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Potential Negative SEO Attack - Domain with 15k low-quality links redirects to me

 1:20 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Hi all

I am after some advice.

A penalised payday loan website has been 301'd to my website (also payday, but very whitehat).

This domain has around 15,000 spam backlinks to it - it was ranking on it's own very well about 6 weeks ago and it's obviously had a penalty since then. I've no doubt the person has pointed it to my site because mine is doing well at the moment.

I believe the 301 was setup 4 or 5 days ago, it's only just showing on Majestic.

Anyway, the WhoIs details are false and the registrar (GoDaddy) won't do anything so I am at a bit of a loss here. I can't afford for my site to be penalised.

I've submitted a disavow through WMT just in case for the entire domain as well as a spam report, but I'm in a bit of a panic now as to what I can do to stop it having a negative effect on my site

Any help would be greatly appreciated!




 3:07 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Are they redirecting to your HOME page? Or an internal page?


 3:10 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

My home page



 3:31 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Well, if your site is clean except for the negative 301 redirect, I would also go to the google webmaster forum (crawling, indexing, and ranking) and make a post there as well.

Mostly that forum is just a bunch of finger pointing, but there is the chance that John Mueller (google employee) might take a look at your thread / site and say that you have nothing to worry about.

On the other hand, possibly somebody on there might find something that IS within your control and mention that you should change it.

But at the very least, bookmark that post and if you are ever PENALIZED, you can always link to that post in your reconsideration request.


 3:34 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Thanks for that. I have already started a thread but nothing giving at the moment. As soon as you mention payday you're shot down and nobody wants to help.

I've submitted a disavow for the domain too just incase.


 4:15 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

I've submitted a disavow for the domain too just incase

Don't you need to disavow all of the re-directed backlinks, not just the other domain?


 4:29 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

At the moment there are no links showing in wmt or majestic so it was a precautionary measure


 4:37 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

I thought you said there are 15,000.

Another point: A reconsideration request won't do any good if your site gets hit by an algorithmic penalty like Penguin.


 4:43 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

The domain has 15000 links going to it. The 301 appears to be quite new so there's the potential the juice from those spam links will pass over to my site but as of today it doesn't look like it but the back link checkers are not real time.

I had a big boost with the Panda update and my site has been performing really well which may be why he's targeted me. My site has less than 60 links.


 4:43 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

The spam domain has 15000 links I mean. Not mine.


 5:11 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Unless I mis-understand what you're saying, those 15,000 spammy backlinks have been re-directed to your site. If it only happened a few days ago, it's probably to soon for them to show up in WebmasterTools, but that doesn't mean that they won't be counted against you in the future.


 5:19 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Yes, so today the redirect showed up in Majestic, looks like it was first seen on the 23rd June. I thought that by submitting a disavow now would potentially stop any link problems, I've also submitted a spam report.

Seems like there is very little protection out there for this kind of thing happening, it appears to be far to easy to attack someone elses site like this.

More to the point, what kind of cretin does this - we all know Payday loans is a spammy query, but if you choose to spam keep it to yourself and don't try and drag others down.


 5:24 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Well I still don't think that just disavowing the other domain is enough. I think you need to disavow all of those 15,000 backlinks, because they now re-direct to your site. That's what I said before, and I still think it's true.


 5:36 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Isn't that the point of the disavow domain tool? Those links still point to his site, which then points to mine so I thought they would be recognised from Google as coming from that 1 domain?


 5:36 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Webmaster Forums is probably your best bet as Planet13 said. Most of the people on there are webmasters (I agree some have a very holier than thou attitude) and not the Google elite, but the later come by every now and again to comment on things. I believe John Mueller has a Webmaster Central coming up that you could submit this question to.

I'd hope it wouldn't come to this, but you may have to disavow the 15k spammy backlinks or group them up and disavow them on a domain level. I know when you are moving a site that has been penalized via a 301, the best practice is to disavow the spam links from the original domain on both old and new domain in webmaster tools.

Like I say, that is a major pain for you to have to sort through and I hope it wouldn't come to this, but its something to keep in mind.


 5:44 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Don't go to Godaddy force them.


I have used this before believe it or not it does work. Takes about a month from my experience.


 5:48 pm on Jun 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Great thanks for that. It's a start!

Robert Charlton

 11:26 pm on Jun 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

Barry Schwartz posted an article in SearchEngineLand today, noting a question he asked Google's John Mueller this Friday, which touched on this issue more or less directly....

Google: Redirecting A Penalized Site To Penalty Free Site Likely Won’t Negatively Impact The Site
Jun 30, 2014 - SearchEngineLand

Barry describes his exchange with John in a Google Hangout....
The question was: What if a competitor takes a site that has a severe penalty and 301 redirects it to my penalty-free site - would it cause my penalty-free site to get a penalty?

John Mueller basically said he has never seen a case like this where it ended up hurting the site. He said that Google is usually catches these situations fairly easily.

A link to the Hangout and an embedded video are in the article... discussion started at about 27:30 into the video. Barry emphasizes that penalties can follow you, so John's answer only applies if this is negative SEO.

I read this as an indication that Google is confident that it can spot most cases of negative SEO "fairly easily".


 7:42 pm on Jul 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

"I read this as an indication that Google is confident that it can spot most cases of negative SEO "fairly easily"."

That is indeed the IMPRESSION that google has consistently given; that they are competent at discriminating between self-created SEO activities and negative SEO activities.

How they would be able to differentiate, though, is a complete mystery to me.

I am NOT saying they are NOT good at it. I am just saying I don't even know how they could begin to analyze whether any SEO activities are negative or not.


 12:14 pm on Jul 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Hi guys

Quick update, I finally tracked down the culprits and the 301 was removed about a week ago, so it was in place for around 7 days.

This morning I have logged into WMT and my site is now reporting 140,000 links to it - up from about 65 which it was a few days ago.

Someone really seems to have it in for me, they're from thousands of different domains too. I really don't know what to do now, I cannot manually go through a link removal process for that many links on my own.

I haven't got a penalty yet but obviously want to avoid it. Here's the strange thing - most of the links were built on the 5th June, several weeks before the 301 so they're probably not linked and they're only just showing in WMT. However, there is no sign on them in Majestic nor AHRefs, they're reporting about 100 links which it always has

What do you think the best course of action is here?

Thanks very much for all your advice


 12:33 pm on Jul 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Are they all going to the same page?


 12:46 pm on Jul 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Yes 139,598 is the total amount of links with 139,573 going to the homepage


 3:03 pm on Jul 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

If the 301 was removed, I wouldn't really worry about it too much.

Gotta ask: What was up with the site that was redirecting them to your site? Was it just someone who made an error? Was it someone being devious? If they were up to no good, how did you get them to remove the 301 redirect?


 8:48 am on Jul 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

Just to clarify - this is a totally separate issue to the 301 - that's gone, this is now about someone pointing 140,000 links to my site!

Regarding the 301 - it's a very long story to be honest, but I managed to get it taken down not directly with the people who had done it, but through someone that knew the people that had done it. It was 100% a Neg SEO attempt.

I got the help through someone in a BH forum who led me to the right people, as per usual nobody in the Google Forums was interested in helping.


 4:59 pm on Jul 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

There's no other way than to find the bad link and disavow them (urltodomain.com tool can save you hours). I've been through the same and after a few months from the attack I still disavow new bad links every day or so.

there is no sign on them in Majestic nor AHRefs

Another tip - it may be worth checking for your domain directly in google (by using Search Tool / Past X days/hours). But this is 100% manual job (I'm not sure if all links appear in GWT, probably not...).

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