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Victim of Negative SEO?

     
8:27 am on Jun 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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My site's homepage has suffered a huge drop in ranking following the appearance of 8000+ links on a site that looks to be hacked.

The other site has basically scraped my site, but with snippets of various popular songs mixed in around the page. The links to my site are the absolute links from my navigation, any relative links have remained that way and point to non-existent pages on the hacked site.

The urls on the hacked site consist of a random/unique string followed by the title and author of a song (seemingly a different song to the snippets used on the page).

The hacked site (an image gallery) still functions as an image gallery, but has not been updated since 2004.

I have tried to contact both the owner and host, but have not been able to get the content removed.

Anyone seen anything similar or had any success against such a problem?
11:54 am on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I have a question on negative SEO for the good people on this forum..

What if someone brought 3-4 domain names, built up thousands of BAD/CHEAP backlinks for the domain names and then weponised them by permanatly redirecting them to a target website?

You could watch that target and once they go out of business then retarget your weaponized domain names to the next competitor on the list? Would that also be untraceable as the links wouldn’t show up for the targeted site? Negative SEO by proxy?

Is that even possible?
12:11 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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What if someone brought 3-4 domain names, built up thousands of BAD/CHEAP backlinks for the domain names and then weponised them by permanatly redirecting them to a target website?


I know of a link network that is still hosted, but deindexed by Google. It was used prior to its Google deindexing for genuine link building of course. Post-deindexing, I see posts still being built to it. I doubt the link builders are that dumb to not realise those domains are deindexed by Google - it looks like these are being used for negative purposes. I know that Google do visit deindexed domains, so it does make you wonder.
3:21 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Yes, the inclusion of 'toxic' parameters in their link graph means, for a few $100, you can wipe out all your competition.

It's not hard, and they'll have no way to realistically recover from it anytime soon. I would guess most people don't do this, but the number will be rising now.

It was one of the dumbest moves I've seen a set of geniuses make in a very long time.

If anybody wants to try: go buy a bunch of cheap SAPE for your own site, let us know if you survive.
3:48 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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> for a few $100, you can wipe out all your competition.

@hitchhiker - Don't think so, sorry. But feel free to try your theory on eBay, craigslist and see how it affects their rankings.
3:52 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Play_Bach - Ebay, craigs - NO! - But I dare you to try it on your most important site, i'll send you the cash ;)

Infact: Yeah, I'd like to know if ANYBODY would be willing to take that challenge :D - Do you believe that getting a couple of thousand toxic links over a few months wouldn't affect you? I'd like to see the affect on a well run site.

I'd pay 300 bucks to see it; anybody want to chip in?

Disclaimer: I would NEVER EVER pay (even as a joke) - there is no way in hell your site would survive. I'd never let another person take that risk.

Of course it works.

Edit: Typo.

[edited by: hitchhiker at 4:03 pm (utc) on Jun 20, 2013]

4:01 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@@hitchhiker

Well, you can't have it both ways. Either your theory works or it doesn't. Sorry.
4:04 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Play-Bach - I don't understand, I'm not following boss. Which part is in contradiction?

EDIT: If you mean "Negative SEO doesn't work on big sites like ebay, craigs, facebook, but it would work on smaller sites." That's fairly self-explanatory.

-> You can push a small boat, but you can't easily push a ship.

It doesn't mean pushing doesn't work.

Is that what you were saying? If you can give me a logical reason why Negative SEO doesn't work in the face of the evidence presented - I will listen and consider it honestly and fairly.

[edited by: hitchhiker at 4:11 pm (utc) on Jun 20, 2013]

4:09 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@hitchhiker - Don't think so, sorry. But feel free to try your theory on eBay, craigslist and see how it affects their rankings.


Well, you can't have it both ways. Either your theory works or it doesn't. Sorry.


Are you aware that a strong link profile can protect a site from negative SEO, and are you also aware that a weak-to-middling link profile makes a site vulnerable to negative SEO?

You seem to be suggesting that links can't hurt your site, which is an absurd statement to make in June 2013, 14 months after Penguin 1.0.
4:11 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I love it when people say "negative seo doesn't work", then turn around and explain to another person that their site is penalized because of "bad links".

Unless you think Google can infer intent with high precision, you can't have penalties triggered by links without enabling negative seo.
4:20 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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A few years back I was speaking to IP solicitor about DMCA's, I was quite surprised when he explained he represented EBAY and had done over 30,000 dmca's on their behalf. The point is they obviously felt at the time these copyright infringements were affecting their rankings.

It would have to be a massive campaign but yes I would say even an established site like Ebay can be effected by negative SEO.
4:58 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@hitchiker
I understand you've been dealt a big blow by Google, me too. However, advising others that all they have to do to game Google is spend $100 on negative SEO is "pie in the sky" (at best). Ethics aside, if it were that easy to sink the competition and restore ranking, why don't you do it? (sure would be cheaper than finding a new search engine to compete with Google).
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5:34 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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However, advising others that all they have to do to game Google is spend $100 on negative SEO is "pie in the sky" (at best)


Well, for me the point is that if you hold a grudge against a company or just want to see a company fail for whatever reason, you can do it for a small price. Think of all the lost business, stress etc that such a small thing can cause - and you can do it with 100% impunity too (talk about a great incentive actually).
5:39 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@play_bach -
Ethics aside, if it were that easy to sink the competition and restore ranking, why don't you do it?
This is not a constructive argument: "if it's possible why don't you do it?"

I won't put "ethics aside", not now, not in the future. I'm certainly not advising others to do it, I'm answering a question.

Please can we not debate this anymore, it's pretty well understood.
-----

OP - It is possible, use the disavow tool (sorry) to remove them. They say you should 'contact the site owners' - which is in most cases ludicrous, and in your case seems to not be possible.

------

I do think it's mis-identified a lot - however it's on the increase, especially as people are just finding out it's possible :( If the Webspam team did reply they would probably say:

"We spend a lot of time analysing the patterns and connections between sites. We have signals in place (date stamps, some graphing) to avoid the possibility of one webmaster negatively impacting another. However, if you do believe you have been the target of that kind of thing - you could use the 'disavow' tool to clean up those bad links." - The webspam team did not say this!

- In other words: anyone with a degree or any experience in programming knows it's not possible (as @rish3 pointed out) to 'infer intent' with anything less than a full A.I - which has not been invented yet. Good luck, use the 'mildly effective' disavow tool.
6:06 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@hitchiker - Well, if you're going to quote me than quote me. Please don't rewrite what I said to try and bolster your case. Thanks.
6:20 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Play_Bach - what? explain what you mean please.

If you have a logical argument as to why 'Negative SEO' is no longer possible; I would really like to hear it.
10:58 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Big sites such as eBay Facebook etc are pretty,inch untouchable. But if you have a small site you're vulnerable to this IMO. So I agree with@hitchhiker here. It was laughable when matt cuts said some time ago that a competitor couldn't bring your site down..when the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming.
11:21 pm on June 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Negative SEO works, because I have done it to my own websites, end of story.

OP - it seems your best bet is to try and beg \Google to take a look at your case and see if they can manually fix this.
6:28 am on June 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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OP - it seems your best bet is to try and beg \Google to take a look at your case and see if they can manually fix this.


If that's possible, yes. You might always want to try (randomly) the 'reconsideration request' on webmastertools. Both are shots in the dark - but it's mostly what can be offered beyond the 'disavow' tool.
9:40 am on June 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@play_bach if you aren't worried about negative seo you could always expose your site here and we can have a bash at it for you? Just to see if it works.
9:32 pm on June 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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sure would be cheaper than finding a new search engine to compete with Google



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7:50 am on June 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I managed to get the pages removed.
Actually the hosting company were very helpful:
1. Having failed to contact the website owner using the whois info, I contacted the host, who in turn, attempted to contact the site owner.
2. Since no action was taken, I contacted the host again and they advised me to file a DMCA request. I did this and the offending pages were removed very quickly.

In my case, it was very obvious that the content was all copied from my site, so I'm sure this helped.

Hopefully, my old rankings in Google will come back...
8:42 am on June 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@play_bach if you aren't worried about negative seo you could always expose your site here and we can have a bash at it for you? Just to see if it works.


@play_back, PM me one of your domain names and I'll try out this crazy conspiracy theory that links can hurt your site. You can watch me waste money on blasting your site with thousands of cheap links that do no harm to your site whatsoever, proving you right. Right? The most telling thing would be not to take me (or anyone else) up on this offer - in that case, what are you worried about?
8:56 am on June 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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If your site holds the kind of authority craiglist of ebay enjoys, you can't really knock them down with 400 500 dollars worth of spammy links, but this threat is real and does exist for average sites, sites which are clean in nature but don't really have the authority to survive the negative linking spam.

I would say atleast 60 to 70 percent of sites can be taken down with well planned negative link campaign and if i remember correctly, Matt Cutts did mention that this threat exists.
11:29 am on June 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I should think Google has a "safe list" of sites they manually add to be unaffected by any penalties, ebay, amazon so forth! Makes sense!
4:28 pm on June 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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...why are we still debating if negative SEO is possible? If inbound links can hurt a site, then inbound links can hurt a site.

You can debate just how feasible it is, how much it would cost, and how to do it successfully, but the argument that it isn't possible at all is a non-starter. The existence of disavow proves that.
7:59 pm on June 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I would say atleast 60 to 70 percent of sites can be taken down with well planned negative link campaign

I would disagree with this. It does not have to be well planned at all. Probably 1 or 2 Fiverr spam link gigs will get most sites with natural backlink profiles moving downwards. Remember, most natural backlink profiles are normally very weak and easily tainted with minimal effort.

The disavow tool has allowed Google to dramatically scale their manual review team at the lowest possible cost. Right or wrong, the disavow data Google receives from ordinary webmasters will be used at one point or another.
10:00 pm on June 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I know this sounds bad but....

I may just target a negative campaign against 2-3 sites that are using “tag clouds” in the footers to spam their way to the top of our SERPS.

Since google don't seem to be cleaning up these on site spammers I'm struggling to find a reason to not just go ahead and kick them out myself? Why not?

I probably wont, but I feel this way...sigh
10:33 pm on June 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@CaptainSalad2 Oh no your turning to the dark side of the force...........

I think it's kinda a life choice, most people here know how to do it but don't. That's because they take pleasure out of building something. But there are people willing to create negative seo out there and as long as google keep rewarding them for doing it, the negative seo business will continue.
7:25 am on June 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Glitterball

Since no action was taken, I contacted the host again and they advised me to file a DMCA request. I did this and the offending pages were removed very quickly.


How many days it took for Google to take off the content after you filed DMCA?
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