Competitors Checking Your Backlinks? Give Their Tools The 180 Fake Out!

Author: Gab Goldenberg

Are competitors mining your backlinks with tools like Yahoo! Site Explorer, Linkscape and Majestic SEO? Just because they can check your backlinks out, doesn’t mean you should make life easy by giving good data to their link building tools.

So here’s how to dirty the data that competitors see when using backlink checking tools or hub finders.

(Hub finder are tools that find so-called ‘hub websites’ that link to multiple sites in a niche)

The answer is counter-intuitive: build useless backlinks. Why?

Because useless backlinks can be copied until doomsday without their marginal effects won’t add up to overtaking you in the rankings.

Is it nofollow? Great! (Though note that David Leonhardt has found some value in nofollow links, likewise Mike Belasco has good arguments for nofollow links.)

Is it just a link in a comment? Perfect.

Is it a useless directory? Ok, now I need to nuance my tip.

When I started out in SEO, I got links from a boatload of free directories. It was what I knew and what I could afford to do, as a newb. Know what that did?

Got me a PageRank 5 in 3 months. That’s what.

But the killer part is that I couldn’t rank even for ridiculously non-competitive terms I wanted to rank for. Why?

Simple: I had unwittingly tied myself up in the sandbox. That’s where little sites that aren’t trusted by the biG kid go to play, isolated from all the others. You get a bunch of poor quality links like a load of freebie directories, and the net result is that you sit in the sandbox.

So then what do you do? You get a lot of trusted links first… then you make it dirty. You need to balance things out to avoid shooting yourself in the foot.

By now you’re probably wondering, “What the heck is a trusted link, then?”

One that is listed along with other resources, on a page dedicated to helping people find quality resources on a topic. The algorithm is known as Hilltop.

If you thought this post was interesting, add my rss feed to your reader (that page also allows you to subscribe by email; both options are free). If you want some help doing link building, email me or call me.

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  1. By the title I thought you were going to teach people to block Linkscape or Y!SE. Still great info even though dirty links hardly ever show up near the top of backlink checks.

    Comment by terry - November 17, 2009 @ 4:27am
  2. Now this is what I call noob advice. How about the fact that pro tools can distinguish between quality and junk links? The only way to fool some of the tools is to have 1 sitewide link from a nice big site. Now out of the first 1000 results you have a big change of having 950 fluff links.

    Comment by Martokus - November 17, 2009 @ 12:08pm
  3. You'd have to block them from crawling every other site that you'd obtained links from. I don't see how that's possible.

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - November 18, 2009 @ 4:21pm
  4. So Linkscape and some others can identify nofollow. Big deal. Anyone using Y!SE data is going to waste a lot of time. And the directories give you dofollow links, so I don't see that getting removed automatically by any SEOmoz tools. Now, if you filter on MozTrust, you may have a fair point that this won't work as well. If I were playing devil's advocate, though, I'd say that there's no proof of the quality of that metric. Your point about sitewide links is helpful. Just a shame you had to introduce it with condescending language :P

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - November 18, 2009 @ 4:26pm
  5. Also, IDK about you, but I've seen LOADS of directories show up in hub finders.

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - November 18, 2009 @ 4:27pm

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