SEO experiences in Taboo Industries

If you worked on SEO in the old school times, there is a high chance that you have a lot of experience that you can't say much about, especially if you were on the dark side of things.

Sometimes I'd like to talk about those experiences, but I think that can do more damage (to me) than good (to me or to others). Has this ever happened to you? Maybe you also spent a lot of time in black hat forums, talking behind a cryptic nickname, buying links and sharing domains easy to spam, and bragging with screenshots of affiliate platforms. I’ve never shared much about my projects, nor participate actively in such forums (however, as you can imagine, I bought a lot of software/content/guides/links on them).

I decided to share some insights about those projects, some of which I started on my own, and also hired by agencies, but without going in any deep.

The Old Good Days of Google Adsense

I lived almost two years thanks to Adsense, creating niche websites and ranking them on Google. We (I wasn’t on my own) used a wide variety of tactics to “create” content, from scanning books and using OCR software to get the text, ultra-spin texts, freelancers, brute force translations and more.

In the best moments we earned around U$350/day (in a small underdeveloped country like mine that's a lot of money, trust me) but we got a serious hammer after an algorithm update that took away a lot of our no-so-clean link pattern.

Sometimes I play with the idea of doing it again, but on a bigger scale, using some headless CMS, AI and database-based content. It would be fun.

Creating a Twitter Botnet

I created several twitter botnets for different purposes. I had a very efficient process to keep them safe, using proxies, custom images, real phone numbers, and a lot of content. Most twitter networks are created in a rush and are easily spotted, but not mines, especially when creating real and fake interactions that get real people engaged.

I used them to get traffic from Twitter (obviously), and have some paid political campaigns to artificially create trends. It was fun but hard to monetize, since you need a lot of high level contacts just to have the chance of renting your network at a good price. If you are using a Twitter botnet just to move traffic, there are cheaper and more scalable solutions.

Creating an Instagram botnet

Pretty much the same as Twitter, but selling likes, views and followers for influencers-wannabe and small brands. It is impossible to compete with Asia-based providers that sell dirty cheap (but with the worst quality possible). Some political campaigns can be done, but I won’t have much interest in (unless you have deep pockets).

Creating a botnet for another social network

I worked for a now extinct social media platform, looking for a way to create enough momentum. They gave us access to their backend, and we created thousands of realistic profiles trying to get the dopamine kick of likes and followers to the real users, expecting that they will stick around. It worked, but the project failed the second round of funding. The concept they explored was proven viable, and it’s kind of trending these days. Another case of being right too early.

PBNs (Private Blog Networks)

I created and managed Private Blog Networks for myself and for some agencies (until less than one year ago). It is technically challenging and fun, but hard to sell. You need a lot of clients to keep the machine going, or give absolutely zero fucks about getting penalized. Now I do prefer buying links.

Gambling & Porn

With Pharma products, these are the crown jewels of SEO. The most heavily spammed topics in the world. Banned from any respectable ad network, they rely on SEO for acquiring almost all traffic. I never worked in pharma, but I had my time in the big boys league.

Porn -Adult Content- must be the most fascinating and still not completely explored niche in the world. The long tail possibilities are endless (considering also the rise of platforms such as OnlyFans or Chaturbate). It also destroys parts of your soul and hope in humanity, since you will see how twisted, degrading, absolutely fucking disgusting some people could be. Looking at a search log of one of those sites it’s enough to make you wonder “should I call the FBI or something?”

Gambling is less fun and more niche, which obtains most of its profits from addicts (because casual players are not where the money come from). Most competitors are willing to hack websites for getting links or hacking your websites to insert their affiliate links. Many resources are spent on security, and it is hard to have any real differentiation since most online casino platforms are pretty similar, with the same games, bonuses, etc.

I'd like to hear from other SEOs about their hard-to-tell experiences in the digital industry. I am sure there are many interesting things to share.

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