. Yahoo for example returns a maximum of 1,000 backlinks. You can pull a few tricks out of a hat and get maybe 2,000-3,000 backlinks if your lucky. That doesn’t help for a site with 20,000 backlinks.

They key to hiding your link profile is flooding. The goal is to flood your backlink search results with thousands of useless listings. An effective flood campaign can result in 95% of results showing only 1-2 sites designed specifically to throw off your competitors.

With a little imagination you can accomplish this in many ways. Two of my favorites include:

  • Run of Site Links – Find a website with thousands of pages indexed and purchase a run of site text link.
  • Made For Link Sites – Create an auto updating blog or website using one of the many scripts available and place a link on every page back to your main site.

The key to both of these techniques is making the links look natural. My favorite placement for the links is in a blogroll. Use the name of the site or full domain name as the anchor text and not a search keyphrase. You can also place nofollow tags on these links so they don’t look link paid link spam to the engines. The links will still show in a backlink search even with the nofollow added.

Nothing is fool proof, but if you create 4-5 of these text ads your competition will have a hard time spying on your linking activities.

  • Problem with this though is that from what I see generally yahoo will put the better links near the top, and these run of site links will get buried in the report.

    Do you have an example site where you have done this that you could show us?

  • Sorry but there is no way I’m going to post a clients site on an SEO blog. I’s probably get shot. 😀

    Like I said, nothing is fool proof. That’s the reason I said to do this 4-5 times over. I don’t care how weak the links are. If you have 4-5 sites with thousands of links each, your going to cover up a large portion of the Yahoo backlink search. And if you want stronger links, there are plenty of strong blogs out there willing to sell a blogroll link, either on their own or through one of the link networks. Especially if you don’t care if it has a nofollow tag attached to it.

  • A great way to do this that I’ve used in the past is forum signatures. For every industry and niche there are forums and most of those forums allow members to have links in their signature. It can take a while to build up a post count large enough to flood your link profile but if it’s a forum related to your niche, you might be able to drive some traffic to your site as well.

    If you’re hoping to do this for a client, use a signature in a forum you already have a large post count in. Obviously you wouldn’t want to use a forum with any questionable content (adult etc) but you can quickly generate 1000s of new links by simply changing your signature.

  • Forums are my signiture move you can buy sig links with thousands of posts, it covers nearly all off your profile.

  • Do forum links in sigs have the nofollow attribute?

    From my experience, you’d need to buy a couple of high posters across several forums.

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