Churn and Burn Baby…

No I’m not referring to what you do after too much alcohol…I’m not that cool and far too old – I’m talking about domains, and I’m talking about legitimate businesses. There’ve been some juicy arguments going around recently with corresponding blog posts about SEO giant Distilled, its link profile and also Rand Fishkin who had an email thread published between him and a disgruntled party he indirectly referenced in a tweet linking to a Google+ page; in short, the claws are out…but I’m a wuss so I’m staying well and truly on the fence!

All this talk of links and what’s spam and what isn’t spam and well isn’t-any-link-building-a-kind-of-spam makes me reach for the vodka…and the blogs, and it certainly gets me thinking about link spam.

Woman VomitingThe Churn and Burn Technique
This inspiration for all this research was a comment about this churn and burn business. Believe it or not this technique, previously restricted to mad businessman trying to make a quick buck has now started to become appealing to legitimate businesses.

What is it?
You buy a domain, spam it with link spam (I got hit with a rudimentary xrumer blast recently…all pleasant stuff!), get high rankings and either sell it to make money as is traditional or you milk the high rankings until the site gets a penalty, after which you sell the domain and start again.

Yes its true, for more adult industries such as gambling there have been occasions where this is a cheaper and more cost effective way to do business – what is cyber space coming to?!

If this is becoming the case though, it raises a couple of questions:

1. Is traditional SEO now becoming so damn hard that people are switching over to the dark side?

And if so…

2. Google messed up big time with its latest South Pole mammal update…

How so?
Imagine an online space where it became so hard to be totally legitimate and transparent that it became preferable to buy a domain, spam it to buggary to gain short term, high rankings, then when it gets penalised, get rid of it and repeat. That’s a lot of spam in a short amount of time and surely something that could do a lot of damage. Definitely a cue for some new algorithms methinks – domain age for example would surely become more important across all industries, although that would make it only harder for startups and it would make it a LOT harder for us SEO’s trying to work on startups and explain to them why the shoddy site that stole their content and is linked to from is ranking above them. I’m going to Antarctica in November and I swear if I see even one penguin…

Anyway, moving forward.

What’s Safe?
Urm…onsite, onsite is safe and onsite is working! You need onsite access for every site in addition to Webmaster Tools to keep a close eye on if the link profile is in danger of coming into some sort of disrepute or penalty – I also find spending time onsite really helps to steady things in the SERPs rather than having them jumping all over the place which is happening at the moment.

Smart guest posting and editorials are doing well too in addition to local citations in my experience. Local is getting bigger and there appears to be a definite shift in this direction. Cover your tracks with social media as well – for Gods sake don’t buy it! Do it, I find as little as 10 minutes per day of genuine interaction, promoting blog posts, generally wasting time on Twitter etc can make a massive difference.

In fact I’m going to call it the Jessica Ennis effect – be an all rounder.

So after a conversation with a few peers I’ve come to the very useful conclusion that there is no right or wrong. No one agrees completely with regards to the latest update and how to link build ethically and as per the above, even those squeaky clean authority SEOs can be attacked for being not so squeaky. However all the people I’ve spoken to/read about that link earn, all get results so my advice would be to get other peoples opinions and experiences, research your own niche then come up with your own link building strategy whether you go for squeaky clean, slightly naughty or a bit of both. Some industries you can certainly get away with more – for the record, floristry (ahem Interflora) is NOT one such example 😉

Personally I can’t be bothered with all the agg of the technical side that comes with churning and burning domains so I’m going to opt for keeping any site I’m working on in Google’s good books. However I’m not adverse to finding one or two blogs to add a comment to that are relevant to a site but that I’m not contributing to massively, I’m not afraid to list on a few directories and I’m not afraid of a bit of anchor text in a guest post on a general site that also hosts a load of other guest posts…so shoot me.