Competition is using Black Hat and has spammy backlink profile. What to do?

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Hi everyone.



I need some advice. I have some competition that are using sneaky tactics to rank. Our site has been listed for nearly 20 years. But the last few years, the industry has gotten competitive.

In doing backlink research I found that we have several competitors who are on the top of google for many keywords. And in searching their backlink profile I saw

Competitor #1 using 301 redirects from many domains they bought. All the links were redirected 5+ domains and some 50,000 links., they are not niche relevant and the profile is completely obvious and they now have a DR 41 TR 45, pushing us out.

Competitor #2 has a spam score of 80% according to Moz, whole profile is filled with half-assed profile links, non relevant comments, fiverr guest posts, terrible niche edits, an anchor text profile that is completely dominated by money words

Competitor #3 has 50% of its links are deemed spam by SEMRUSH (40,000 links), they have content all over the place, 75% not relevant, all of it or most of it looks like it was written by spin bots or someone with bad gramamr

So Im a little frustrated because they shouldnt be where they are at. Not that I should be at the top. My content is better and my link profile is clean, never have done link building, as a result, we only have 300 domains 3000 links more than half are nofollow

But because of this situation, I am forced to do link building, and or rat out my competition.

My hesitation, and hence my question to all you beautiful people is, would this create more of a vigilance by Google to monitor this whole industry?

If I do go down the building link route, somehow having google as far away as possible sounds ideal. And now that I see how these guys are all getting away with it, it makes me feel safer to move forward with building links.

If these guys can bring 50,000 traffic, 15,000 and 7,000 a month be at the first page with a bad backlink profile, it shows that I have some breathing room when I go forward with a more aggressive campaign.

My fear is that brining Google in to do a manual review of these guys, I am almost sure 1-2 of them would be slapped with some penalty, that they would be more clued into whats happening.

Thoughts and suggestions are highly appreccited. Im stuck now for weeks and dont know what to do.
#backlink #black #competition #hat #profile #spammy
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  • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
    You have only listed the negatives as far as the links your competitors have. Times have changed. Penguin no longer penalizes websites for bad links (although it is possible they could receive a manual penalty). Google simply ignores them. You did not point out how many solid links each site has, which is what really matters. 10 outstanding links may be all it takes, regardless of the thousand bad ones.
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    You have fallen into the trap of thinking that Google cares about quality content.


    I once ranked a blank page (well, blank except for the keyword in the title).


    Ranking in competitive areas is based on backlinks.


    What MOZ says, ain't relevant. What Google says is.


    Google, based on what you describe, says good backlinks count, lousy ones are not relevant.


    You only pointed out the bad backlinks your competitors have. You did not point any good ones. And one really good one can get you to outrank most, sometimes all (depending what they've done).


    Think of it like this
    brand new link =$1
    1 link on a page that's got links from 5 new one = $25.
    1 link from 5 pages that have links from pages that =$25 have a value of $125.
    And so on.


    Get yourself some good backlinks. I know, seems unfair, seeing your content actually helps the searcher more than theirs. But Google, like life, ain't about fair.
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  • Profile picture of the author cmsminds
    Hello, I would say find out from which authoritative websites your competitors are getting backlinks. Because, these are the backlinks Google count and because of those backlinks they are ranking on the top of Google. You should also try to get backlinks from those Authoritative websites or more authoritative websites then and then only you can beat your competitors.
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  • Profile picture of the author strategic seo services
    Banned
    Originally Posted by thejohnjohhn View Post

    Hi everyone.

    as a result, we only have 300 domains 3000 links more than half are nofollow
    This is why your site is failing to rank highly. Quality, Dofollow Backlinks are necessary in order to rank sites, especially in competitive niches. So, instead of focusing on your competitor, you should be trying to build backlinks on sites that have a high DA (domain authority), contextual (within content that is related to your keywords) and Dofollow.
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    • Profile picture of the author Bruch
      Originally Posted by strategic seo services View Post

      This is why your site is failing to rank highly. Quality, Dofollow Backlinks are necessary in order to rank sites, especially in competitive niches. So, instead of focusing on your competitor, you should be trying to build backlinks on sites that have a high DA (domain authority), contextual (within content that is related to your keywords) and Dofollow.
      Is DA really useful?
      thank you.
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      • Profile picture of the author DABK
        Yes, but inly to moz.com.

        Originally Posted by Bruch View Post

        Is DA really useful?
        thank you.
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  • Profile picture of the author savidge4
    I think anyone that understands SEO will understand what i am about to say.. and there will be those that may disagree... but letting an amount of time play out I am more than confident my Idea will play out to be "true"

    301 re-directs used to pass juice but only a percentage... they ( Google ) have come out and said this is no longer the case. So sites have been injecting 301 redirects towards their sites, creating a boost.

    So the question then needs to be answered - Why would Google do this? The answer here is pretty clear, and it stems from the necessity of switching to HTTPS:. People / Companies were having to convert from HTTP to HTTPS and the only way to really do this is with the use of 301 re-directs.

    Googles previous stance was to minimize the effect of a 301 - but now they are caught with the necessity of a 301 to come into compliance with the HTTPS requirement. so they have allowed 301's to carry across the weight. This was needed not to penalize those doing the right thing... but obviously leaves a wide open hole for those that for lack of a better term - not doing the right thing.

    SO as I have explained this, there is a clear and defined issue. There is a clear and defined reason for creating the issue. And without a blink of an eye I am sure there will be a clear and defined resolution to the issue.

    THIS is setting itself up to being one of the most disruptive updates to ever occur on Google. THIS is why I would suggest staying as far away from 301 re-directs as possible, unless you absolutely have to. I predict that the "correction" will fall into 301's from HTTP to HTTPS on the same domain will be allowed at full strength, 301's from HTTPS to HTTPS on the same domain will be allowed at partial strength, and 301's from one domain to the next will be a 0 or possibly a negative.

    If you do a quick search on Google for "what percentage of sites use HTTPS?" you will see the numbers fall in the 51 to 59% category. I bring this up, because this is going to be the "Magic" number that brings the 301 update into play. Google historically is looking for a 60% saturation, adoption, or market share to determine an amount of success. I am suggesting that somewhere in the 60 to 80% range Google will put its foot down.

    I am guessing it will be closer to sooner than later. I say this because of all the newly popped up schemes of manipulating 301's is right now at an all time high - and search results are literally being gamed - and if I know it, Google obviously knows it.

    So in the end it becomes a bit of a waiting game... one that i don't think will be a long wait in this case. Because we are discussing an issue that had a check stop in place before, but for obvious reasons had to be removed.

    Hope that Helps!
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    • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
      Originally Posted by savidge4 View Post

      I think anyone that understands SEO will understand what i am about to say.. and there will be those that may disagree... but letting an amount of time play out I am more than confident my Idea will play out to be "true"

      301 re-directs used to pass juice but only a percentage... they ( Google ) have come out and said this is no longer the case. So sites have been injecting 301 redirects towards their sites, creating a boost.

      So the question then needs to be answered - Why would Google do this? The answer here is pretty clear, and it stems from the necessity of switching to HTTPS:. People / Companies were having to convert from HTTP to HTTPS and the only way to really do this is with the use of 301 re-directs.

      Googles previous stance was to minimize the effect of a 301 - but now they are caught with the necessity of a 301 to come into compliance with the HTTPS requirement. so they have allowed 301's to carry across the weight. This was needed not to penalize those doing the right thing... but obviously leaves a wide open hole for those that for lack of a better term - not doing the right thing.

      SO as I have explained this, there is a clear and defined issue. There is a clear and defined reason for creating the issue. And without a blink of an eye I am sure there will be a clear and defined resolution to the issue.

      THIS is setting itself up to being one of the most disruptive updates to ever occur on Google. THIS is why I would suggest staying as far away from 301 re-directs as possible, unless you absolutely have to. I predict that the "correction" will fall into 301's from HTTP to HTTPS on the same domain will be allowed at full strength, 301's from HTTPS to HTTPS on the same domain will be allowed at partial strength, and 301's from one domain to the next will be a 0 or possibly a negative.

      If you do a quick search on Google for "what percentage of sites use HTTPS?" you will see the numbers fall in the 51 to 59% category. I bring this up, because this is going to be the "Magic" number that brings the 301 update into play. Google historically is looking for a 60% saturation, adoption, or market share to determine an amount of success. I am suggesting that somewhere in the 60 to 80% range Google will put its foot down.

      I am guessing it will be closer to sooner than later. I say this because of all the newly popped up schemes of manipulating 301's is right now at an all time high - and search results are literally being gamed - and if I know it, Google obviously knows it.

      So in the end it becomes a bit of a waiting game... one that i don't think will be a long wait in this case. Because we are discussing an issue that had a check stop in place before, but for obvious reasons had to be removed.

      Hope that Helps!
      Frankly, if this is the case right now, I'm shocked. It would seem that Google should have anticipated this from the very beginning and only had 301s from the same domain carry weight.

      Of course, the real problem with your scenario is when someone legitimately moves a website from one domain to another.
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      • Profile picture of the author savidge4
        Originally Posted by dave_hermansen View Post

        Frankly, if this is the case right now, I'm shocked. It would seem that Google should have anticipated this from the very beginning and only had 301s from the same domain carry weight.
        Im not in the inner circles of Google - So I cant say much in the terms of fact, and speak based on past behavior and speculation. I THINK... this is one of those scenarios that they understood the issue... but not sure they understood the full effect. By letting it go out of control there becomes a more defined set of parameters for them to work with.

        Originally Posted by dave_hermansen View Post

        Of course, the real problem with your scenario is when someone legitimately moves a website from one domain to another.
        I think we can both agree this is the minority of 301's the world over, I know in all my years I have never had an instance where this was even an option to employ - nor do I think I could come up with a scenario where it would be the "Best Choice" with my "White Hat" thinking cap on. Under the previous scheme they were not sent at full strength in this scenario anyways.
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        • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
          According to this Oct 2019 article on SEJ, the scenario presented by the OP might very well pass ZERO page rank.

          Supposedly, Google only passes any page rank - up to 100% - if the re-directed page very closely matches the page it is 301'd to, which I highly doubt would be the case here. In instances where the pages are not very much the same, zero page rank is passed.

          Then again, this article seems to be about what happens on same-domain websites. You would think that it would be even less likely to pass page rank from a domain that was not the same.

          Nobody really knows what Google does, though.
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          • Profile picture of the author savidge4
            Originally Posted by dave_hermansen View Post

            According to this Oct 2019 article on SEJ, the scenario presented by the OP might very well pass ZERO page rank.

            Supposedly, Google only passes any page rank - up to 100% - if the re-directed page very closely matches the page it is 301'd to, which I highly doubt would be the case here. In instances where the pages are not very much the same, zero page rank is passed.

            Then again, this article seems to be about what happens on same-domain websites. You would think that it would be even less likely to pass page rank from a domain that was not the same.

            Nobody really knows what Google does, though.
            I think the article is focusing more on the ( sorry to use this term ) redirect of an answer than the actual answer itself. GOOGLE is concerned with which page to present in SERPS. They suggest they would rather show the end result of a 301 chain vs leading the end user through the chain. Mobile being the example and speed being the variable.

            But, does this answer how juice is passed? If we have site A with a link to site B, and B is 301'd to site C - how does this article answer this? I dont think it does. I think the article clearly answers how site C may redirect an http from within itself to an https - and how Google determines which page to display in terms of the 301 chain - and this type of link will pass juice.

            But again the greater picture is how exactly does Google handle a "back link" that played out apon its path becomes a 301 chain with an obvious end canonical page? Right now the assumption is it is being passed as close to fully un-gated as it has ever been.

            Here is something to think about. A "scheme" I am seeing over and over in the circles i follow is having content pieces A and B on a site. you then create piece of content C that through context bring content piece A and B into one happy read. you then 301 A and B to piece C. C outranks A and B.

            what this article is suggesting is that Google has become smart enough to know to pull content A and B from the SERPS ( but I am not seeing this to be true ). And this is where you are thinking A and B become a Zero... but what about the back link juice flowing to A and B and ultimately landing on C? its clearly not lost at this point - I think we can say that is pretty obvious.

            With this in mind, i suggest 301's are wicked out of control and due for a "Correction" and the only possible reasoning I can see for this is the jump from HTTP to HTTPS
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  • Profile picture of the author neteater
    if you're able to find out spam links then google surely knows about the spam and these must have been effectively ignored by big g. my advice foucs on your links.
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  • Profile picture of the author seowebup
    There are several parameters that Google takes into consideration when ranking a site. I would suggest you to take a more in depth look at your competitors. Maybe there is something that is missing, it could also be links, but could also be some on-page/on-site factors. Do share your insights.
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  • Profile picture of the author pjemaline
    Thanks for starting this thread. I find the tips and discussion very helpful.
    In this case, can gray hat work? It does both of quality content and backlinking,to say the least.

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  • Profile picture of the author xtrapunch
    Originally Posted by thejohnjohhn View Post

    So Im a little frustrated because they shouldnt be where they are at. Not that I should be at the top. My content is better and my link profile is clean, never have done link building, as a result, we only have 300 domains 3000 links more than half are nofollow

    But because of this situation, I am forced to do link building, and or rat out my competition.

    Rat out your competition if you want, but this won't make your position any better. Over time, someone else will outrank you.


    No active off-page SEO passes Google's guidelines, but you cannot expect to rank without link building either.



    Apart from content, there is technical SEO and coding aspect as well. Rich snippets, etc too.


    If you are lagging behind, you need to improve your content, your site structure and usability, etc. There are way to many things that influence website ranking.


    You have been questioning your competitor, but ignoring your own link profile. Let's look at it as well. If all your links are natural, what kind of sites link to you? Why do you have 3000 links from 300 sites? In general course, your site should have got 1 or 2 link from each site. Analyze your links.


    Best of luck.
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