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Star Wars SEO Link Building For Padawans

Okay, there’s a Star Wars week on the TV at the moment, so I thought I’d examine who those damn Jedi (and Sith) would do SEO if there was a Google a long time ago in a galaxy far away.

Darth Sidious (The Emperor)

Sith Lord | Stealth Blackhat | Cloaked Linkbait & Reciprocals

As in the films, Darth Sidious will look like a nice chap to the casual observer, giving the people what they want while beavering away working to achieve his own goals. His techniques and naughtiness will go unnoticed until he suddenly outranks you. Or forms a galactic empire and enslaves your entire planet.

I imagine if Darth Sidious was link building, he’d do something like this:

Cloaked Linkbait

1) Write a brilliant link bait article and upload it to a new domain.

2) Submit the linkbait to Digg and then buy Diggs with Subvert & Profit

3) Revel in the glory of being on the first page of Digg and receiving hundreds of links for his article.

4) All the time he was secretly 301’ing the URL (only to spiders, googlebots and the like) to his dirty porn and pills site.

The Sith Lord’s porn and pills site just got a bunch of new links! Oh, well if it gets caught – you’re going down with him, Google thinks you just linked to a bad neighborhood!

Cloaked Reciprocals

Well, the Dark Lord does like taking advantage of the weak and ignorant. There’s a whole lot of juicy links to be had from noob webmasters on their geocities sites and such. So, if Darth Sidious was too busy interrogating Ewoks to write link bait, I imagine he might:

1) Set up a well worded e-mail, requesting a reciprocal link exchange to his website.

2) Use an e-mail harvester program to collect addresses of similar content websites.

3) Spam requests to 1000s of these websites.

4) Auto-generate a links page to anyone who links to his site.

5) When a Googlebot comes along to check out the site, show “rel=nofollow” on all of the links going to the links page.

6) Do an evil laugh because he just got hundreds of “one-way” backlinks to his site.

7) Force lightening the cat to celebrate.

Dangerous people these stealth blackhats. Their link footprints look fairly natural and they don’t get anyones back up with overt tactics, this makes them generally have a long life and do a lot of damage.

Darth Vader

Sith Apprentice | Aggressive Blackhat | Link Insertion & Spamming

Vader’s a dangerous one. Behind that shiny suit is an aggressive little blackhatter that will stop at nothing to get what he wants and he wants: YOUR search positions!

Not quite as subtle as master blackhatter, Vader isn’t scared to crash right in with some link insertion and some aggressive spamming. The aggressive blackhat, sometimes over confident of their technical abilities will use techniques such as using exploits to grab 60,000 links. Who cares what the cost is? Vader achieves his goal by inflicting his evil onto the web at the cost of others. Want a mantra? Think “Fuck Alderaan“. Do what you need to do to get the job done!

Jabba The Hutt

Fat Slug Thing | Social Cashhat | Social Cartels & Link Buying

Jabba The Hutt is a cash rich gangster, he’ll use his assets to get him ahead of the game and usually does his dirty work through other people. Jabba The Hutt in the SEO game would likely have close ties to networks such as TextLinkAds, PayPerPost and BuyBlogComments.

Jabba would be your guy on the web who has already made some money and can invest resources and cash onto these networks to get quick returns, suck it dry, then move on. There’s a lot of Jabbas on the web and they can do pretty well. Like all crime bosses, they’ll enjoy their time at the top, get busted (or taken down by another gangster with more power) and replaced by someone else. You’ll find it hard to take them out completely as they normally have their sluggy fingers in a lot of pies all over the place.

Luke Skywalker

Grey Jedi | Effective Greyhat | Link Laundering

I’m sure some Star Wars buff will shoot me down on this, but I remember a conversation at school about 8 years ago when a guy was explaining to me that Luke Skywalker wasn’t a “Light” Jedi because he used Force Choke in the novels or something. So, for this instance, I’m going to put him in the Grey Hat category.

I think young Skywalker would have an interesting approach to link building, not restricted to the tight code of your typical Whitehat, yet not the destructive path of the Blackhat which will lead to eventual banning.

I would imagine Luke would be using highly effective techniques such as link laundering to build a good cross-section of links. Not exactly what you’d call “white hat”, yet not really breaking any rules. A highly effective and somewhat unique technique.

Link laundering can be done with image hosting sites that link back to your site, tools such as the old school webcounter that links back to its source, or more recently there’s a whole bunch of social network applications and widgets I’ve seen providing links for their creators. WordPress templates are another source of inbound links I think Lukey boy might look into.

Strange little bastard, isn’t he?

Han Solo

Smuggler | Tech Whiz | Database & Longtail Exploitation

Solo was a bit of a tech whiz in all the films, hydro-spannering hyper-drives and giving mechanics kicks to bits of hardware. Not really in touch with the force, but enough knowledge to work his way out of most situations and into some profit.

I would see Han Solo, going to somewhere like Seocracy and buying a bunch of databases (possible borrowing money from a Hutt first). Using some technical wizardry, it is quite easy to set up a couple of pages that will dynamically pull out all of the content from the database and organise it into static pages. Voila, in a very down and dirty Han Solo style you have a potential money making site.

By channeling link equity effectively around the site, using nofollows it is possible to pour a lot of link juice into your long-tail targeted pages automatically. You’d be surprised how much link juice is inside a million page website.

While a Solo can get by on his own, he generally won’t get rich until he has a Skywalker help him out to get all those pages indexed.

Yoda

Jedi Master | Guru Whitehat | Knowledge Spreader

Never using the link building force in aggression, Yoda is a content creator and the “go to” Jedi when you need advice. A Yoda will invest their time producing tons of high quality content, which padawans can learn from. Always kind enough to share, the Yoda will be omni-present on social networking sites in all niches, letting people know they can come to him for both great and helpful advice.

Think someone like Rand Fishkin, he has become quite the sought guru and looking at his blog, he spends a great deal of time just answering e-mail. The helpful nature, the content he produces and his constant presence over different forums and social networks sees him gain thousands of links.

Do remember though, even in the films, Yoda was hundreds of years old and to get to this kind of status and level. It can seem to take that long in the SEO world too! Oh, I guess Rand was redeemed from the Darkside a few years ago too – but we won’t mention that (:

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Jedi Knight | Bog Standard Whitehat | Social gnat

Did you notice how Obi-Wan’s ghost was everywhere after he “became one with the Force”? He was everywhere! Poor old Luke couldn’t have a dump in peace without Obi appearing to tell him how to wipe his arse.

Obi-Wans are pretty experienced SEOers, but they’re stuck in a bad place. They know not to travel down the path of the blackhat, however they don’t have the spirit to invest them self fully into social media and other channels which seem essential to being a “successful” whitehat (apparently there is such a thing).

Obi-Wans will set their site up search engine friendly, try mediocre content, not get many links and try and get involved in the SEO community in a number of ways. I would imagine Obi-Wan would be the kind of person who spends most of their time reading blogs and commenting, gaining referral traffic and the odd “followed” link, helping him in the SERPs, when the post is relevant.

A bad thing? No, not at all. If you’re ever going evolve into a Dark Lord or Jedi Master, you need to spend a hell of a lot of your time reading. Reading. Reading. Reading. Still reading? Learn everything, Whitehat, Blackhat, everything between and what all the industry leaders and creative speakers think about different tactics. Only then can you go blade to blade with a Vader and cut down Jabbas with ease.

If you don’t evolve in time, you’ll get cut down by a Vader and nobody cares what you think, because they’re too busy talking to Yoda.

Jar Jar Binks

General Fool | BumbleHat | Hangs out at DigitalPoint

Lastly, we have Jar Jar Binks. The person, um, “thing” that gives Star Wars a bad name. There’s a whole bunch of these in the SEO community. Unfortunately, I see a lot of them on Digital Point, posting on the hour, every hour, asking when the next PR update is. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some really cool people on Digital Point and some quality posts, however I seem to have to trawl through the “noise” of hundreds of yabbering Jar Jars to get near any posts.

A typical Jar Jar will spend most of his time on forums, asking for reciprocal links and asking incredibly detailed questions about PageRank, such as “precisely how many PR2 links is a PR5 link worth?” and asking life-reflecting questions such as “If I had a choice between 100 PR1 links or 1 PR2 link, which should I choose?”. They tend to also sign posts with “when is the next PageRank update???!”.

More interesting is how the others in the group interact with Jar Jars. Dark Lords will tend to trick Jar Jars into linking to them and exploiting any value their geocities sites have, while the Yodas of the SEO world will spend time helping the Jar Jars and training them, forming long term relationships. Which are you?

Who is the Force with?
The last interesting Star Warsy parallel I’d like to draw is between black and white hat. In the films, the Darkside (blackhats) crash about and cause a massive impact on the galaxy (web). They tend to get what they want to, governments fall, people die and the Darkside is pretty successful for a while. However, all of these techniques lead to destruction (banning in Google) and the “slow but steady” whitehats (Jedi), end up on top again. (Even though most of them were dead at one point).

Well, there you have it. If you want to get better at SEO, watch Star Wars.

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31 responses to “Star Wars SEO Link Building For Padawans”

  • Mike Merten says:

    Great and funny post. So. Um. The TOOLS??? I’ve been hoping for a pleasant seo Christmas present…

    Comment by Mike Merten
    December 12th, 2007 @ 10:32 pm

  • rob says:

    best. post. ever.

    Comment by rob
    December 12th, 2007 @ 10:36 pm

  • Kyo says:

    Great post! But how exactly can you redirect only bots to some site with a 301 redirect? I thought it redirects the users also…

    Comment by Kyo
    December 12th, 2007 @ 11:06 pm

  • the1982smith says:

    Pure gold Mark, this is. Going, I wondered where this was when on IM yesterday you mentioned it . As unique as content can this is. .. You Obi-Wan I guess that makes! 😛

    Comment by the1982smith
    December 13th, 2007 @ 1:30 am

  • the1982smith says:

    PS. Bit cack but I’m amazed someone went to the bother of building one at all!:

    http://www.yodaspeak.co.uk/index.php

    Comment by the1982smith
    December 13th, 2007 @ 1:32 am

  • Chris says:

    Amazing, really great post! The parallels are very funny and the best connection is Jar Jar Binks, Link worth!

    Comment by Chris
    December 13th, 2007 @ 1:34 am

  • Armakuni says:

    Hilarious and informative. Your blog is rapidly approaching “must read”-status, especially since you seem to be updating with a higher frequency lately.

    Comment by Armakuni
    December 13th, 2007 @ 8:32 am

  • Wingnut says:

    Delightful read and another blog to add to my reader. I have drawn a parallel like this for a while but you nailed it… I’m a Star Wars nerd from way back (there was a time when everything was compared to it)

    Comment by Wingnut
    December 13th, 2007 @ 5:57 pm

  • Mike Merten says:

    Now that I think about it, how many PR2 links IS a PR5 worth? But then I don’t hang out at the forums… ;p

    Comment by Mike Merten
    December 13th, 2007 @ 7:12 pm

  • Jim Boykin says:

    Loved it! I think I’m closest to Luke, but I’ve played many of these roles over the years.

    Comment by Jim Boykin
    December 13th, 2007 @ 8:29 pm

  • Jackpot City says:

    A brilliant post. I know people who fall into each of these catagories.

    I love this – rock on.

    Comment by Jackpot City
    December 14th, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

  • extreme webmaster says:

    Nice! Congrats. Your message can be understood much more easily when you use metaphors. And Star Wars is something that can be comprehended by a lot of people today. Very ingenious.

    Comment by extreme webmaster
    December 14th, 2007 @ 11:30 pm

  • Andrew Smith says:

    Congrats Mark, you made the Sphinn Hot Topics list! Da Click 1 vs. Mark 1

    Comment by Andrew Smith
    December 18th, 2007 @ 10:25 am

  • Mark says:

    Wow, hehe. I didn’t even submit it for once, lol =)

    Comment by Mark
    December 19th, 2007 @ 12:26 am

  • Mike says:

    Any likelihood of tools being out before Christmas?

    Comment by Mike
    December 19th, 2007 @ 12:45 am

  • Mark says:

    Hi Mike,

    Went with softlayer and ordered the new uber server today, takes 4 hours for them to set up. Tomorrow I will be re-uploading the network and then openings will begin in the next few days!

    Comment by Mark
    December 19th, 2007 @ 12:56 am

  • Mike says:

    Farm out!!! Remember I’m the benevolent, wonderful (listen to me) person who gave you a PR6 link… ;p

    Comment by Mike
    December 19th, 2007 @ 1:16 am

  • Web Design Canada says:

    Thats freaking classic! :)

    Comment by Web Design Canada
    December 23rd, 2007 @ 8:41 am

  • Interwebhunt says:

    Without a doubt an instant SEO classic post! Well done!

    Comment by Interwebhunt
    December 26th, 2007 @ 3:42 pm

  • Tipster says:

    A witty and cleverly written post. I have a sports betting site, and frequently get link exchange request from casinos. And they are invariably make the same proposal. I give them a link to a site with ths same page rank as my site (3), in return for my link going on a site with a page rank of 0/1.

    They’re real chancers, and they have the nerve to tell you is is a mutually beneficial arrangement!! Fortunately, I always check the page rank of every site where my link might appear.

    Comment by Tipster
    December 27th, 2007 @ 3:56 pm

  • Chris says:

    Wow, simply amazing! What a way to come back from the holidays to read something as inspiring your relating Star Wars to SEO. You had me laughing over & over. Wonderful post, thank you for writing it.

    Comment by Chris
    December 31st, 2007 @ 6:03 pm

  • James says:

    Hi Mark, thanks for the amusing, yet educational post.

    Comment by James
    January 3rd, 2008 @ 6:00 pm

  • quin says:

    LOL!
    The SEO be with you always….
    your next should be about midichlorians…

    Comment by quin
    January 7th, 2008 @ 3:13 pm

  • Pogung177 says:

    an excellent post. great SEO article I ever read. Its combining Black + White hat technique.

    Comment by Pogung177
    January 8th, 2008 @ 11:51 pm

  • L2D says:

    Me thinks you are being overly harsh on the Obi-Wans of the world.

    *reads blogs and leaves comment*

    Comment by L2D
    February 28th, 2008 @ 1:18 pm

  • Nitecore says:

    So when is the next PR update?

    Comment by Nitecore
    August 21st, 2008 @ 4:41 pm

  • Hobo says:

    Brilliant post

    Comment by Hobo
    November 8th, 2008 @ 1:03 am

  • Digerati Marketing Understanding Optimum Link Growth says:

    […] filth by just linking to you, let’s be clear on that. You’re more at risk if someone tricks you into linking to a bad site with some kind of Jedi mind […]

    Comment by Digerati Marketing Understanding Optimum Link Growth
    December 12th, 2008 @ 12:14 am

  • Angira Pandit says:

    This was a very well written article. Similar to something I conjured up a couple weeks back. I’d be very interested to check out your thoughts on my article. The images with your article were great too! check out my article at:

    It’s called Star Wars SEO Philosophy: Don’t Give In To The Dark Side. I based it on the Jedi philosophy that Yoda teaches and the principles of the light and dark force.

    http://pragmites.com/blog/2009/08/13/star-wars-seo-philosophy-dont-give-in-to-the-dark-side/

    Comment by Angira Pandit
    August 23rd, 2009 @ 6:23 pm

  • Captain Rick says:

    Great stuff! May the SEO be with you, always.

    Comment by Captain Rick
    March 7th, 2010 @ 8:38 am

  • Love says:

    This story, love

    Comment by Love
    June 8th, 2010 @ 3:27 am