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Negative SEO - How to Tank a Site in Google 101
JD_Toims




msg:4677868
 3:48 am on Jun 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

I decided to start a new thread for this one, which is an answer to a question posted in this thread [webmasterworld.com...] because I think it's good for people to know both sides of SEO for Google, and unfortunately, they've opened up the door for the negative version, so if anyone wants to know how to tank the competition, here you go:

From tests I have done, it is possible to impact serps with low quality links, just not to the degree some people seem to be implying it does.

Clay_More -- MSG# 4677852 -- Page 2, Post 13 @ 30 Post/Page
Here: [webmasterworld.com...]

That's because to seriously impact the SERPs with negative SEO you have to build links as if you were trying to "fly under the radar" and "increase rankings" rather than making it obvious.

You stated previously if you could figure out the pattern, or something to that effect -- The pattern is "appear to be trying to not get caught building links" while appearing to be trying to "increase rankings" -- It's really simple to do and I wouldn't ever use a Neg-SEO service to do it.

The first month, contract a couple $5 guest blog posts [make sure the posts are in broken English of course], then go back to what you were doing.

Second month, try a few more [4-8] $5 [broken English] guest blog posts and add some forum link drops to the mix. Go back to what you normally do -- Nothing will happen.

Third month, add even more [broken-English] guest blog links [2x or 3x per week], increase the forum link drops and sign up for long-term ["undetectable"] directory additions.

If the site hasn't tanked yet, month 4 hit 'em with 20,000 inbound links all at once -- Keep doing it and eventually the site you're aiming at will tank and they won't be able to figure out how to recover -- It takes almost none of your time and costs very little to tank a site due to the "penalty mentality" Google has decided to run with.



Note: I don't normally post about "how to do negative stuff", but Google needs to fix this sh*t, so I hope people understand how it's done and feel free to use it until Google fixes their broken system and mentality -- Penalties don't bring links back to citations; penalties simply change who creates the links and who's site they point to. Period!

 

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4678345
 6:56 pm on Jun 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

Sure, it's manipulation nonetheless but it's more snakes than ladders. I guess from the adversial POV it's the lesser of two evils.

I just take the viewpoint that a search engine's job is tough and all the micro variations of things they don't want to rank mean they have to resort to negative ranking factors.

aakk9999




msg:4678349
 7:27 pm on Jun 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

It just encourages different kinds of gaming.

It does, but fewer webmasters do it (in my opinion). There is stronger sense of ethic involved. It is somehow ethically different to buy links to your own site in order to push it up in SERPs, than to actively target x sites in order to tank them so that your site can rank better because others dissapeared.

Secondly, unless you are on pages 1 or 2, negative SEO does not make so much sense (too many sites to tank) whilst link building to own site does regardless where you are in results.

On the other hand, if links are just ignored, then everybody would build them en mase, throwing the mud on the wall and seeing what sticks.

Awarn




msg:4678353
 8:09 pm on Jun 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

The ethical viewpoint is different based on what country you are from it seems. Strange part I think some businesses may be hiring people that use these techniques and may be totally unaware as to how the ranking changes are even being achieved. So then what happens?

Say your competitor which you have a somewhat mutual respect relationship, hires a new SEO firm from who knows where. If the SEO firm uses a combination of SEO and then negative SEO against you, the competitor, what do you do? You can't hardly call up your competitor and bitch and accuse them of the activity. Do you sit back and do nothing? Do you start your own attack?

ColourOfSpring




msg:4678362
 9:07 pm on Jun 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

Say your competitor which you have a somewhat mutual respect relationship, hires a new SEO firm from who knows where. If the SEO firm uses a combination of SEO and then negative SEO against you, the competitor, what do you do? You can't hardly call up your competitor and bitch and accuse them of the activity. Do you sit back and do nothing? Do you start your own attack?


The ethical argument is a strange one, given the climate that's been brewing over the last few years at least. Many small businesses have been victims of arbitrary decisions made by Google that have largely removed the ethical argument completely. Of course, each individual is free to decide for themselves what their particular "rules" are - but in reality, there are no "rules" that say you can't build links to your competitor's sites.

EditorialGuy




msg:4678364
 10:15 pm on Jun 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

Many small businesses have been victims of arbitrary decisions made by Google that have largely removed the ethical argument completely


Google is to blame when slimy business owners try to destroy their competitors? And those same slimy business owners would be paragons of lovingkindness if it weren't for Google?

That would be sick if it weren't so ludicrous.

Simsi




msg:4678365
 10:19 pm on Jun 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

As Lucy24 implies, if Google simply ignored suspicious links, this problem wouldn't exist. Very strange they don't IMO.

aakk9999




msg:4678369
 11:58 pm on Jun 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

The ethical argument is a strange one

I do not think it is strange one. Many webmasters posting here have bought links for their own sites in the past. I doubt that every webmaster that bought links for their own site in the past would engage in Negative SEO and buy links to tank the competitor.

There is a different moral threshold involved.

incrediBILL




msg:4678376
 1:17 am on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

There is a different moral threshold involved.


Not really because either way you slice it you're trying to get an unfair advantage over your competition and out rank them.

If buying links no longer promotes sites, but penalizes instead, you buy links for sites other than your own to achieve the same goal.

Then the owners of those sites with bought links spend a ton of time playing disavow whack-a-mole trying to stay out of the Google penalty box.

It's just a new way to play the same old game and the upside is the person playing the game no longer has to disavow those links.

More importantly, the whole disavow thing is a crock because as I've explained in detail before, Google already knows where most of those paid links are, they're just forcing you to confess about those links and hoping you'll out some new link sellers they overlooked in the process.

Clay_More




msg:4678381
 2:03 am on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Not really because either way you slice it you're trying to get an unfair advantage over your competition and out rank them.


That only works if all the competition is working under the exact same rules. Search engines consider it adversarial information retrieval and although all sites should be equal, some are more equal than others*.

I've seen too much blatant theft, scraping, mashing to retain any kind of illusion that the web is still a "nice" place. I try to maintain my standards, but still watch my back pretty closely.

*Credit to George Orwell.

Whitey




msg:4678392
 5:50 am on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

When Simon Mackay's company was viciously attacked online it was like it had never existed.
[smh.com.au...]

The general manager of Sydney's Web Marketing Experts was hit by a competitor who had purposefully attacked his website ranking to prevent anyone searching for the business online from finding the website.

“We operate in a really aggressive space and we've got some major competitors, so I almost half expected it. There is no doubt that it has cost us several thousand dollars in lost revenue, but it could have cost us a lot more,” Mackay says.

Negative search engine optimisation (SEO) attacks like this are increasingly common among Australian small businesses.

There seems to be a continual revolving door of stories like this one that made headlines in Australia a few days ago.

Whether you agree with the substance, the fact that it gets promoted at all is a concern with regards to the promotion of negative SEO as a mainstream tactic.

Perren




msg:4678403
 7:38 am on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Good this has come into light. Pre-penguin I always said links can almost never hurt a site, because that would enable webmaster to hurt other webmasters... How wrong I was.

Can't understand how Google thinks about this. Sooner or later someone is going to turn this into a real business, negative seo industry size. With a good but small team, I would say 200-300 sites per month would be possible to penalize (I've gotten like 10 unnatural links messages, and revoked like 5 of them so I know how to build these links). For $100 per site, which is really cheap, and 250 orders per month we get a nice $25000 per month (costs, maybe half of it. So a profit of $12500 / month).

Possible? I think so. The price for this service could probably be higher then in my example also.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4678404
 7:40 am on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Google is to blame when slimy business owners try to destroy their competitors? And those same slimy business owners would be paragons of lovingkindness if it weren't for Google?

That would be sick if it weren't so ludicrous.


Ahh, well just a couple of posts up in this thread, you were saying such penalties were to teach webmasters a lesson not to build links to their own websites. Now you're saying they can be victims of other companies and that Google shouldn't be to blame. Well, perhaps your view is changing on this to include such situations. However, Google ARE to blame for allowing this to happen. Do they seem ethically challenged by allowing things outside of webmaster's control to damage their sites? Given the last 2 years of public relations output from Google, not at all. Google also say that negative SEO can happen, but that it's rare and very hard to do. To me, this is where their lack of ethics really come into play - to say that something is harder to do than it is, and that it's rarer than it is. OK, Google, so don't mind me if I try it then - it's just my own time and money I'm wasting...

More importantly, the whole disavow thing is a crock because as I've explained in detail before, Google already knows where most of those paid links are, they're just forcing you to confess about those links and hoping you'll out some new link sellers they overlooked in the process.


incrediBILL, yes...this is the worst aspect for me. Google are literally asking webmasters to pay a penance for their "sins". Or just as (more?) likely in 2014, someone else's "sins". Google know what links are a problem - now the unnecessary (other than paying a penance) task of removing such links - for the webmaster.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4678407
 7:51 am on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Another point - Penguin was introduced in April 2012. Are we to believe that in 2014 - 2 full years after Penguin was introduced - webmasters are building crappy links to their own sites, knowing the damage it will cause? It's far more likely that such links are being built by other people - and that pendulum is only going to swing further and further away from self-built to negative-SEO built as time goes by.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4678409
 7:55 am on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)


Can't understand how Google thinks about this. Sooner or later someone is going to turn this into a real business, negative seo industry size. With a good but small team, I would say 200-300 sites per month would be possible to penalize (I've gotten like 10 unnatural links messages, and revoked like 5 of them so I know how to build these links). For $100 per site, which is really cheap, and 250 orders per month we get a nice $25000 per month (costs, maybe half of it. So a profit of $12500 / month).


That could work, but there's also cheaper alternatives available - my guess is around $20 to $30 should really kill an SME / new domain using a combination of cheap link building services.

graeme_p




msg:4678432
 10:46 am on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Are we to believe that in 2014 - 2 full years after Penguin was introduced - webmasters are building crappy links to their own sites, knowing the damage it will cause


Take a look at fiverr etc. People there are selling the same services but claiming that they are "penguin proof". Naive small business owners buy them - some big businesses do too: I was approached by a link buyer claiming to represent a major stock exchange a few years ago.

I know small businesses that are paying SEOs who do not know what is white hat of black hat or what risks they may be taking.

Sooner or later someone is going to turn this into a real business, negative seo industry size


I have been wondering about that too, but I think that fear of legal consequences will be holding people back. I am not sure whether feeding malicious information to a computer is libel, but its the sort of thing judges may be willing to extend common law to cover.

That could work, but there's also cheaper alternatives available - my guess is around $20 to $30 should really kill an SME


That is scary - less than I would have expected, but it is plausible given how few links many of them have.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4678458
 11:42 am on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Take a look at fiverr etc. People there are selling the same services but claiming that they are "penguin proof". Naive small business owners buy them - some big businesses do too: I was approached by a link buyer claiming to represent a major stock exchange a few years ago.


Sure, but the number of SMEs burnt by links pointing to their site (be they links they placed themselves or by 3rd parties) is only growing and growing. Undeniably things have changed considerably since 2012 to 2014. Undoubtably, the SEO industry has shrunk considerably since 2012. And so as time passes, the pendulum has to swing further toward links being used to sabotage rather than to try to promote.

I have been wondering about that too, but I think that fear of legal consequences will be holding people back.


If such cases were to stand up in court (which I highly doubt), then Google could surely have a claim of negligence made against them for facilitating such a "crime" through their own failing to distinguish between links built by a site owner, and links built by other people. Furthermore, if such a precendent was set in a court, it would open the doors up for companies to sue other companies for simply linking to them legitimately ("their link from their site to our site is costing us business!").

netmeg




msg:4678474
 12:32 pm on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Penguin was introduced in April 2012. Are we to believe that in 2014 - 2 full years after Penguin was introduced - webmasters are building crappy links to their own sites, knowing the damage it will cause?


You're joking, right? Because the vast vast vast majority of site owners wouldn't know a Penguin if it jumped up and bit them in the ass. I bet a full third of them don't even know where their traffic is coming from, or how much comes from Google or what may have changed or why. Particularly site owners who run businesses, who don't even know how to read their own analytics. They have enough to do to run their own businesses; they just know that orders are coming in or orders aren't coming in. And if someone comes along and says they can provide a bunch of links that will help get more traffic and more orders, that site owner isn't even going to know where to go to find out if it's true. The WORST he'll think that could happen is that he spends a few hundred or a few thousand bucks and gets - nothing. He has no idea that it could actually make his situation worse.

CaptainSalad2




msg:4678477
 12:54 pm on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

>>>>You're joking, right? Because the vast vast vast majority of site owners wouldn't know a Penguin if it jumped up and bit them in the ass<<<<

If they are on page one of Google and have their email address ANYWHERE on their site it will be haven harvested and they will now be in receipt of daily emails about links, penguins and "ethical seo". You cant help but have this stuff slapped in our face!

Awarn




msg:4678479
 1:03 pm on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Netmeg is right. That is how it basically works. But the business owners do get the calls and emails that say we can get you on Page 1 of Google. So if they charge you 500 or a couple hundred a month then go out and tank your competitor you don't even know. They drop and suddenly wow your on page 1 just like they said. I bet then they upsell you on more things and the owner is so thrilled they are happy to agree. Now look at the profit. If they get you to even 500 a month and they might have a few dollars in it. Even if they use Sape links they are cleaning up. I do not think links and blog comments are the only methods being used though. Since the focus here is ranking in Google what other techniques of negative SEO have you seen?

The more we understand the techniques the better chance we have of detecting and fighting.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4678494
 1:57 pm on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

If they are on page one of Google and have their email address ANYWHERE on their site it will be haven harvested and they will now be in receipt of daily emails about links, penguins and "ethical seo". You cant help but have this stuff slapped in our face!


CS2, EXACTLY! In fact, they don't even need their email harvested or be on page 1 - spammers just fill in the contact form and send their message that way (it's actually a way to circumvent many email spam filters too), and they also like to target small businesses not ranking for major keywords ("you're not ranking for X - we can fix it!").

You're joking, right? Because the vast vast vast majority of site owners wouldn't know a Penguin if it jumped up and bit them in the ass


I'm surprised at your opinion, netmeg. I've been a web developer since 1997, and one of the most frustrating things for me is when clients come to me and say "I'm scared that Google will ban my site because of Panda/Penguin/delete latest update as appropriate". Why do they say that? Because their inbox is inundated with SEO spam. They also come to me with unsolicited "on-page optimization reports" sent to them and various search-engine related offers.

netmeg




msg:4678512
 2:59 pm on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Because that's just the ones you hear from. There's a lot more that you don't.

We're all in our little SEO and Webmaster bubbles without realizing that most of the world doesn't even know these bubbles exist.

CaptainSalad2




msg:4678521
 3:11 pm on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Good point COS, forms without captcha are vulnerable to spam mail bots and the ones with captcha's are manually submitted! Not only that they also grab your phone number and ring you! My step dad is a local painter and decorator, at the very top for his main key phrases(below the high authority spam yell, yelp of course) and he has pushy sales people phone everyday saying they can score him higher...

the current 'seo' call going round my clients is

'your site has errors google doesn't like' (anyone who knows my posts knows how anal I am about coding and speed errors) yet they never provide proof of these error....

Today a client phones up saying he just got back from a marketing conference where the guy said 'google loves Wordpress sites' (my mind raced back to the thread below) lol!

If you have a website you are getting calls, your getting emails and maybe even snail mail about google/links/SEO!

The only way your not getting this SEO SPAM is if you have a site with no forms, no email address on display, no phone number and private whois info!

aristotle




msg:4678523
 3:25 pm on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

I know that most of the members here are mainly interested in profit-making opportunities and potential competitive advantages, but there is another area of the web in which competition can be just as vicious, if not more so. This is the part of the web in which political, social, and cultural wars are being fought out. Many of the websites are operated by groups with millions of dollars at their disposal, and many of the individuals are motivated almost entirely by hate. These people are starting to learn that they can sabotage their opponents' websites through underhanded methods such as DDOS attacks, which in fact are becoming more and more frequent. If they can hire people to carry out DDOS attacks, then they can also hire people to do negative SEO.

In most cases Google's algorithm can't identify mis-information or tell the difference between truth and lies. The result is that large websites filled with lies and mis-information often rank at the top of the results for many relevant search terms. Unfortunately this situation will only get even worse unless Google fixes the flaws in its algorithm that make negative SEO possible.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4678572
 8:55 pm on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)


Because that's just the ones you hear from. There's a lot more that you don't.


If the vast vast vast majority of webmasters have never heard of Penguin or Panda or any of the Google updates, then it surely means they are not involved with any SEO altogether so are not building crappy links anyway. So my point would remain - that those that DO know of Penguin, they are obviously not wanting to inflict damage on their own sites, and those that don't know about Penguin (i.e. those out of the SEO game altogether) aren't building links because they don't even know what SEO is. I mean - I don't so how their inbox is not getting these SEO offers that always mention Penguin anyway, but there you go. I'm sure there's a small number of people who are interested in buying link building services, yet don't know about Penguin, but this is a dwindling constituency as time passes.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4678573
 8:58 pm on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

The only way your not getting this SEO SPAM is if you have a site with no forms, no email address on display, no phone number and private whois info!


CS2, this is my experience. It's everywhere. If you run Adwords, you're on the radar of Adwords management services. If you run Adsense, you're liable to get spam from other ad networks. If you're simply in Google's index, you get SEO spam. The majority of spam I get is through my contact forms. They're manually sent ("meatbots" are cheap) so CAPTCHA is no problem for them, and they're obviously sent from my mail server so I can't block the emails. I can only filter based on keywords in the form posted.

If there's a site owner that isn't getting unsolicited SEO offers in one way or another, I consider them very lucky.

'your site has errors google doesn't like' (anyone who knows my posts knows how anal I am about coding and speed errors) yet they never provide proof of these error....


These are really annoying. You can take any website and you can find some kind of arbitrary "fault" with it. It will mean over-emphasising the importance of the "fault", and that's what these "reports" do.

crobb305




msg:4678584
 9:37 pm on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

I really hope that Matt Cutts and others on the spam team are reading/learning about this. I understand that the initial attack on links was with good intentions, but there is so much collateral damage and obviously a booming industry for negative SEO.

Negative SEO worked on my site and nothing I've done over the past 2 years has helped. After being hit by Penguin 1.0, I cooperated with Google. I had links removed and spent months researching all my links. I found thousands upon thousands of foreign spam links that had to be disavowed (entire domains). I saw *some* improvement in my rankings after the the most recent Penguin update last October; but, just as my rankings began to recover and my site's visibility increased, brand new spam links (thousands) starting coming in and my rankings started to drop again. I had to modify my disavow list to add those new spam links, and I've tried to update it monthly to keep up with the negative SEO.

I hope with every fiber of my being that Google will reveal a softer, more sophisticated version of Penguin, and perhaps reward those webmasters who have tried so hard to keep up with the negative SEO attacks.

That is my plea to Google.

Shepherd




msg:4678586
 9:48 pm on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

I really hope that Matt Cutts and others on the spam team are reading/learning about this. I understand that the initial attack on links was with good intentions, but there is so much collateral damage and obviously a booming industry for negative SEO.


I think this may be exactly why we have not seen a penguin update in a while. With the first run they could be at least 95% sure that they were only catching people that built links to promote themselves. Now I think they know that with the popularity of neg-seo they can no longer be as sure that they are punishing the right people. I've not got much love for google, no love in business, but I'm sure they're in between that proverbial rock and hard place right now...

buckworks




msg:4678591
 10:00 pm on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

I consider them very lucky


One thing that helps in the spam wars is to noindex pages with submission forms or contact info to keep them out of the search engines.

Human users on your site could of course navigate to such pages, but at least you'd no longer be handing over your info on a silver platter to any random spammer who does a web search.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4678597
 10:35 pm on Jun 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Good point buckworks - I do see these web searches in my logs - searching for specific URL snippets. I also know that it's humans who are spamming me (as opposed to scripts) as they are going through CAPTCHA.

Now I think they know that with the popularity of neg-seo they can no longer be as sure that they are punishing the right people.


...and they've left a lot of businesses in permanent limbo that have been caught in the firing line.

graeme_p




msg:4678669
 8:19 am on Jun 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

Sure, but the number of SMEs burnt by links pointing to their site (be they links they placed themselves or by 3rd parties) is only growing and growing.]


Agreed, it will change - but plenty of SMEs will be fooled again by the next smooth talker. They will also then buy equally useless clean up and link removal services from the same sort of people.

then Google could surely have a claim of negligence made against them for facilitating such a "crime" through their own failing to distinguish between links built by a site owner


I do not think so. The courts are far more likely to extend/interpret the law to find against someone who is clearly acting maliciously and trying to mislead, than to find against someone who is trying their best or acting without intent to harm anyone.

What I think may well happen is something like the new tort of "misuse of private information" that the English courts recently invented: I posted about it [webmasterworld.com ].

If we can have that why not, for example, extend libel to cover malicious information (i.e. making someone look as though they are engaged in black hat link building when they are not) fed to Google's computers?

The most significant thing for me is that it is even considered permissible to discuss this on a forum like Webmaster World. A few years ago even some black hat SEO forums considered it unethical to discuss, now it is too prevalent for the mainstream not to discuss.

Shepherd




msg:4678690
 10:20 am on Jun 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

Here's an interesting twist, so far the discussion has been about neg-seo targeted at websites by other websites.

What if an enterprising young start-up search engine started targeting websites in googles search results to make google search results appear less relevant?

Seems plausible with the way google is populating their results with the "least penalized sites". What a great pr campaign for a struggling search engine. Spend a few months picking off the quality search results for a query leaving nothing but cat videos and then do a blitz media campaign pointing out to the world what crap results google has.

With every 1% in search market being worth over a billion I can certainly see the incentive for another search engine to do this, I say bing-it-on!

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