Monday 31 March 2014

Beware of the REL NOFOLLOW Scam

Beware of the REL NOFOLLOW Scam

By Strictly-Software

For those of you who sell articles or blogs to people you should be aware of a scam I have been caught in twice now.

I call it the rel nofollow scam as it basically means people get link juice from your site without paying for it.

The scam goes like this.
  1. Someone offers to pay you £$ for an article to appear on your site. Usually with good PR. 
  2. They send the article which has links to their own site in it one or more times. There is NO rel="nofollow" on these links. 
  3. They say it will take 3 days to pay you so you put the article up. 
  4. 7 days later you are chasing them for the money as it hasn't been sent to you. 
  5. They then make some sort of excuse why they cannot pay you and say "take the article down". Which of course you do. 
  6. However unbeknown to you they have already obtained what they wanted, which was BOTS like GoogleBOT, BING and so on, to crawl the article and then follow the link to their site passing on the link juice from your site. 
  7. Believe it or not the benefits of this link juice being passed stays around long after the article exists. 
  8. So you have basically been ripped off as they have got their PR and link juice and you haven't received a nickel.

Don't Believe Me?

At my company that makes Job Boards we used to do tests to prove to our boss we could get to number 1 on Google for a one page Job Board for long tail terms like "latest jobs in CSS" or "latest London jobs in SQL".

We did this by turning on a switch that at night made sure every major SERP BOT (GoogleBOT, BING) saw different banner links, alt and title values than normal.

Because we had hundreds of Job Boards it looked as if they were all pointing up at our magnificent Job Board.

This was in the days where the number of backlinks was king and SEO companies selling links from directories was the main thing SEO companies did.

So we were testing features for "boosting" a sites Page Rank through linkage systems.

This wasn't the "illegal" GoogleBOT masking method of showing different content to humans and then to robots.

The reason is that banners rotate anyway and the href, alt and title values will change naturally anyway.

If you refreshed most sites with banners they will rotate and show different images than the page load before.

If all these sites were all breaking the GoogleBOT masking rule no site would be able to rotate banners.

So to a SERP BOT it looked like our one site Job Board was sitting at the top of a pyramid with 200+ high PR Job Boards all passing link juice our way. Basically saying although we have good PR, this site is better than us (in basic terms).

Also a mate who had an online T-Shirt company that was ranking nowhere on Google turned this "feature" on for a weekend, changing the TITLE and ALT attribute values to all have multiple long tail keywords within them.

Here is an example of a multiple long tail stuffed attribute:

"Buy the best XX T-Shirts from XX company, the best looking XX T-Shirts by company XX. Buy XX T-Shirts now for rock bottom prices! Sale now on at XX Company" 

Within a week he was on the top of the first page of Google! 

Also even though the "tweak" was turned off after a few days the benefit he got from all these sites linking to him over just a couple of days lasted for ages.

He was still on the top page of Google many months later!

Even after we turned this Job Board feature off the one page jobboard stayed at the top of Google for months later for our desired keywords.

The algorithms may have changed by now for BOTS but the idea of passing juice along to sites with higher "domain authority" than you still exists.

The ideal SEO situation for a site linking to you is this.

A site with a homepage where there is only one link on it which points at your site.

This is basically telling the SERPS that your site is "better" than them e.g it has more site/domain authority than them.

Plus as their homepage only has a single link on it (the most important page on a site) and this link goes to YOUR SITE then they are telling the SERP BOTS that crawl it that this other site MUST be very important.

The original PR algorithm is below. It is probably much more complex now and SERPs use responsive site designs, social media and load speed a lot more in weighting the "worth" of a site when ranking it.

PR(A) = (1-d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + ... + PR(Tn)/C(Tn)) where:
PR(A) is the PageRank of page A,
PR(Ti) is the PageRank of pages Ti which link to page A,
C(Ti) is the number of outbound links on page Ti and
d is a damping factor which can be set between 0 and 1.
The original PR algorithm.

This scam has actually happened to me twice now so I am putting an end to people stealing link juice that can stay around for ages anymore by insisting that rel="nofollow" is put on all links UNTIL I get paid.

Once I get paid I remove the rel="nofollow" attribute and they get the benefits of the link juice they are paying for.

I usually change the posted date of the article as well so it looks like a new post to ensure BOTS will crawl and see the new links.

So beware.

This REL NOFOLLOW scam is real and I have fallen for it.

© 2014 Strictly-Software

1 comment:

ianv said...

I got this email today from

Hello there!

I'm writing to you today to see if you would be interested in collaborating on some content for your site. I currently work on a campaign I feel is relevant to your site's niche. It was while I searched for sites of good quality I came across yours and thought to myself that it would be worth sending you an email.

The article can be written by us, though we are open to it if you prefer to write the article yourself. If you are interested, please don’t hesitate to get back to me so we can discuss this partnership further and go into greater detail.

I do apologise if the email is a bit vague, but if you're not interested I'd rather keep it short as to not waste your time!

Do get back to me if you have any questions, wanting to see examples of articles, or to confirm interest.

I'm looking forward to the prospect of working with you and __________ (my site).

Kind regards!

Esther Wright
Digital Outreach Agent

Managed to find your post and saved me some trouble. Thank you!