Getting leads from negative SEO practices

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Leads are important for all businesses of any kind, whether you are a small or enterprise business, your customers or clients are the most important for your businesses to succeed and survive, without them, your business is most likely to be closed soon enough if you dont get enough customers or clients to serve. Especially for service provider companies that mainly exist because of the need of their clients.

In Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry, getting leads or clients is definitely a must for SEO agencies or even freelancers that are seeking for companies to work with. They do this by marketing their websites lead generation campaigns, creating epic win strategies via blog post and rank in organic search to increase website traffic and even promoting in social media channels or via paid search to eventually attract potential clients. In most cases, it is generally easier for well established firms or individuals who can get tons of leads via a single blog post.

However, this could be a long term process for startup SEO agencies and freelancers who have not yet established their authority and reputation in the industry so it is more likely that they will have difficulty in getting clients and compete with big SEO agencies. So how can small SEO agencies or freelancers take advantage of this situation and get the clients waiting for them?

In this article, Ill show you how this can bedone without doing much of work but through reverse engineering unethical SEO practices. Yes, it is possible just by tailing the unethical activities of some SEOs that Google do not approve. Unfortunately, even after a lot of announcements, algorithm updates, and SEO trends, there are still practices being implemented with an aim to manipulate search rankings for various keyword terms and this is where you will come in and lead them to the right path.

Find recently published articles

We all know that getting links from article submission sites are no longer powerful as it was and getting links from article sites are associated with risks such as negative signal to Google. Since article submission was widely abused by link builders to generate links on their client's website, this has earned negative connotation to Google as unnatural link building practice and could trigger penalty both manual and algorithm filter which is a serious situation for a website to be in.

On January 29, 2014, Google head of spam team Matt Cutts, posted a video on Webmaster help Youtube channel regarding links from article submission sites. Matt Cutts said, Today's webmaster video: "Should I build links using article directories?"(No)

There are several reasons why links from article sites give no value to a website such as:

  • Links from article websites are unnatural.
  • Links from article sites are keyword rich anchor text.
  • Links from article websites are low quality and manipulative.

While article submission is no longer supported by Google, it is still surprising that there are persistent SEO firms that keep doing risk prone method. But you can make use of if for your advantage. Since its clear that links from article sites are not useful for websites, hunting down recent articles with questionable anchor text to corporate websites is a good way to find potential clients.Heres how you can do it.

Locate your source - You need to look for article websites that often publish articles to discover the potential opportunities you can obtain. In this section, visiting the largest article submission sites you can think of is a good idea. Since big article submission sites often get a lot of active users who are actively submitting articles for the sole of building links. You can take advantage of their behavior to for your benefits.

Unconsciously, while they are performing manipulative SEO tactics on their clients websites, they are somehow giving away opportunities to unethical SEOs to contact their clients directly.

Identify publish date To ensure that the potential leads you will find are still connected with SEOs, unaware of their strategies and relying on their help to increase traffic, exposure and authority, check the publish date of each articles you will find just below the title of the article.

Analyze each articleAnother thing that makes it easier for you to help website owners realize they are at the wrong hands, analyzing the whole article could be a better idea to ensure that the content used is within the business goals, objectives and more importantly, industry.

Here are the key elements when analyzing articles you will see in the article submission sites:

  • Topically Related to the Business 
  • Article Length 
  • Words or Key Phrases Used 
  • Keyword Rich Content 
  • Exact Match Keyword Anchor Text 
  • Linking Pages from the Article 

Make Appropriate Actions - Once you identified prospect leads from reverse engineering article sites, you can put them altogether in a spreadsheet to enable you to track your campaign.

You need to provide basic but critical information such as:

  • Live URL of the link from article website
  • Name of the best contact person
  • Email address

Real life example

While doing this experiment, I checked on recently published article I could find and analyzed the article content. I just basically followed what Matt Cutts mentioned on Google Webmaster Help Video about getting links from article directory sites..

And here is what I found..

And this is what I did..

I emailed the website owner and here is the reply..

Imagine if you could send at least 20 emails a day.. At least 1 or 2 will reply and it is up to you how you will convert them to be your clients.

Look for low quality social bookmarking sites

Another method you can use to source for potential leads is by looking at low quality social bookmarking sites orplig sites. Since low quality websites was first targeted by Penguin to identify the low quality websites that have obtain low quality links, finding websites that are continuously getting links from low quality bookmarking sites could be a good place to start and look for potential websites you can contact regarding the off-site activity of their link builders.

Normally, a bookmark looks like is exact matched or keyword focused anchor text so it wont be difficult to identify a sample of manipulative bookmark especially if it was bookmarked on a low quality bookmarking site. For link focused service providers, getting social bookmark links are just one of their tactics in creating links but this could trigger negative signal to search engines and this is where you will come in.

By letting the website owners know that their website is being spammed in terms of links, this could give you good impression to those website owners. Since they dont have time to understand SEO trends, dos and donts and Search Engine Guidelines, letting them know what could hurt their websites' online presence is a better way to make you sound smart and look handsome.

Here is how to do it..

Look for social bookmarking sites with adult sections or bookmarks - Since Google does not quality websites to get links from websites with adult content or categories, getting links from websites with adult content is not a good idea for long term purposes.

Identify bookmarks that are not written in English - Another to way identify a manipulative negative SEO is to analyze whether a bookmarking site is mainly written in English or non-English language. If you will find a website tha targets only United States audience but linking to german boomarking site, this is an ideal negative SEO practice and hence, need to be addressed.

Look for bookmarks with exact match anchor texts - In 2011 onwards, it has become non-ideal for websites who want to rank in organic search to practice keyword focused anchor text as it became widely abused to manipulate search rankings which means, websites still practicing keyword focused link building is a sign of manipulation that against Google guidelines.

Once you have a list of websites that are massively linking on low quality bookmarking sites, you can then start reaching out to website owners and let them know the risks associated with getting low quality links with exact matched keyword focused link building.

Look for spam blog comments

Spotting spam blog comments should be undoubtedly easy as identifying blog comments can be done just by looking at the comment itself or even by the name used to leave a comment. If you are running an SEO blog, you probably have encountered comments with questionable name and even linking page/s in the comment that point to SEO agencies or even non-industry related websites such as Legal, Insurance or Dental.

With that being said, that actually gives you opportunities that you can explore and see if you can convert them into clients or leads. Also, since there are automated blog comment tools that can be used to skyrocket blog comment links, having a tons of prospects from blogs or sites can just be overwhelming and therefore, a good place to hunt down potential leads for your business. 

To do this, you can just identify blogs or websites that often accept and receive comments from various people by doing a filtered search results.

  • Keyword + Blog Comments
  • Inurl: Write for Us + Keyword
  • Guest post byIndustry

Once you have a list of websites that allow comments, you can then start gathering information from comments section of the blogs or websites you will find. To do this, you need first to analyze each comments, links and names that were used to drop on the comment and just identify those who are manipulative spammy such as:

  • Irrelevant comments
  • Irrelevant blog industry
  • Exact match anchor text as a name
  • Promotional comments

Once you have the information you need ready, start reaching out to the websites that you will collect after you conduct your analysis.

Guest blogging for links - Guest link building

Earlier this year, Matt Cutts, the head of Google Web Spam team recently announced the decay of Guest blogging which made a lot of noise in the SEO industry especially for those who have switched guest blogging for link building purposes.Traditionally in link development space, if a certain strategy has been overly abused by link builders, search engines like Google in particular will eventually take action of their link acquisition method IF they believe it is against their search engine guidelines and the main goal of building links is for link manipulation.

Finding this kind of spam guest blogging for links could be quite difficult especially if the link was placed before the decay of guest blogging, exact match and author bio links. Normally, a guest blogger would place a brand name in the author bio section that supposed to look non-manipulative but not editorially given.However, it has become generally unwise to link from author bio links as it can trigger manipulative approach in search engines.

To get potential leads from guest blogging tactic for links, analyzing the guest contributed content in your target industry can be a good approach to start with. Investigate those contributed content that you will discover to see if you will notice any manipulative approach such as:

  • Duplicate Content
  • Keyword Rich Content
  • Topically Irrelevant Blog

When you identify guest contributed content that you believe to be manipulative based on the analysis you conducted, you can start reaching out to website owners or administrators by directly contacting them and let them know about the method of their SEO to acquire links.


In any business industry, it does not matter how many clients or leads you always get each day, but what matters is how you deliver the service you offer to your clients. It is always important to be honest and true when delivering the outcomes and reports for specific campaigns or projects that you handled  so that your clients will always in the loop and aware of what they get from your services. So if you are doing an SEO for a client, focusing on quality, user experience, conversion rates etc are whats really important than focusing and going crazy about getting inbound links that can just only harm your website. Tsk

Joseph Gojo Cruz is the author of RankingElite, a Philippine-based Online Marketing blog. Joseph has been working in SEO industry for over 3 years from website audit, link and content development, social media and search engine optimization. Connect with Joseph on Google+Twitter, and Facebook. Joseph is also a contributor on SEJ and Ahrefs.