The Ranking Secret WhoIsHostingThis.com Doesn’t Want You to Know
At the first look, WhoIsHostingThis.com might look like a nice little ‘free’ online tool to find out which web host a particular site resides on. However, if you look closely enough, you’ll soon find out that there’s another (primary) motto behind operating the site apart from the apparent one (i.e. establishing themselves as the #1 online tool for finding out a site’s web host, nameservers etc.). Inspect a bit further down the line, and you’ll be surprised seeing what’ll scream “shady” to any experienced SEO enthusiast.
To anyone who’s not a web hosting / affiliate marketing veteran, it might not appear clear that they earn from affiliate links placed throughout the site. Even though they place a tiny, thin strip of disclaimer at the footer that says, “10% of outbound clicks use affiliate links”, while browsing their web hosting reviews manually, I found that figure to be nowhere near the actual value (which is, I’m afraid, close to 100%).
Now, this is not the big issue. I’ve highlighted this merely to reveal their commercial intent behind operating such a busy site and tool. Now that this is off the way, let’s see how far they go to drive traffic to these money-generating pages.
I’ll include a few screenshots of SERPs of “[host] review” type keywords of a few popular web hosting companies (that pay good affiliate money):
Now, it may seem from these SERPs that they must be the undisputed authority when it comes to web hosting reviews, right? I’d love to believe that, only if I didn’t see their “best web hosts” page. It lists some of the most notorious hosting companies, like Arvixe, WebHostingHub, iPage and a few others which have literally hundreds of negative reviews on genuine web hosting forums like WebHostingTalk. Let a screenshot do the talking:
Now, it is needless to say that the reviews on a well-moderated community-based forum like WHT are likely to be way more legit than 5-star user reviews on WhoIsHostingThis. In fact, you can use their own tool (Who Is Hosting This) to know that many of the user reviews are fake. Let’s look at a very recent user review of BlueHost on their site:
Now, let’s see where the site that’s claiming to be on BlueHost actually hosted:
Wow! Not only is it not hosted on BlueHost, it turns out that this site hasn’t ever existed. WhoIs.net and Archive.org only confirm that finding.
Also, their own “expert reviews” aren’t really reviews. They’re more of a summary of the web host and the features that it offers. They don’t contain any sort of description of any personal experience with the host.
Now, this is only one part of the story — this is only about making a positive, but false impression about a web host (that pays good affiliate commissions) on the mind of a potential buyer. How low can a company, which offers shady reviews like that, go in order to gain search traffic to those money-making pages? Especially, since they seem to rank #1 on Google for practically all popular web hosting company review related searches. Let’s find out.
For this, let’s consider the keyword, “bluehost review”. The keyword gets 2,400 searches per month on average on Google US, with the average CPC being around $8. WhoIsHostingThis undoubtedly ranks 1st for this keyword, and let’s see how.
Now, you may wonder, what type of links constitute those 200 backlinks. Upon a closer look I found the main type of links making up that large link profile to be aggressively placed guest post links. Let’s take a look at some of them:
This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. Note one thing, though. These links won’t be considered as bad if they linked to their homepage (as most of the anchors suggest) than the BlueHost review page. Let’s say I do a guest post and in the author bio, there’s a line, “Rohit is a blogger at TechTage.com”. Now, if I link to an inner money-page instead of the homepage using such an anchor, wouldn’t it be a bit misleading both for the users (who’d land up on an inner page thinking they’ve landed up on the homepage) as well as the search engines?
Now that you know how WhoIsHostingThis.com uses shady on-page as well as off-page tactics to rank high in the SERPs and bank, recommending web hosts with tons of negative reviews on legit forums in the process, help spread the word against these affiliate income-focused hosting review sites that spread misinformation for their own profits. The next time you need to choose a web host, make sure you’re looking at a legitimate review.