The simple answer appears to be yes – at least in the short term. Crappy linkbuilding and keyword stuffing are still tactics I frequently see being used, and in some cases, these are tactics that are still working. This makes me sad.

This blog post is basically going to be a bit of a rant. A rant that I hope will resonate with other frustrated digital marketers and SEOs who pour time and resource into building an online presence for their clients in legitimate ways, and through multiple channels, only to find their competitors (who often appear to be doing nothing) sitting pretty at the top of organic search results.

Before I go on, I’d like to make it clear that I believe that to build a presence for a business online, you need to focus on more than good organic visibility. If Google disappeared tomorrow, businesses that put all their eggs in this basket would be in big trouble.

You should be covering all the bases when it comes to online marketing, and should not obsess over where you are ranking for keywords. However, whatever way you look at it, organic traffic is (to an extent) free, so why should those who haven’t earned it be in prime positions?

This week, I started looking at a small number of a client’s competitors, who all consistently appeared top of page one for a huge number of high traffic, competitive terms. What I discovered totally did not blow my skirt up in any way.

The sites looked outdated, were not very well built, provided very little in the way of a good user experience, and for the most part, had very thin content.

There was also no fresh content on any of them. The category pages for these sites were over optimised. They all had a domain authority of less than 20.

This lead me to believe that they must at least have some cracking links. Yeah, that must be it.


All three sites analysed had deployed similar tactics. A high number of low quality directory links made up a large proportion of the profiles, but a WHOIS Lookup confirmed that all three had also purchased exact match and partial match domains that had been set up for the sole purpose of creating loads of crappy pages of location specific content to link back to their domain.

Check the sweet content. This must have taken so much effort to write!

Spammy Content Example - Browser Media

Click to enlarge

One of the other competitors has purchased multiple exact match domains to allow them to target a larger geographic area. These domains take you to an ugly, templated landing page that links through to even more location targeted ugly ass landing pages, which simply replace all of the location terms on the page dynamically. Old skool.

Spammy Landing Page Example - Browser Media


I’ll be keeping an eye on these competitors over the coming weeks to see how they fair, especially as Ahrefs is showing some serious nosedives in the total number of referring pages / domains in the last few weeks for two of these competitors (the other one appears to still be linkbuilding en masse).

Ahrefs Backlink Nosedive Example - Browser Media


I’d expect these gains to be short term. Tactics like this are likely to land them in trouble with Google eventually, as they violate a number of the search quality guidelines.

Are spammy tactics used by your competitors getting your goat? Or do you believe that they will continue to work – so what’s the harm in doing it? Let us know!