TLDs like .edu’s and .gov’s are highly coveted. I recently did a post showing the power of an .edu link and how to acquire them ethically. The power of these .gov sites come from the many years they have been online, the number of quality links they have, and the “trust” rank they have with search engines.
This technique has been abused in the past, and 9 out of 10 attempts to put it in place still are done incorrectly. For anyone considering actually doing this, I emphasize that the technique is not considered ethical. My main purpose here is to bring awareness to .gov sites about this practice to help them prevent spam!
To illustrate this, I did a search in Google for “.gov”, went to the 5th page of results, and clicked on a random link. The first one I found was pandemicflu.gov. This site is a prime example of the “get posts” exploit.
The first thing you need to do is install the web developer toolbar into your Firefox browser which can be found here.
The next thing is to simply select “forms” from the web developer toolbar and then “convert form” and then “turn posts to gets”. I have included a screenshot so you can see what I have done.
As you can see above, all you need to do is change the form type in order to create links on a dynamic page. After you convert this form, a message will pop up notifying you that you have just converted the forms. At this time, you need to create your ahref code in the search box. I have included an image below that shows you how this is done.
The last step is the results page. This results page has a few elements I want to point out. I have inserted a thumbnail below. Click on the thumbnail to see the entire document. The links that are on this page are real links back to the page I am linking to.
You will see that the URL is pretty dynamic in nature, and most SEOs know that this URL will have a very hard time getting picked up … and will possibly never get picked up. Once you create this page it is live as long as you have a link back to it. The server on the .gov site creates a dynamic orphaned page and catalogs this on their database. In order to have this URL picked up, you can use a service like No-ip.com which masks URLs and makes URLs that are longer and more SEO-friendly.
The nature of the abuse in obtaining links this way is that it not only HURTS the credibility of an SEO, but it can hinder a client’s results. The Internet is a fast-paced and rapidly growing medium. Top-level authority sites like pandemicflu.gov need to take on the responsibility of maintaining and policing their websites to help prevent spam. Unfortunately, spammers will continue to spam, and they will keep using methods that take advantage of weak spots in websites.
As ethical link builders, it is important for us to have forward-looking conversations and create campaigns to prevent the SERPS from filling with garbage. If you are involved with .gov sites, find out if you are vulnerable to this method and put a stop to it. It’s good for everyone in the long run.