Want to get the equivalent of $4million worth of paid search traffic per month to your site? Think Google knows how to keep their SERPs nice and clean? Still believe in Santa Clause?

We love case studies that show just how easy it can be to fool Google and some of the other search engines. It’s not that we don’t support Google’s efforts to keep crappy results out. It’s just that they play the game to their own benefit and sometimes its good to see them kept on their toes. Here’s an example of an affiliate running an auto insurance lead-in offer that made out like a total bandit for a few months. Imagine how much you would make if your website listed second for "car insurance", right between Progressive and GEICO.

Eppie Vojt did the detective work and
In under a year this site had gone from a newly registered domain (December 2010 registration date) to the top of the mountain of search, ranking for some of the most competitive terms online. SEM Rush estimated the paid search equivalent value of the traffic received by this domain to be over $4 million… per month! That’s a lot of scratch generated by a site that’s not employing a single one of the methods most leading SEO experts currently preach… so what gives?

Intrigued, he went on to discover exactly what kind of inward-bound links had been set up:
[This] starts to paint a much clearer picture of how these rankings were built — blog commenting, article marketing, and sidebar links played a big role in boosting this site’s link profile. What do those links have in common? They are very unlikely to be legitimate editorial links. Instead, it looks like the rankings for this site were built on "link dropping," the process of leveraging control of an independent site to leave your own link without oversight or review.

The coup de grace, a word of caution:
Be careful who you copy. The site I referenced in this article has already been dropped by Google (I wouldn’t have published this if they were still ranking). I suspect it was a manual action, since the site had a pretty stable three months at the top (even in the age of Panda). Google just can’t allow low quality sites to outrank billion dollar brands for high visibility terms, and I believe they took corrective action to create a better user experience for the search terms this site ranked for. It’s possible that they didn’t just implement this on a domain level, but instead stripped the sites that linked to AutoInsuranceQuotesEasy.com of their ability pass juice. That would mean that if you were duplicating this site’s links, you’d be out of business too.

Well worth a read of the whole thing.