That is also my reasoning for nofollowing every link in this article, I don’t support the industry and I don’t want to be giving anyone any power.
In my opinion, payday loans sites are legal loan sharks and governments should be doing all they can to remove the absurd amount of APR, that said, my creative side of me wanted to beat the new payday loans algorithm and this post will show you exactly how a site did.
The Algorithm -
Google launched their Payday loans algorithm update in early June of this year, aiming to combat all the spam that was battling its way past huge authority aites to claim top spots for months on end. Since Penguin 2.0 was mainly targeted at making sure only “quality” links & site spassed link juice, this opened the floodgates for private networks and contextual link builders to ramp up their game.
Along with the payday loans algo, came a number of manually set SERPs, this is why you probably won’t hit page 1 for most of the larger keywords such as “payday loans” but page 2 for multi 100,000 monthly search keywords can still bring in a hell of a lot of clientele.
The OnPage -
So, I’m going to introduce you to the super-duper panda friendly Uncle Buck there site’s extremely clean, has a very easy to use application form and a massive call to action phone number or text number for people to easily apply through their phone, ya know… giving that extra personal touch You might look at their link profile & site and wonder why they seem to randomly fluctuate between Page 2 and 3 in Google UK for the 301,000 monthly searches keyword “payday loans” then, well let’s take a look shall we?
If you scroll down a bit on their site down to their footer area, you’ll find this -
A pandas heaven, over 50 unique and well written articles, they don’t even need to do internal linking as each page has the Nav and footer bar links included, see example here of an article.
To further add to this their homepage has a great mini-article featuring a metric ton of keyword stuffing (which by the looks of things, still effectively works very nicely!) -
The Links -
Well, you might be wondering if you take a look at your ahref stats of only a couple indexed links how they’re ranking so gosh darn well!
As always, redirects are king, so far I’ve managed to find around 20+ re-directs pointing to the main site. Though if you take a bit of a closer look at each of the individual sites that are re-directing to each site (don’t worry there’s a list below for you) then you’ll find 100s of microsites, private network posts and I’ve even managed to identify a couple SAPE links!
Yes, you might be saying well these are just domains they’ve brought so people can’t steal their name, well shall we take a bit of a further look at a random one of these sites link profile?
Ah, now we see where they’re coming from. Shall we now have a look at the anchor texts for said link profile?
Pretty interesting aye?
With just continuous re-directs and spammed onpage content, it makes ranking sites ridiculously easy, along with the fact that if their main domain ever got penalized they could quite easily 302 it to a fresh domain and 301 the other URLs with links built they already had…
Sustainable, continuous spam for a multi-million dollar industry.
Tips of Improvement -
In my opinion they could’ve made this even sneakier, but I’m guessing the SEO company behind it wasn’t all that knowledgeable of advanced tactics like redirect deep linking and the likes…
Article Links -
Considering the amount of article content they were pushing out, easily could of internally linked an exact match anchor to their homepage (e.g. payday loans / pay day loans etc) then used the redirect domains to push juice through to the article pages, in turn pushing the exact match contextual link within the article up through to the homepage. This would of devalued the redirect juice but made any penalization pretty much impossible to lock onto and more likely to get a partial penalty on your article rather than a sitewide penalty, which will effectively kill that domain.
The meta data for the site wasn’t all that great either, I’d of prefered a keyword stuffed title along with a much longer description for the homepage and to of at least tried to optimize each article, making the site actually look optimized rather than just pointing a load of redirect links at it.
Redirects themselves -
For some reason they decided to use only domains that were in their brand/company name to redirect, I’m guessing that’s more because of their hopefulness that a Google employee won’t penalize the site as it looks like they’ve just 301′d all the domains they own. I would of prefered a bit more diversity, and across the entire site there was about 50 nofollow links compared to around 5,000 dofollows… That’s in the end, a pretty bad and unsustainable churn and burn, meaning you should always aim for a good nofollow/dofollow diversity ratio when building these kind of sites as it makes the sites link profile look a lot more natural when automated googlebots look at it.
The End -
So, you’ve learnt how a company is more than likely receiving a couple 1,000 visitors (Which even one conversion can lead to a pretty steep debt for the client, and a pretty good return for the lender) using a bit of a black hat spamming strategy.
If anything, I hope you guys can replicate this strategy and fill the payday loan SERPs with content about ethical banking and advice on how NOT to buy a payday loan. Though that might just be me being a moralfag (4chan word, don’t be offended).