What Happened with SEO Black Hat?

It’s been 5 years since I wrote a post. I’ve been on lifecation for the last 3 and a half years (not working and living the dream). But there’s an exciting reason I’m back: A Yuuuuuge exploit that I’m going to share, but I’ll get to that in due time.


First, let’s talk about the Private SEO Black Hat forums. The business model simply wasn’t scalable. When I started charging $100 per month almost 10 years ago, it was revolutionary. No one was doing any subscription model for more than $20 / month. Today, everyone with an analytics app or link tool is comfortable charging $300+ per month and people desperate to rank for anything want to believe they are one silly tool away from success.

Back then, though, $100 per month was considered elite pricing that really had to deliver: The problem was that all the stuff that made it worth subscribing to attracted the heavy hitters who would pound the hell out of the exploits until the search engines realized they had to patch the hole. The big players would privately come to me all the time with a crazy exploit that really worked.

For our forums, the game theory dilemma became “Why would I publish this exploit that makes $250k per month to a forum that makes only $25k per month if publishing will make the exploit go away?” Not just for me, but for all the power players who wanted a real “tight knit” community. On top of that, within a few weeks of launching we had the posers over at SEOMoz (among many others) subscribing to the forum and then publishing what we wrote about days later like it was something they could have thought of without us.

Two years later when it became clear from the IP logs that so many of our paid members were cybersecurity experts, the Google Web Spam Team, and international law enforcement agencies it was like “Really, What’s the point?”

But I’m back for a bit and there’s a good reason for it.

A $20,000,000 reason.

And even if you don’t want to partake in the fun, it’s going to be interesting as hell to watch this story unfold.

This should be a great story

Hello Again. World.

It’s been a long time (long time), we shouldn’t of left you (left you),
Without a dope beat to step to
It’s been a long time (long time) we shouldn’t of left you (left you),
Without a dope beat to step to.

Google Lied about Manually Changes

The Lie was told here by Udi Manber, and repeated by Matt Cutts. And I quote:

At Google we do not manually change results. For example, if we find for a particular query that result No. 4 should be result No. 1, we do not have the capability to manually change it. We made that decision not to put that capability in the algorithm—we have to go and actually change the algorithm.

Contrast that with the story from 2 days ago from the official Google Blog:

We created about 100 “synthetic queries”—queries that you would never expect a user to type, such as [hiybbprqag]. As a one-time experiment, for each synthetic query we inserted as Google’s top result a unique (real) webpage which had nothing to do with the query. Below is an example:

There is no way to reconcile those two statements. If Google sees someone at number 4 that they want at number 1, they can remove the number 4 result with their manual spam filter, and then manually insert it to number 1.

This is not nitpicking: they have the capability and they have used it. They have used it more than for legality or for spam, they used it at the very least for their recent PR stunt.

This is on par with “Read My Lips, No new Taxes”

They lied. They were caught.

Do not trust Matt Cutts.

Do not trust Udi Manber.


They are bold face liars.

They can and do manually change their search results. They can and do manually put whoever they want at number one: regardless of what they have said in the past.

Clicksteam For Dummies: How The Ranking Factor Works

Since the majority of people can’t seem to figure out how clickstream data could be used as a Search Engine Ranking Factor, without even scraping the actual page, I’ll give you a hint.

Actually, a pop quiz. Here’s what you know:
User 1 Visits:
Then immediately visits:

Later User 2 visits

Then immediately visits:

Later user 3 visits
Then immediately visits:

Later user 4 visits

Then immediately visits:

Later user 5 visits
Then immediately visits:

Later, you have a user use your search engine and types in gyhwesaa.

Your 20 billion page index of pages does not include the word gyhwesaa anywhere. None of your other signals reveal anything about the phrase.

What do you give the user as a top result?

Bing is Just Better

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen the hypocrisy coming out of Google reaching new all time highs. The mud slinging out of the Google camp is a signal:

Google is running scared.

Bing has gotten better. A lot better: and Google has gone from ignoring Bing to character assassination.

The latest hoopla goes like this “Waaaah, Bing is copying our search results!” When we dig deeper, we find that, no, Bing is not copying Google results, they are tracking user searching behavior. But hold on, doesn’t Google’s Privacy policy say (and I quote):

“Some of our services, including Google Toolbar and Google Web Accelerator, send the uniform resource locators (“URLs”) of web pages that you request to Google. When you use these services, Google will receive and store the URL sent by the web sites you visit, including any personal information inserted into those URLs by the web site operator. Some Google services (such as Google Toolbar) enable you to opt-in or opt-out of sending URLs to Google, while for others (such as Google Web Accelerator) the sending of URLs to Google is intrinsic to the service””

So Google Does EXACTLY THE SAME THING and throws mud at Bing for doing it? . . . AGAIN? The part that’s even worse is that people who are suppose to be “Search Engine Journalists” can’t even get the story right, because they’re too busy sucking Google cock and just blindly reprint everything fed to them.

The Fact is that Bing has gotten better. It’s a viable competitor and it’s taking market share from Google in the US. This year will be a repeat: Bing will shave off at least another 3 points of US Marketshare: at the expense of Google.

Google is scared. They call Bing’s Results “a Cheap imitation”, but the fact is that Bing is now consistently delivering better results. For all queries? No, not yet. But for your average, non power user, Bing delivers.

If you haven’t used it in a while, head back over to Bing. Use it for a week as your first Go To search engine. It’s much better than you thought.

Anti PR SEO – Made Profitable by Google

I know I haven’t posted in forever, but this is just too great to pass up:

Not only has this heap of grievances failed to deter DecorMyEyes, but as Ms. Rodriguez’s all-too-cursory Google search demonstrated, the company can show up in the most coveted place on the Internet’s most powerful site.

Which means the owner of DecorMyEyes might be more than just a combustible bully with a mean streak and a potty mouth. He might also be a pioneer of a new brand of anti-salesmanship – utterly noxious retail – that is facilitated by the quirks and shortcomings of Internet commerce and that tramples long-cherished traditions of customer service, like deference and charm.

Nice? No.


“Very,” says Vitaly Borker, the founder and owner of DecorMyEyes, during the first of several surprisingly unguarded conversations.

“I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works. No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?”

19 pages, but an interesting story
. You can get the jist of it by reading the first 5.

How’s that old saying go? No publicity is bad publicity.

Epassporte Dropped by Visa

This was pretty surprising to see:

Dear ePassporte Account Holders,

Please be advised that, at 12:00 PM PDT today, September 2, 2010, we were notified that effective immediately, Visa International has suspended our banking partner’s (St. Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank) ePassporte Visa program. The ePassporte e-Wallet program continues to be up and running, except funds cannot be transferred between your Visa Account and your e-Wallet. At this time ePassporte can no longer issue Visa Cards, and the ability for our Account Holders to make point of sale purchases and withdraw funds from ATMs has also been suspended.

At this time we do not know why this drastic action was taken by Visa. To us, it is unconscionable that such action would be taken without the opportunity for ePassporte to fully understand Visa’s reasons and to be able to take all steps necessary to keep our program running the way it has so successfully done for over 7 years. But that is what Visa has done.

As soon as we have more information we will be in contact with you.

In the meantime please be assured that your funds are safe.

We are very sorry for the short notice and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. The ePassporte team is working diligently to rectify this situation.

We kindly ask you to bear with us while we work through this issue.

Please feel free to contact us via the message center or at our call center, should you have any questions, comments or concerns.

Thank You,
Christopher Mallick

Pretty amazing the did that all at once like that: leaving epassporte high and dry.

It’s Like Google Reads My Mind!

Like really, how did they know?


Dark Patterns: dirty tricks designers use to make people do stuff

An article on dirty tricks in design. One interesting tidbit plucked from the comments:

You could pick pretty much any element of the Ryanair website, but a particular favourite of mine, if you could call it that, is the way they subtly force you to buy travel insurance. The question is labelled as “Buy Axa travel insurance”, but the select field has a default value of “select country of residence”.

Buried in the middle of the options, which are almost in alphabetical order, is the option “No travel insurance required” – between Latvia and Lithuania!

I ran some usability testing with this site and a number of similar sites for a client of mine (not Ryanair) and almost every participant simply accepted they had to buy travel insurance, because they were blind to this option.

Horrendous, immoral, but quite clever at the same time…

The other ones are certainly worth a look too. Got any favorites?

SEOktoberfest 2010

SEOktoberfest 2010 Trailer.

Take a look!