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How to remove negative links created by competitors?



9:21 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

It is now official, you can go on and kill your competitors via very simple negative linking campaign. That is what happened to our large site in a pretty important niche.

All you need to do is buy some adult links with the main KW pointing to it.

Google is just NUTS with this Panda/Penguin.


How to go about removing negative SEO / linkbuilding created by your unfair competition?


2:15 am on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I don't think there's any real difference, no matter whether you created those links or your competition did. Sometimes a company doesn't even know that some well-intentioned employee in their own ranks (or a contractor that someone actually hired) created those crappy links.

We've got a thread discussing bad link detection and cleaning [webmasterworld.com] and for those links that you can't get removed, you include those details in your Reconsideration Request.

And then you start building real trust and popularity signals than strengthen your site to the point where sabotage doesn't work anymore.


9:56 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

System: The following message was spliced on to this thread from: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4451060.htm [webmasterworld.com] by tedster - 10:18 pm on May 8, 2012 (EST -4)

We hear from google over and over again about unnatural backlinks. There a lot of kinds of unnatural backlinks you could have so that your site is getting penalized. This should be black hat seo, right ?
But, what if your competitors are hiring a SEO company or just pay to someone a few bucks to run a campaign with black hat seo software like Xrumer to generate such unnatural links for you and your site is getting penalized ? Do you think google is able to make any difference who run the campaign and who posted the unnatural link ? i don't think so. Wouldn't it be nicer of G to just devaluate such links ? I think that thanks to the new "improvements" of Panda/Penguin there is getting much and much easier to slap your competition. And beside, i think Penguin is a big big failure.....just check the result you get for your searches on google...lately it's getting harder to find what you were looking for ....I just think that a lot of quality sites were devaluated by mistake...


2:23 am on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

This new post is asking essentially the same question - and IMO the same answer applies.

While I don't know jemois site's specific situation, I have seen a lot of sites claiming to be demoted "unfairly" for bad backlinks - and in many, many cases with enough digging, their claimed innocence often tends to disappear.

Here's a highly relevant new article from master link-builder, Eric Ward. His ideas fully line up with my own experience in recent times - and if ever there was a link expert, it's this guy (aka "Link Moses"):
Can There Really Be 85 Types Of Unnatural Links? [searchengineland.com]


11:59 am on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

i wrote the post before the one of aleksl was approved so sorry for repeating. My situation is similar to many others. My site had about 9900 BL one month ago, according to opensiteexplorer. It was slapped on the 27 April and i checked what the reason might be. Suddenly i saw around 53.000 BL on opensiteexplorer, so its clear that the competition or someone did some BL for my site, since there is no way i could get so many links in such a short period of time. My site deals with information about TV channels, such as own written description, contact information, official logo, satellite availability and link to the official stream (if available). There is NO LIVE stream on the pages, since its illegal without the copyright's owner agreement. There is actually NO WAY i could remove the remaining 40.000 BL even if i had 100 more years to live. Its my own experience how someone with bad intentions could ruin a website and the work of more than 4 years. I'm dealing with websites for the last 8 years and black seo is not my type as i know that at a certain time G will penalize it and I got only original content written by myself. ITs better to have less content but better quality. This mostly concerns keyword stuffing, doorways....etc, things i can control, but I'm totally out of control regarding the BL so G should be aware of this. I read the article you linked to but it doesn't help in removing links or convincing G to change the algo so that at least this links will be devaluated without penalizing the site.


12:42 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Before you think about the links situation, please investigate other possible reasons for a ranking loss. Many people severely underestimate the number other factors Google is trying to use these days and just dive for old school factors (links plus keywords). So defintely read all about Panda, Penguin, an other recent ranking changes.

If you do decide to look further into backlinks, definitely use a third party backlink inventory - your site is on the line!

Do the assessment as indicated here [webmasterworld.com]... and be sure to check out the video in this thread: Reconsideration Request Tips - from Google Search Quality Team [webmasterworld.com]

Did you get an "unnatural backlinks" message from Google?


3:25 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

Tedster, here's examples. We've started promoting our affiliate program much more extensively in the last 3 months. Therefore we got all of a suddent thousands of links. Typically, all of these have an affiliate ID attached, or go throough a 3-rd party network, so they are EASY to detect.

Since affiliates have been there way, WAY before Google, it is just NUTS that Google considers a jump in backlinks due to affiliates as "bad behaviour".

We just asked one affiliate to remove links from adult sites. Luckily she complied. SHe also loved our product so much, she blasted our banner across 15K of her article website. I am probably going to be forced to ask her to remove it because for whoever reason, this Penguin doesn't like that, even though it is a legitimate affiliate legitimately liking our product.

Google is just NUTS to think this is our behaviour, just freakin' recognize "affid" and "affiliateID" as a parameter, how hard it can be?

I am going through thousands of our links. I do see some where people had built affiliate websites and because we are (WERE, thanks GOOGLE) one of the top sites in the niche, they included links to say, top 10 sites, across all site, whatever blogging platform they use, including ours, including billion dollar brands too.

Of cource, billion dollar brands are still on top, they've got thousands of other links, we are a small business and 15K extra links form one site skews our link pattern to Penguin hell.

How is that "our bad behavior"?

I am going through our links and really FAIL to see a bad link that is not attributed to our expanding affiliate program. DO we suppose to NOT expand affiliate program which is ANOTHER way of earning money outside GOOGLE SANDBOX, just because Google treats affiliates as competition?

>> Did you get an "unnatural backlinks" message from Google?

NO, of course NOT. We do not do "unnatural" links, how do you think a couple of guys can successfully compete with billion dollar brands? We have a better site and better product, that's how.


3:40 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

I actually now see 2 other strange sites, when you load it in Google it gives "warning malware site". Both sites are blogs in our niche, probably one of the affiliates. Our link is on all 3K or so pages of both, including with 3 billion dollar brands and a couple of our competitors. I am sure that along with other "great links" just Pengunizes us to heck.

But these are NOT our links, we didn't buy them, we didn't ask for them. And neither we asked for Google to count them negatively.

[edited by: aleksl at 3:43 pm (utc) on May 9, 2012]


3:42 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think google is smart...but not smart enough. They are aware about all the spammy linking techniques available today and they want to discourage people doing it. Let's say for example you close a partnership with some one who has a network of 50 sites. You also own 50 sites. Both of you are doing reciprocal links (three way) and suddenly all your sites and his sites get a lot of links. This shouldn't be penalized. He likes your sites and you like his. I don't find it spammy. G probably forgot that you could also hurt other sites by doing this kind of stuff. they have a lot of "signals" (like television signal, 3G :)))))) ) but i think they get to complicated in easy to manage issues like this one. We better wait for the next update since there a lot of high quality sites in trouble.


3:50 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

Great, I know we better wait. I better fire my customer service guy and shipper and wait until google decides how to figure this one out.


I am going to expand my un-Google traffic, that is what I am doing. The statistics: we lost 65% of free google traffic, but only 35% of traffic overall. So I am already somewhat Google-proof. I will continue that as much as I can.

Here's the problem: With Pengiun, I can now pulverize any legitimate small business site to SERPs hell. That is not a good way for Google to encourage fair competition.

Google at least could help us discount links that shouldn't be there in Webmaster Tools. Can't do it algorithmically, let me do it online for you.


3:54 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

You also own 50 sites. Both of you are doing reciprocal links (three way) and suddenly all your sites and his sites get a lot of links. This shouldn't be penalized. He likes your sites and you like his. I don't find it spammy.

A lot of people probably would, though. That's part of the problem; defining spam.


4:08 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well, the whole concept is dead.

I don't know, maybe we should teach PhDs some real life stories?

Imagine offline business. Got a shop, got a sign, what do I do next? That's right, I ADVERTISE.

How do I advertise?
* Yellow Pages (equivalent of Business Directories or just regular directory sites)
* Local Newspapers (equivalent of coupon sites, local sites etc)
* Large City Newspapers, Radio, TV (portals, youtube , press releases, etc.)
* Send school student out to drop our business cards
* Send salesmen out door to door
(last two - affiliate marketing)
* Ask non-competing business to post my ads
* Ask happy customers for referrals
- last two are basically referrals, "affiliate links". The key here is NON-COMPETING BUSINESS. You can't absolutely discount non-niche links to 0 algorithmically.
* Fliers on events (banner ads)

When a local business starts a marketing campaign, they usually see a spike in activity and traffic. When website starts a marketing campaign, you also see a spike in certain activity, such as spike in affiliate links. If this is treated as spam, then I am sorry, but whoever decided that needs to have a trip to real world.

How can you PENALIZE a business for running a marketing campaign?


Back to the topic. How do I currently proceed to tell Google that we are running a marketing campaign, and links that Google sees are either our legitimate affiliates, or need to be discounted and not PENALIZED?


11:57 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Nope, i did not receive the "unnatural backlinks" message in WMT.
I searched on Google for my domain and it looks like the title was changed and consists of the domain name, meaning is you search for "example.com" the title of the homepage will look in google "example". I also talked to a seo company today and it is very possible that the new BL caused the problem. I have no solution for this, since I have no idea where they appeared from and I can;t take out 40.000 BL. So it seems that according to new Google algorithm, this is the way to slap others sites. I might have an idea and hope you people know more about this. The domain has a high seomoz rank, what about redirecting the inner pages to a new domain without redirecting the homepage. this should pass the value of the inner pages without passing the direct links to the homepage and actually without passing the value of the domain and the penalty. Will it be an alternative to try ?


4:29 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Just to keep this going.

We did find an affiliate that was linking to us from adult content .. via of course affiliate link, with affiliate ID attached. What I originally thought was a competitor, turned out to be an affiliate. We've reached out to that person and they removed their links from adult sites. We terminated affiliate agreement with her and waiting for our banners to be removed from all her other regular sites. Just hoping she complies.

Clearly a penalty, clearly Google should be able to recognize that no serious business would resort to link schemes like that, and just discount these.

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