Negative SEO Exists – Our First First Hand Experience.

When it comes to Google’s policy of penalising sites with an unnatural link profile? I am a fan. Why?  If you don’t penalise sites that gather links of any quality you provide no incentive for Webmasters to follow the rules.

If a great link is worth a lot, and medium link is worth something, a questionable link is worth a little bit more than nothing and a dodgy link is worth nothing?  Your SEO policy should be just to get any links from any site no matter what. With Google now penalising sites through the Google Penguin algorithm and manual back link penalties we have seen the death of this free for all back link SEO strategy.

But there have been some problems.

Google doesn’t seem to be good at spotting new backlink networks.
 There is a fairly large time delay between an article network being set up and Google officially recognising it for what it is.  Of course the black hat SEO companies know this, so in high-value, competitive SEO niche is their strategy seems to be:- 

  1. Create a network of sites.
  2. Build up the SEO power  sites over a period of six months or so.
  3. Start linking them to a target website.
  4. Prepare for it all to come crashing down at some point, restart the process with a new network a new target sites every month or so.

In the niches of payday loans and locksmithing niches countless SEO companies use this strategy and Google seems powerless to do anything about it.

Negative SEO is here – its real.
There is lots of grumbling in SEO circles that penalising sites for an unnatural back link profile opened the door for negative SEO.  Got a strong competitor? Point a bunch of bad links at them and watch their rankings fall. SEO has got to the point where it can be so time-consuming and expensive that there is temptation to employ exactly this strategy. Buying low quality back links is quick and cheap and they can be easily pointed at not just one of your competitors but ALL of your competitors.

Exactly this strategy has been employed against one of the WordPress SEOGuys clients this year.  They have been targeted with hundreds of spamming links that are clearly designed to get our clients an anchor spam/bad neighbourhood/unnatural links penalty.  But not only a they are targeting our client… They have employed this strategy against almost every site in the top 10 for the main search term in our clients’ niche. Having spotted what was going on… It’s not a big deal now for us to nullify the attack.  One of our juniors is updating the links disavowal file with Google on a weekly basis and keeping a close eye on things.  But I admit to being in a bit of an ethical quandary. 

Should I tell all the other website they are being attacked?
It’s the WordPress SEO guys job to attain top rankings it possible for our client. There is no question we’re not the perpetrators of this attack and clearly our client is being attacked too.  We stand to gain nothing from giving the other website owners a heads up and since there are a couple of other sites in the top 10 not being attacked it’s difficult to form a definite hypothesis as to the originator of the attack.

Should we let the other sites know they are being attacked?  I am torn.

From an ethical perspective it grieves me…. but we have decided to do nothing other than protect our client.  Our loyalty is to them and job is to attain them rankings. If at some point we are able to determine exactly who is employing this strategy then our position will change from one of protect our client to one of expose the villain but for now we are going with “protect our client”. Only.

For now the most we can do is go public with this article as we know our competitors’ SEO companies come to our site regularly to read our strategies. If that’s you reading this?  Consider this post a heads up.

  1. One of your clients may be experiencing a negative SEO attack.
  2. If you are the attacker?  It’s only a matter of time before we work out who you are and expose you.
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