Reverse Engineering Competitor Sites for SEO Strategies

fatalityhawk

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Hi Builders,

First thread here as I get comfier in Builder Society.

I want to have a thread where we as a community can discuss some unique sites that we've come across and can't really figure out the holistic/high-level strategy the webmaster is using or have some specific questions or insights about the same.

I think this will be a great learning experience for us all because competitors are your biggest teachers, right?

And I apologize if the site in question is owned by any of you guys, nothing personal haha :D

I will start off the discussion with the first site, I discovered it as they tried to leave a lot of GSA Spam comments to multiple properties of mine.

[image removed]

Here's the site, that has been exploding like crazy in a niche as tough as cbd oil...

At this point, there seems to be a decline in traffic, which makes me feel like it was a churn and burn project? If so, is it worth discussing because I presume that the webmaster did make huge sums of cash while they were ranked # 2 for a term like "cbd oil" in U,S,

Anyhoo, it looks like a great site to study nonetheless, even if it's a churn and burn project.

I see a tiered-link campaign of a magnitude I haven't seen before which makes me wonder how they have automated this... But I'd let you guys and review and hear your thoughts too.
 
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Stones

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Take a look at premiumjane.com and purekana.com <edit>mission impossible: love the js overlay
 
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Sometime back julian logan a.k.a irishwonder did a review of this serps,you can check out her youtube channel theserpshow.
 

fatalityhawk

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Take a look at premiumjane.com and purekana.com <edit>mission impossible: love the js overlay
Looked at em, looks like another churn and burn project specially premiumjane...

Sometime back julian logan a.k.a irishwonder did a review of this serps,you can check out her youtube channel theserpshow.
Oh, thanks for this, there are a number of episodes, will need to check them out.
 

Ryuzaki

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At this point, there seems to be a decline in traffic, which makes me feel like it was a churn and burn project?
I see that same traffic pattern in every website that comes out of the gates swinging, whether my own, a friend's, a clients, or whatever. You can also get the same results if you go extremely hard between specific algorithm updates.

What seems to happen is there's periods of time where data is collected but not "calculated" and used. Ultimately it's run through some kind of off-line calculation and then merged into the live algorithm, perhaps once every 4 months. Despite them saying Panda is now in "ever-flux" I'm absolutely certain it works the way I described, as do other side-algo's.

The result is you can be collecting links to highly optimized pages and not only rank well for the main term but for countless long-tails you have no business ranking for. Then that offline calculation is eventually merged in and you lose all of the extra and high volume long-tails.

So at the end of that period, you don't really "lose traffic" per say. You're adjusted back to where you should have been anyways. The days of free, "not closely related enough" long-tails go away. Rinse and repeat.

I've started accepting this mentally as a cycle of two steps forward, one step back that'll happen around 3 or 4 times a year now. It might feel like feast or famine but it's really just extra feasting if you work hard enough and publish enough.

And I apologize if the site in question is owned by any of you guys, nothing personal haha :D
The SEO world is waaaay smaller than people think, especially when we're not talking about scrubby crap and only talking about the nice projects...
 

fatalityhawk

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I've started accepting this mentally as a cycle of two steps forward, one step back that'll happen around 3 or 4 times a year now. It might feel like feast or famine but it's really just extra feasting if you work hard enough and publish enough.
Oh, this makes sense. But then, how would you define if a competition has been hit by an algorithmic penalty by looking at stats?

The SEO world is waaaay smaller than people think, especially when we're not talking about scrubby crap and only talking about the nice projects...
Funny story, I used to see many sites using the same format for CPA websites in a certain niche, and I would think that there's some page-builder out there that I have no idea about...

For one of those sites, the guy forgot to replace the footprint of tracking links, haha, and turns out he was the same guy running like 50+ sites with the same format, and also he was Vietnamese, indeed a small world :tongue:
 

Ryuzaki

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Oh, this makes sense. But then, how would you define if a competition has been hit by an algorithmic penalty by looking at stats?
You can't, really, once the site has been around long enough, but it's almost always the same in the past couple of years. If you come out the gates swinging, you'll climb way up, astronomically beyond your expectations, then you'll drop down about 40-50% I'd say. Happens every time. If you analyze the keywords lost, it's always tangentially related long-tails and a lot of them that go away.
 

fatalityhawk

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You can't, really, once the site has been around long enough, but it's almost always the same in the past couple of years. If you come out the gates swinging, you'll climb way up, astronomically beyond your expectations, then you'll drop down about 40-50% I'd say. Happens every time. If you analyze the keywords lost, it's always tangentially related long-tails and a lot of them that go away.
Yeah, makes sense.
Let's look at this site then:

[image removed]

This has to be a Medic penalty right since the site is into all the supplements and shit with not real authority effort being done.
 

Ryuzaki

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This has to be a Medic penalty right since the site is into all the supplements and shit with not real authority effort being done.
Yes, that'd be my assumption. They slipped in through the window of time where they can take off quickly like I was describing above, then whatever offline Medic calculations were done and "nope, kill it with fire" happened.

I wish I had time to dig into the backlinks with you, the on-page, all that. I'm just too busy, but I love this thread. Thanks for keeping it going, though it should probably not be public. There's nothing more interesting than uncovering people's multi-tier backlink schemes. I've seen some crazy stuff in the past, like 1000 site PBN's used in a giant inverted pyramid, with complete discipline and not getting greedy (and losing the whole thing). It's almost like being an archaeologist or something and discovering a complete T-Rex skeleton.
 

fatalityhawk

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Yes, that'd be my assumption. They slipped in through the window of time where they can take off quickly like I was describing above, then whatever offline Medic calculations were done and "nope, kill it with fire" happened.

I wish I had time to dig into the backlinks with you, the on-page, all that. I'm just too busy, but I love this thread. Thanks for keeping it going, though it should probably not be public. There's nothing more interesting than uncovering people's multi-tier backlink schemes. I've seen some crazy stuff in the past, like 1000 site PBN's used in a giant inverted pyramid, with complete discipline and not getting greedy (and losing the whole thing). It's almost like being an archaeologist or something and discovering a complete T-Rex skeleton.
Yeah man, I wanted to dig deep into the CBD site and see how far up the same pyramid I can go lol, so here it is...
For this purpose, I will only be looking at do-follow links, as I have observed that the link-tiers are usually 15% Do-Follow only.

[image removed]

3 Top referring domains for the site, 2 of them press releases and 1 PBN let's go down the Press Release route of [removed] [more interesting and relevant]

Sidenote: [removed] had like 22K Referring Domains when CBD link-building began, now they have 40K Referring Domains with all their major anchors about CBD etc, I wonder how much he paid them to allow this or are they clueless? Anyhoo...

So, the next set of pictures are all subsequent tiered-backlinks chosen from the top 3 UR rating backlinks.

[image removed]

Choosing the 2nd one to go down... Again picking do-follow only

[image removed]

Now, most links I see here are with JS, so that's interesting.
[See example, the source code of this site and do a CBD find [removed]

[image removed]

I think the junk spam began sooner than I expected, but this kind of trend continues even after I drill down 10 more layers, each of these backlinks have dozens of their own backlinks.

Not sure if this looks complicated on the forefront only or is it just multiple GSA/Scrapebox tiers from down here.

Any thoughts?
 
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CCarter

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That’s some of the guys’ business model. They get up close to successful people then they snitch on them. At 10%, as they say in Texas: “That’s a whole lot of incent-adives.” I believe they are going to end up dead some day. Those guys play hardball. It’s not a coincidence that everyone that had anything to do with Clinton’s server in the basement have disappeared. It’s not a coincidence that anyone to do with anything on the grassy knoll have committed suicide. A plethora of suicides you wouldn’t believe. They play hardball.” - Dan Peña

I think you guys should re-think what’s going on in here. If you find someone making $100k a month and your actions results in them losing that... Well let me put it this way, what possible positive outcome can you expect out of outing people hiding in the shadows that have resources - for YOU?

5-10 years ago the idea of a thread like this wouldn’t have even crossed anyone’s mind.

When you fuck with people’s livelihoods- good luck.
 

fatalityhawk

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I think you guys should re-think what’s going on in here. If you find someone making $100k a month and your actions results in them losing that... Well let me put it this way, what possible positive outcome can you expect out of outing people hiding in the shadows that have resources - for YOU?
Interesting insight, but the aim was not to bring them down, rather learn from the best in business.
Just like you would take your Entrepreneurship lessons from Dan Pena, we are trying to understand the same in our industry.

If you think that this learning should happen behind closed doors rather than openly, then I will discontinue this thread.
 

CCarter

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“Learning” is not what is happening here. You are exposing one of your competitors to the world (you inferred it was a competitor in your OP).

It’s pretty easy to follow the logic that eventually someone will report the spam or “aggressive SEO” and therefore screw with your competitors’ site. It may not be direct, but eventually if enough people talk about it one of these people will report it just to do it.

There are psychos, jealous blackhats, overzealous broke white hats, and others frustrated SEOs in between that can take action. They may not be winning so they may just want someone else to lose. It’s literally the same reason why we don’t out our own projects.

This isn’t a theory, outting has lead to multiple people ON THIS forum and around the SEO community to losing whole operations, millions of dollars, and businesses cause of actions like this.

Just because CBD oil, buttcoin, CryptoScam, Forex, and some of these other “shady character” businesses have shady characters doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same level of respect the SEO community has shown in previous years to each other.

There are competitors of the CBD site, including yourself, that will stumble upon this thread and have no issue reporting a competitors. What would the #2 and #3 guys do if you were them and found this thread?

There are people that breakdown strategies like Canvas’ content marketing for SEO, that’s a bit iffy but fine, cause it will take real grind to replicate (https://foundationinc.co/lab/canva-seo).

All I see in this thread is “Hey look at one of my competitors that is using spam and questionable tactics.”

Where is the learning/teaching part?

Here is the question, if the Canvas marketing team came up to the Ross guy that talked about their marketing to the world - would they high-five him for showing the world their brilliant marketing plan? Probably, might even buy the guy a beer.

What would the CBD guys do to you if they came up to you? Do you think they’ll high-five you and buy you a beer? Knowing you are one of their competitors?

If it is so innocent why not post your website project and ask a breakdown of what you think you can do better? The answers would literally directly help you make more money. You definitely would learn a lesson one way or another...
 

fatalityhawk

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Yes, I see your point!
Although,the heading of the thread is misleading...

I found the site just because they had done a GSA comment on one of my sites, I am in no way competitors to them but it was fun to explore them.
The 'competitors' was used in a different context here.

But yeah, it doesn't make sense to OUT people and their websites like this, thanks for guiding in this regard.

Any moderator can feel free to delete this thread or stop further commenting, whatever works! Sorry, again.