Beginners Guide To Reverse Engineering SERPS

One of my favourite motivational speakers Tony Robbins frequently talks about modelling.

The theory is simple. In order to be successful, seek out what successful people are doing and copy them.

And if you really think about it deep down, any form of success you have had in your life has come from learning from someone else. If you have ever done well in school, you learnt from someone else, either a a teacher or a book. If you ever succeeded in a sport, you learnt from your coach.

But why is it when it comes to SEO and marketing, most people take advice from people who don’t have high ranking websites, aren’t dominating competitive phrases or aren’t doing anything awesome. Getting advice on how to do SEO on the warrior forum is like asking Bill Gates for advice on how to be sexy :P

You see, the great (and obvious) thing about SEO is that the site that is ranking #1 is listed first. And it is also 100% possible to copy exactly what they are doing. In reality, when i attempt to rank for any phrase, i look at what is ranking and attempt to copy them, and then do a little bit more.

This is basing things on reality and what is observable, not basing your SEO strategy on some unproven expert or some guy on a forum. This is seeing what works and copying them.

This is not doing what Google says, it is doing what Google rewards.

For example, lets say i decide on a phrase i want to rank for with an EMD. I basically Google the term and see what other pages are ranking. Because i am going for a money term, there will usually be a few well SEO’d sites, EMD’s etc. I’m competing in competitive niches so i don’t have to worry about natural links, i just game the same links my competitors are gaming also.

So here is what i do:

  • Re-write the same content as the #1 ranking page, or one of the top 3 pages if i think their content is better. 
  • Steal the WordPress themes of that site or high ranking sites using What WP Theme Is That.
  • Add extra synonyms and LSI keywords that may have been missed out.
  • Add images, media and outlink to authority site (If my competitor does not do that).
  • Then i use a combination of Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs and Majestic SEO to find the best links from all of the top 10 sites. I will make an excel document and paste in all the links i am going to try and get.
  • Use OSE to analyse the anchor text ratios used by the top ranking sites and copy them.

I will then try and buy or get as many links as possible from the top 10 sites.

Then i will link to my EMD from my private blog network and my public blog network. I may even interlink from my other EMD’s slightly also. I will then use several tactics mentioned in my ultimate link building guide to build links to this site.

I will then revisit after 30 days, build some more links. Normally i am ranking on page 1 after 30 days.

I have done this over 50 times now in the iGaming niche. I currently have over 20 sites ranking first page. A bunch of them have been penalized now and a bunch of them are ranking lower than page 1.

I just accept that as collateral damage when trying to game the serps. On top of that, these EMD mini sites make excellent links to your big authority hub site and allow you to totally dominate a niche.

One caveat to this is that it doesn’t take in to account other sites user metrics or panda/penguin metrics. Although copying your competition will make you look similar on first glance, there are other things like dwell time, bounce rate and brand metrics that you cannot game overnight on a new domain. For this reason, you may still struggle to a certain extent with new sites. To combat this, i try to attack serps that tend not to have the top 10 results crowned with authority sites and big brands, and tend to attack serps which tend to already have EMD’s in them or affiliate sites that i know are not already big, strong brands.

The same logic can be applied to authority sites. For example, if you see your competition ranking for every longtail he wants without having any links to that page, well then, you have a perfect site to copy. Figure out the link sources that are getting them that authority and then copy.

Honestly, anything can be copied. The only way to actually get an edge with a content site is to outwork everyone and outspend everyone, honestly its as simple as that. See what works for your competition (No matter what type of site), copy them, then do a bit more (Or a lot more if you truly want to dominate). Failure and set backs will happen, but that’s just the price of success.

4 Responses to “Beginners Guide To Reverse Engineering SERPS”
  1. Marki

    I wish you would post more! I love your stuff and your style, looking forward to more. I noticed in this post you did not mention tieres web 2.0 links …you still utilize them or do you think they lost power? Also what is your thought on buying links for certain forums?

    • Andy

      I will try and post more, there doesn’t seem much upside because i feel like i make more money by doing what i preach than teaching people what to do. I’m sure i could make a bunch of info products and peddal them as silver bullets, but its not really the road i want to go down. I guess time will tell whether i become more enthusiastic about building this site or building my actual business.

      As for tiers and web 2.0 links. I definitely still utilize them. My web 2.0 network is 1000+ blogs large now and content is being dripped out daily. Public blog networks i use to link to my web 2.0 sites, which link to my EMD’s. Links in general are going down in value overall i would say though. The crux of my strategy is web 2.0, private blog network or PR domains, public PR domains linking to my web 2.0′s now (Never direct to any page i’m trying to rank).

      Generally speaking i am toning down anchor text massively, also toning down onpage stuff like KW density etc. Also constant drip of links is greater than a blast that stops.

  2. Ante Mazalin

    Long time reader first time poster :)
    I like you posts and it would be great if you could post more and maybe some kind of guides.Or product reviews you really use.
    I started to read your blog since I noticed your comments at Source Wave blog.

    Andy what do you use for content especially for 2tier content?

    • Andy

      At the moment i basically do this:

      Tier 1: Authority site – i have 1-3 of these in my main niche. All 100+ pages.
      Tier 2: Manually made mini sites (1-15 pages), web 2.0′s (made manually designed to rank for a low competition kw), Youtube videos (again designed to rank).
      Tier 3: Blog network (Comprised of web 2.0 sites and purchased domains i have bought with PR Powershot). I use rankywyz to manage my blog network.
      Tier 4: Mass links – I have two VPS at the moment. One from BHSVPS preloaded with tools. Another one my own. And blog network links. I then chuck everything at this tiers comments (Scrapebox), SEnuke links, Xrumer links, GSA ranker links.

      Thats the crux of my strategy, i then obviously buy links to point at either my tier 2 or tier 1. Still works for me. Obviously a massive effort to implement all of this and would cost around $500+ month to get this complete set up. But that is what ranks me. Hope that helps!

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