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How To Piss People Off With An SEO Experiment And Even Get Hacked!

Sometimes you go about things in the wrong way. I may have done just that when I decided to do the first (of many to come) SEO experiment on our blog.

If you haven’t yet read the SEO Flattery Experiment post, it’s available here. To summarize, I wanted to test the idea that you could build links by flattering people who you wanted to get links from. I have an interest in photography, subscribe to about 30 photography blogs, and have a photography blog myself… so I thought… Hey… I’ll create a list of my personal favorite photography blogs and then rate them based on some different things and see what happens.

So, I spent about 6 hours analyzing these blogs to determine which ones were the “best of the best” based on 3 pieces of criteria.

There was very little response at first, until I sent emails out to the blog owners. All but two of them responded almost immediately with a courteous “thank you”. One of them linked… which was great! In a conversation I was having with Aaron Wall about SEO and link building, he mentioned that his opinion is that if you can get 10% - 20% of the people, you should consider yourself successful.

I started to see some decent traffic as a result of the post within a day or so. Then, one of the bloggers posted it to a forum and traffic really took off.

Site Statistics

They got pissed.

And then I started getting emails. I mentioned in my post on this site, the name of the designer who created 3 of those blogs that were posted. I did this giving them “props” because I really like their work. Well, someone got into a conversation or sent emails or something telling all of the photography blog owners that the post was part of an SEO experiment.

One emailed me saying that he was going to post about it, but now that he knows I was blowing smoke up his ass that he wasn’t going to now.

Another spoke of me as unethical and how dare I do such a horrible thing.

The other, someone who I have actually hired in the past made a comment that they “don’t know how they feel about it”.

Here’s the deal in the end. That post on the ConklinImages blog gets more traffic than any other post now. And in addition, the post is coming up when people search for things like “greatest photography blogs” and other’s that you can see on the original post.

I ask you this my pissed off photography bloggers (whom I still admire)…

Is it a bad thing when someone googles “10 greatest photographers” that your photography site comes up as one of them on my site? I don’t think so.


Getting Hacked

I have never worried about security on my photography blog site in the past because it was just a hobby thing and only had like 50 unique visitors a day… it was really just a personal thing.

So, when I set the thing up forever ago, I 777′d my main blog directory so that wordpress could access my htaccess file. I know!!! Half of you are SCREAMING at me right now. For those of you who don’t understand, this leaves your site WIDE OPEN to hacks.

I had posted screen shots of each of the photography blogs that I rated. I looked at my site the other day and all of the screenshots posted that were of blogs designed by infinet design were completely changed to other images.

Now, they have since been changed back and I have locked up my site a bit better. I don’t know who did it, but I have my assumptions and I say “props to you” for having so much time on your hands.

When I was investigating my log files to see when things were changed… sure enough, my htaccess file was changed on a day that I did not touch it.

Now, I believe that the most comical part of the “hacking” part of this story is the post I wrote a few months ago about securing your site.


Oh… congrats to Aaron Wall… your comment from the original post was correct.

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  1. It all comes down to psychology and sociology. You learned the hard way on this one ;)

  2. So flattery works… but never let people know that you were hoping for links too.

  3. Never let the mice know that they are mice..

    I think the shift in psychology over the last decade has been fascinating to watch. It’s like people are just now figuring out that for their entire lives events around them have been manipulated to get the desired results from them. And now that they have figured out that we are all just mice in a maze they aren’t happy about it.

  4. interesting stuff, I imagine the very best SEO are excellent at understanding people.
    Great post, it makes me want to learn and be pro :p

  5. I just checked the backlinks and it doesn’t have seemed to have picked up any except a feedburner one.

    Am I wrong?

    Did it fail in one respect to get links to the actual post but was successful in another because of the whole hacking story?

  6. It’s wierd… there is also a link here:

    and I get traffic from the forum which is probably nofollowed.


    On another note, yeah, I think the hacking story has something to do with it’s success because i got a lot of mentions on stumble, seobook, and others because of it.

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