mat t hewwoodward.co.uk http://matthewwoodward.co.uk/experiments/ranking-for-rand-fishkin/
Ranking For Rand Fishkin – Blackhat Boosting 101
Today we write a new page of history – the very f irst guest post on the blog!
I have always ref used guest posts in the past as they don’t meet the quality standard that I like to publish.
Even when they were up to scratch, I advised the authors the posts are better of f on their own blogs.
But today is VERY dif f erent
What You Will Learn
How I ranked f or Rand Fishkin, SEOMoz & Moz.com
The EXACT tactics used to f or rank above Forbes, Wikipedia, Moz & others!
The Tools I used to build links
The results af ter just days of link building work
Introducing Charles Floate!
I started my blog a little while ago, it was initially out of the pure boredom of sitting up, awake, in bed at around
2am in the morning when it hit me that I had a kick ass domain sitting there along with a Matthew Woodward
tutorial blazing in the background.
The start of this post is the prologue that led up to this event, if you’re looking to head straight into the cool
case study I compiled then just scroll down until you f ind the pretty huge header.
A Quick Look At The Case Study
I set out initially to rank 2 or 3 dif f erent pages f or the term “Rand Fishkin” – All pages f eature within this article
though the main page that I ended up f ocused on ranking though was this page.
Today it is still ranking f irst page (close to 4 months af ter the case study was started). As the study evolved I
included more keywords.
The keywords I ended up targeting were:
My goal was to rank these pages with totally black hat backlinks, that I could then prove would “stick” as most
of the white hats out there will tell you: “black hat it’s just not long term”, however these techniques have
lasted now months and haven’t seen anything get penalized and almost no rankings drop even af ter we
disavowed all the links.
Why Did I Create This Case Study?
I thought I’d start by giving a bit of backstory f or this post, as it can be a little conf using as to why I did it.
Whilst coming up with my blog, I was trying to think of keywords I could rank f or as well as products and
services I’d be interested in. Around this same time was a bit of a controversial post that I’m sure many of you
will have seen, involving Rand Fishkin & his buddies.
Just to clarif y f or the 1 billionth time, I have nothing against Rand. I enjoy his content and why else would I be
posting to his company’s blog to give them yet even more traf f ic? Except to get a link of course; we all want
them damn links!
Af ter I’d made this post, I got f orwarded an email f rom a burner Hushmail account f rom someone naming
themselves the “Pink Hat SEO” – In the email was a conversation posted between Rand and ‘Pink Hat’. Also
within the email were the f ollowing words:
and you can tell that Randy boy, I could knock his own name off the SERPs if I wanted to
I took that quite literally around a week later when I was emailing Rand f or some inf ormation about a post I was
doing on Penguin 2.0. Which, I may add, he gave a rather generously large statement on and generated quite a
bit of traf f ic!
Back to the main premise though, the statement above really caught my imagination and I thought.. Well if he
could “Rank for Rand” why can’t I? I emailed Rand and got his permission as well as the permission of Ruth &
Cyrus on the Moz team, who replied graciously with “bring it on!”.
I’d already seen Dan Petrovic’s post on how he hijacked Rand Fishkin – but inevitably only did it f or Australian
searches, I went af ter the f ull Google US terms.
I started investigating a black-hat site that Rand tweeted about a little while ago by looking at their backlink
prof ile and how they were manipulating the Google SERPs.
This led me to a f ew dif f erent bits and pieces which I’ll be going over in the f ollowing case study. Enjoy…
The Case Study (Where Things Get Interesting)
The actual link building wasn’t all that interesting, but I thought I’d go through step by step (or round by round)
how I approached the link building.
I used a f ew automated tools along the way, all my spun content was done through a f ew dif f erent services –
I’d either compiled my own articles and got them manually spun via contractors on oDesk.
In total I spent under $60 on Content, and got well over a total of 90,000 words spread across ~9 articles and
a f ew social bookmark/f orum posting spun content.
Round 1 – SAPE, The Russians are at it again!
The f irst thing I noticed was the ton of ref erring domains being .Ru – I already knew of the giant that is SAPE
(For those of you that don’t, it’s Russia’s largest link network with around 700,000 domains).
I even did a small post on SAPE which was wholly based around my f indings over the next f ew weeks.
However in the end, I decided against using SAPE as I
thought using illegally hacked websites to gain my f irst
position was a “bit too black hat”, even f or this case study.
Round 2 – The “Semi-Private” Blog Networks
For any of you who are members of the deeply secret (yeah,
right) f orum Black Hat World, you’ll know that the current rage
of buying “private” links.
Although you can view threads and buy them without actually
being a member so I’m just going to call them Semi-Private
I bought a range of the packages available at very discounted rates as it tended to either be in return f or
Review copies or just a couple of Skype buddies who were running the threads.
I also invested $7 into Link Emporer to grab 30,000 credits, which converts into roughly 150 orders (at 200
credits each). I only went with the Quality blog networks, which still built me well over 400 links total, f rom DA 15
– 80 sites.
Round 3 – The Scrape and Blast!
I actively use a tool called ScrapeBox f or a bit of diversity in my backlink prof ile, it allows me to scrape tons of
potential sites and keywords, as well as check PR and more of potential sites.
In this case, I used the scrape backlinks and blast technique – Where I pulled the list of backlinks pointing to
the Rand Fishkin blog, about us page and his Twitter f eed.
I imported the link list into ScrapeBox, set up some spun comments and set the names to my anchor text (Rand
Fishkin, Rand Fish, etc…) and blasted away! I ended up with around 1,900 successes.
The aim of this was to built a megaton of nof ollow backlinks that take around 3 weeks to get indexed by
Google and create a larger amount of diversity in my backlink prof ile than just contextual posts. The spun
comments were all Rand/SEO related though.
Round 4 – Automated, Contextual Tier 2s
I used a number of SEO sof tware tools to pull this of f , and the premise is to build as many damn Tier 2
backlinks (which are contextual) as possible in a short amount of time and don’t send them to any Indexing
service, allow them to be naturally indexed.
I pulled my list of around 550 private blog network posts (which had been spread across the links) and used a
number of black hat tools to boost them all – The end result was well over 8,000 links built and a ranging PR
f rom 0 all the way up to 8 – With a f ew .gov and .edu posts sprinkled along the way.
This added yet more power and PA to my private network posts and helped me create a multi-tier link building
Round 5 – Automated, Tier 3 Blog Comments, Social Bookmarks and Forum Posts
I already had access to a number of black hat tools f rom an agency I’d worked f or around 2 years ago and
asked if I could borrow their RDP f or a f ew campaigns.
I’d already got ScrapeBox f or the blog comments, so I decided to take a look at some of the tools on the RDP.
I went with SBBomber by Clyde and XRumer – I spent a day researching both tools and got pretty conf ident
with both systems.
The tier 3s blasted in total built me another 200,000 links – Sorry to the f orum owners that suf f ered my wrath
of manual, 4 tier sentence spinning.
Round 6 – The Indexing
I wasn’t too sure on what service to use f or indexing f or my Tier 1 backlinks. I ended up manually using a f ake
Google+ Prof ile I’d been using to build up some authority with, along with Link Pipeline and Linklicious (which
were both recommended to me on BHW).
Most of my Tier 1 backlinks were indexed the same day that they were made, and the maximum it took was 4
days. Ahref s even picked up 20 backlinks on the 1st day I’d started my link building campaign.
The Results Week By Week!
Lets take a look at how the results developed week by week-
Week 1,Content Creation & Posting
I spent the f irst week preparing all the content I’d be using, I moved jobs and had 3 days spare to do all of this.
I sat down, wrote a ton of content that I’d use f or the backlinks and also wrote up the post on my blog, as well
as various other posts I’d be looking to rank f or these keywords.
Once all the content was written, I looked around oDesk & iWriter f or some good content writers and manual
spinners – I spent a couple of hours interviewing a f ew people and I’ll be using a number of them again.
I specif ically asked f or examples of manually spun content f rom all writers I interviewed so I knew they had
some basic knowledge of SEO as well.
I then built a f older where I could put all of my bits and pieces that I was going to be using.
Week 2, Let The Links Begin!
This was the week I spent building up my Tier 1 links, I started out looking through and contacting a f ew f aces
on black hat world, as well as sitting down with the Matthew Woodward tutorial on Link Emporer.
I’d used Link Emperor over a year ago and remembered some of it, but needed a bit of a catch up.
Once all the links were ordered and my Link Emperor credits balance had plummeted to a lowly 0, I waited f or
I’d only ordered links that I knew I’d get f ull reports on (showing me all the links) and back within 7 days.
I’ll also give a shout to Jon Cooper f or his link building strategies post which helped me indef initely with the
names of most of the methods I was using (I always f orget the technical terms).
Week 3, Tier 2/3 & First Rankings!
I spoke to my old, old boss and got access to the RDP, started building all my tier 2/3 backlinks f rom my pool of
It was also the same week where I started to see the rankings coming in, granted they were pages 9-15 but it
still counts! All of the keywords I was targeting came in, with the f ollowing positions (and changes over the 7
Rand Fishkin – Monday I saw it hit page 14 with position 141, by the end of the week (Friday) I saw it hit page
Moz.com – Monday, it hit page 18 and by Friday was up to page 11
Moz - Monday, it hit page 16 and by Friday was on page 9.
SEOmoz – This was ranking on page 20 and didn’t move all week, I decided to build a f ew more Tier 1s to this
with a f resh order f rom a f riend of mine f or a quick $20 and giving him the content I got another 20 links built!
Week 4, Keep On Rankin Baby!
This was the day I published my newest article on and I saw the f ollowing EPIC Results:
Rand Fishkin actually went upto #7 around 3
hours af terwards and I saw page 2 results f or
Rand Fish (Which I wasn’t even targeting) and
moz.com as well as moz.
The only disappointment I had was SEOmoz,
which was still only Page 7 -
I grabbed the f ull report f or links built with
the anchor text “seomoz” f rom my
spreadsheet and went at attacking it
aggressively with Tier 2s.
I also went about building another couple of blog network links with a 2nd Link Emperor account, as I really
wanted to hit it with this keyword!
Week 5, The Results Are In!
Week 5 was the f inal week I wanted to see rankings, I wanted to spend the whole of Week 6 writing up a f ull
report and wanted to hit Page 1 f or every keyword, if not position #1!
Monday Morning – I checked the SERPs as per usual and saw the f ollowing positions:
Moz – #4 – Just above the Forbes, Wikipedia and Open Site Explorer listings! Just below the Moz Facebook.
What I thought was f unny was that this was 2 days af ter I’d done the 2nd post on God of SEO, and it had only
What I thought was f unny was that this was 2 days af ter I’d done the 2nd post on God of SEO, and it had only
been created 2 days prior!
Rand Fishkin – I was now sitting at #7 & #8! That’s pretty incredible to have 2 links on the same page, trying
f or a 3rd by the end of the week!
SEOmoz – Was sitting at #29, still not seen too much in this, but it’s slowly marching up. Might hit 1st page,
you never know!
Moz.Com - Sitting at # 2!!! – That’s above the Wikipedia result and just under the 7 SERP Result for
the main page, pretty awesome..
I doubt I’ll be able to hit #1 by the end of the week though, but as I said, you never know…
Week 6 – The Write up
So, it’s the f inal week and we’ve come so f ar! The f inal results are as f ollows:
Rand Fishkin – #3, #5 and #56 (Seen f luctuation and dif f erences in Google US and Google UK)
Moz.com – #2 – I couldn’t hit #1, then again that was taken up by a gigantic 11 SERP result that dominated the
f irst page..
SEOmoz – #15 – The highest that I could hit was page 2. Super competitive keyword and maybe given a bit
more time I could have hit page 1!
Moz – #3 – Sitting just above the of f icial Moz Facebook, Wikipedia and OSE, but just under the Moz Twitter
(Which isn’t surprising, due to the amount of social signals and f ollowers Moz gets f rom Twitter.
I didn’t quite hit #1 though I did manage to get some killer SERP results, and I saw quite a bit of organic traf f ic
hit my blog f rom the Moz related keywords.
The Grand Finale!
I achieved these results in a mere 6 weeks, with just 2 weeks of link building and result checking while putting
this entire case study together.
So, I decided to give you guys a quick FAQ, f eel f ree to give me some questions to answer in the comments
You gained a ton of black hat links pointing straight to your site, won’t it get banned?
Af ter all this, I disavowed the entire link prof ile (start to f inish) of the Tier 1s I’d built f or this case study, and I
also requested that any of the network links I’d built to be removed by the network owners.
Will you be doing this kind of “attack” again?
I doubt it, at least f or awhile – If anyone wants to do a f ollow up, maybe f or a HUGE name or corporation
name (get permission f irst of course, you don’t want to get sued f or libel) then I’d be happy to of f er some
Where did you learn about all the Black Hat Link Building Techniques?
From using a number of black hat f orums, and also f rom people I’ve met along the way in the SEO community.
There’s a ton of literature out there and I’d put down a lot of the methods that I’d learnt f rom the f ollowing
people: Matthew Woodward, Blackhat Agent, Jon Cooper, BigBuddy (f rom Black Hat World), Backlinko and a
f ew other awesome people who have submitted content to various f orums.
What “Hat” do you class yourself as?
I class myself as a grey hat SEO. If my client wants to be number #1 f or a keyword in 2 weeks, then by all
means I’ll help them.
If they want to build a huge content marketing strategy and do tons of outreach across a number of months
and build a sustainable authority site, then I’ll do all the manual labour that it requires.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? (Common question, I think everyone should answer this)
I’m hoping to be earning a hell of a lot more than I am now, as well as still be running my God of SEO blog with
some even more powerf ul content.
My main aim f or the time being is to carry on learning, rank my current clients with kick ass services and keep
growing my personal sites!
My Final Thoughts
So, af ter all this you might ask, what have I actually learnt and what have I proven?
Well, I’d start by saying I spent $120 over 2 weeks to rank f or some pretty huge branded keywords, god knows
what I could do with a larger scale budget and some more time.
This is also going f urther than that though, it’s to the point where I did this purely out of a bit of spite, not f or
Rand or Moz, in f act that’s f ar f rom it!
It’s in spite of this new era of “content marketing” – if this is the only way f orward, why am I still able to rank so
well with a f ew black hat backlinks and a f ew hundred words?
Well, it’s because Google and the likes of Matt Cutts suck you in, they produce a load of f luf f to say they’re
going to come down on you like a ton of bricks, which in actual f act… you’re more likely to get a couple cuddly
toys thrown at you.
I saw more proof of this with my own company. I have a personal company website in which I sell my SEO
services, and in the space of 3 months I built close to 15,000 back links, 90% of which were contextual
backlinks or paid f or.
Results? 3,000 unique visitors per week and 5 enquiries a day. It took Google over 4 MONTHS to hit me with a
manual penalty. The result of the penalty? I dropped f rom #4 on one of my keywords to #7, most of the other
keywords are still perf ectly f ine.
So, af ter reading all of this, if you haven’t learnt anything…
Don’t believe everything that you read, especially the f luf f that has changed our industry, in my opinion, f or the