The SEO Police Caught Duping Their Clients With Rehashed SEO Tools

Sep 2nd

While some members of the SEO industry encourage outing, it should be highlighted that they are not above duping their customers with launching a "new" tool that is actually a dumbed-down rehash of a tool we have offered for years here.

If you want the full version with additional features please do check out Hub Finder, as it is way better than the hyped knock-off is.

No Hype Required!

Our co-citation tool has way more options than the competition. It is better in every practical way, other than hype...and that is why we decided to make it free for you to test it for the next 24 hours.

Why Hub Finder is Better than the Hyped Knock Off Tool

  • It allows you to automatically pull in search results from Google, Yahoo!, or both
  • It allows you to enter up to 10 competing sites
  • It allows you to mix and match the above
  • It allows you to select pages that are linking to any page on a site OR pages that are linking to only the specific pages that were ranking
  • It shows you the exact pages the links came from AND tracks multiple links from a single site even if different pages within that site were linking to multiple resources in your industry.
  • Shows IP addresses
  • Offers lightning quick CSV export

Knock Off Marketing

How can a person roll with those sorts of business ethics (clone someone else's work and then pawn it off as their own) and then encourage SEOs outing each other (even after they have read about the caustic effects of outing multiple times)?

How About Honesty For a Change?

If you are dirty be dirty.
If you are clean be clean.
But no point being one and acting like you are the next.
The web has too long of a memory to play those kinds of games.
IMHO.

Update

Rand edited his post to add attribution, for which I thank him. Had the whole "standing on the shoulders" bit or any sort of attribution existed originally I never would have published this post. But it was the re-packaging something that has been around forever as being brand new (without any attribution) that is inconsistent with the openness some claim to strive for.

Published: September 2, 2009

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Comments

September 2, 2009 - 3:14pm

They're targeting SEO noobs so it's new to them.

I do a similar thing on some of my sites...it's just business. Granted it isn't really self consistent with their purported ethics, but it's business just the same.

September 2, 2009 - 4:52pm

It all comes down to brand perception at this point.

If I want to join a community I see it as two real options.

SEObook as the more elite, no bull-shit, seo expert-hub.

The SEOpolice.org are the glitzy younger sibling, who spends lots of money on looking pretty and building shiny tools that target the newer members of the SEO community.

At the end of the day the paid tools are cool, but the community is what makes a site worth joining.

-added name to waitlist

edited to add that their LinkScape project is going to be very appealing if Bing takes Y! SiteExplorer offline. They could easily charge developers to access the api.

September 2, 2009 - 4:50pm

My site and 4 competitors

Results
You: 12 sites (Yahoo API)
Them: 25 sites (LS)
They're giving me more sites I can get links from and that's 80% of a link finding tools value.

Results Display
You: I only see domains
Them: They show domains and then show the number of pages on that domain that have the links. That number is clickable and shows each page with links

Are the links worthwhile?
You: No idea
Them: Shows domain level mRank and tRank and each page shows it's own mRank
They also filter out nofollow links. I'm not sure if you filter out nofollow links or not. I would consider this feature the other 20% of value in a link finding tool.

I'd give their tool an 8.5 and yours a 6.

September 2, 2009 - 6:35pm

Aaron's tool shows you the pages that link to competitors. Just click on the Xes below each competitor's number in the chart.

That said, I grant you that if LS consistently shows more sites, as well as adding in value with metrics that help you evaluate the potential value of each link qualitatively, then it's better.

@Aaron: If Y! shuts down their API, will you do a deal with Majestic to source link data?

September 2, 2009 - 5:30pm

Aaron - I certainly did not mean to denigrate your tool or the others that have link graph intersection capabilities. Obviously, this type of thing has been around since the late 1990's when Website Garage had a similar tool, but without access to a full web index and calculations of importance metrics, I always felt there was a lot missing. I'm going back to edit the post and make sure to note some of the predecessors, including your Hub Finder tool.

On the outing issue - I think it's somewhere we'll have to agree to disagree, though I have decided to take your advice and not out anyone publicly via the blog (which I know you've requested in the past). I do, however, disagree on a few points around it:

#1 - I don't think it's unethical or immoral. It's certainly no worse than reporting a carpool lane violator (and Google won't write you a ticket).

#2 - I don't think it's necessarily a bad business practice or a waste of time. It's very low energy and intensity to file a spam report and if you can gain a position or two or even just level the playing field in the long run, it would seem to be accretive to the business. As SEOs, we're all anticipating that someone is constantly spam reporting us anyway.

#3 - I've come to believe that those who are most vocal about "no outing" are often the same people who do the most spam reporting (in private) and leverage their relationships with the engines to that end. I'm sure you've seen some of this, too. Since no one can verify whether you actually report spam or not, it's in everyone's interests to say "no I would never do it," but impossible to prove.

Again, my sincere apologies - I love SEOBook (and recommend it all the time!), I look up to you as a terrific SEO, a mentor and in the past a great friend, too. I still remember how excited we all were when you visited the SEOmoz offices and I hope we can continue a positive relationship going forward.

September 3, 2009 - 12:00am

Obviously, this type of thing has been around since...

But when you released your tool you tried to make it sound like some real innovation...like it was something that has never existed before.

though I have decided to take your advice and not out anyone publicly via the blog

That should probably go along with not encouraging others to do so. It felt more than a bit disingenuous when you wrote AFTER you had outed people very publicly AND had been reminded that some such efforts were...

  • counter to the general search engine's editorial policies
  • damaging to the businesses (that you claim to like and recommend)

...that you could act like it is no big deal and something that should be encouraged.

The only way to apologize authentically is to change the behavior that is offensive. To keep saying one is sorry and then repeat it over and over and over again in not sincere.

September 2, 2009 - 5:21pm

Let the search engineers, quality raters do their fuckin jobs! They don't need you to ruin peoples businesses, lives and take food out of their child's mouths..because you think it will give you a "low energy" way to "level the playing field"..

While at the same time the techniques you are outing are the same ones you use yourself...

and comparing outing a competitor to ratting out a carpool lane violator... theirs a big difference their bud... when you report someone in Google it has the possibility of literally ruining that person's life...if their site gets burned!...

September 2, 2009 - 6:25pm

So what if reporting to someone in Google could potentially ruin that person's life?

Honestly, I've never submitted a spam report on anyone, but I would be completely fine with that. It's what they call the grown-up world; if you're not good enough to withstand the report, you didn't deserve the rankings in the first place

September 2, 2009 - 7:02pm

It boils down to...

Treat others the way you would want to be treated....

If one of my sites get reported then fine, but I'm not going to go around being a little snitch to hopefully gain a few pats on the back and increase my "rockstardom"

but maybe thats just me cuz im no snitch!!

September 2, 2009 - 10:02pm

it has nothing to do with being a snitch and everything with being a moron - if someone is using spam to rank for a keyword you want (and, presumably, you're not) and you don't report them, you're a sucker

September 2, 2009 - 10:39pm

Really, what about the company who hires a shady SEO. You're going to rat on a company who doesn't even know their hired professional was duping them? If you're really that worried about it, then why don't not notify the company that you've noticed some of the stuff being done to promote their website isn't up to par. Oh that's right, because you don't truley give a fu&%! Like Rand said "It's a very low time/cost" way to fu%$ over your competitors.

If he did it responsibly it would be a tedious, high-cost, and time consuming task.

September 2, 2009 - 11:18pm

how is it fucking over your competitors?

Companies hire bad (ie incompetent/unethical) people all the time; are you supposed to give them a pass because they hired an SEO as opposed to a sales rep, IT guy, financial guy, legal guy or whatever?

What about your client? You're supposed to let your client's success suffer because of some absurd code? Worse yet, you're going to let your competitor spam their way to top rankings and take food out of your kid's mouth, or force you to work 5 times harder to get the ranking they currently enjoy?

Like I said before, it's a grown-up world and if they didn't know what their SEO was up to, then that's their problem

Like I said before, I have never dimed anyone out, but this whole idea that we shouldn't do it for some ridiculous code is an outright joke

September 2, 2009 - 11:41pm

It's fucking over your competitors when an industry "expert" teaches newbies publicly on their website about where to buy the best links, then also promotes turning them for doing it.

September 2, 2009 - 11:33pm

Whats spam in your book?.... is it blogroll links that you suspect that they purchased, blog comments, using xmlrpc, buying directory links, article directories... WHAT is SPAM...

sites positioned above mine

QUIT being haters/snitches and work on your own shit...

September 4, 2009 - 2:38am

It doesn't matter what my definition of spam is - the only definition that matters is Google's and/or Bing's. What does matter is whether or not your SEO is defensible and above board; if it is, you have nothing to fear, otherwise, you get what you deserve

September 4, 2009 - 7:54am

If that is the case then I hope in time that one of your competitors outs you on a popular SEO blog for doing something they were doing as well, get your site burned to the ground, and that you gain the experience + insights needed to have a more holistic view of the SEO game. IMHO.

September 3, 2009 - 12:04am

Well if the "report a spammer or be a sucker" advice would have been applied early on when a certain SEO company was exchanging tons of spammy links to try to rank a thin hard money lending site then perhaps they wouldn't be recommending it to others.

Spam reporting doesn't make you smart...it just shows that you are the type to take short cuts...and often that your focus is misplaced.

September 4, 2009 - 2:43am

Couldn't agree more - respectfully though, I don't think anyone is saying that spam reporting makes you smarter - more to the point, the only point I am making is that it's foolish to let a competitor color outside the lines and get away with it

September 2, 2009 - 5:53pm

Is that if someone has something to say, they say it - aloud. I have a lot more respect for Aaron coming out and saying, "outing is bullshit and here are the people who do it" and "hey SEOMoz, you knocked off my tool, and I'm not happy about it" then thinly veiled comments buried in a blog post like:

"it could easily be that those most vocal about rejecting it as a path to success are actually the same ones who employ it most"

That are clearly aimed at certain people in a seemingly innocent, non specific way. Considering that Aaron and myself are two of the most vocal when it comes to feeling outing is bad, it implies something - and something untrue.

I'd much rather have had my name directly mentioned, with a link so that I could have clearly responded to call BULLSHIT. Do a lot of people out? Yep, they sure do, including many who SAY they think it is a bad practice - I'm well aware, unfortunately. But, claiming that "the most vocal" do it is a pansy way of taking a stab at people you smile at during conferences.

Just my two cents.

September 2, 2009 - 6:15pm

I love that Aaron & Rae come right out and tells it like it is. Anyone that wants to learn how to build a business, be a leader, and gain attention & links naturally while doing it need only to read this post & responses for a perfect example of how to do it.

Also, it had been a while since I read one of Rand's all to famous apologies. :D

September 2, 2009 - 6:21pm

"Let the search engineers, quality raters do their fuckin jobs! They don't need you to ruin peoples businesses, lives and take food out of their child's mouths..because you think it will give you a "low energy" way to "level the playing field"

WHY would Google offer up an option to report SPAM if they could handle doing their jobs combating all the SPAM out there??

Should we just let the police do "their fuckin jobs" and not call into CRIMESTOPPERS if we have information on a crime or criminal???

SEO and Internet Marketing is an absolutely wonderful industry but the thing that is the biggest turnoff about the entire industry is this high school little girls room gossiping & Whining. There is a phrase an NFL coach used a few years back that I always think about when SEO's go off on this petty stuff, it's "Just shut up and do your job!"

Why even write a post talking about how "it should be highlighted that they (Seomoz) are not above duping their customers with launching a "new" tool that is actually a dumbed-down rehash of a tool we have offered for years here."

Yahoo might have said the same thing when Google first emerged....and look at them now.

So what they call their Link Tool the best!?

Gillette says they are "The Best a Man Can Get" (I know the best thing this man can get is NOT a razor) other examples of similiar marketing are....Beanz meanz Heinz. – Heinz Baked Beans - I think, therefore IBM. – IBM, When you care enough to send the very best. – Hallmark, All the news that’s fit to print. – The New York Times

I have a feeling this little "Rivalry" between SEOmoz and SEObook will get out of hand as BOTH sides will continue to whine, defend & gossip. I'm fairly new to the computer/tech/seo industry but there is one thing that I ALWAYS notice about this industry....There are a lot of ego's and a lot of "I am God" complexes going around and it NEEDS TO STOP - I've wasted enough time with this so I am gonna SHUT UP and DO MY JOB

September 3, 2009 - 12:34am

WHY would Google offer up an option to report SPAM if they could handle doing their jobs combating all the SPAM out there??

Looks to me like Google is making BILLIONS OF DOLLARS PER YEAR. So they have the resources needed to do their job. They just find it MORE PROFITABLE to create an atmosphere of uncertainty where trying to get third parties to rat out and police each other is more profitable.

Should we just let the police do "their fuckin jobs" and not call into CRIMESTOPPERS if we have information on a crime or criminal???

This could almost be seen as a legitimate line of reasoning if Google didn't

So its not spam even if it uses reverse billing fraud ***so long as Google gets their cut*** but if they don't get their cut (and you are not a big brand AdWords advertiser) then it is spam.

And, ironically, if one wanted to curb online fraud the people you would need to police would be the search engines + large ad networks, since they distribute ads for most of the scams.

September 3, 2009 - 12:26pm

THAT is a well thought out and professional response! I have been the victim of some of the scams in Google Adwords, particularly in the content network.

Obviously this issue of outing is a deep one that has a history and people are lying about it. who's lying? I don't know but the point of this initial blog post seems to be to OUT Seomoz and their Link Tool for being inferior and repackaged. Although it's not the same as filing a SPAM report it still goes against your principle of

That's fine and definitely your right but so what they came up with a tool similiar to yours, there are slight differences between the two tools just like there is a slight difference between the taste of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. When Pepsi came out they called "The Biggest Value Around"...I am sure Coke disagreed but that is BOTH of their rights as businesses, I just really didn't like the tone of this blog post - seems too personal

September 3, 2009 - 1:26pm

If you get it you get it. If you don't you don't.

The fact is they claim a position of moral superiority by suggesting people should be outing (for doing the very same things they themselves do and recommend in private). Then they out people with intent of trying to destroy their businesses. And then they run around doing copy-cat stuff.

Thought leaders and experts create innovation. Others repackage it and hype it up for sale. My point was just to set the record straight. And it worked.

You see...claiming that something is vastly unique and different when it is ****a copy**** of what exists is pretty close to lying. And renting a link here or there is nowhere near as bad as lying to your customers is. But if you can't see that I clearly can't help you.

And you say my post sounded too personal...by that same standard was it too personal when Rand asked "who should Google come down on" when referencing my affiliate program? Yup that was too personal. And sleazy. And in spite of that he still recommended outing as recently as this past week. Shameful, really.

September 3, 2009 - 2:18pm

I hear ya, I hadn't seen the "Who Should Google Come Down on" thing or knew it was in reference to your affiliate program.

Like I said Y'all know more about what is really going on and I personally think it sucks on both ends. At the very least I can commend you for standing up for what you believe is right.

September 3, 2009 - 5:19pm

You think Google could not take down a gazillion of the worst MFA (made for adsense) sites out there? Of course they could but why bother, it makes them money and bids up the price for legitimate businesses.

Why can Google sell the top position on their search results but if someone invests money in building links it is against their rules and they penalize them. Google should be hit with a massive anit-trust suit from SEO's

And don't even get me started on the uneven playing field everyone is on when going against big brands that can buy whatever they want with total impunity.

September 2, 2009 - 6:30pm

Captain Penny used to say "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and, all of the people some of the time... but you can't fool MOM". The little bitch just meant MOM! Good on ya mate! He's fudged numbers and made false statements right out of the chute he's a fraud and deserves no credibility.. yet the sheeple follow mindlessly behind him. Bout time someone put the little bitch in his place. Who's next eddie? Pimpin a toolbar after applying his stupid standards to others work. MYOFB, Comes to mind. :-)

Jus... my .02 Ca.

September 2, 2009 - 6:41pm

@Aaron - Any plans to maintain the Hub Finder's functionality if Y!SE shuts down entirely, or closes the API?

September 2, 2009 - 6:43pm

On a related note, I find it unprofessional to see name calling on your blog. Criticism is fine, but keep it at a business level.

September 2, 2009 - 6:43pm

"WHY would Google offer up an option to report SPAM if they could handle doing their jobs combating all the SPAM out there??" See... that sounds like a SE's job not Random Foreskins. There are also Orgs and others not competing with who they are ratting on... why not leave it up to them. Seems more like something they should be doing on behalf of the industry instead of Random pimpin' the industry for it.

September 2, 2009 - 7:00pm

BTW what sense does a 24 hour free trial make if one cannot even subscribe to use the tool?

At least Moz's hyped up marketing was something that could generate revenue for him.

September 3, 2009 - 12:37am

I am not always out to try to maximize short term cashflow. After all, I have no investors to please and am quite comfy with my earnings. And sometimes there is value in setting the facts straight.

September 2, 2009 - 7:21pm

Umm perhaps I don't want that to come up for his name and embarass him so I disguised a little... besides you gotta' admit it's funny as shite! You earn respect it isn't a given... or at least that's the way it was before you could buy it.

September 2, 2009 - 7:19pm

Actually, Hub Finder allows you to enter up to 20 competing sites instead of 10 sites. Just sayin':)

September 2, 2009 - 9:04pm

Hub Finder is open source... or an older version was.

Being able to run a copy on your own server and modify the code is a lot better than linkscape (imo).


Just a quick note that SEOmoz links to Hub Finder (the old URL when it was free) on thier Internet Marketing Handbook page here: http://www.seomoz.org/dp/the-internet-marketing-handbook

September 2, 2009 - 10:08pm

I personally have to thank Aaron for calling Rand out on the BS. Okay, if he wants to report people, then fine report people - but IMHO it becomes unethical when you report people for doing the same thing you do. I don't think reporting others is as common as he is making it out to be. I think a few people are doing it a lot of the time. For F sake, we all had to learn SEO at one point didn't we? http://web.archive.org/web/20050612021446/http://www.seomoz.org/. I thought buying and selling links was bad?

When I first started doing SEO around 2003, every book I purchased told me it's all about the keywords. Get the perfect density and weight and you'll hit the jackpot. Well, embarrassingly enough I tried that for several years to no avail. Keyword stuffing, perhaps, but that's what most of the "experts" told me to do at the time. I didn't know anything about white hat, gray hat, black hat, Google banning, etc. I was doing it part-time on some of my own sites for fun, as a hobby, trying to teach myself something I was interested in. If you were actually any good at what you did, then why would you even need to worry about a guy like me?

Encouraging your entourage to out anyone who has questionable code is irresponsible and down right thuggish if you ask me. I don’t think any SEO can say they were 100% white hat right from the get go. Or even today. I mean what about the newbie who reads your recently published ranking guide: http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors#link-building which shows most of today’s top experts agree “buying” links is moderately effective. What’s with the mixed messages? http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/how-to-report-paid-links/.

Also, how do you determine when a site should be reported. If you’re going to encourage it, then maybe you should publish the rules for doing it. Do you turn in companies who’s been burned by a shady SEO, has a bunch of black hat stuff on their site they no nothing about, and come to you for help, but decide your fees are too expensive so they go with someone else? Aren’t they trying to do the right thing?

But what the heck, just like the anonymously-protected falsely accusing the rock star of rape(also for monetary reasons); it doesn’t hurt you in any way while you tarnish and possibly demolish the reputation and life of the accused - even if you were wrong.

Lastly, Rand, the underlying message I’m hearing over and over again is “sign-up for my program or I’ll report you”. That’s extortion if you ask me. Sure, those aren’t your exact words, but isn’t it true if I sign up for your program which Guarantees a Ranking Increase within 30 days, and you get caught reporting me you’d have a lawsuit on your hands? So, technically, you can’t report your members/clients, which makes that exactly what you’re saying!

September 2, 2009 - 9:20pm

#1 - I don't think it's unethical or immoral. It's certainly no worse than reporting a carpool lane violator (and Google won't write you a ticket).

You guys all missed the point. Rand reports carpool lane violators too! Ha!

September 4, 2009 - 12:49am

I see the blogs have been updated. I almost feel bad coming down on Rand as hard as we did, but for me it's hard to understand why someone would advocate turning in others for using techniques they've used and inadvertently encourage. Especially when he has an influence over so many people! The mixed messages seem irresponsible and are tough to weed through.

September 4, 2009 - 5:15am

How exactly can one be certain that a site they're about to "out" hasn't been the victim of competitive sabotage?

The point about innocent clients hiring nefarious SEO firms has been made, but spamming a competitor's link profile and subsequently 'outing' them or reporting them to the Cutts police to have them removed permanently from the index seems like a nasty but plausible competitive tactic...

In that circumstance, the McCarthy's of SEO might find themselves destroying the businesses of people who don't deserve it. All to improve their standing and appearance.

Any bully in the schoolyard can put down others to make himself seem more important, but it's a karmic fail...

September 4, 2009 - 6:22am

@Geordie That was actually my first thought as to how someone could easily and mistakenly get reported...even if the reporter wasn't the one who mischievously linked to them with SPAMMY links. Anyone can do it to any company at any time.

The truth is, there are too many scenarios to list here where someone could mistakenly get reported...and possibly banned.

Also, at what level is it okay to report people? Without doing more than 10 seconds of research I can find SEOmoz in the Yahoo! directory. You have to pay decent bucks to be in there. Isn't that a "paid link"? I haven't reported them, nor will I. For me, anyway, that's a pretty silly business practice...and it becomes unethical if I'm also paying to be listed there or anywhere else for that matter.

September 5, 2009 - 2:27am

I am a Moz lover, but searching for 'SEO' in Google US and UK, seobook ranks 1 up on the moz in both searches (uk based search with personal shite off). Also this page is ranking on page 2, which is pretty cool. Is that Google or u aaron building a shed load of links to the page? Still good work.

September 5, 2009 - 12:38pm

You have to remember that they have...

  • millions in VC capital
  • 21 employees (and growing) whereas we have a total of 3
  • ~ 5x as many pages of content
  • ~ 4x to 5x as many customers
  • ~ 4x as many inbound links
  • do way more networking than I do
  • etc.

Given the above, eventually they ***should*** consistently outrank this site for SEO. But even when they do, I think the fact that we are fairly competitive with much larger organizations with far fewer employees and resources shows how remarkably efficient we are.

I have not done any manual link building efforts for this page. This current ranking for this page is part of Google's query deserves freshness (QDF) algorithm at play. A few days ago I saw seomoz's ranking factor on the first page, and a few days prior there was a similarly ranked SearchEngineLand article. Whenever an authoritative SEO website publishes a fresh SEO page (or one that gets a lot of new links) the rankings for that page pop up for a couple days.

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