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Negative SEO detected, use disavow tool preemptively?
hasek747




msg:4617944
 1:38 pm on Oct 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Today I've noticed that on October 11th, around 4k links from 305 different domains have been pointed to one of my sites. These are clearly a negative SEO attempt, because:

1. All the links appear to have been created on the same day
2. They all come from extremely shady domains (adult, casino, low quality russian/asian sites)
3. They all target my main keyword
4. They are either sitewide links (blogroll, footer), comment links, or trackbacks (the latter are the majority).
5. A few other sites (not owned by me) that have been competing fairly with me in the same niche have received roughly the same number of links, from the exact same domains, on the exact same date
6. After closer inspection, some of them appear to be hacked links (appear in the Source code, but not visible on the page in the browser)

So far, I have not noticed any decline in traffic or rankings from Google.

My question: does it make any sense for me to preemptively disavow all these shady domains in GWT? Or should I just ignore it for now?

Thanks

 

linkbuildr




msg:4617995
 9:16 pm on Oct 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

NEgative SEO damn near impossible. Those links won't do anything so long as you have a natural, quality link profile.

hasek747




msg:4617998
 9:28 pm on Oct 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm not so sure about that. If you can negatively affect your own site by building crappy links to it, then it stands to reason others can negatively affect your site by building crappy links to it.

turbocharged




msg:4618008
 11:02 pm on Oct 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

NEgative SEO damn near impossible.

Unless DNA is left behind with every link created, I doubt Google can tell who created them. Google can only assume, and we've seen many cases where Google assumed wrong (including our own clients).

Those links won't do anything so long as you have a natural, quality link profile.

The link profile is now unnatural and its trust diminished. Those links have already done something...

mihomes




msg:4618035
 5:25 am on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

I was wondering when this would happen to one of the forum members.

If it were me I would be disavowing those links as quickly as I could. Based off your comments it is only a matter of time before Google picks up on all those links and harm is done to your rankings. If you disavow now then you might be able to cut down the harm. I would assume Google will pick on the new links quicker then it will apply any disavow rules you submit.

Look at it this way, if you disavow all these links then you are essentially returning your site to the same profile it had before this happened. If you leave them then you will certainly get hit.

Another thing is you might be able to find out, or have a good guess, of who may have done this. You mentioned that other sites in your niche had the same thing happen... who are the sites that did not? Obviously the person who did this would not link their own site and they must have a relationship with the market/niche to do this in the first place.

I saw this coming as soon as news of Google's somewhat new method of handling links and the disavow tool came about. Why in the world doesn't Google just 'zero' out bad links? It is in my opinion the easiest and best way to handle the situation. If they would zero out bad links then this whole scenario could be avoided PLUS we as webmasters would not need to spend countless hours with this disavow tool and could apply that time to other aspects of our site. Negative seo such as this would be eliminated overnight.

carlos the jackal




msg:4618069
 8:00 am on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

NEgative SEO damn near impossible.


I'd have to disagree with that too - we were hit with thousands of blog comment links all using a 'cheap widgets' anchor.

A month or two later we were hit with a manual penalty.

Jez123




msg:4618075
 8:28 am on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

@hasek747 How did you notice? By chance or do you check regularly? I think we need some sort of link alert tool whereby we are sent an email when new links are detected so that inspect and really keep on top of this sort of thing. Maybe there already is a tool?

hasek747




msg:4618105
 12:19 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

@mihomes

Thanks for the comments! I have just disavowed them (already had the disavow file prepared but did not upload it before at least one person over here confirmed it was a good idea).

As for who did this - I haven't looked into it really because I can't see how knowing the culprit's identity would be of any help to me - the links have been built and that's that in my mind. Or am I missing something?

@Jez123

Completely by accident; I was just testing out ahrefs.com to see what they had to offer, when I noticed this. I actually think ahrefs.com does have a notification system like the one you are talking about, but I'm not sure.

linkbuildr




msg:4618149
 4:26 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Carlos then your entire link profile must be terrible....nofollow blog comments got you a penalty...I highly doubt that.

carlos the jackal




msg:4618196
 7:32 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Carlos then your entire link profile must be terrible....nofollow blog comments got you a penalty...I highly doubt that.


Who mentioned nofollow? A large number of them were follow links unfortunately. We did have a small amount of content on the likes of EZineArticles etc from the days of using an external agency, but I'd maintain - as do other SEOs I've discussed the issue with - that the main factor was the blog comment spam.

Fortunately a combo of removals and a weighty disavow file got the penalty revoked.

mihomes




msg:4618218
 9:06 pm on Oct 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

As for who did this - I haven't looked into it really because I can't see how knowing the culprit's identity would be of any help to me - the links have been built and that's that in my mind. Or am I missing something?


No problem... that is just what I would do, but I would think everyone can agree that would be the move to make. As for knowing who it was... you are right there really isn't anything you could do, but it would let you keep an eye on things down the road.

Hopefully this doesn't become a new trend. Like I said before, this way of handling things from Google isn't covering all the bases. They are trying to stop link sellers, buyers, spam, but they might just end up creating a whole new blackhat business of paid negative seo against competitors! If that happens then there is a problem much larger than there was originally haha.

I should also note that you might want to take a look at the free tools here on the forum (top header menu). There is a backlink checker that makes the process very easy to spot links such as the ones that happened to you.

stgeorge




msg:4618291
 5:49 am on Oct 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Anyone who believes that negative SEO does not exist is living in a dreamworld.

If you can build a link profile that hurts your rankings yourself then why can't someone else?

Really this debate was had months ago and believing that somehow google knows that links being but are malicious is just ridiculous.

One of the biggest and most dominating brands in a niche we watch got smashed with hundreds of thousands of links over the last few weeks and after ten years of solid ranking it is gone. It has a well balanced link profile and this slew of links clearly tipped it over the edge. It is clear as day to see why. It has happened to us in multiple industries.

Your best course of action is to conduct a thorough audit and submit a proper detailed report to Google going right down to every single suspect link. Then you just hope that Google a) reacts and b) gets it right. There are no guarantees.

We are still waiting after a month. A new site we built got smashed with garbage exact match anchor links by some idiot. We submitted a report and multiple disavow request and nothing has happened.

It's pot luck if you get it back.

turbocharged




msg:4618336
 11:15 am on Oct 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Your best course of action is to conduct a thorough audit and submit a proper detailed report to Google going right down to every single suspect link. Then you just hope that Google a) reacts and b) gets it right.

Unfortunately with the holiday shopping season arriving, I think we will see many more acts of negative SEO. The time it takes for these sites to recover, if at all, may lock them out of the busiest shopping season of the year. I don't have to say what kind of effect this would have on any small retail business.

Shai




msg:4618343
 11:51 am on Oct 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Unfortunately, as most people here have said, the myth that negative SEO is impossible, difficult or does not exist is purely that... a myth. It exists and growing in popularity on a daily basis. Its going to be a MASSIVE problem very soon, and I doubt Google will be able to continue without taking some sort of action to counter it. The only time I would say its difficult is on massive reputable sites where a few thousand xRumer links wont dent the overall impeccable link profile. Unfortunately, that's not the case for the majority of the sites we look after. In the meantime, continually check your/your client sites and if you see anything suspicious, act fast by disavowing the links on the spot.

Hasek - I would also urge you to combine the link found from all 4 main sources (Majestic, Ahrefs, Google and OSE) rather then just use one or even two sources. I guarantee you will find quite a few more to disavow.

mihomes




msg:4618362
 2:05 pm on Oct 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Totally agree with you Shai... saw this coming months and months ago. I really hope they turn things around somehow, but as time goes by everything Google just seems to get worse and worse... shooting themselves in the foot as far as acceptance goes for webmasters everywhere.

When I read comments like these I have the hardest time believing they didn't take any of this into account. Even now the solution is as simple as 'bad' links equal to nothing - no positive and no negative to the site they point to. You could then go a step further and actually penalize a domain who had a certain threshold of bad outgoing links 'on' it to promote good content and practices. Something as simple as that would erase negative seo, paid links, selling links, spam, the disavow tool, etc. as there would be no gain yet still pass a negative to domains who are using bad practices (and are responsible for them). Bam, problem solved all around.

ponyboy96




msg:4618363
 2:14 pm on Oct 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

I would disavow them and keep an eye out. I'm sure there are thousands more that haven't been detected. Negative SEO does exist and you would be naive to believe it didn't.

SPAM - site positioned above me

Why work on building quality backlinks when you can easily destroy the sites outranking you for cheap. I certainly don't condone those actions, but really that's what it's coming down to.

netmeg




msg:4618367
 3:00 pm on Oct 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Of course negative SEO exists.

But I think a lot more people assume they're the victim of it than actually are. In hundreds and hundreds of site profiles I have reviewed over the years, I've only seen one profile where I seriously thought it *might* be happening. When I think negative SEO, I am thinking a targeted, deliberate attempt to tank a competitor, not a bunch of links thrown at every Tom Dick and Harry website to see what might stick.

Blog comment spam happens to everyone, because shady companies are still selling it as a way to rank. It's not negative SEO.

Shai




msg:4618370
 3:19 pm on Oct 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

not a bunch of links thrown at every Tom Dick and Harry website to see what might stick.



I don't understand the distinction unless you mean when some seo companies offer "tier 2" links? i.e They put a review/comment/post on your site then build thousands of links to that review?

The problem with that is that still tanks the site. Yes, that was not the intention of the spam builder but that is the end result.

I have a perfect example if you wish to have a look at it. Its worth it just to look at the Majestic graph it created.

Basically, a site of ours had an enhancement implemented but the developer forgot to turn on moderation on the review section. Hey presto, 2 weeks later the site has gained over 13,000 links all pointing to spammy product reviews on our site. Although no manual spam message received, the site rankings has dropped (gradually I might add, almost as and when the links were discovered by Google). Interestingly enough, in this case the disavow file helped bounce rankings back but we were not able to keep up with the disavow update process so we just gave up on the domain and moved to a new one.

aakk9999




msg:4618417
 6:18 pm on Oct 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Shai

Negative SEO is when someone purposely builds links in order to tank a site.

Tier 2 linking offered by SEO companies which then results in a site tanking is a bad choice of link purchase and not a Negative SEO.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4618473
 9:02 pm on Oct 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

I look at Google Webmaster Tool's 'new incoming link' report bi-monthly and add new spammy links to my disavow file. I'm not sure what effect, if any, it's having but if Google is taking the time to tell me these links point to me I am taking the time to tell them which are non-editorial spam.

hasek747




msg:4618475
 9:13 pm on Oct 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Sgt_Kickaxe

I like your attitude. This is exactly what I'll be doing from now on. Thanks.

turbocharged




msg:4618512
 1:07 am on Oct 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

But I think a lot more people assume they're the victim of it than actually are. In hundreds and hundreds of site profiles I have reviewed over the years, I've only seen one profile where I seriously thought it *might* be happening.

But in years past competitors could not hurt each other as Google treated links differently. I thought Google's wording regarding that issue was modified just last year in May?

mihomes




msg:4618516
 1:41 am on Oct 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Turbo... I agree with you on that comment.

As someone said earlier... if you can build bad links for yourself then someone else can do it to you... its just common sense. There is no way Google can tell who was 'responsible' for the link other than owns the domain they actually appear on.

Blackhat, cheaters, whatever you want to call them, are not going to disappear and it's not going to take a rocket scientist to figure out this method.

They need to attack the sites that have bad links on them - not the sites who are being linked to.

Shai




msg:4618546
 5:09 am on Oct 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Aakk9999 - you miss-understood me. I know what negative seo is, and the scenario I described on tier2 links was not something we did to our own site. It was done to our site. It was not to be considered negative seo as the intention was not to tank our site, but was merely part of the "seo" service for another site. The only difference was the intent of the person. The results are exactly the same.

Sequence of events:
Bug allowed reviews on our site to be published with no moderation
Spammer adds a review with link to the flavour of the month (casino, Rolex, Viagra whatever)
Then spammer builds thousands of tier2 links to the review he/she just created on our site.
Result: rankings drop.

aakk9999




msg:4618566
 10:50 am on Oct 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

@shai
Thanks on explaining, I understand now what you were saying. So your site suffered in two ways:

a) it had spammy outbound links entered via comments section
b) it then got blasted with spammy inbound links that were built to prop the page on your site where they put comment with spammy link

Have you tried to remove the page and let it go 410/404, and if you care about the content of that page that got spammy comment, move the content of that page (minus the comment) on a new URL ?

Shai




msg:4618570
 11:01 am on Oct 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Exactly. Yes, fought a brave and gallant battle :) using all manner of tools, including 410 responses, blocked IPs based on Geo location and a massive disavow file. Also, something I did not mention was that it was not just one spammy review, it was hundreds of them and each had their own tier 2 links built so in the end we considered the fact that the domain was quite new anyway, not a great domain at that, and I am a little bit of a perfectionist so did not want to see all those links on Majestic every time we checked so decided to start fresh. Sometimes, its just much easier and you then don't have that niggling feeling at the back of your head every time something unexpected happens. Clean slate and all that.

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