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Then Greyjoy
Then Greyjoy

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SEO in 2020? Just spam like it's the 2000s

This is my first post here since it is the type of thing that needs to be shared with a community. As a subject overall, it didn't fit into any of my projects anyway. A bit of a rant as well so here goes.

I will talk about SEO and my efforts of understanding it throughout the years. I've never really been good at it (or maybe I was but just too…“white”) but, with each new service I launched, I always tried to achieve something in this space. It's that short period of excitement when you submit your first article and the marketing efforts start. It always fades away in 2-3 months though and it's business as usual.

My most successful endeavor to date is still not even on the frontpage of google's results with its main keyword even though we're in business for over 12 years now. Luckily for us, we have strong partnerships that allows us to just cruise a long.

I never tried blogging, over optimizing or writing articles on our website and I finally reached a moment when I can say I'm glag I didn't waste my time because this was something in the back of my head for all these years, like something I missed doing - missed opportunities you can say.

I have many connections with people that drowned chasing this ever eluding “fata-morgana” and either give up entirely or end-up paying big money to adwords or other channels, which is fine, SEO is not supposed to be easy; not in 2020 right? Not now when we keep hearing about how advanced Google is and how easy it can trace us, profile us, sell us what we don't even know we need…yet.

I operate in the proxy business, since 2009. We have tens of thousands of customers into our database and we're gong steady without complaints or major issues so far. Our user lifetime value is quite high and many of our clients, like 65%, are returning customers with at least 2 orders. YOU WOULD say we know a thing or two about proxies by now since we are selling them for almost 12 years without incidents.

I heard search engines nowadays place a bigger weight for entities that are known to be an authority in their domain - like we are. While that might be true I'm here to talk about another topic however: spam, fake posting and obvious shady activity that gets you on the first position of a hard to conquer keyword - one that links directly to a sale. You heard me right: you can conquer a hard keyword like “buy proxy” (almost a guaranteed sale out of it - also a CPC of $5 with global searches of about 5,000/mo) just by spamming, like they used to do in the 2000s.

Buy proxy overview

Since I never did anything too important besides some meta tags and good titles I was at this point looking to improve my position - move the needle a bit. I purchased an ahrefs subscription (good value in there not going to lie), as you do, and started to analyze my competition. Who is this guy ranking number 1? They must be good at this as I never heard of them, neither my partner did so let's try to replicate some of his doings maybe we get a bite here and there.

Top 10 positions for keyword

First thing that I always do when trailing a website is to look at the backlinks and spot their SEO efforts. There is always a breadcrumb. Articles posted here and there, comments on forums, comments on Quora, producthunt and similar, you know - the usual suspects.

To my amazement, this new guy in town had 40k+ backlinks reported in ahrefs. Over forty thousand backlinks in a few months - wow! Did they get featured on CNN, NBC and other television networks for the entire summer or something? Did I miss a Trump tweet about these guys? Let's see, let's click on that link that takes us to their backlinks data page. I wonder what is there.

SPAM activity - links

I'm sure you know by now where I'm getting at. Those are 40k+ backlinks gathered in a few months. It's an unhealthy amount and their data reveals the entire profile. Just SPAM every article comment section, every forum possible and EVERY form you find on the internet. It doesn't matter if it's about cooking, doing yoga or playing chess. It doesn't even matter if it's a Japanese website, Koreean or any other language.

Being in the proxy business I'm no stranger to spammers or devilish software such as xrumer which we had to ban in the first year since it was bringing down our servers. I remember our first incident when our servers were choking, going down one by one and we didn't see anything besides huge spikes of traffic. Turns out some people place this software on dedicated servers and let them work 24/7 trying to break all of your web forms in order to post a link. Live and learn I always say - it just makes me stronger.

I try to give the benefit of the doubt most of the time. After all, someone else could be doing this to them - Google should not ban this website right? Right! Why do they allow it to achieve first position in 2 months for such a hard, money-making, keyword then? How do you allow a new website to gain 40k links and hand it over top position? Funny thing is that I'm not even mad for my presence (way over back between pages 4 and 7), what about the others on the first page that are writing articles, lots of them, posting content, trying to get social media exposure and all that?

The conclusion is simple. In 2020 spam is still winning big time. For 99% of the people SEO does not worth the efforts and investment. It has a big learning curve, it is volatile and you're always at the mercy of Big Brother while also being constantly beaten down by bots - good luck raising 40k backlinks. You could channel that effort and money into paid promotion, affiliates, strategic partnerships or other means.

I know passive income is the ideal way but it is and has always been a mirage. It's time to let go. Marketing is much more than that.

What do you guys think? How is SEO working out for you?

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