What is a blackhat backlink network? When groups of websites knowingly or unknowingly assign backlinks to one another, that’s a blackhat backlink network. Why is a backlinking network an issue? It can artificially increase keyword rankings and muddy the search engine results page ( SERPs ). What was found was around 50,000 websites, have been ironically paying for a blackhat service. that helps them rank keywords via huge live backlink networks. Dedicated pages on the websites participating are used are linking spokes to the larger hub of the operation.

Google has a keyword ranking problem, wrapped inside a backlinking problem that affects its overall website indexing problem. A popular CMS is just one of the targets being used as a piggyback ride to help operate a plugin that users could download. That plugin WILL NOT be disclosed here, since that’s NOT the main issue. The main issue is that search engines are being tricked into ranking websites that are paying for an unfair advantage over legitimate businesses.

Just like the recent pay to play college scandal’s unfair advantage over the general public, this too is affecting the general public by pushing properly SEO’d websites to the back of SERPs. While allowing yet another way to bypass organic traffic, not using AdWords and appearing as organically ranking websites with content relevancy.

If Its Too Good To Be True, They Might Rank Off You

When a website falls victim to quick fixes and easy ranking marketing advertising, they aren’t always getting what they think. Often they are tools used in a bigger game, ultimately making the blackhat service more money, not the client. In the long run, it’s the client who has to clean up the mess and it’s not pretty! In this case we’re going to go over how keyword ranking services are not always what they seem.

You’ve seen it many times or at least heard about them, the easy ranking services for keywords. Rank number 1 in one month for only x amount of money. If you’ve ever wondered how they work, you might be surprised to learn that it has hardly anything to do with content and barely much to even do with keywords. Then what exactly is helping the keywords rank? Plain and simple, backlinking in a very sophisticated means.

A plugin used on the popular CMS WordPress has been found to be connecting websites to one another in an effort to game google rankings. By creating doorway pages, and listing anchor text of desired keywords, this plugin then links up websites on the same or closest match to the content relevancy. What this does is depending on the keyword allows the plugin operator to throttle website backlinks towards any keyword desired. Allowing a service to rank keywords, while using the website as an asset to further the overall goal.

An interconnected Web Of Backlink Manipulation

Google right now weighs backlinks on a scale that isn’t very fair. In fact, it seems like it’s just a scale in some senses, the more backlinks you have the better you rank sadly. This one of MANY services found will link up clients who pay a monthly fee to other close matched clients, ON THEIR SITE, talk about helping your competitors! So this service will actually help because Google doesn’t see a problem. It’s an algorithm not a human doing all that crunching. So seeing websites that aren’t related in the normal manipulation variables doesn’t trigger any flags.

This backlink manipulation however is harming small businesses and even Adwords users. Many times creating the environment where the 1st page isn’t useful to users anymore. Shifting habits of staying on the 1st page to venturing out into page 2, 3 and even 4! Bringing back the wild west of SERPs again. Google has great spam fighting rules to catch blatant manipulation of backlinks, however this isn’t as cut and dry for them to create a rule for.

Why Doesn’t Google Just Prevent Rank Manipulation?

Simply put, to fix how these backlinks are helping the blackhat backlink services would end up breaking SERPs. At least on a company level that is. SERPs isn’t be attacked by a script or a malicious piece of malware. Search engines are being manipulated by specialized adaptations of plugins and CMS vulnerabilities. Something SEO SERPs exploit bounties could help counter. These blackhat services have to use known practices to operate, a sifting and sleuthing will ultimately derive actionable information.

Not to mention it will eventually piss off the wrong person with the ability to read between the syntax and dependencies and uncover what is needed. The bigger problem is that clients end up paying. Google will find out, and when they do, all sites using this tactic will suffer as a result. When the client decides to stop paying and the service is stopped, and keywords tank since backlinks were removed. Backlinks shouldn’t be removed once service is over, that’s akin to having car tires removed once replaced.

How To Detect Backlink Manipulation?

Website crawls are still the best way to find out if your website is a part of any backlink networks. This is why it’s important to know what to look for. In this case, looking for any URLs that are referencing other webpage IDs. WordPress uses post and page IDs and many plugins will use these same identifiers to quickly find and use related posts in the URLs.

Look for any keywords in the URL like a search term as this whole service is posing as searchbot information it needs to try and trick searchbots into indexing. More information will be posted here once it’s available. So keep checking in for updates! Searchable information about the clients affected has been discovered, so should you be affected, expect a cold call / email soon.

Not sure what to look for? Let a Professional SEO check!

Contact SEOByMichael to schedule an SEO audit to look for any signs of a backlinking network!