How to Simulate A Natural Looking Link Profile While Using Grey Hat SEO Tactics

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Since my last post on FindMyBlogWay, which was fairly popular and covered some grey hat SEO tactics, we have seen Google roll out Penguin 2.1, which was an improvement over the existing Penguin 2.0 spam-filtering algorithm.

With the launch of Penguin 2.1, Google has made it really, and I mean really hard for average link spammers to rank normal sites. Grey hats, however, belong to a whole different category. They don’t care about ideologies, they only care about rankings and traffic. Which is why, they’re often seen mixing up well known white hat SEO tactics with their black hat counterparts in their strategies and enjoying sustained periods of rankings for their sites.

Yet, affiliate sites rank well in niches such as web hosting and coupons. I notice them everyday.

Why some of the most noticeable sites that use a bit of white as well as black hat SEO are still seeing the light of success is that they’re quite successful at simulating a natural looking backlink profile.

What’s a natural looking backlink profile? It’s a backlink profile that consists of a variety of anchor-texts, and the primary (highest quantity) anchor-text isn’t a money keyword. The most used anchor-text is generally the brand name or the naked URL. But it doesn’t always have to be that way, especially if your domain isn’t very brand-able. Take a look at the image below:

It’s the anchor-text cloud of an affiliate site of the web hosting company iPage that ranks in the first page for ‘iPage’ and all its review keywords. The domain itself wasn’t very brand-able, so the guy behind it instead chose to diversify his anchor-texts as much as he possibly could, and results speak for that.

People don’t get manual penalties unless some serious amount of spam-building (that’s what I call meaningless automated links as tier 1’s) has been done pointing at their sites. So, we basically have to deal with algorithms and computers equipped with machine-learning.

There are two ways I’d normally go around this,

1. Buy Links from Niche Relevant ‘Guest Posting Services’

This method of the two costs less time (surely) and money (not always). But this one is a bit riskier than the other.

Guest posting is considered a white hat method of building links, but you can go a bit overboard and execute this strategy at a larger scale to get some powerful contextual tier 1 links built to your site.

There are few great services on black-hat forums like BlackHatWorld, TrafficPlanet and BlackHatUnderground. Note that these differ from private blog networks. The blogs offered look and feel like real blogs. They’d have social sharing buttons, resulting in normal social activity as well.

Some of the services I’ve used in the past don’t require you to send them the content, but some offer you the option to send them content and pay $5 less per post.

You’ll almost always notice ranking improvements if you directly use these for your tier 1, but to sustain rankings I’d suggest you to focus on the content quality as much as possible and to vary the anchor-texts very much. Like, I wouldn’t begin with a keyword-rich anchor-text in the first place. I’ll try brand names, long-form anchor-texts, generic ones – all these, before I actually use the keyword I’m targeting as the anchor-text.

For obvious reasons, I can’t publicly recommend any particular service in this post, but I can give you a basic idea about the acceptable price range.

As PR is a less important factor now, the main thing that you should be looking at is DA (Domain Authority). For a DA 15+ blog post, I’d generally pay around $5. For a DA 25+ post, I’d generally pay between $10-15. For a DA 40+ post, I’d pay between $20-30 – and you get the idea.

2. Buy Links and Point Them to Your High Quality Genuine Tier 1 Guest Posts

This method takes much more time to utilize and generally costs more money too, but is safer than the previous method.

This method is strictly grey hat, as well. This is a slightly tweaked version of the white hat tiered link building method that I have developed for my authority sites.

Instead of manually guest posting on relatively unpopular sites to build links to high-quality tier 1 guest posts, you just use private network links or any other type of powerful contextual links to increase the page authority of your tier 1 blog posts, so that they pass more link juice to your own site. This is primarily the theory.

Now, this requires you to be able to get some really high quality articles published on some of the most well known blogs in your niche. This isn’t always easy, and there are a few articles out there already to set you up in the process:

One thing that I have noticed is, even great posts often go unnoticed if you don’t equip them with great imagery. While most of you content marketing geniuses might not be designers, you can certainly hire some on oDesk, run some banner designing contests on sites like 48HoursLogo, or if you’re absolutely short on money, you could try your luck on Fiverr.

When you’ve got quite a few high-quality guest posts published (the number may vary depending on the your goals and the current state of your site), you can then move on to the next step, which deals with building tier 2 links to those high-quality guest posts.

First of all, I wouldn’t build any risky links to any of my first tier guest posts if I care about the site they’re posted on and know that my actions might impose penalties on them. This doesn’t apply in case of super high-authority sites like Huffington Post and Entrepreneur, as they’re not gonna be penalized for a few bad links because they have hundreds of thousands of good links already.

Once you have closed in on the exact guest posts you’ll be building links to, there are various tools and services out there which you can leverage to get the job done.

For a relatively large-scale campaign, I’d recommend you to go for Link Emperor’s $147 per month subscription for a single month. That packs approximately 800 really high quality private blog network links (with some links on sites with MozRanks of over 6!) that should be enough for quite a few number of tier 1 posts.

For a small to medium campaign, I’d suggest you to browse some forum marketplaces like BHW, BHU and TrafficPlanet and choose a private network package offering some powerful links (opt for high DA / Majestic TrustFlow) and use the main keyword of your tier 1 post as anchor-text, or else just the brand name of the tier 1 site.

I never tend to use my target keywords as the anchor-texts for the tier 2 links, because I don’t wanna let the clever Google machines know who’s behind the scene. So, even if they’re able to detect a tier 2 link or two as spammy links, they would have a fairly impossible job of finding who initiated the link building, because there’ll be tons of other external links as well in the tier 1 guest posts.

You might wanna diversify your tier 2 link profile with some other types of links as well. You can try some social sharing services etc. to make your tier 2 link profile look more natural while adding more power to it.

I wouldn’t go higher up the tier scale with tier 3 spam comments or stuff like that, because you don’t want all of your efforts bear a more aggressive spammy scent just due to some useless tier 3 blog comments. So, that’d pretty much be all.

You can also try acquiring relevant expired domains and pointing them at your tier 1 posts or directly at your site if you’re confident. While doing competitor research for my client Book Cab,  I found out that a few of their competitors were grabbing expired domains of other car rental companies that were recently shut down, and 301 redirecting it to their own sites, passing all the link juice acquired over the years by those now non-existent companies. Not too bad in the form of a $10 domain, right?


One of the best ways to avoid an algorithmic penalty is to make your anchor-text distribution seem natural. Now you have an idea of how to simulate a pretty natural looking link profile even when you’re using grey hat SEO tactics.

So, what other ways do you recommend to make your backlink profile seem natural even when you’re making use of grey hat SEO techniques?


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