| This 54 message thread spans 2 pages: 54 (  2 ) > > || |
|Has The Most Recent Google Update Made Negative SEO Easier?|
Negative SEO: Possibly one of the webmaster's worst nightmares.
I'd like to speculate that negative SEO is now much easier to do now than it was prior to google's latest updates.
Are we seeing more evidence to confirm this? There's certainly more talk of negative SEO.
We all know that links revolving around bad neighbourhoods can cause problems for a site, and it's relatively easy to generate hundreds, if not thousands of links automatically, and fairly easily putting a site on the automated radar at google. These links can also be generated manually, one-by-one, to slowly creep up on a site.
It's now more important than ever to have a GWT account to look out for these issues developing, and to deal with them that much faster if we're to avoid problems.
What's your view: Is it now easier to run negative SEO campaigns, and how would you deal with the problem?
|Is it now easier to run negative SEO campaigns, |
I also think what incrediBILL said in this thread: [webmasterworld.com...] -- MSG #4675967 - Page 3, Post 3 @ 30 Posts/Page -- Is right on.
|how would you deal with the problem? |
Guck Foogle and find other ways to generate traffic -- IMO there's nothing else that's long-term sustainable for anyone, except being "big enough" to be an "expected result" for a query, to do about it -- Google's after our traffic, so the best answer is to find a work-around that generates traffic without Google being involved.
Google's fear mongering could eventually be an #EpicFail, because when enough webmasters have had enough of trying to follow their rules only to get tanked by someone else's negative SEO efforts, then "traffic anyway you can get it" and ignoring Google will likely be fair game -- I wouldn't be totally surprised, if they don't change their penalty policy, if sometime down the road webrings, forum links, press releases, advertorials, guest blogging, blog rolls and other non-search methods of discovery, which are heavily discouraged by Google, make a come-back and people just plain ignore Google and any other elephants in the room who try to back them and what seems to be [IMO] a very clear abuse of power and prominence.
|people just plain ignore Google |
people = webmasters
people = users
To me it's like saying "live your life as if cars don't exist". Sure you can walk everywhere-- but if you step into the street you're going to get run over, because the cars don't know they don't exist.
It is absolutely easier now for negative seo campaigns. I've run my site since 2000 and remember the good old days when all you had to do was create a site with decent information. In today's environment I don't only have to worry about what WE do with our website, but what everyone else does/interacts with our site across the entire web.
Just recently I discovered that we were a victim of neg. seo (basic link farm/directory submission I'd guess) and had to spend a couple of days learning new tools and reviewing some of the worst .ru websites ever. And we aren't even in a competitive/desired keyword niche!
The worst part to me is that normal everyday people (non-webmasters) can actually trigger neg. seo impact with links that they think are valuable. They actually like the product and want to share news about your site, but they don't know that this can trigger an issue with the big G when they do so in forums etc.
|The worst part to me is that normal everyday people (non-webmasters) can actually trigger neg. seo impact with links that they think are valuable. They actually like the product and want to share news about your site, but they don't know that this can trigger an issue with the big G when they do so in forums etc. |
We get unsolicited inbound links from forums all the time (not to mention loads of junk links from the likes of Mrwhatis and Redbubble), and our Google referrals have nearly doubled with Panda 4.0.
IMHO, it's all about natural patterns.
I tend to believe the potential effects of negative SEO are highly over-reported. There are a huge amount of scrapers and mashers that will generate links to a site, but I do believe Google can determine that is just noise, and the links can be ignored.
In a situation where a site is the first result for a given query, why would a competitor engage in negative SEO when they could expend the same energy/money in positive SEO for their own properties?
If we follow the logic that higher grade links have far more value to a site than profile or blog comment links, it should also make sense that a few high grade links will far outweigh low quality links generated by outside parties/competitors.
I also do keep an eye on GWT but try not to dwell on what it all could mean.
|In a situation where a site is the first result for a given query, why would a competitor engage in negative SEO when they could expend the same energy/money in positive SEO for their own properties? |
Because negative SEO against competitors works better.
If we follow the logic that higher grade links have far more value to a site than profile or blog comment links, it should also make sense that a few high grade links will far outweigh low quality links generated by outside parties/competitors.
You would think, and I would think, but based on reports, that's not what Google is doing -- Think you're safe with natural inbound links that are "of high authority" all you want, but also, please stand by until a competitor decides to tank you and see what/how-much they can actually do if their actions against you "fit the pattern" of you trying to increase your own rankings.
All a competitor has to do now is know and fit the patter of what someone building links to their site does, and you can easily be tanked -- Be glad no one in your niche has figured it out or done it yet.
I don't disagree with your concepts, but:
A site owner can control/seek higher quality links.
Higher quality links have a bit more weight, IMHO.
If I could define a pattern where I could tank competitors, it would probably make sense to do it. The problem is that if I tank one competitor, wouldn't another site take their place?
That could be an endless stream of actions where it would make more sense to promote the owned site instead.
My opinion, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
|A site owner can control/seek higher quality links. |
Solicting for links? This goes against Google's guidelines (the deliberate attempt to manipulate rankings) that tell you to run your online business as if search engines don't exist. If by "higher quality links" you mean links that directly drive more traffic, I get your point - but then, that's nothing to do with search engine rankings - and you may as well no-follow those to be on the safe side. Do you have an example of such a "higher quality" link (when I mean example, I mean type of link, not specific URL), and can you make a case where it matters if it's do or no-followed (my point being: it shouldn't matter if it's do or no-followed, if it's already driving traffic). In fact, to make it plain, if you are "controlling" and "seeking" (your words) higher quality links, you are engaging directly in methods to deliberately manipulate your search engine rankings. High quality links should come naturally, remember - without the need to "control" or "seek" - you write fantastic content, and eventually you will be found and discovered.
|If I could define a pattern where I could tank competitors, it would probably make sense to do it |
Are you saying that small businesses that got hit by Penguin used obscure, hard-to-copy, "underground" methods that got them penalised? The methods they used are primarily blog commenting, adding their sites to directories, article marketing, links from forums. In other words, the smaller the business, the lower the fruit that's picked when it comes to link building. ALL of the aforementioned methods are incredibly easy to automate (and have been for years) - including article marketing where you just scrape a load of content and load that content with links to your competitor's sites. In fact, the lower the quality of link, the easier it is to automate. Such methods have been proven to tank hundreds of thousands of SME sites already regardless of who built the links. If you argue that "it's not worth the hassle" to build such links to competitor sites, then you simply don't understand how easy it is. There are systems and services already in place and have been since not long after Penguin 1.0 in April 2012. These negative SEO systems and services are only getting more entrenched and commonplace as time goes by. They would disappear overnight if Google simply discounted such links.
I can see in many commercial sectors that brands dominate - why is that so? This has only been the case since Penguin cropped up. In my opinion, it's because SMEs are stuck between a rock and a hard place - they won't win links naturally no matter what, and if they engage in link building, inevitably they get penalised. If they DON'T engage in link building, either they remain invisible, or they get penalised by 3rd parties eventually including them into their negative SEO campaigns, which are quite trivial to run and automate (literally, just build lists of domains, scrape content, mash it all together, spit out garbage directories and splog sites).
I can see Google ARE moving higher up the food chain, now attacking bigger firms by targeting THEIR methods of link building (press release, higher quality guest blogging).
With such a dominant marketshare, Google has a responsibility to operate in such a manner that is "fair." There is nothing fair about excluding small businesses from their search engine based on vague penalties that just so happen to boost Google's own properties, partners and investments in their own search results. Barry's post about Vivint getting penalized right around the time that Google bought Nest is a perfect example as can be read at [seroundtable.com...]
Negative SEO does impact many small businesses, even though many discount it as a non-issue because they believe Google can identify negative SEO attacks. These people often overlook how many hours small business owners spend in looking through their WMT account to find "bad links." Could these small business owners be utilizing their time in a better way? Of course.
For all intensive purposes, I believe penalties are a smokescreen for Google to push their own agenda and increase their own profits. While Google expands into other industries, small business owners are distracted by wasting away hours disavowing links, calculating keyword percentages on their pages, etc. Distracted webmasters are less likely to see the bigger picture and how the digital economy is being rigged.
Going back to the Vivint issue, Matt Cutts said that they told Vivint why they were penalized and questioned if it was more transparent than any other search engine. Matt fails to realize that no other search engine has their hands in nearly as many industries as Google. Google has direct financial interests, either through direct ownership, investments or strategic partnerships, in so many different sectors that transparency can no longer reassure business owners that Google is playing fair. Only regulatory actions against Google can assure fairness and restore confidence in the digital economy.
On Vivint, Cutts' "defence" of Google was that Nest was bought a few months after Vivint was penalised, and of course, all of Google's departments don't know what the others are doing, right? It seems like a very weak defence.
To add to that, I know someone who was running helpline websites for years. His company's Adwords accounts were suspended for no reason just a month before Google "Helpouts" went live. I said "are you sure there's no reason?" - he replied with "my competition have also been removed from Adwords too". He's still waiting for a reason why his company's account was suspended.
|If you argue that "it's not worth the hassle" to build such links to competitor sites, then you simply don't understand how easy it is. There are systems and services already in place and have been since not long after Penguin 1.0 in April 2012. These negative SEO systems and services are only getting more entrenched and commonplace as time goes by. |
Maybe I'm missing something, but what's to stop Google operatives from buying and identifying "negative SEO" links, unless the negative-SEO vendors are selling only to certified bad guys?
|With such a dominant marketshare, Google has a responsibility to operate in such a manner that is "fair." |
No, no, no....... They have a responsibility to earn more bucks for their investors. Period!
|Maybe I'm missing something, but what's to stop Google operatives from buying and identifying "negative SEO" links, unless the negative-SEO vendors are selling only to certified bad guys? |
You're overlooking the myriad of regular link building services out there. A quick search on fiverr and I can find thousands of these services. Regular, cheap and nasty link building for five bucks. I can find hundreds of thousands of link building services around the web. There isn't a difference between regular, cheap link building services and negative SEO - they're the same thing! If I want to harm a site, I don't need to go and use a service advertised as "negative SEO", I can use any of the cheap and nasty "regular" services out there. Google aren't going to neutralise these services - they're "bad" and Google target and penalise such services. Perfect if you want to do some stealthy negative SEO.
Or....you could just do it yourself. The service providers for link building are hardly performing magic or creating a hard-to-copy service. Placing links is trivially easy and for the really lazy among us, automated.
Part of the natural progression of a website is the early phase where links are obtained from friends, family and related sites, but not freely earned. Search engines know this, it has been mentioned and is certainly no reason for penalty. Freely given mentions comes later in the site's lifecycle.
|A quick search on fiverr and I can find thousands of these services. Regular, cheap and nasty link building for five bucks. I can find hundreds of thousands of link building services around the web. There isn't a difference between regular, cheap link building services and negative SEO - they're the same thing! |
If you want to spend a bit of time and five bucks, you can pretty well establish the value of cheap links. All you have to do is establish a "site" on one of many free hosts. Write as well as you want for as many pages as you want. Then point some five buck links to that site.
You can rank non-competitive phrases for a few weeks, but it won't last. The nature of those types of links mean they have very little value for ranking purposes, and the value diminishes rapidly. If most of the links a site had were blog comments and forum posts, then cheap purchased links might be problematic. There are probably other scenarios also.
I'd still say the best protection is seeking higher value links to your site. How a person defines "seeking" and "higher value" is up to that person.
On the serps we're tracking, paid spun do follow anchor text pbns are doing such a good job that im not suprised when the same site's ranking for the top 2 or 3 results for multiple kws. useless inner pages such as wp tag pages are doing very well. utter crap. fire up the tag clouds again chaps! if this is neg seo then its backfiring big time. i have my doubts.
|Part of the natural progression of a website is the early phase where links are obtained from friends, family and related sites, but not freely earned. Search engines know this, it has been mentioned and is certainly no reason for penalty. Freely given mentions comes later in the site's lifecycle. |
You really should read up on Google's Guidelines:-
To quote :-
|Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. |
Again, if you're spreading the word and asking people to drive traffic to your site, fair enough - so what's the problem with nofollowing them? Clearly we're talking about "high value" links as in dofollow - you're saying (spuriously) that Google give a "pass" to links gained in the early days of a website's history, because arbitrarily Google will assume these are links from "friends and family" (without ever knowing) so they're "OK". Seems like dangerous advice to me that clearly violates Google's guidelines. If anything, it would be more of a "link scheme" to involve people who would naturally do you a favour (i.e. friends and family) than complete strangers who link to your site because they actually.....LIKE it!
|You can rank non-competitive phrases for a few weeks, but it won't last. The nature of those types of links mean they have very little value for ranking purposes, and the value diminishes rapidly. If most of the links a site had were blog comments and forum posts, then cheap purchased links might be problematic.There are probably other scenarios also. |
Exactly! I see you didn't get my point (it was about building links to competitor sites, not your own), but you underlined it. Such links certainly can be problematic - that's why you'd point them to a competitor.
I've been a webmaster for over a decade now(where has the time gone?!) and I've been fond of learning and doing my own SEO the entire time. I used to hang on Google's words and spend incredible amounts of time trying to please Google(100% whitehat) but it's been a one-way relationship. Nothing good I do ever seems to help so it became a matter of making sure I had nothing "bad" going on, a matter of optimizing everything, and then moving on.
Over time the burnout set in and I began listening to Google less and less and, now, I ignore recommendations virtually 100% of the time. Are my sites burning in Hades? No, far from it, they rank quite well and the extra time and resources NOT wasted on Google have benefited my sites nicely.
For every one of us here at WW I'm sure there are 10,000 others out there that don't even know about GWT or even SEO. Not sure how the new changes will after all, but pretty sure there's a few folks out there that don't even know about these things.
I do believe that it might be a bridge too far, that more harm may come from it than previous iterations of the algo... time will tell.
|It's now more important than ever to have a GWT account to look out for these issues developing, and to deal with them that much faster if we're to avoid problems. |
Yep, we now check our inbounds every week. We got bombed with about 1700 bad links over a year ago--in a field that only requires about 400 links to dominate. We didn't notice them until our rankings started really fading fast. We thought it might be a Penguin/Panda thing then discovered all these .info domains pointing to us. We followed the links back and couldn't find our domain anywhere on the offending sites (cloaking?)...
We quit waiting for G to "automatically" ignore these bad links and got serious about a disavow list. It's been 3 months now and we are starting to get some of our placement back. We will update the disavow list as we see fit.
PS: If you submit a disavow list and don't get an email (2 weeks?) from G saying they got it, resubmit it again until you get confirmation. And submit the list for both the www and non-www version of your domain name...
|Is it now easier to run negative SEO campaigns, and how would you deal with the problem? |
Unfortunately it is now easier/cheaper/faster to knock your competitor(s) out with bad links--verses working long hours to build quality links and content.
I have a feeling we will hear much more on this subject and G will be stymied trying to correct it.
I'm well aware of Google's guidelines. Search engines are well aware of natural site link growth, even if those links aren't truly "natural".
I'm guessing you have no desire to spend the 5 bucks to learn the truth? Or do you not want to know the reality? I'm not pushing any agenda, you can see results for yourself using any keywords/phrases you choose.
Listen to Sgt_Kickaxe, I think most everyone goes through that.
|Search engines are well aware of natural site link growth, even if those links aren't truly "natural". |
You seem to have arbitrarily decided (with no evidence) that Google give a "pass" to links won early in the life of a website's existence because they're from "friends and family" - perhaps a question to direct to Matt Cutts or John Mueller, but not something I'd feel comfortable believing.
|I'm guessing you have no desire to spend the 5 bucks to learn the truth? Or do you not want to know the reality? I'm not pushing any agenda, you can see results for yourself using any keywords/phrases you choose. |
I'm not sure what your point is here. This thread is about negative SEO, and my point was that these cheapo link building services (whether advertised as "negative" or not) can do great harm to new websites / SME websites with weak link profiles. Your point SEEMS to suggest that I think these services are somehow good for ranking? In which case, you've completely missed (misrepresented?) my points.
|I'm guessing you have no desire to spend the 5 bucks to learn the truth? |
There's really no need to even spend the $5. Just go to Fiverr and look at the negative SEO services being offered, the number of pending sales each provider has and the feedback they are getting. I've seen feedback that read "results as expected," "immediate movement" and one over a week ago that stated "hard to check so many links, but I used this for a negative SEO test, and it seems to have worked."
Places like Amazon, which has tons of affiliate spam links pointing to their pages, are held to a different standard than small businesses that operate in such a way that they could care less about keyword stuffing, making links, etc. In fact, Google rewards Amazon's heavily spammed pages with multiple listings on the first page of the search results. Meanwhile, small business websites can't be found in hardly any prominent positions in Google's search results.
Small business owners are busy running their operations and servicing their customers, yet Google's policies make it extraordinarily easy for someone to damage their business and/or extort money from them by threatening them with tons of spam links. I've seen both situations happen to small business owners, and all I can say is that Google is pathetic. Google will gladly take a small business owner's Adwords money in one hand and stab them in the back with the other.
Most of the small businesses I work with have few links pointing to their sites because they are natural. These same businesses also have few pages (< 100) and one attack targeted every page of their website with tens of thousands of links - including the html sitemap and contact pages. The company tried some link removal services and disavowing links, but their manual penalty remains.
To me, allowing someone to harm another business online is plain irresponsible. When it is the dominant search engine permitting these actions, it surpasses irresponsibility and becomes anticompetitive.
|Places like Amazon, which has tons of affiliate spam links pointing to their pages |
Matt Cutts has said that Google is "pretty good at recognizing affiliate links." It certainly shouldn't have any trouble recognizing affiliate links to Amazon.
turbocharged, and you can also just simply go to the regular link building services on fiverr.com if you want to do negative SEO too. Many regular (as in, not advertised as "negative SEO") link building services advertised there are along the lines of "20,000 links Scrapebox blast, sure to get you ranking well for your chosen keyword/phrase!" - ideal for negative results.
|Places like Amazon, which has tons of affiliate spam links pointing to their pages, are held to a different standard than small businesses that operate in such a way that they could care less about keyword stuffing, making links, etc. |
It's well documented that Jeff Bezos was an early/large investor in Google, which I'm sure has afforded him certain privileges that other e-commerce competitors do not have. Tin hatters would also find it interesting that of Google's board of directors, 20% of them have ties to Amazon. John Doerr previously worked for Amazon as well as Ram Shriram. Ram Shriram was also an early investor in Google and earned tens of millions of dollars last year by selling his Google stock. Ram's stock sale was widely reported on Business Insider [businessinsider.com...] , which is a media company that Bezos Expeditions [bezosexpeditions.com...] invests in.
There's no question that there is a close circle of wealth derived from the digital world, and they are keeping it as tight as they can. Whether you think it's Amazon's brand power that gives them exclusive search positions or it's because Amazon has close ties to Google really makes no difference. The individuals/companies that comprise this close circle of wealth are not going to relinquish what control they have and the government will not save you through regulatory actions. Nothing is going to change and the sooner you figure out how to carve out some small degree of relevance in a profit driven medium, which is largely self-regulated by a handful of wealthy and politically connected individuals, the better off you will be.
@ColourOfSpring: Yikes. I had a quick look around Fiverr and if indeed negative SEO campaigns work as some suggest, it's very worrying. Though this is not really new: I read a case study last year somewhere when a Blackhatter decided to use the techniques from recently penalized sites on a few competitors which saw them tank within weeks, never to return.
I think this is the final tipping point where Google's core ranking algorithms have failed.
|Unfortunately it is now easier/cheaper/faster to knock your competitor(s) out with bad links--verses working long hours to build quality links and content. |
I agree and to further the point. If you're in spot number 11, it can be easier to knock out the 10 people above you than to work your way up. It seems like it's quicker too.
I worked on a site that had a good solid diverse link profile, but it's rankings went to crap within a couple of months of a bunch of spammy links being pointed at it.
It's funny to me that even though google seems to constantly be looking for other signals of quality to measure websites and determine ranking.... It's still all about the links. This link game has been going on and going strong for a solid 10 years now. No matter what google says about how webmasters and business owners should focus on quality content and all that other crap they spew, it's still about the links. Links links links!
And yes, I'm aware that quality content attracts links. But again, it's back to links.
|The problem is that if I tank one competitor, wouldn't another site take their place? |
Yeah, the one right below it -- The results aren't "random", they're already ordered. So if a site is at #3 and gets removed #4 moves up; #5 goes to #4, #6 goes to #5, etc.
|That could be an endless stream of actions where it would make more sense to promote the owned site instead. |
Only if Google decides to go with "random replacement" of pages/sites from results they already have scored worse than the page/site right below the one removed.
|My opinion, I'd love to hear your thoughts. |
If you're already at position 11, you're "beating" all but the top 10 sites and you're not going to "get beat" by a different competitor simply by removing two results from above you, so if you can based on the 2006 AOL data leak, you'll see nearly a 50% increase in clicks by moving from #11 to #9.
It's really simple to me to see negative SEO makes much more sense when you're close, because sites don't often recover from it to "be on top again", so if you take two out, they're most likely gone for good and all you have to do keep doing what you have been to stay ahead of the ones you're already ahead of.
Bottom Line: Google's "penalty mentality" is creating [has created] a really bad situation for many, many, many webmasters, because it's so much easier to take someone out than it is to follow the guidelines and move up.
| This 54 message thread spans 2 pages: 54 (  2 ) > > |