Competitors from the Darkside – Rogue SEO Tactics

November 11, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Welcome to the very last session of Pubcon Vegas 2010.  It seems like just yesterday when we were kicking things off and now we’re all so much smarter, so much wiser and so, so much hungover.  I mean, what? Up on stage we have Steve Plunkett, Carolyn Shelby, and giovanni gallucci.

Up first is Steve Plunkett.

Due Diligence: Generally, due diligence refers to the care a reasonable person should take before entering into an agreement or a transaction with another party. Know where your SEO stands. SEOs should also start putting this stuff in writing for their own benefit.  It’s about time for us to come out of the closet [word choice fail] and gain the same level of respect as public relations or newspaper advertising.

How does Bing deal with Black Hat SEO? Does Bing have a notion of penalty and what can someone do to see if Big has imposed a penalty on their site and how the penalty can be removed?

Sort of. Penalties will come in two flavors: a demotion and a removal. Demotion can vary in severity for the site, but they are much more likely to happen. You will only be able to see if a page has been removed. If it has, you must go through webmaster tools to request re installment via the submit links tool.  It’s similar to Google.

Does Bing demote spam pages or remove such pages from the index? Yes. Both.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Some definitions:

  • Black hat typically means the things that you do that are against the search engines guidelines – Danny Sullivan
  • Presenting a different site to search engines vs people. Hidden text, hidden pages, sacrificing users experience w excessive content in order to “please” search engines
  • Content obfuscation, automatic link creation
  • Building automated links to 3rd party landing pages that essentially drive traffic to your site

Next up is giovanni.

Consider yourself warned: we’ll be drinking from a fire hose today – those with weak constitutions should leave now. This is not only about black hat.

About three weeks ago he got pretty reamed when he did a conference because all the content in his presentation was work he had done with clients. He’s not trying to pimp his clients, he’s trying to share stuff he’s done. You should totally NOT visit or buy from any of the sites he’s about to show. Heh.

When he first started doing SEO stuff they used to go after social media in particular to see what stuck.  If Digg worked, they’d try every social media site on the planet.  He did it across sites like MySpace, Facebook, video sharing sites, classified sites, etc.

  • What media sites really drives traffic? YouTube (84 percent) & Flickr (9 percent)
  • What bookmarking sites really drive traffic?  StumbleUpon (51 percent of traffic), Digg (30 percent)
  • What networking sites really drive traffic? Facebook (68 percent), Twitter (25 percent)

For YouTube, he uses Tube Toolbox. It’s an application that lets you interact with YouTube in an automated fashion. Lets you find users that comment on videos, add them up into a list, and message them. Lets you do automatic commenting on videos. He calls this stuff “diet toolbox” because what he does with YouTube is in their Terms of Service.  You can use this stuff and still feel good about going to church.

He shows how he used Tube Toolbox. He can do a search for [Texas Rangers], find the most popular video, and tell Tube ToolBox to get the info of everyone who left a comment or rating that video. It compiles it into a list.  YouTube won’t let you send out duplicate messages.  The messages have to be unique so use the *_* [not totally sure that’s the code. Google it.] to have the username of the person inserted – now you have a unique message.  These messages go out on YouTube, you attach the video in the message. It’s low maintenance on their site. You put something in the message that says, “hey, I’m an amateur video maker, what do you think about my video?” You want the comments because that’s part of YouTube’s ranking algorithm and how you get your video to show up higher.

Hide in Plan Sight: You want to make sure whenever you’re going online for a different client account that the Internets think you’re coming from a different location. He recommends sites like Hide My IP and Hid My Mac.

Gaming photo sharing sites: In the bottom of the description of all his photography he tells people to use freely but to give attribution to [giovanni gallucci, social media expert] and tells them where to link it to. It only works so well on his Flickr account.  He ranks number one for the phrase and the only place he pushes it is on Flickr.

Beating the competition to the post: Beat your competition to the punch in everything. Faster is better. One of the best things you can do as far as photography goes is Eye-Fi – a card that has a wireless network built into it.   Put the card in your camera, pre-populate the title/description beforehand, and you can have that photo up way before the “real” photographers.

Gaming LinkedIn [this is sleazy]: LinkedIn will not allow you connect with someone else on the network unless you have their email address. So this is what you do: If you absolutely have to get a hold of someone on the Web, search for that person’s name with a That will show you how the company handles email addresses. Take that and plug it into LinkedIn. NOTE: This is AGAINST the terms of service. He’s not recommending it, he’s just saying it works. To protect yourself, create one account that you just use to harvest friends so that if it blows up, it’s okay.  When you send someone a LinkedIn invite, they have three options: Approve, Deny or I Don’t Know This Person. If you get FIVE  “I Don’t Knows” in 6 months your account is locked up and you’re not allowed back into it.  So you don’t blow your real account, create a fake account and harvest these names. When someone agrees to connect with your harvester account, tell them to connect with you on your REAL account. People usually do.

Bookmarking Demon:  This application lets you to create social media accounts on the fly. It will come pre-populated with lots of trash social networking sites, but you can add others. Ninety-percent of the links this site creates for you will be down in a week because they get blown away.  It has a good impact. It’s the most efficient way to go out and get lots of different links for sites you want to work with. It doesn’t feel quite as spammy as the other techniques.

Gaming Twitter: Establish Twitter accounts for specific demographics. Grow your Twitter followers list first. Populate Twitter streams with relevant content using Twitter Feed or Use icons, not images of people. Use innovative ways to get them to follow and friend you on Facebook. Contests are terrific.   He says he runs 100+ Twitter accounts. I wince.

Buy your in: Subvert and Profit – lets you buy views, comments, ratings.  [Ugh!] Use tools like this to level the playing field where it can complete with the big boys.

Get ranked for one domain, then 301 it

Own your negative space first: You suck, you’re a scam, you ripped me off.  Then go buy all of your competitors…

Look like you belong and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

Next up is Carolyn.

Carolyn says that nice people have bad habits. She gives us example:

  • they avoid confrontation and conflict
  • they think there’s a reward for being nice
  • they trust people
  • they believe life is fair
  • Good for getting along in society, not good for business.

A little paranoia is healthy:

  • always assume the worse
  • asses threats early and often
  • protect your assets like a rabid zealot
  • Have a detail, up-to-date back up plan
  • Maintain a war chest

Types of Badness

Attacks of Convenience

  • Script kiddies, spammers look9ing to exploit your resources

Attacks with Intent

  • Competitors, disgruntled employees, disgruntled former employees, disgruntled girlfriends, disgruntled former wives, the guy you cut off in traffic, the kid you picked on in third grade.

Types of Security

  • Luck
  • Obscurity – will protect you against attacks of convenience, not attacks of intent
  • Proximity – people will attack things that they notice around around.
  • Physical – if someone can pick your lock, it doesn’t matter how good your network solution is.
  • Network – how are you going to repel attacks coming in from network. This is good, but don’t put all your eggs in this basket.
  • Superior Litigation – it only works when you can prove who it is that was attacking you.

87. Trust is the biggest liability of all

  • What do we do with documents that are sensitive? We shred them.
  • Don’t give everyone administrator access: Bad things can happen when you don’t know who has access to your site.
  • Run background checks on employees, vendors.
  • If it’s really important, do it yourself
  • Plan for the worst anyway

Firesheep – super scary FireFox plugin. Lets its users sniff network activity and “become” other users. Internet cafes are not the only place you’re vulnerable.  Might be a violation of federal wiretap laws. Killing people with guns is also illegal.

Pro Tip: Blacksheep can block Firesheep

Strengths & Weaknesses

  • How do you/your employees access the systems?
  • Where are your servers?
  • Who does the backups?
  • Where are they kept?
  • If X goes down, what happens to the business?
  • Contracts, insurance, business structure
  • Credit cards, domain contacts

If you can’t beat ’em: If you can’t overtake them in the listings, you get them removed from the listings. No business, no website. No website, no listing. No listing, no competition.  [Jesus!]

138. Law makes everyone equal, but justice goes to the highest bidder. It takes money to fight things in court. Most people are afraid of lawsuits and when threatened with one they’ll back down. UDRPs, DMCAs and Federal Court aren’t the only arenas in which to fight. You can accomplish A LOT via superior litigation.

Regardling Legal Stuff

Cease and Desist letters broadcast that

  • you have no legal leg upon which to stand or
  • you don’t have the money to fight in cort, or
  • you don’t have teh balls to fight in car

If you have a case, don’t fire a warning shot unless it’s required to enact whatever legal badness you’re about to rain down upon the fools.

Wow, so who needs a shower after that one? Kidding aside, tons of great information there.  And that’s it from Pubcon Vegas 2010. Thanks SO much for hanging with us and we’ll see you next time. :)

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