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Finding a Bad Link is like finding a needle in a Haystack

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When it comes to the world of search, we here at AOM do in fact put all our search eggs in one Easter basket.  

Does that make us crazy?  A little.  But it’s only because the one basket happens to have more of a market share than all the rest combined.  Just to be clear, we focus our efforts on obtaining traffic from the Google search engine using only the white hat methods approved in the Google search engine documentation.

In highly competitive niches, a single keyword can produce millions in revenue if the right company has the proper search market share.  As a result of hitting #1, what do you do?  Same thing you do if you’re a boxer.  You fight.  Fight to stay #1 because everyone is aiming to take that spot away from you. 

But, you are already at #1.  You continuously create relevant content that is amazing and shared by thousands… so why fight?  Because lately it has become easy to blow your white hat competition down the ranks with only a few hundred links from other websites.  And, when dropped & removed on a timed schedule it becomes nearly impossible to keep up with.

Before Penguin, it was common practice to build as many links as possible.  It was a race and whomever could build the most links to their domain would win.  Now, it has gone the opposite direction. 

Whoever can build the most negative links toward their competition (while keeping their own backlink profile clean) will win.  It’s called negative SEO and it has become common a practice in competitive niches. 

When negative SEO happens to a site with a large backlink profile, this is like finding a needle in a haystack.  At first there was software to solve this.  There’s always software!  But negative SEO has evolved.  

Now, just 200 links can put you in the dog house.  At first glance, a lot of the sites might look nice and a lot of them pass the software on the market. But negative SEOers are no longer using old tactics.  They use easy to replicate platforms to build out realistic looking businesses.  Often, when inspecting these “businesses” the first thing we do is inspect their backlink network. 

The stranger aspect is that when inspecting every page of their domain for a link to the client’s site, nothing is found.  This is what we like to call the “phantom sites” because the backlink is never found.  It is almost as if they are waiting for the Googlebot to find the link & then once it does they remove it and do it with 200 more domains on a timed schedule.

However, when you have 20,000 domains to inspect and several clients, it becomes quite time consuming.  Something has to be done about these phantom sites dropping links that once crawled are removed.  Even as we get to the end of the 20,000 list, more have already appeared that will eventually hurt the rankings if not removed. But, at the end of the day it has to be done or your rankings will drop.

Personal note: I sure hope they fix this, I got into SEO to create amazing content.