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Someone building exact match links to my site

     
4:11 am on Feb 7, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I recently just checked my Google webmaster tools and noticed a bunch of links that I didn't recognize. When I downloaded the sample and visited the pages, I noticed that they were the same spammy links with the same anchor built to my site over and over again... words cannot describe how angry this makes me. I've done nothing but keep the site as clean as possible and build only acceptable, branded links on social profiles and other media to help grow its presence.

I don't want to disavow them because I believe disavowing puts the site under some type of microscope where your site experiences even more zombie traffic. I've noticed this difference on penguin hit sites vs non penguin. I'm not sure, but I don't want to risk it at the moment.

Some people say that it's impossible to spam a competitor, but somebody knows what they are doing here. Building exact match anchors will get the site penalized.
7:35 am on Feb 7, 2016 (gmt 0)

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One of those catch-22 kind of things. If you fight it, it gets noticed, if you don't, it also gets noticed.

Pick and choose your battles. Look to see if there is a general attack (competitor, domain, geo) and use that for strategy response.

One of my clients took a very aggressive approach and disavows ALL links except the top 10% of major sites (news, media, mfgs, that kind of thing) and while he's probably lost a great deal of traffic, the traffic he does get is Sterling.

Meanwhile, check your Bing and DuckDuckGo traffic...

For most folks, the whack-a-mole approach also works, but that method is time consuming and constant. Negative SEO does exist, but what we don't really know is how much impact it really has on the serps.... I mean in true terms.
7:54 am on Feb 7, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Masterjoe. Obviously you have to do whatever you feel is right. However, in my honest opinion, your fear is unfounded and dangerous to the welfare of your own sites. Just to give you a counter view, we have a few clients in incredibly competitive areas so we are used to seeing exact match spammy link building NSEO attacks on our client sites. We ALWAYS disavow and we never had any further issues. We are in a similar category as Tangor's client. We disavow everything that is spammy and unnatural.
9:44 am on Feb 7, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I've decided to counter for now, the links I have found are probably less than 30 (but multiple links from the same domains)... however, this is still enough to get it squashed in the search considering it's a relatively new website. I also haven't looked at it with ahrefs/majestic so there are probably even more.

I will be building additional links with branded/naked anchors on article websites, and using my web 2.0 properties, as well as getting some links from trusted directories to help fight it. I figure if Penguin drops and the site gets penalized then this "real time" thingy should work fairly quickly. It's ridiculous that we even need to worry about these things but what else can we do.
9:03 am on Feb 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Okay so it looks like more and more of these spam links are being indexed with the same anchor text. This is really aggravating me because I've spent hours upon hours building this new website and it's already doing great in the search results (for now). I believe I know who the competitor is, because I called him out for copying and rewriting my content in the past. I have built some naked URL links to the page in order to try and dilute it, but it's just going to be pointless until this attack stops.

Please save the "negative SEO doesn't work" nonsense, this is how real negative SEO is done. Over time with exact match anchors, not just thousands of links overnight... hopefully Google does away with this BS in the next Penguin some time this century.
4:37 pm on Feb 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Please save the "negative SEO doesn't work" nonsense, this is how real negative SEO is done

Most likely negative SEO can work, but only if done properly, and only if a lot of time and effort (and money) is put into it. So this attack against you, if that's what it is, likely will fail unless huge resources are put into it.
5:24 pm on Feb 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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likely will fail unless huge resources are put into it.


That isn't necessarily true. It merely needs to replicate a "cheap and nasty" SEO link building campaign. There's no way for Google to know who is conducting a campaign. The only way for negative SEO to not work is if Google just discount the bad links, but anyone who's seen a site with a link penalty will know that Google's actions are definitely not limited to discounting link value.

Of course, this does entail some investment of time/money, which will likely deter most (in addition the morally/legally questionable nature of such things). But I think it's more about commitment than money.
7:05 pm on Feb 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Andy Langton -- Most likely it would be easier to stage a successful negative SEO attack against a small new site than against a large well-known site. But in both cases I think the key factor is how many different domains the toxic backlinks come from.

To successfully attack a large well-known site, I suspect that the culprit would need to register thousands of domains and create legitimate-looking websites on them, then add the toxic backlinks, and do all of this gradually over long time period. This would take a lot of time and effort and money.

I don't think the OP of this thread needs to worry if all of the toxic backlinks come from just a handfull of different domains. And if submitting a disavow list is still thought to be necessary, it would be easy to do if only a few domains are involved.
7:39 pm on Feb 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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To successfully attack a large well-known site, I suspect that the culprit would need to register thousands of domains and create legitimate-looking websites on them


But most sites are not in that category. Of course, an attack on the BBC or a similar site is going to fail, but for an average SME, their link profile is not going to be broad, or diverse. My experience is that below a certain level, links are likely to be discounted, but after a tipping point, rankings are going to be affected.

Worse still, creating hundreds or even thousands of links is not difficult if quality is not an issue. You can just sign up to any number of paid link schemes or run a mass-submission tool. If the target of such activities is like the very large number of companies who've paid for less than stellar SEO in the past, then they're 100% at risk from this sort of activity.
7:54 am on Mar 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Here's the thing about backlinks. If Google loves them they boost your site and are a valuable tool. If Google hates them they can be aimed at a competitor and take down the competition. Most webmasters do not do the second example but in reality all links have a value, if pointed in the right direction.

Perhaps RankBrain is designed to solve that problem?
2:18 pm on Mar 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I can see a large spike in Majestic about 2-3 months back indicating someone had blasted my site. I believe JM said that Google will ignore any obvious negative seo attempts, so perhaps these links were built during that period and are only just starting to show up in backlink crawlers. I don't think I've seen any major dips in traffic, apart from a day where my rankings were down a few spots for all keywords but returned quickly.

The links being built are on inactive forum profiles, and random links from .xyz and .club domains. I really hope Google ignores these types of links, however some of them do show up in my webmaster tools. I haven't disavowed any links, and I hope I don't have to. It seems as through there are about 60-70 links pointing to the page now. If Penguin does hit my site, this "real time" stuff better work damn quickly.
4:13 pm on Mar 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Playing with fire in my opinion. I would have disavowed and stayed on top of it regularly as more links are discovered over the next few months period. Good luck.
3:17 am on Mar 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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We tried to recover from what we believed was a negative seo penalty, everything pointed to it and took the steps for removal. I believe in some industries you can only partly recover and it takes aggressive site improvements not just losing the links. You are labeled grey forever until then unless you get authority links, if you can.

Masterjoe - may I ask if you market is a 'spammy' 'high value' type of market?
5:39 am on Mar 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Hi Timetraveler,

I guess that my niche could be considered slightly "spammy". I have noticed that one of my competitors also has about 40000-50000 links from adult sites pointing to it, and just recently another competitor has gotten a major blast of links. Its nowhere near as profitable as fitness/casino/financial markets are, and is a lot smaller.

Regardless, I've now filed a disavow because if I got stuck with a penalty I would get extremely annoyed. I'm not sure why Google even decided to penalize websites like this because its a huge waste of time for everybody involved. Just ridiculous.
2:31 pm on Mar 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Penguin updates can be far apart, sometimes even a year or more between them. So any actions you take now might not have any effect on your site's google traffic for a long time. It would be especially unlucky if an update happens tomorrow and you just barely missed being in time for it, then have to wait another year for the next one.