Black Hat SEO Lessons: Indirect Promotion

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I’ve always said that instead of getting angry with black hat SEOs, we should learn from them. Working and often succeeding in really competitive verticals, these people are just forced to be creative.

We’ve had a number of discussions recently on how black-hats take advantage of trusted domains to promote their websites. Here is a quick example: #4 for [viagra] in Google (!).

Indirect Promotion

The technique is really easy to follow:

  • comment at a relevant blogspot post;
  • promote your comment page with hundreds of inlinks.

A deep page hosted at a trusted domain ensures that you are not put under radar; and you will promote it free of fear of being caught as a spammer. The ‘nofollowed’ link from a trusted domain won’t give you any ‘link juice’ but it will result in a flow of ‘indirect’ search traffic for a really competitive term.

What we, white hats (as we like to call ourselves), can learn from this lesson:

  • Make use of indirect promotion: grow the power of pages linking to your site – by doing this you will not only indirectly promote your site but also strengthen your positions. Besides, with this method you are free to experiment without the risk to lose your main website.
  • Take advantage of free hosted services (especially the ones owned by Google). Create several supporting blogs and sites hosted on free trusted domains and servers to steadily grow your power.

Both the tactics have several important advantages:

  • they are comparatively risk-free;
  • you are able to control the link juice you own;
  • they are mostly free (all you need is hard work);
  • they are hard to catch.

Please, note, I am not encouraging you to abuse the tactic or turn into a black hat; however the technique described above can be freely used in a ‘good’ moderate way.

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
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  • Charlie Anzman

    Interesting Ann. I don’t know about the ‘bad guys’ but you’re always welcome to comment at our blogspot because your stuff is relevant πŸ™‚

  • Janusz

    I would argue if its risk-free. It would be quite easy to spot on manual review. I would say that if you are doing black hat seo for blogger and manual review finds the blogger page and see that it only links to one site – its pretty obvious what to fill in google spam report πŸ™‚

  • rishil

    lol Ann stop giving away tricks πŸ˜‰ Although I am not a black hat (nor Grey) in my early stages of learning SEO I used this technique to help some friends push up their sites – Although I didnt go as far as to hack into an authority site to host the end content. Before the use of nofollow, this was an excellent way to get content out of supplemental indexes – funny thing was between my friends and I, we sat down and thought out the comments, made them relevant and useful. That in itself earned major bonus points where many of the blog owners added us to their blogroll, links which still exist and grow in value 2 years down the line…

  • Mercy

    Ann, I agree with Janusz, Google has removed the blooger comment link from the SERP for the kW”Viagra” and due to the spammy comment, the particular blogspot has also been kept under hold. Better avoid BH. With WH technique, it would take some time to rank, but that will surely yield fruits and above all thats TOTALLY RISK FREE!

  • Web Browser

    You can even promote in much better way.

    Register at hihg prio. forum, insert viagra into your name, or buy v or whatever, then change signature to your eshop and that’s all. No need to post, just promote your profile πŸ™‚

  • SEO in Abruzzo

    I’m not completely sure it’s risks-free.
    A spider couldn’t actually catch it, but what about manual reviewers or professional SEO that will make spam report on Google.

    I completely trust white hat seo tecqniques, and I think that working well and hard is better to find trick to be in top quickly and quite immediately under the garbage.

    Just for demonstration, today, two day after a new not well optimized web site republishing 4 years older, I get it back to the first page starting from 8.
    Certainly it’s the trade-in period, but it will demonstrate that concreate results are achievable.

  • Ann Smarty

    @SEO in Abruzzo, @Janusz – nothing is absolutely free as long as manual review/reporting is taking into consideration. The point is, that if you are careful, even a human being won’t spot anything suspicious.

  • SEO in Abruzzo


    Well I’m not completely sure. At least, if I would be a quality rater, and goes through that SERP, I would probably click on the link proposed (at least the first 15-20 – assuming that I don’t know anything about Google internal rules) to check what they offer and what they say on the web site.
    Particularly for those web site Google related like blogger is. I’m sure you would do the same.

  • rishil

    @all worried about human inspection – the example that Ann gave was for a controversial product and raises more flags than your average keyword. There are hundreds of items that you can generate indirect traffic for – e.g ipods – and the human review will need to spend some time deciding whether the comment / post is there to game SERPs

    For twitter users – I think the same skill can be used there – add links to a profile set up for a product or by keyword – with the link to site you want to push… With a site like twitter, it shouldn’t be too hard to push certain searches – for example try searching for some brand names that promote their twitter profiles – mashable for instance – their twitter profile page is on the top of serps for “mashable”.

    At the same time a similar tactic can be used to increase the incident of non search traffic – just run more comments across a number of relevant blogs… infact quite a few adsense publishers use that tactic. And with the commentluv plugin being taken up quite quickly by bloggers on WP – you have the advantage of double promotion…

  • Doug Heil

    Come on Ann; you can do better than this. Why are you giving out blackhat advice anyway? What you state is not whitehat in any way, shape or form. Sheesh.

    “they are hard to catch.”

    Oh; so as long as some tactic is “hard to catch”, it’s OK?

    My goodness; if one cannot show what they are doing to a search engine engineer, and have no worries whatsoever about it, then what you are doing is pure blackhat/spam. Very simple stuff Ann. What you are describing is nothing more than creating sites/blogs, etc for the sole purpose of tricking the search engines. You are creating doorway blogs.

    Many of the concerned comments above are right on……

  • SEO Canada

    And definitely don’t use a spam robot to comment on guest books like how they ranked that site πŸ˜‰ Great post Ann.

  • Erika

    I agree with Doug to a certain extent. I mean, I definitely believe in the “think like a black hat, behave like a white hat” mantra simply because it aids you in thinking out of the box when it comes to building a site’s online exposure. Then again, with a technique this gray… let’s just say that I understand the apprehension.

    Nonetheless, great find. πŸ™‚

  • SEO Australia

    2 words: “No Follow”.
    Comment spam has been hit hard with no follow. If you take this path, make sure that the rel section does not contain this attribute.

  • Bill Sebald

    This is not a new blackhat tactic ; it’s a known Google burden. I don’t really like the idea of adding to this tactic. The supporting blogs/content you’d be building would likely be junk, and that’s just bad form imho.

  • Dave (original)

    Ann Smarty, time to change your surname. This is one of the dumbest posts I read in while and the competition is very stiff from your black hat buddies.

    However, you obviously have a vested self-interest in SE spam going all those flashing ads.

  • gino

    Ann Smarty, I don’t want to keep fighting this business about ranking and getting in the first 10 to 20 websites at Google, all I want is just some traffic, enough to make it. Why is so hard and so much to ask?. I tell you the problem,,, The video industry is that problem, you see, if we do some attractive videos, then we get the spiders to find us soon and then they do more money with our jobs. I even started to think that maybe we should use video format for our websites as a building platforms, and the no more problem, because we just upload it to You tube and the rank and search will be very good. I’m just kidding, Sorry. I like your post.

  • evilgreenmonkey

    Great post Ann, I’ll be covering the same technique in my presentation at SMX Advanced.

  • Search Engine Optimization Petersfield

    Interesting! Although I do not do “Black Hat” I think that looking at what works with “Black Hat” can often help “White Hat” techniques. Maybe it is just lateral thinking, but it can help.

  • Stephan Miller

    I had this happen by accident and the comment I got was not spam. I happen to name a post with the title of an ebook I hadn’t heard of yet. The writer commented on my post to get traffic. Of course, if the book became popular, we both would benefit from the synergy.

  • Gab Goldenberg

    To Doug Heil and the other folks who are concerned … Please don’t use this technique. The rest of us would rather you didn’t rank.

    And if you can’t see how to do this in a whitehat way, maybe it’s time you learned what search engine reputation management is. Cuz this is the same idea applied to generic keywords.

  • rob

    Christ, an observation of a technique that so happens to have a knock on effect of helping other pages it links to doesn’t necessarily make it a black hat technique!

    However, the way you’ve portrayed it through your choice of words in this instance, helps make it seem that way, which kind of panders to the mindset of those who like to rant and rail about stuff that they don’t really appreciate or understand.

    If a person adds a comment and adds value to a debate or topic in the knowledge that a potential benefit could be a dose of targeted traffic from a relevant source to a related source then where is the harm?

    The only harm that exists resides in the minds of those who are of the view that anything that might so happen to work or give a competitive edge is in some way bad or evil or wicked, when the patently obvious truth is that in this particular example it’s neither!

  • Dave (original)

    Hmm, even the author admits it’s blackhat SE spam. Someone’s in a constant state of denial. Most blackhats are though.

  • Ann Smarty

    @Gab, thank you for taking time to comment here. As the author of the post (and hence biased), I didn’t want to take part in the white-black discussion. I did describe my point of view in the post itself – so I decided to let people decide for themselves πŸ™‚

  • Igor The Troll

    It will only work on a forum that has weeds!

    I run a honeypot forum and I get tons of post like that. I add them to my PHSDL Spam list.

    Anyone wants to go on my list? I share the list with and alert when I find 301 redirect to Spam and Malware sites.

  • Uri

    Great post, but: how do you recommend to promote that “supporting websites”?

  • Doug Heil

    “Great post, but: how do you recommend to promote that “supporting websites”?”

    Do lots of forum spam posts by link dropping all your new subdomains and websites which are newly created to make it seem like your main website is more important than what it really is.

    Yeah, that’s right; do lots of link dropping in forums. Start with mine please.

    I mean for gosh sakes; if bad information is acceptable to the majority in this industry, I can contribute to the bad info just as good as the next SEO. πŸ™‚

  • Doug Heil

    Afterall; isn’t SEO all about not getting caught by Google? Of course it is. Do anything you wish as long as you do not get caught. That’s what it’s all about, right? Biz is biz is biz, right? Hell yes it is.

    We all know SEO = Spam

    Heck; you all are converting me. Good for you!

  • Bookmarking Demon

    Doug, what’s up with this super ethical trip you are on man? You make it sound like Google owns the internet. So what if the search engine is tricked by what ever creative means you can come up with.

    I live in a free country…why can’t I build a bunch of sites to promote my main site? It’s not my fault the search engine exists the way it does. Why should I let a search engine dictate anything to me?

    Search engines are a part of the game man, and you got to know how to play that part.

    You make it sound like ‘tricking’ a search engine is like conning an old lady out of her money.

    The search engine is a machine. It has no rights. But hey, I love you guys who get on this white hat trip. It keeps you out of my way.

  • Igor The Troll

    Dude Search Engines are Dead! Haven’t you heard it yet? lol

    Get with the program and become Social, or you will become a has been like Mr. RSS

    Savy Muchacho? Social Media!

  • ekrems

    This is good article. I wrote same contents in my site. If you let me, I will use some object this article ann.

  • Abe

    Exceptionally intelligent post Ann. I come out to comment very rarely but for this, you deserve the support. Well done grrl.

  • Web Development

    Well all those who are against the comment shouldn’t have provided their website’s URL….
    Commenting is good till you focused on the targeted topic. Giving reference to your website does give u a link on the Web, whether it is having a nofollow attribute. You can use classifieds, yahoo answers, social bookmarks etc. to promote your link; even they have nofollow in them. At least they will help visitors to get the URL of your website….

  • Web Development India

    Hi to all,

    I hope these days Black hat seo will not perform well, many algorithm changes happening in googles index.

    Beware of blogs and paid links.


  • Rishi

    I think instead of going in for black hat techniques for higher rankings one should pay more attention to the website contents and share the same on the blogs and articles.

  • Tamer Atya

    I think this is very creative techniques to be used beside the widely known techniques

    thank you Ann

  • Biztec-Consulting

    I say use what works. If you don’t end up on the wrong side of google for it then it’s all good.

  • Brett

    Hi, although interesting, I don’t recommend this technique. It’s not good practice and gives SEO a bad name.

  • Toby

    1. Picking the right keywords/phrases to optimize for Performing minor “on page” changes to help search engines navigate and rank the site 2. Performing link building activities to generate one way backlinks using the keywords/phrases as the anchor text when appropriate 3. Picking keywords and phrases. The most important decision for the search engine optimization process is the selection of the “right” keywords and phrases to optimize for.

  • kamaljeet

    The black hat is basically a defined criteria by Google to do SEO in a specific limit.the choice of right keywords is a best way to do manual SEO.

  • iklan baris gratis

    I agree with u ann./thanks for info,,can i copy this???

  • Frumusete

    Big thanks for sharing

  • ben

    The latest thing is google is talking about devalueing or Sandboxiing their links if a site has many , spam links now blackhats are talking about spamming their competitor ( could be white hat) site with Porn, Viagra and Cassino and then reporting it.

    They certainly think out of the box..

  • LoopyLove

    Good post – and the underlying message is always avoid black hat techniques

  • Web Development india

    Generally, black-hat is the “intentional deception of search engines” to gain ranking or popularity in search engine listings

  • Web Development india

    Generally, black-hat is the “intentional deception of search engines” to gain ranking or popularity in search engine listings