Greyhat and Blackhat SERM techniques

I was thinking a bit more about Search Engine Reputation Management, because I’ll be speaking on the subject at the Digital Marketing Event next week. When I was reading a lot trying to find some “new” ways to do SERM, I sort of got caught with some ideas in my head which I wanted to document. Some of them I might never be able to try at Onetomarket, but maybe you can try them.

The first one was one I found over at SEOBlackhat, in a post from december 2005 (you’re always way ahead of me Andrew):

My solution would be to point alot of high value links at OTHER parts of the SEC site that have your companies name listed. The best would be blowout earnings numbers or other positive results. Google is not likely to show more than 2 results in the SERPs from the SEC about your site. So if you Googlebomb your own companies name to different pages on the SEC website, those pages would likely usurp the negative article in the SERPs.

This would work for larger types of sites, news sites etc., that don’t have any specific grudge against you. If you’d do this with a blogger like me, I’d 301 the post you’re linking to into my bad post about you, and you’d be dead… But I guess this could work for the CNN.com’s and alike of this world. I guess you could call this greyish, but I’d consider doing it for clients.

Another method, and this one I can’t try at Onetomarket, is duplicating the negative page about your brand on your own domain, somewhat better optimized, but cloaked. You might be able to trick the duplicate content filter into believing the content was originally on your domain, thus dropping the other domain from the SERPs. The version you’d show to the user could show your story and how your company greatly solved this inconvenient problem.

If someone tries this, let me know if it worked for you :)

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10 Responses

  1. Bart NoppenBy Bart Noppen on 31 May, 2007

    The ods that you encounter a blogger/website publisher who is technically able to 301 too the bad post (and actually does it) is very very small but it could happen ofcourse …

  2. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 31 May, 2007

    Well, it’s a chance you can take of course, you always have to investigate on your opponent, so you’re able to make an educated guess on it…

  3. Bart NoppenBy Bart Noppen on 31 May, 2007

    This post made me wonder, are there actually companies who’s core business revolves arround getting bad press out there (and with ‘out there’ I mean to rank well).

    Thinking about I would guess there are but does anyone know of such a specific company?

  4. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 31 May, 2007

    I don’t… If there are, drop me a line ;)

  5. Stefan JuhlBy Stefan Juhl on 1 June, 2007

    Linking to positive and neutral pages has proven very successful to me. And to avoid any problems with people possibly altering the content I rank, I always let the links go through my own 301/tinyurl-like services. Thereby being able to pull the links at any time if necessary.

    I haven’t tried duplicating the negative page as you describe. But I’ve tried to duplicate entire sites, and hijack ALL rankings to show something different through cloaking.

    And let’s not forget the option to get the offensive sites into really really bad neighborhoods to force a penalty on them.

  6. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 1 June, 2007

    Hey Stefan, cool stuff :) the last one is pretty blackhat as well, but yes, that will work :)

  7. Peter van der GraafBy Peter van der Graaf on 1 June, 2007

    Joost, I have tried the hijacking of negative results and it works to some extend. You need to be very quick (after the article is first indexed) and the source needs to have little authority. So hijacking a New York Times article will be somewhat harder. It doesn’t really matter that you are the authority on your company name, because hijacking capabilities go into a more general authority.

    My feeling is that you could try it in very few cases, but it is another one for the toolbox.

  8. SintBy Sint on 1 June, 2007

    The client’s PR-department should be trying to wash out negative publicity. Thing is that lots of public relations people understand too little about the web to be able to succesfully remove or compensate negative publicity.
    Especially on certain weblogs you sometimes see posts with e-mails of companies that get very pissed of – and in the meanwhile generating even more negative attention. So I also hope old-school marketing specialists will learn from your presentation!

    The first trick looks very similar to what you explained in your previous article.
    For the second suggestion, which indeed is beyond the border of ethics, I really doubt if it would make any difference. Maybe if you are really quick putting your version of the content online, but still then the risk of getting cought cloaking would undermine any chance of gaining any result.

  9. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 1 June, 2007

    @Peter: nice, and indeed one for the toolbox. I must say that cloaking is something that is NOT in my toolbox at Onetomarket though, and to some extent you could probably do more damage with it then the damage you’re trying to solve…

    @Sint: We agree on both parts I think, Online Reputation Management should be a part of day to day business for communication and PR departments.

  10. BlendBy Blend on 3 June, 2007

    I still new on SEO field. On learning. Between Greyhat and Blackhat SERM techniques I think why not try it both. :)