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|Negative SEO - How to Tank a Site in Google 101|
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
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!
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!
|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. |
No doubt there are companies that will get tempted by SEO offers over and over and never learn their lesson, but I think they're a dwindling number. A typical scenario is :
1) An SME knows nothing about SEO, and is tempted by a link building service on the promise they'll rank well and bring in some good business
2) They eventually get penalised in some way (manual action / Penguin)
3) They hire ANOTHER company to help clean up the links, or they try to clean up the links themselves
That kind of company is unlikely to go back to point 1) again.
|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? |
I'm ALL for workable, practical legislation that would help prevent negative SEO, but I just can't see it happening. It's too prevalent, and very hard to determine exactly who built which link. What if I FREELY link to a site because I like it, and that site gets penalised in the future? How can it be determined that my link contributed to their penalty? How would intent be proven?
One thing's for sure - if a legal precedent were set, I'm very sure the web would go completely nofollow given legal implications of linking to a site in a "do follow" way.
|crobb wrote: |
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.
That shouldn't be necessary. Google's algorithm should throw out all of those spammy links automatically. Otherwise thousands of innocent webmsters who never heard of Penguin or the disavow tool could have their websites penalized unjustly. And they would have no idea why, or in some cases might not even realize that their site had been penalized.
I am not suggesting a precedent will be set for suing people for linking, the people who will be sued are those you deliberately build bad links to other people's sites.
Imagine this: you are called as an expert witness at such a case. The facts are that the plaintiff and defendant are competitors. The defendant paid hired low end link builders to build thousands of low quality links. You are asked what the likely effects of this would be on the plaintiff's site, and whether your opinion would be generally shared by those knowledgeable about SEO. What do you say?
|What if I FREELY link to a site because I like it, and that site gets penalised in the future? How can it be determined that my link contributed to their penalty? How would intent be proven? |
No problem. Linking to a site is one thing. If you pay (or spend lots of time) to build lots of low quality links to a competitor's site, then its pretty obvious what your motive is.
[edited by: graeme_p at 9:11 pm (utc) on Jun 10, 2014]
|That shouldn't be necessary. Google's algorithm should throw out all of those spammy links automatically. Otherwise thousands of innocent webmsters who never heard of Penguin or the disavow tool could have their websites penalized unjustly. |
It's happened to me. My latest reconsideration request refusal by Google included 3 example links that were built in 2014, one a ransom link no less - a link built by site owner, then with a "Buy Now" (lol!) PayPal button demanding $20 for it to be removed. To see what I mean, search "Deletet this url $20" in Google including the quotes (spell delete as the misspelt deletet). Good work, Google.
That is pretty blatant. Its another good example where the intent of the person linking is very clear.
They have network of sites, some of which Google does not index so doing the same search in Bing finds more. I suspect there are still more neither indexes, which suggests the search engines are picking these up.
Yes, a few more sites doing this found through ixquick. Must be still more out there.
|a link built by site owner, then with a "Buy Now" (lol!) PayPal button demanding $20 for it to be removed. |
It makes one wonder if Google employees are too busy watching their stock values rise and have little time to actually review the reconsideration requests they get or the collective mess they are serving in their search results.
Negative SEO seems to have entered its heyday, at least in terms of forum discussions.
Is positive SEO dead, or has it just become boring?
Wow, the SEO world has turned full circle. It's like SEO is eating their own. Chewing off ones own limb as it were. Certainly this is an eye opener to read about. On the other hand I go back to my feeling that the best investment is not in SEO, but rather in setting aside a budget for adwords or equivalent and deciding if my content can actual earn money on that basis. Is that negative SEO? I guess is a sense I'm in on the negative SEO stuff, but a different tact. You go girl.
|That is pretty blatant. Its another good example where the intent of the person linking is very clear. |
Yes, and when Google give this as one of the 3 examples I should make "good faith efforts" in removing (what, pay the $20 ransom?), you have to wonder what's going on.
Also, yes, there's a whole network of sites out there that do this. This one's only easy to unearth because of the misspelt "deletet".
Maybe the new SEO is negative SEO, it really works, I know some that just add 100 bad links a day, then within no time the site is gone.
Iím not convinced by some recent negative SEO reports unless people are talking about manual penalties!?
If we are talking about algo penalties it goes again my understanding of penguin, surely a negative SEO attack launched now will have a positive/neutral effect until the next time penguin is run?
Example, if someone sends 1000 links my way Iíll get a positive/neutral boost until penguin is run, THEN my site is filtered and receives a negative "penguin score". This negative score remains until penguin is run again even if I am able to remove every single toxic link from the attack a week after the penguin refresh that hit my site! My site will remain penalised until penguin is refreshed and if I have cleaned up the links or used the disavow tool then the site is "rescored" correct?
If my understanding is correct we will only see the last 7-8 months of negative SEO services kick in when Penguin is refreshed, I expect it to be a very bad day for webmaster and I feel is the reason it hasn't been run since...
Any algo related penalty people are seeing now must be down to monthly Panda refreshes? I highly doubt any negative SEO link building attack will work until the next penguin..
I don't think SEO is dead at all. The issue is the environment. If there is no movement on the front page because of this algorithm and it is clear that everything else isn't being rewarded. people will use the techniques that get results. When Google started penalizing sites and rewarding blogs they created this issue. Throw in Scrapebox and a few programs and you made cheap way to rank fast.
Today Google looks at negative links first. Your site can exist for 18-20 years with solid content, excellent speed, responsive design, structured data, social signals, efficient coding etc but you can be outranked by a new blog and a 100.00 in links. That Matt Cutts Payday loan site proved that. The blogs are a lot of the issue.
This world used to seem somewhat civilized. Seems lately it has become somewhat barbaric. Is this what they call diversity? It might be time for a change. When I look at the NSEO becoming an accepted way of doing business, the violence in society, the school shootings I have to question - Is this how a civilized society acts? Is this how we solve problems?
|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? |
|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.
These are very good points, but....
I am a firm believer in "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". I'm also a firm believer in "do unto others as they have done unto you".
With this in mind, one of the sites I am working on has been pummeled by a negative SEO attack. The site is owned by a friend, so I'm taking it personally... even though it's business.
Even though I'm not the kind of person that would do a negative SEO attack, I have a very good idea of who is responsible for the attack and I am leaning more and more towards doing it right back to them. There is always the possibility that I am wrong about who did it and I will end up doing it back to the wrong person. Do I care? Less and less each day.
|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. |
I've been thinking about this as well Aristotle. Many politicians rely on websites to fund their campaigns. Tank those sites and you might tank that politician. How about fracking sites? Tank the pro-fracking sites so only the anti-fracking message gets through?
There are pro and con websites for just about every issue out there. NSEO could become a way to make your particular opinion dominate. It's just a matter of time before politicians/activists figure that out, and then it's going to get really ugly...
Taking it a step further, what would the fracking serps look like if both sides tanked each other?
[edited by: rbarker at 11:05 pm (utc) on Jun 11, 2014]
|That shouldn't be necessary. Google's algorithm should throw out all of those spammy links automatically. Otherwise thousands of innocent webmsters who never heard of Penguin or the disavow tool could have their websites penalized unjustly. And they would have no idea why, or in some cases might not even realize that their site had been penalized. |
Aristotle, you're right; it shouldn't be necessary. Unfortunately, Google's algorithm on the link front isn't working. I sat back for as long as possible with respect to using the disavow tool, and the disavow tool seemed to work... until new spam links started coming in. Many of us keep playing catch up to stay ahead of the spammers. And I have met webmasters who never heard of Penguin who got hit. They had to learn about it.
Ironically we've seen little evidence of neg seo working recently, however we've seen plenty of spam pbn powered high ranking serps point to a cop out of being hit by neg seo and thus apparently recovering quickly and getting a pass from the spam team. The serps hit by penguin 2.0 got the royal treatment as they say, forever buried on page 10. Now there is heavy cover to hide behind said spam pbns represented as neg seo and thus spbn powered serps are having their way ranking highly with no end in site. Cutts got his n**s cut off so to speak. Keep wearing that FF shirt mate, your going to need a new job soon!
This whole negative SEO scare is predicated on Google not being able to tell the difference between a likely attacker and a likely target. If Google considers your site to be high quality content (based on user behavior, etc.) they aren't going to penalize it, just to spite you for having low-quality links. Their search results quality would go down, the one thing they must avoid.
I do find it questionable, the constant posts suggesting folks spending $5 at a particular website.
|If Google considers your site to be high quality content (based on user behavior, etc.) they aren't going to penalize it, just to spite you for having low-quality links. |
You'll feel differently when it happens to you. But no "I don't think too many people think google does anything to spite them. It's a somewhat ridiculous assertion and a seeming attempt to trivialize something that you would feel wasn't trivial at all... if it happened to you.
The site I am working on, that was a victim of a negative SEO attack, was on page one in a very competitive industry for years. Indicating google thought the site was high quality. It was only after a bunch of spam links were pointed at the site that it went to page 5 for almost everything. It was not after an algo update such as panda or penguin.
|The site I am working on, that was a victim of a negative SEO attack, was on page one in a very competitive industry for years. Indicating google thought the site was high quality. It was only after a bunch of spam links were pointed at the site that it went to page 5 for almost everything. It was not after an algo update such as panda or penguin. |
Agreed... We dominated page one for many competitive keywords and sailed through Panda/Penguin with little change. It was after we got bombed with spammy links that we started getting hurt. I don't know why some people here think G has it under control. They don't... They indirectly admit as much in their disavow documentation. Be passive in dealing with spammy links at your own risk...
|If Google considers youur site to be high quality content (based on user behavior, etc.) they aren't going to penalize it, just to spite you for having low-quality links |
User behaviour is, as Google admit, a "noisy" signal and very hard to interpret, that is why Google still rely on links as the main indicator of quality.
Also, if Google are not going to penalise "high quality" sites, does that mean those sites can safely build spammy links? I think not.
|This whole negative SEO scare is predicated on Google not being able to tell the difference between a likely attacker and a likely target. If Google considers your site to be high quality content (based on user behavior, etc.) they aren't going to penalize it, just to spite you for having low-quality links. Their search results quality would go down, the one thing they must avoid. |
Then why would Google even bother to use links as a metric? Links would be virtually redundant if they weighed so much toward user metrics to the point that they give a website a "pass" even if it has spammy links pointing to it (because of its "stellar" user metrics). Cutts has already stated that the SERPs looked rubbish when they remove links as a weighting factor, so that tells you just how much Google rely on links. In fact, Penguin, disavow, manual penalties - these all tell you how much weight Google put on links.
In my experience negative SEO (backlink spam /spammy backlinks) exists already for a couple of years. However, there are different versions of negative SEO. Our mainstream site (10yrs old community) is suffering from negative seo a couple of years already. Since May 23 last year competitor's negative SEO efforts obviously brought results and we lost 50% traffic during Penguin update. At this point we realized what's going on but there's nothing we could do. We spoke even with some Google representatives, but they say it was algo change and nobody can do anything, except adding these links in disavow. We keep doing this during last 14 months, but it looks like placebo since we don't see any significant movements. At this point we identified following negative seo link structures:
- competitor's link bombs > we identified it as potential competitor negative seo backlinking since they attacked specific keywords we lost while competitor's site achieved best SERP's. We even noticed other smaller sites slaughtered using the same link-bomb pattern and contents, obviously coming from the same source of attack. However we didn't put much effort and resources to perform this research on a higher level and didn't document the evidence we found. Anyways, it's very easy to recognize such patterns and I believe a multi-billion $$$ company such as Google with all that brainpower can easily track and recognize such patterns, but I'm not sure they're doing it or at least I don't see any public evidence for this.
- affiliate link bombs > some affiliate rings using bot networks (scrapbox or similar engines) and hundred of domains and thousand of subdomains trying to create a closed circle of backlinks trying to accumulate backlink juice for specific niche. They target specific keywords and try to generate some UGC which backlinks to another specific URL in the ring and then this one to backlink to mother-site, using sometimes over 10 chained levels/URL's. They perform such actions automatically, and mostly their rings are broken and totally ineffective.
- directory link bombs > it's an 90's SEO technique but some guys still use them (probably from North Korea :) They put thousand of relevant links on niche directory sites, and then use some keyword anchors to point back to their promo sites.
- public/free dns subomain bombs - services like homedns.org or opendns.org offer easy subdomain setup which are mainly used for backlink spam.
Of course blogspot, tumblr, wordpress, and other huge free website/blog spots are also very popular among backlink spammers but not always negative SEO so links from these sites have to be human proved before considered as backlink spam.
Now the question is how to fight negative SEO or backlink spam. Google just moved this task over to webmasters offering them a placebo disavow tool. With disavow tool they admit their infirmity to fight negative SEO. From the other side, webmasters with manual penalty clean their own spam and admit a sin of paid backlinks. At the same time Google show that they give a f** about small businesses. It's already officially acknowledged Google has whitelist of authority websites which are prone to algo-updates as well as to backlink spam. Once you enter the whitelist you are safe from any black&white cute algo-change-animals, but you have to be either a superior and mighty corporation or a well-known public website/service/game with multimillion daily pageviews (tumblr, hubpages, etc).
Also once you spend more then $xxx a day on Adwords and other Google advertising services, you are more likely to be qualified to enter pre-whitelist. Having a business dependable only on one single source who can turn off your business anytime they want, was always dangerous and in most cases sentenced to fail. At the end, it's all about the money & shares. The time of liberal Internet is a decade behind us. Corporations and governments now rule the Internet. After 2 decades in programming and building quality online content I think I'm finally gonna get out and run an offline business. :)
Anyways, my $.02 to negative SEO.
As for now, I just noticed ~ 20% traffic drop starting from yesterday (June 13th). It seems Google is fighting spammy backlinks URL's on Friday 13th, but also sites they point to :| Negative SEO is now boosted even more!
Good post disspy. What a lot of people don't realise is that lots of blackhats have their own setups of splog networks and other apparatus. These publishing platforms / tiered linking work great in the short-term, terrible in the long-term. Spammers have no problem with this - it's just part of the business model. However, those very same publishing platforms can be used for negative SEO purposes - hurting legit businesses in the longer term. I've seen this happen time and again, and it counterargues the point that "it's too much hassle to do negative SEO" - it's not - there are systems in place, and it's no more hassle to drop in a few more links to pages after accepting a payment from a client.
|Now the question is how to fight negative SEO or backlink spam. Google just moved this task over to webmasters offering them a placebo disavow tool. With disavow tool they admit their infirmity to fight negative SEO. |
In fairness to Google, a "disavow tool" is something that many site owners and SEOs were demanding for a long time. The emphasis turned out to be something different from what some of us expected, though: It ended up being more of a tool for sinners to use in showing repentance than a tool for communicating "I never heard of these crappy sites and have no idea why they're linking to mine."
EG, most people who wanted disavow wanted something along the lines of a tickbox next to links you didn't wasnt to associate yoruself with and that was that - quick and easy. Instead we get this "upload a text file and hope it works" which most of the time it doesn't.
|most people who wanted disavow wanted something along the lines of a tickbox next to links you didn't wasnt to associate yoruself with and that was that - quick and easy. Instead we get this "upload a text file and hope it works" which most of the time it doesn't. |
Yes! Well said.
|In fairness to Google, a "disavow tool" is something that many site owners and SEOs were demanding for a long time. |
You are absolutely correct - there were many webmasters asking for the disavow tool. This is one of those cases where webmasters should have been careful for what they wished for. Millions of webmasters sifting through links to their sites, in hopes of disavowing the bad ones so they may rank better, has been one of the most inefficient and time wasting "regulations" ever placed on businesses. On scale across the world, I'd have to say billions of hours of lost productivity have already gone down the drain with that tool with many billions more are to follow.
The disavow tool, in my opinion, underscores the need to regulate a dominant search engine. There is absolutely no reason why webmasters should be wasting billions of hours doing something that a responsible search engine could be doing algorithmically by nullifying the value of bad links.
|Millions of webmasters sifting through links to their sites, in hopes of disavowing the bad ones so they may rank better, has been one of the most inefficient and time wasting "regulations" ever placed on businesses. |
The obvious alternative would have been for link-buying site owners and their SEOs to be stuck with the links they'd purchased. Still, Google apparently believes in rehabilitation.
|The disavow tool, in my opinion, underscores the need to regulate a dominant search engine. |
Sure, let's ask the UN to outlaw the disavow tool. While they're at it, they should outlaw reconsideration requests. How does the general public benefit from Google's generosity toward people who attempt to corrupt its search results?
|brotherhood of LAN|
We seem to be going round in circles. If the remaining conversation is about regulation of search engines, that's for another thread.
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