Achieve Infectious Marketing With Parasite SEO

Published On - February 23, 2024 Brian LettieriLocal SEO

Colorful illustration of cartoonish bugs wearing construction hats, playfully interacting in a bright and abstract digital environment, symbolizing the concept of Parasite SEO

Psst…where’s the best place to hide a body? 

On the second page of Google (Ba-dum-tss!) 

Jokes aside, what if we told you Parasite SEO could get you to the first page? 

It may have an ominous name, but the good news is it doesn’t require a trip to the doctor. It’s an SEO marketing technique involving linking with high-ranked sites, so Google ranks your content higher up. 

Read on as we unpack the mechanisms of this technique and share our honest opinion on whether it’s worth trying.

Diverse digital marketing team engaged in a brainstorming session around a modern table, with laptops and tablets visible. Thought bubbles with icons like a magnifying glass, a light bulb, and social media logos represent their creative process in devising digital marketing strategies, set against the backdrop of a bright and collaborative office space

Defining parasite SEO

So what exactly is parasite SEO? It’s a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that leverages the high-authority of an established site to improve the ranking of another site.

It enables you to ride the waves of a high-ranking site and attract people to your shores. Using the established site will filter you into search results. You can also use the parasite method to build backlinks, which may help boost your affiliate programs. 

Think of it as taking your cupcakes to your popular neighbors. Their friends will take a bite and come knocking on your door. It’s a common technique used by the best affiliate marketing company firms. 

Compared to traditional strategies, this technique doesn’t require starting from scratch. You can benefit from exposure on an established site. It improves lead generation and helps you find quality leads which boost successful conversions

Barnacle SEO is a common alternate name for parasite methods. The word parasite has a negative connotation with leeching off others, so people may prefer to use these titles

  • Coattail SEO
  • Monopolizing SEO
  • Symbiotic SEO
  • Authority Hijacking
  • Piggyback SEO
  • Third-Party SEO

However, we don’t mind calling it parasite SEO because parasites aren’t all bad. Some are beneficial for our biosphere to thrive and we think that applies to the search engine ecosystem as well. 

The evolution of parasite SEO

In the mid-2000s, experts utilized it as a method of attaining better search engine rankings. However, some companies started taking advantage of this and Google has evolved to penalize excessive use of manipulative tactics

The good news is SEO experts know how to apply parasite techniques without spamming. They work with the algorithm to help you reap the benefits of linking with high-authority sites

Why marketers use parasite SEO

Marketers leverage Parasite SEO tactics because they offer countless benefits that would be hard to do without leeching off high-ranked sites. Here are some of the advantages of applying this technique

  • Using high-authority links boosts your site’s click-through rate (CTR). 
  • Your website benefits from referral traffic. 
  • It doesn’t matter if the links on these websites are No-follow or Do-follow. You don’t have to worry about whether the links are no-follow because their high domain authority (DA) is sufficient to boost your website. 
  • Parasite SEO also opens your page up to other popular businesses, which is especially beneficial in a B2B context. 
  • You can benefit from sites that offer free guest posting. 
  • Google favors high-authority sites. You won’t be penalized if you use correct SEO practices. 
  • Being connected with high-authority websites can rank you on Google’s first page even without backlinks because Google trusts these sites. 
  • It allows you to create high-quality backlinks quickly.
Image depicting the importance of connectedness and the value it adds to parasite SEO.

How parasite SEO works

Simply put, parasite SEO involves writing a high-quality piece of content or creating a video and publishing it on a site. It must be around 500–1000 words and include high-ranking links and social signals
Increase your ranking by being associated with established sites that Google ranks high.

Identifying host platforms

Parasite SEO relies on high-authority websites. These platforms have long-standing credibility and trust with Google’s search engine. So, when you’re looking for links, ensure you pick from these sites for hosting optimized content

Here are our personal favorite high-authority websites to use for parasite optimization: 


Creating content for parasite SEO

When crafting content for parasite SEO, the main factor is to provide value. Follow these tips for crafting content that truly benefits from the host’s domain authority:

  • Optimize your anchor text by using your target keywords for your internal links and up to 2 external links. Use this trick in moderation to prevent being penalized. 
  • Tailor your headings and tone to each site and avoid replicating outlines or creating spammy posts.
  • Use pictures or create custom graphics to improve your site’s performance. 
  • Share your parasite content across your social media platforms to make it more accessible to Google’s index. 
  • Prioritize long-tail keywords and look for low competition and high search volume. 
  • Update your content over time to get more quality leads.
"Digital garden flourishing with various plants representing reputable websites, assisted by friendly bugs wielding tools like magnifying glasses, paintbrushes, and wrenches. These bugs symbolize the positive aspects of Parasite SEO, showcasing how they help the plants (websites) grow taller and healthier, enhancing their visibility and attractiveness in the digital marketing ecosystem.

The benefits and risks of parasite SEO

Parasite SEO generally has a mixed response from marketers. Some run from it and others swear by it. Here are the pros and cons we’ve noticed when testing parasite SEO:

Advantages of parasite SEO 

One of the most apparent benefits of parasite SEO is the ability to leverage the authority of established platforms. It helps build trust with your audience as well as the algorithm. By hosting on highly regarded sites, you can reap the benefits of the existing traffic and DA. 

This method holds the potential for speedier ranking improvements compared to other methods. High authority platforms already have the favor of search engines. Hosting content on these sites may help you achieve higher rankings quicker than if you started from scratch

There aren’t many ways to build an online presence rapidly, which can be a crucial factor for certain products or services. Parasite SEO provides a method to establish an online presence or boost product awareness briskly

It also holds a superpower for diversifying traffic sources, which allows you to expand your reach. Finding new audiences can generate better leads and broaden your customer base. 

The dark side of parasite SEO

Parasite SEO does have some ethical considerations. At the end of the day, you are using another site for its rankability. 

Some marketers may apply it as a black-hat tactic and use unsavory methods like excessive links or keyword stuffing. While these dodgy techniques may work in the short run, in the long run, they affect your reliability.

There’s also the risk of being penalized for manipulative SEO practices like keyword stuffing. Your site may suffer lower rankings or a total ban from the search engines index. Low-quality parasite SEO is not worth the risk of losing your brand’s visibility. 

SEO in practice: Case studies and examples

In our practice, we’ve worked with companies to generate successful SEO campaigns that deliver tangible results. Let’s look at two of our case studies to reveal the true power of optimizing your marketing strategies. 

Successful SEO campaigns

We’ve worked with many companies to improve their reach, generate quality leads, and build brand awareness. Here are two testimonials of the power of our SEO campaigns:

The LOT Ent.

When we started working with The LOT Ent., they had a $23 cost per conversion from Google ad words. They also had no website traffic or brand visibility. Their lack of SEO techniques also negatively affected their lead generation. 

Our Google Adwords experts performed a PPC audit and found many under performing keywords. These keywords were taking a large chunk of the advertising budget while providing subpar results

We reallocated funds to higher converting keywords and applied A/B testing to find the best converting ad copy. 

We also implemented a display retargeting campaign to lasso lost website visitors. Our advertising department also implemented social advertising campaigns with optimized videos. 

When we were done, The LOT Ent. begin receiving guests at $.20 per visitor. 


MyNaturalCBD had an impressive line of products but a low reach. We prioritized their SEO and began cleanup and synchronization. We also repaired the onsite SEO issues and optimized Google My Business. 

We also built high-quality, relevant backlinks and updated the site’s NAP (name, address, and phone number). Our PPC audit revealed low-performing keywords. 

We sparked a display retargeting campaign to recapture lost website visitors on MyNaturalCBD. We also strategized ways to boost quality leads and conversions.

Abstract image depicting a pathway through an algorithm, the way parasite SEO helps search engines identify good content.

Parasite SEO and search engine algorithms

There’s an intricate dance between parasite SEO and search engine algorithms. You have to learn the moves to get around it. 

It works with the bumpy terrain of search engine algorithms to boost your site visibility and rankings. Your content needs to walk the tightrope between something that adds value or something that devalues high-ranked rites. 

Search engines have algorithms that are able to detect manipulative SEO tactics. Your site may be penalized if you use high-authority websites to manipulate search engine rankings. 

Here are three red flags that search engines identify and penalize sites for:

  • Irrelevant or poor quality content 
  • Sudden spikes in backlinks 
  • Unnatural link pattern or irrelevant anchor texts 

Search engines may lower the rank of your page or obliterate them from the search results if they suspect foul play. 

Black vs. white hat parasite SEO

While parasite SEO may have a bad rep for being manipulative, it can actually be a mutually beneficial strategy. Focus on creating high-quality guest posts and feature links to your parasite post

Build legitimate backlinks so that they’re valid and reliable for a long time. You can also build several guest post links from high traffic sites but ensure the content is original and valuable

The content setup for black and white hat parasite SEO is pretty similar, but the difference is in the way you build your links. 

Black hat methods usually have an excessive amount of backlinks (100+) and many of those links are no-follow. Google is very likely to penalize such sites for manipulating the algorithm. 

Effective parasite methods don’t cheat the system (i.e. white hat). They also involve using high DA sites as backlinks. These links should add value to your article and not just be spammy.

Steps to get bitten by parasite SEO

Clearly, when you understand parasite SEO, it holds impressive benefits. So, how do you implement it without getting penalized? Here are the steps we typically follow: 

1. Find high authority publications 

First, we search for a topic that our clients want to rank for. Our SEO experts study the top-ranking pages and familiarize themselves with any sites that are open to external contributions. 

We then pitch those high-ranking sites with high value keywords and get permission to contribute. In this first step, we find a site that has a high DA and will be a value-add for our client’s content. 

2. Process transactions for guest posts or sponsored content

While some sites may allow guests posts free of charge, most times you’ll need to pay for sponsored content. It’s quite common in parasite SEO and it allows both sides to benefit. 

We ensure that not a cent is wasted as we optimize the content to make affiliate sales. Including CTAs costs a few extra bucks, but boy is it worth it. It can expand your reach drastically and boost sales. 

3. Lay the SEO fundamentals

While this may seem obvious to seasoned SEO marketers, many are unaware that you’ll still have to invest time and energy in dialing in your on-page SEO.

Parasite SEO is effective, but it doesn’t replace the fundamentals of optimization. We invest into generating quality keywords and hitting the correct densities. 

Our SEO experts understand that your content won’t rank high from authority alone. We focus on the article structure, validity, and quality to ensure each article is valuable enough to rank high and stay there. 

4. Building links 

The final step is link building. Remember that the keywords can only take you so far and they’re highly competitive. We know how to make your site shine with quality content and backlinks. 

We build backlinks with high ranks and use unique referring domains to help you stand out and rank higher. Link building helps parasite methods become an effective tool to gain recognition and build trust with search engines.

Image depicting various SEO choices in the form of different doors one could go through.

Alternatives to parasite SEO

So are you the perfect host for parasite SEO or does it just tick you off?

Parasite posts may become volatile and vulnerable to updates or being removed. Website buyers are the biggest threat because they don’t own the posts, so they’re more likely to delete them. 

Another looming threat is your competitors pushing out similar content and possibly gaining a higher ranking.

Building organic SEO foundations

To be honest, parasite SEO is effective in boosting cash flow and rapid site traffic. However, it doesn’t replace good ol’ organic SEO. 

Building an organic SEO foundation can help you reap short and long-term benefits. Let’s unpack some advantages of investing in organic SEO

Increased visibility 

Did you know that 70% of all internet traffic is derived from organic searches

Search engines use algorithms to calculate which sites should be visible at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Building organic SEO can boost your website visibility and push it higher up on the first page of SERPs

For example, our SEO experts will optimize your entire website, including the design and structure, so it appeals to search engines. Marketers typically consider the following elements when attempting to increase visibility

  • Making catchy titles and subheadings 
  • Optimizing metas 
  • Researching high ranking keywords 
  • Finding quality backlinks 
  • Creating a mobile-friendly platform
  • Building topic clusters 
  • Improving loading speeds 

By improving these areas, your site can gain more authority and visibility. It also improves user experience and generates organic traffic and quality leads. 

We’ve seen the difference in our case studies with organic SEO. Clients have reported increased revenue, consistent traffic, and higher ranked posts. 

Organic Traffic

The most obvious benefit of building organic SEO is (drum roll) generating organic traffic. Nothing beats consistently uploading and optimizing content with high ranked keywords. 

In the long run, it grants your site a steady stream of visitors, loyal readers, and consistent leads. Eventually, your page will become a trusted source and you won’t even need ongoing advertising or paid promos. 

Increased Brand Awareness 

Organic SEO produces high-quality content that impresses search engines and viewers alike. It helps your business establish a place in the spotlight and increases your brand recognition. 

Internet users will see your site consistently at the top. They eventually will go to your page as a first choice for any information on the topic. This ripple effect will boost sales, increase brand interest and showcase your site as a credible option

Beat your competition

Parasite SEO can help you get a boost, but your competitors also know about it. Putting in the time and energy into building organic SEO with consistent, quality content can help you stay ahead of the crowd. 

Companies that are serious about building a brand and not just in it for a quick cash grab invest in organic SEO. It’s a strategic approach to creating long-term results that deliver lasting success. 

It’s important to perform regular SEO audits and stay updated with all the latest SEO practices. This step ensures sustainable organic traffic and keeps you up in the ranks. 

Leveraging social media platforms

Social media platforms include Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. In today’s digital landscape, it’s pivotal for your business to have a presence on social media. It can exponentially expand your reach and build authenticity and relatability for your site. 

One of the highlights of social media marketing is it enables you to communicate directly with consumers. However, its personal nature brings about other ethical concerns

Manipulation of consumer emotions or the social media algorithms may affect the trustworthiness of your business. To avoid ethical minefields, it’s essential to navigate social media posting carefully

Adhere to ethical advertising standards, such as using #ad when posting a product on Instagram. It fosters trust and respect among your followers. 

Deceptive marketing is a manipulative technique involving fake reviews or undisclosed endorsements. It lowers your company’s integrity and most viewers will sniff it out. 

Pairing ethical, social media marketing with organic SEO and occasional parasite SEO is an undefeatable package. 

The future of parasite SEO

With so many mixed reactions around parasite SEO, its future seems bleak. We believe that it will live on in the ever evolving digital landscape. However, we predict that manipulative, poor quality, black-hat techniques will cease to exist

Marketers will probably still rely on bandwagoning off high-authority platforms. We suspect algorithms will become better at detecting and removing manipulative practices

With ai SEO techniques, marketers will have to create unique, high-value content to stand out. That’s why we think only white hat methods will stand. 

Staying ahead of the curve

The good news is, regardless of where parasite SEO leads in the future, you can stay ahead of it. Invest in regular SEO audits and keep an eye on your competitors’ strategies. 

Stay up to date on the latest search engine algorithm updates and read our blog on the latest SEO news. 

Parasites aren’t for everyone, neither is parasite SEO

Parasite SEO may grow on you, but you should know when it’s time to detox. While it may help you generate traffic and leads quickly, it doesn’t compare to building organic SEO

At its heart, it’s a manipulative technique. It involves using high authority sites to trick the algorithm into ranking your site higher, too. However, when done right, it’s a mutually beneficial relationship and an effective way to gain rapid attention and boost traffic. 

We think parasite SEO may hold a place in certain campaigns, but it’s honestly not the most effective method. Organic SEO and multi-platform marketing is the sauce that keeps people coming back for more. 
Let’s chat about how you can ethically and effectively expand your brand awareness, generate quality leads, and boost revenue.

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