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Negative SEO: Past, Present and Future - ThinkVis 2013
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Negative SEO: Past, Present and Future - ThinkVis 2013


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Whether you want it or not, Negative SEO is more real today than ever before, although it has always been part of the picture since the day it became clear that external factors can influence a site's …

Whether you want it or not, Negative SEO is more real today than ever before, although it has always been part of the picture since the day it became clear that external factors can influence a site's standing with the search engines. In the future, it is not going away for sure - this is my take on where it could go, as well as some history and present day analysis.

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  • 1. (Past, Present and) Future@irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 2. @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 3. @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 4. @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 5.   Matt Cutts acknowledges the fact: 2007, Forbes “ ”  Google acknowledges the fact again: webmaster answer updated May 2012
 “Theres almost nothing a “Google works hard to prevent competitor can do to harm other webmasters from being able your ranking“ to harm your ranking”  Cygnus: Stop Questioning Negative SEO @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 6.   Google Bowling  Google Bombs  Google Washing  SEO Sabotage  Negative SEO  …and even online reputation management @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 7. @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 8. @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 9.   External factors have influence on a site’s rankings  Poor attribution of duplicate content  Site owners make mistakes @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 10.   Take anything that potentially has a negative effect and use it against a third party site @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 11.   The concept of links as votes is the cornerstone of Google’s algorithm @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 12.   Use of anchor texts (Google bombs, Penguin)  Quality of links (spammy, bad neighbourhoods)  Objectionable types of links (e.g. paid links)  Speed of link acquisition  Other unnatural patterns @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 13. Bonus: How to spot a possible negative SEO campaign using MajesticSEO: @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 14.   Use of anchor texts can be subtler, e.g. more aggressive use of commercially meaningful anchor texts the site is already targeting  Pro: more difficult to spot, more difficult to prove  Con: may work in favour of the victim site @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 15. @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 16.   As a result:Complete case study by Danny Sullivan: sites-140597 @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 17. My “click here” case study:(the complete study: @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 18. What’s spammier? vs@irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 19. What’s spammier? vsA comment spammer in local SERPs Interflora @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 20.   A niche-specific criterion Spammy links not stopping sites from ranking – multiple cases (Complete case study: /02/27/how-does-the-casino-bonus-spam-work/ @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 21.   Does the site have them already? -> spam/ paid links report  No bad links? -> acquire some!  Too cheap to acquire links on their behalf? -> make it look like they are doing it! (forum posts with their name/site asking for paid links, etc.)  You can also make sure they get some links from bad neighbourhoods @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 22.   …Shitty infographic time! @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 23. (Imagine these animals, erm, shitting on each other’s head) Niches known as PPC (porn, pills, casino) Finance Weight loss Travel Education (Disclaimer: niche allocation is approximate and for illustrative purposes only) @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 24. Result? Penalty due to a negative SEO campaign Again, this is a niche specific criterion@irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 25. Result? Ranking in top 10 of one of the most competitive niches @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 26.   Or instead of building links, you can remove them…  A spike of interest caused by Penguin @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 27.   Ever got one of these? @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 28. Do you see an opportunity for negative SEO here? @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 29.   Historically: issue with content attribution (e.g. scrapers outranking scraped sites)  Panda’s promise: fix the issue  Reality: Google is no better with the duplicate content attribution today than it used to be ages ago @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 30.   DaviDavid Naylor’s original post ranking below sites that scraped/aggregated it @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 31.   Google announces that “we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site” – August 2012 @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 32. @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 33.   Increase in takedown requests as a result:  Complete study by Barry Schwartz: request-143763  Google Transparency Report: top reported domains removals/copyright/domains/?r=all-time @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 34.   Year: 2011  A site scrapes another site’s content  Access to scraped content is password protected (so not indexable)  The offending site files a DMCA against the originating site  The originating site’s reported page is removed from the SERPs, DMCA notice displayed  The originating site hires me to investigate the case, contacts Google with explanation  The originating site is reinstated in the SERPs, timeline: 2 weeks @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 35.   Year: 2012  Site A scrapes site B  Site C buys a sitewide links on site A  Site A starts ranking for site B’s traffic rich keywords above site B  Site B files a DMCA, contacts site A’s host (but not Google)  Site A’s host takes action, now non-existent site A still ranking in Google  Site C gets a penalty, tries to use the disavow tool, sees 1,500 links in GWMT that cannot be removed because they do not exist @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 36. Once more to visualise this better: Site A scrapes Site C buys a Site A ranks higher sitewide link on site site B than site B A Site C penalised, Site A’s host Site B files a DMCA, cannot disavow suspends it, site A sends to site A’s1,500 links because still ranking host they do not exist This could be a perfect negative campaign if only site B did not suffer from it itself Fictionalised account of this case: 2013/02/50-shades-of-spam/ @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 37.   Indexable empty search results  Use of insecure plugins  Site structure causing duplicate onsite content  Bad redirects  Etc. @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 38.   Bingo – your site is now about Viagra! @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 39. And it will get indexed……because… @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 40.   Sites get hacked  According to Stop Badware, the three most common types of badware affecting sites are: ◦  Malicious scripts ◦  .htaccess redirects ◦  Hidden iframes @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 41. My post on how to get rid of malware on a site: @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 42.   Sometimes these will get your site banned even without a negative SEO campaign  High profile example: in April 2012 SEER Interactive got deindexed for 12 hours because, in Wil Reynolds’ words:
 “ We relaunched our site and spiked our 404′s but since we were ranking for our brand and a lot of our blog posts, I said who cares, but as my friends dug through my site they found a LOT of architectural issues, lazy crap I never thought would impact us (and still don’t) but it is sloppy. ” -in-google-for-12-hours @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 43. @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 44.   Google Suggest @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 45. @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 46.   McDonald’s asks customers to talk about their experience, promotes a hashtag  Result: @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 47.   Burger King Twitter Account Hacked @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 48.   HMV fired employee vents on official Twitter account @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 49.   Is Negative SEO ever going to go away? @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 50. NO.@irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 51.   As long as there are negative factors, they will continue to be exploited @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 52.   Faking social presence – from squatting unclaimed profiles to hacking existing social accounts  Using any objectionable links (advertorials, other kinds of paid links, guest posts when they become the synonym of spam, anything else Google dims as bad  Hijacking AuthorRank  Fake DMCAs (already happening but will likely keep increasing)  Fake disavow submissions @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 53.   Ranking your own site by dropping sites above it – was possible several years ago but more difficult now (unpredictable results)  Negative SEO for online reputation management – still works (with caveats)  Negative SEO as hate campaign – possible but not a business strategy @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 54.   You cannot make your site 100% secure  If it’s not economically viable to run a negative campaign against a site, it will likely not happen @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 55.   Example: do you hijack this link profile? @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 56.   Matt Cutts acknowledges the fact: 2007, Forbes  Google acknowledges the fact again: webmaster answer updated May 2012  Cygnus: Stop Questioning Negative SEO  How to spot a possible negative SEO campaign using MajesticSEO: to-use-majesticseo-to-identify-a-possible-negative-seo-campaign-by-irish-wonder/56921/  PRWeb case study by Danny Sullivan:  "Click here" case study:  Casino bonus spam case study: bonus-spam-work/  Google DMCA announcement: algorithms.html  Complete DMCA case study by Barry Schwartz: request-143763  Google Transparency Report: top reported domains copyright/domains/?r=all-time  Fiction story covering a DMCA case: shades-of-spam/  How to get rid of malware on a site:  2012/07/20/site-infected-by-malware-heres-what-you-should-do/  SEER Interactive 12-hour ban:  -in-google-for-12-hours @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 57.   All images are mine, except for the following:Slide 11 - 30 - 32 - http://www.rainingpackets.comSlide 33 - 47 - 48 - @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013
  • 58. ••  Twitter: @irishwonder•  Facebook:•  LinkedIn: @irishwonder ThinkVisibility, March 2013