HackerSafe Claims Services Boosts Search Rank: More Debate on Paid Links

Apr 18, 2007 • 11:11 am | comments (11) by twitter | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

On the Search Engine Watch Forums, our author Chris Boggs found a very interesting article written by HackerSafe that "brags" about its link juice.

In the article, HackerSafe claims that "the security certification does improve search engine optimization."

The security firm was exhibiting at SES this week and discussed how offering three one-way PR6-PR8 text links from ScanAlert’s Hacker Safe Merchant Directory helped sites such as Vermont Teddy Bear Company and Stacks and Stacks raise organic search placement.

Chris found this very troubling that HackerSafe was essentially bragging to the world about the power that they have. But forum members see that this could be a problem for HackerSafe, since Matt Cutts addressed paid links just a few days ago and asked people to report this activity.

I happen to agree with Chris. He writes:

I am not totally buying this as being the sole or even a major reason for the success of the site...

Having worked in web development and on e-commerce sites in the past, I do understand the mentality that buyers feel much more comfortable buying from sites that have a familiar SSL certificate logo (e.g. GeoTrust, Verisign) on the site. This itself boosts confidence of buyers. Was it the fact that HackerSafe is involved in a link building effort? I wouldn't think so in the least. The credit they are taking is not likely due to a link-building effort.

Let Chris and other Search Engine Watch readers know what you think by joining in the discussion.

Postscript Barry: As per Dan's comment we learned that HackerSafe is actively and publicly promoting, "Boosts Google rank with over 100 Million cross-links."

Here is a screen shot: hacksafe-google-rank.gif

Pretty impressive.

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Chris Beasley

04/18/2007 05:13 pm

When HackerSafe kept calling me, repeatedly, to buy their product, they really pushed this aspect of their list of benefits. Though at the time when I checked their entire directory had a 0 PR as per the toolbar. Considering how they obtain their link weight, and how they distribute it back out through paid methods, I really think they deserve to be banned from passing PR like other such sites. They may try to pass it off as not a major part of their service, and that the important thing is that they help protect your website (right....). But if you get them on the phone the two main things they push are the link to help your SE rankings and the "user-feel-goodness" which you can get with any trustmark, even a made up one (typical consumers don't know or care about the technical details of website security, they just want to know its secure, brand name means little.)


04/18/2007 05:44 pm

Check out bullet point number four on hacker safe's website "Boosts Google rank with over 100 Million cross-links": http://www.scanalert.com/site/en/certification/intro/


04/19/2007 12:39 pm

I think there's really two sides to this argument. While I feel many in the SEO world are going to say that these are "paid links" and thus should not be counted, there is some benefit of having a HackerSafe certification for search engine users. These sites are tested against security holes that exist with many websites (how robust this scan is I don't know), so having a directory of trusted sites that are "verified secure" should hold just as much weight as other pay-per-include directories that have to pass through editors to get in. In reality, even more so, these sites are held to higher scrutiny at the benefit of the customer. So, if HackerSafe should have no link value, then so should any other directories for that matter (including Yahoo! or dmoz). If that's your point, that no directories should have link value, then fine. But I don't see why singling out HackerSafe's directory makes sense. Regardless, I doubt it has that much effect on SEO anyways, it's one directory listing and it may help, but in the whole scheme of things, very little if at all.

Tamar Weinberg

04/19/2007 03:29 pm

Kevin: I think you're right, but the problem is that they are emphasizing their service as a "link buying" service and they brag of something that appears unrelated to the purchase of "links." From an uneducated consumer perspective -- and I speak for several clients who have e-commerce sites -- the HackerSafe logo is familiar and gives users confidence in the site they are to buy from. THAT'S why the merchants buy the seal to begin with. THAT'S also why people buy from these merchants. But does this improve "search engine optimization?" I really don't think so. The fact that they are so sure that they do makes me wonder if this is just a sales tactic (which is frowned upon in our industry and is worsened for their sake as a result of Matt's recent comments). If so, they are in hot water. It's not smart and I, like Chris Boggs, don't think it's true either.

Matt Cutts

04/19/2007 04:40 pm

Dan, interesting bullet point. I asked someone to check this out.


04/19/2007 07:55 pm

Dan, very cool to read how does Hackersafe built links anyway? Is it safe on our machines? regards Frank

T. McArdle

08/08/2007 06:25 pm

I'm a small business owner trying to do my own SEO (I don't trust anyone else out there to do it for me after being scammed once already) and all I read about is how important links are to Google. Back links, external links, anchor text lins, links, links, links.... According to all the SEO blogs out there, that's all Google cares about anymore. I have a perfectly legitimate site selling gifts. No porn. No gambling. No offensive content. Just an honest business with a relevant site and relevant content. But I don't even show at the very bottom of Google search results for ANY of my keywords. So I've been shelling out money for directory listings to acquire the backlinks Google says I need for them to notice me, because let's get real - what interest do the .gov and .edu sites out there have in linking to a site selling gift baskets? If I can't buy links on directories now, what's left? Is there ANYTHING Google WON'T penalize a site for now? They're going to penalize me for spending money trying to acquire the links they say I need to get decent natural search rankings, but they're making a fortune selling links with their ad words. And I'm sorry, but I don't have the budget to pay for Google ads that my competitors are just clicking away on to eat up my Ad Words budget as fast as they can. ARRRGGGHHHH! I've written content and tried my darnest not to "spam" my keywords but now I don't know if I have too much keyword density or not enough, every keyword density tool out there tells me something vastly different. I have created unique metatags for all 750 of my products. I have a reciprocal linking program and have been careful to exchange links only with sites with content related to mine. I'm writing blogs and articles. I've submitted to dmoz. Who do I have to sleep with to get into Google for my keywords? Matt Cutts? I use Volusion and I don't have hidden text or doorway pages or frames or whatever (that I know of anyway - Internet Advancement scammed me so they might of done something I haven't discovered yet) I'm so desperate at this point, I'd throw a party if I even saw my site on page 50. You guys say Google's search results are getting worse and you're blaming paid links for it, but I think it's because there are plenty of really good sites out there that don't have a chance in hell anymore of getting anywhere near the top - or in my case even at the bottom. I've tried everything short of submitting to Yahoo's directory, which I was about ready to do, but now I'm not sure if I should. Would that be considered a "paid" link? What about banner advertising? Are those "paid links?" If it's impossible anymore for my legitimate, relevant site to get into Google's organic search results, and I can't afford to pay for my competitors to eat up my Google Adwords budget, and I can't list my site in paid directories, then how am I going to get customers?


10/03/2007 02:50 pm

All this talk about MARKETING... Has someone forgotten the root point to the Hackersafe LOGO? That is my problem. There is NO REAL SECURITY and no GUARANTEES. That 1% is gonna bite them in the rear. I just hope when the class action lawsuits come when some of these kids actually target there customers, we don't see online consumer confidence drop. Last Fall, slacker and hacker.com each exposed most of these companies flaws that use the logo. Wait till they actually pull a targeted attack. They still expose these companies on a regular basis. GO look for yourself. Remember the logo is SUPPOSED to be about security but all these greedy companies using KNOW that is isn't. ITs about conversion and marketing. Shame on all of them.

Janet Eccles

10/04/2007 08:55 pm

I am automatically turned off by any type of "hard sell" and Scan Alert is no different. So far, no one I have spoken to has seen any significant change in their PR or conversion rates.


12/11/2008 05:32 am

I don't have all the answers here, but in my opinion (which has a lot of trial and error behind it), almost ALL of these heavy push ideas. Links, Hacker Safe, SEO, PPC are "HIGHLY OVER RATED". And most of them are "HIGHLY OVERPRICED". For example, Our site started with exchanging about 45 links and we had a PR5. Later it dropped to a PR3, but we noticed absolutely NO difference in placement of our keywords. We have advertised many times and tested the result and most of them did NOT pay for themselves. We create a new directory and have the robot file ban the search engines. We use a different group number for the products, so we know exactly how many we sell, which is always much lower than what the advertiser claim. Ok, that said, Hacker safe is entirely OVERPRICED & OVERRATED, but it definitely IS, "better than nothing". The idea is badly needed. i.e. A quick and easy way to test the basic vulnerabilities of our websites. I do not understand why the operating system writers do not supply a utility for this. A free utility would probably be used by most website owners. Once the salesmen get involved the price skyrockets and many just cannot afford it. I am going to promote McAfee here. No, NOT the Hacker Safe, but their PCI compliance. It's basically about $100 bucks and they run the same test on your website and provide a wealth of information to get the certification. I would think showing that certification would provide just as much for customers as the Hack Safe. Actually it may provide more, since it is specifically related to credit card Compliance. I am sure not going to pay $1700 to have someone scan my website automatically every day. I guess I should say that ALL of these things do have some merit, but as soon as someone finds out something that has a little merit, the sharks swarm in and try to scar the daylights out of you, as if it is the only thing that counts. My opinion after building a million dollar website, forget it all and just work on your website to make it the best website you can, while trying to balance these ideas. There is a natural growth process on the web, that many will take advantage of in selling you more than you really need. And for goodness sake, test anything you are paying money for. You may just find a way to save your money.

seo packages

07/31/2012 07:09 pm

Dan, very cool to read how does Hackersafe built links anyway? Is it safe on our machines?

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