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Payday loans spam returns

Hi guys, I've been focussing on some other non-SEO projects for the past few months but now I'm getting back into it. Has anyone noticed how Google has moved on (apparently) , as evident by the amount of subtle spam now ranking for 'payday loans' in both the UK and the US? Eg go here: (there are about 30+ others just like this all interlinking)

Look at where the links point, they pretty much all rank on 1st page on and Seems to just be a web of interlinking 301 websites built on pure URL anchor text, or variations of the brand name - noticeably very little/no keywords in the anchors, even on spammy tiers. I can't see many authority or manually built sites there....!

Anyone using only this method to rank? I've been increasing my % of brand/URL terms but never gone 100%.  Giving it a shot now. I love it when I find links like this, it shows that despite the hot air Google is still only a shitty robot. Whoever owns that network, if it's the same person, is ranking for number 1 in the UK and USA for most payday loan KWs. I know there isn't as much money in it now, but still.

Best Answers

  • edited October 2015 Accepted Answer
    Correct me if I overlooked anything, but I quickly analyzed it and you're immensely misinterpreting things. 

    The scraped sites below are actual authority domains with a nofollow link. Just like that Belgian company they just scrape the top 10 websites for a certain keyword, nofollow their link and put their own dofollow link on top. Despite all this (automated) effort his main domain is only pulling in $1.1k of traffic and only ranks on some long tails. Nothing to write home about.

    Given the similar templates wouldn't be suprised if those sites are owned by that Belgian company.

    Edit: I was right:

    Registrant Contact

    Name: Iva Mostmans
    Mailing Address: Ieperseweg, 46, Poperinge 8970 BE
    Phone: +32.460014451

  • Accepted Answer
    Again, those are just scraped results of top payday loans results. 

    This is why he's ranking


  • Some serious discussion being made here. :) Just wanted to share with you guys a nice little software for sape I found.

    It's called saper:

    The dev is from the UK and I've talked to him a lot on skype, he seems like a decent guy. I report bugs and suggestions to him and he updates the software regularly. It's a simple software, but seems to be doing a good job. I've bought some great sape links with it. Now I do switch to the sape addon occasionally because it can check a lot of stuff in bulk, but when I'm feeling really picky about it and I know I will be inspecting each link closely I use saper because it can sort them easily by any column I wish and pick the right ones.


  • Also does anyone know what software might have been used to make that site above? It's so shit that it can't be done any other way.
  • 2Take22Take2 UK
    edited October 2015
    Hi Spunko,

    I haven't used it, but I'd imagine something like this would do the job if you wanted to churn out a lot of crappy HTML websites to build a link farm;

  • Very interesting, I'm going to do some analyzing tomorrow to see if I can find some new tricks he's using.

    Regarding the setup of those sites, it looks very familiar to me. Some company in Belgium registering expired domains and selling links on them does the same:

    I can give you their contact details if you want to find out how they're doing it.
  • edited October 2015
    Rogerke, I didn't investigate it much, I was planning to do it at the weekend. But look at the backlink profile on Ahrefs or whatever:

    That's number 1 in the UK for "payday loans", hardly longtail. Again I didn't do much research but if you follow the first tier of links on AHrefs, they seem to be link networks that point to various other payday loan sites. Some legit, some not, presumably to dilute the trail.

  • @rogerke also if you don't mind can you please PM me this Belgian company?
  • edited October 2015

    Hmm, I couldn't find that one in the source code of the link you posted in the OP? 

    I quickly checked the backlink profile in Majestic, and although it had some strong links they seem to be deleted (and it shouldn't be enough to rank the site anyway). Maybe Ahrefs has more comprehensive data, but I currently don't have a sub to it. Can you pull the full report?

    Many of those sites in Majestic used a WP plugin called Slimstat BTW. I presume that's how he injected his links to those sites. I know some guy dominated the UK payday loan niche from 2011-2014 the same way with rogue Joomla plugins.

    I will PM you the contact details of that Belgian company now :)

  • Hmm

    Still, there aren't enough of these site linking, so either he's modifying their .htaccess to block backlink checker bots as well or it's some kind of negative SEO smear campaign. Still can't come up with a reason why this site is ranking #1.
  • edited October 2015
    Found it. Majestic's historic index shows around 900 very strong ref. domains which all had the Slimstat plugin installed. Links were deleted between august and september, so he's still leaching on that juice. Will probably drop within a month or two. 
  • edited October 2015
    @rogerke according to Ahrefs these sites link to There are around 2k backlinks...

    + loads more...

    These all have authority over 30 according to AHrefs own rank thingy.

    Now if I had to guess I'd say they are linking to the same authority sites on these pages + a few of their own, possibly 2-3 I don't know, but the same sites are being linked to. Honestly, does this look like a legitimate website? yet it's on 1st page on

  • All those links were nofollow and have been deleted. Ahrefs is lagging behind. Those sites are just a red herring because that Belgian company scraped the entire top results for payday loans. The actual reason why he's ranking is mentioned above :)
  • Here's a perfect example:

    All of the other sites being linked to on here are legitimate/large companies, except
  • edited October 2015
    @rogerke are you in the UK? I don't know why you can't see these links, they aren't on all of them, but quite a few. Or maybe I'm viewing a cached copy. Strange. Anyway, are you saying he's ranking based on this exploit/hack alone?

    Now a few of them seem to be gone. Nevermind.
  • Hmm, you might be right. I haven't spent enough time looking into it. Although it begs the question, those links were deleted over a month ago?

    And also, does use a free WP Plugin? I guess it might, somewhere on their site.
  • edited October 2015
    It was pretty easy for me to find out those links had nothing to do with it. This Belgian company is basically doing the same with all (semi-)competitive Dutch niches and there's a huge thread on some Dutch forum of webmasters complaining their links are on it. 

    They have a huge network of over 2000 domains (all hosted on the same nameservers, lol) but they aren't ranking crap. Their network basically acts as a bait technique to get other webmasters to buy their dofollow link service. Some months ago I was in a rat race with them snapping up expired .nl/.be extensions so I'm pretty familiar with them. 

    I guess the plugin was patched during that time frame, so that explains the deleted links. RL probably used that plugin as well. 
  • @rogerke OK, well, you could have told me that before I just spent $$$ with them...!

    (I kid, I kid).

    To go back to the exploit, I don't know what GUI that is but does it mean - if I understand correctly - that they were able to insert a hidden link on the homepage of RL and it was there for the best part of a year? (I dont get what the green/red/black dates are, but surely this cannot be right).
  • edited October 2015
    LOL, since you already bought theireservice you might as well blasts those tier 1's so you can recoup at least some of your wasted money.

    You're reading those colored dates correctly. I know it seems strange but those links were probably hidden and as long as nobody recognized them in the source code they could've stayed there forever. Pretty remarkable, but just look at SAPE and you'll notice a lot of legit hacked sites which have been in their system for months or even years. Maybe RL is an outlier and Hilfiger, Armani and Michael Kors did find the injected link earlier? Who knows lol.

    Now, according to Semrush this site didn't start to rank until late august, but those links were in place well before that. Maybe he no-indexed the page and wanted to be sure he had enough juice flowing to instantly rank? These niches are monitored 24/7 so if you're going to do these kind of shady things you better do them 100% right.
  • edited October 2015
    @rogerke I haven't actually bought it, but it might be good cover to throw other BHers off my tracks. Although seems a bit risky.

    I'm not sure that the payday niche in the UK is being moderated much. Most of the press about all this was over a year ago, and it would confirm my suspicions that Google webspam team choose a set period for checking, and then move on after X amount of time. I am pretty sure this is what has happened in my niche - touch wood. Given that they used to check it every day or so, even if it's been ranking since late August that's still 2 solid months... If they are checking it, they need to be sacked :)

    If was on SAPE it would get raped so hard and the loophole closed. I wonder where he is getting these exploits from, any ideas? Some sort of secret underground forum to trade them maybe? :)

  • edited October 2015
    I'd be suprised if any BHers in really competitive niches would fall for it though. It seems they haven't sold any links on their payday loans domains so this probably proves the point. 

    You're probably right re: the moderation. Most niches have been cleaned up since they PL update, so it could very well be they throttled down the manual moderation. 

    No idea where they get the exploits from. I'm not really into this hacking stuff, but I suppose the 'top guys' find these exploits themselves or exchange/buy them on these underground forums.

    Now we pretty much solved this mystery and expanded into SAPE related stuff, does anyone have any good results with SAPE lately? It's been very hit-and-miss for me, but I have seem to find a great new way to filter sites and rank well again with these links. Still early days, but the first results are very encouraging. 

  • edited October 2015
    I haven't really ever had much success with SAPE, even 18 months ago when it was supposedly good. Can you share anything about your new filters...? I understand if you dont.

    Also @rogerke I don't think this mystery is fully solved. A link from Ralph Lauren +  a handful of other authority sites that were hacked/exploited is nowhere near enough to rank against big boys like Wonga, Peachy, etc. Look at the link profile of those sites, you would need like 100 exploited links to rank above them (of course it could be short-lived rank for and it might drop). There must be other factors in my opinion that lay undiscovered. At the weekend I'm going to start some more digging.
  • edited October 2015
    I have no problems sharing my filters. It's the VIP section afterall and I'm sure you guys won't share the method since you'd be only cutting your own fingers. :)

    The method itself is straight-forward. I only use homepage links (will expand more on this later) and use Semrush to filter out domains which don't get significant organic traffic. In the past Google no-indexed SAPE domains, but since it was very easy to spot the penalized domains, they now stealth ban them. 

    This basically renders the normal filters (PR/DA/TF) totally useless. I've done some experiments and found that about 80-90%(!) of the TF>20 homepage links in SAPE don't get any organic traffic at all. This probably means Google penalized them and most SAPE links will only hurt your site. So the trick is to get the domains which Google still loves (as evidenced by the organic traffic they're giving them). There are some more twists to it and I will expand on this later, but this is pretty much the method. 

    Hmm, you sure those big boys actually had more link juice? They might have more ref. domains/backlinks but considering pretty much only had homepage links (which as you know can be dozens or hundreds times stronger than inner page links) I really wouldn't be suprised if his link juice is actually several orders of magnitude higher than those other domains.

    But you're right. Need to do some more thorough analyzing before coming up with conclusive answers. :)

  • @rogerke that's a great idea, I will try it. Do you use a third party to buy links, or are you lucky enough to be able to read Cyrillic? :)

    Before I forget, there was also another site, Wizzcash, that I posted about here last year that I couldn't solve the mystery of. They were number 1 in the UK for the best part of a year for various payday loan terms, in fact they are still on page 1 here. No idea how they are ranking that with their (visible) link profile. That's why I like this niche, although I'm not in it as it is/was far too competitive, you get a good idea of how to rank clandestinely. By comparison the guys in the viagra/cialis niches just use hacked sites almost exclusively and it's boring.
  • 2Take22Take2 UK
    edited October 2015
    Interesting stuff, and at a glance nothing really jumps out at me as to why they're ranking above everyone else. I'll take more of a look this afternoon though, although I'd agree that on the face of it (before they got all those links deleted) they probably had enough juice to rank, depending on what else they've got going on behind the scenes.

    Good spot with the hacked links BTW - I just assumed they were SAPE. I would have thought that they would have run them through a buffer though, what with all the manual review action these days.

    In the finance sub niche I'm in, I normally I get a couple of visits (in quick succession) from google every 2 or 3 months, so I'm surprised they didn't get dinged. Other niches I see google come maybe once every 6 months - until you piss them off enough, and then they seem to constantly watch the niche for a while to try and shut you down. 

    Also WRT SAPE I agree about using traffic stats to filter out the best sites, been doing that myself for a while now with good results.

    My results with SAPE direct to webage have been mixed, and it seems very easy to get over zealous and trip an over optimisation filter if you get too aggressive. Normally, I just use them to power up web2s, which seems to work well (in conjunction with my feeder sites).

    Also surprising that they've put in all that effort to rank a poorly designed, crap site. You cant even read half of the text properly!

  • edited October 2015

    Can't read Cyrillic, but I used a great guide and Google translate. I can can probably use its interface with my eyes closed now lol. Not only are third party providers pretty expensive (3-10x markup), but I don't know anyone who uses the right filters so I'd stay away from them.

    Not really familiar with Wizzcash so I can't comment on them. Did your research turn up anything we might have missed yet? 

    And you're right re: pharma niches, they pretty much all use hacked links or hacked websites (parasites) as far as I've seen. Another interesting niche you might want to monitor is the social follower/like niche (e.g. 'buy instagram followers'). Pretty competitive as well and some guy is ranking the entire page 1 in with custom Zendesk links (custom SER engine/Zennoposter?). Which I had more coding skills because I know a lot of yet untapped high authority platforms. 

    Agreed, they had a shitload of high authority homepage links, so based on juice alone it definitely seems sufficient. Regarding the buffer, not sure if that'd work out because competitors would probably find out anyway and report him. It also might have a lot of unintended consequences like delayed/loss of juice, so that's probably the reason why he directly linked to his money site. 

    I do wonder how these guys can keep doing things like this though. Besides the legal and anonimity issues, you'd expect any payday affiliate company would shut their accounts within a day of reporting. Or are they really that shady?

    How have you been using traffic stats BTW? I have it semi-automized by extracting several hundred SAPE links, removing the redirect URL, running them in URL Profiler with Semrush API and exporting them to .CSV. Still, it takes me 5 minutes to find a decent link lol.

    Too bad the SAPE Toolbar Semrush stats are only measured against the version, or it could be done in seconds.

  • edited October 2015
    "Too bad the SAPE Toolbar Semrush stats are only measured against the version, or it could be done in seconds."
    You mean this setting won't do the trick @rogerke ?
    I'm not familiar with Semrush but it looks okay at first glance:
  • @Nikodim

    Holy crap, I never noticed that setting in the SAPE TOOLBAR. Gonna check out if they're pulling live data or use their own historical database (which could be unreliable by now), but if it works it's gonna save me a lot of time. Thanks mate!

    PS. are you a hardcore SAPE user or did you just figure this out?
  • @rogerke which site(s) do you mean please for "buy instagram followers". I just looked up the 1st page on on AHefs but couldn't find any Zendesk links. Loads of negative SEO though... "Lolita sex" seems to be their top anchor!
  • edited October 2015
    Nevermind.. Found it. There is a Zennoposter plugin for it for $100 (comments only), I'll buy it and test it out. Although it might be easier to have someone make SER post there, surely it can't be that difficult.

    Edit: According to this, someone has already made it, and Sven added it in 2013.
  • 2Take22Take2 UK
    edited October 2015
    @rogerke - I guess there's pros and cons for linking through buffers. I'd say it's a lot safer, but as you say, you probably need to weigh up the benefits of having increased safety and improved relevance of the IBL vs the parasitic loss of pagerank / trust / authority that the buffer page would create.

    So far I've been checking the traffic stats the same way as you, but I'm going to switch to doing it the way @Nikodim suggested (Thanks Mate!), as it seems to be pretty accurate from some tests I've run this morning. Should be a massive time saver.

    Just as a side note, you mentioned stripping out the sape redirect url when you need to process urls? You do know that you can set it up so that you 'reserve buy' any that you like the look of and then download them all in excel? You can then go back in, delete any that don't make the grade, and buy the rest.
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