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Holy Sh*t! Please Don’t Link To Me!

OMG! They linked to me!

by PotPieGirl on June 7, 2012 · 61 comments

So I’m strolling through my Twitter feed today catching up with what’s going on. Suddenly this tweet comes thru that made me laugh…then kinda want to cry because it is SO sadly real in regards to Google and back links right now.

Let me show you the tweet -




This tweet came across from Ryan Jones (his site is here):

(note: for those that don’t know, Xrumer is a software program that automatically blasts 10′s of thousands of links. Profile and comment links I think – please correct me if I am wrong.)

Now, naturally Ryan meant this as a joke, but the sad reality of it really brings to light the current state of the internet.

At first, I laughed… pretty hard, actually.

Then I thought, “OMG! I wonder how often this is actually happening right now?!?!?”

2012 is turning into the International UNlinking Year. People are scrambling to remove links that once worked so well for them (I talked about when I consider removing links in my Survival Guide). Or, at worst, those links did NOTHING for them.

But seriously, people are asking, threatening, and DEMANDING that those they once asked to link to them (or arranged..or did automatically…or paid..or happened naturally) to now REMOVE those links.

Totally crazy stuff. Mind-boggling, in fact.

I then imagined a webmaster who was frantically working to get all his/her “bad” links removed getting an email that said what Ryan’s tweet said.

I have no doubt their first thought would be, “Holy Sh*t!! Please don’t link to me!!!!

This is how things have become in the wonderful land of Google. If Google wasn’t so powerful and virtually the main doorway to the internet, I don’t think we’d all care so much…but Google IS mighty powerful and Google IS the main doorway to the internet (in a BIG way).

It’s sad. It’s actually kinda scary. Makes me really worry about folks like us out there trying their best to make all this work.

We’ve talked about Negative SEO before. I’ve mentioned that for the longest time I held on to my faith that bad links don’t HURT you – That Google ignores bad links.

Every day in these past few months I am proven more and more wrong.

This is what Matt Cutts had to say about Negative SEO at a recent SMX Conference (June 5th):

(note: this ‘quote’ is from a live blogging transcript of the Q&A session with Matt Cutts by Barry Schwartz)

Negative SEO has been around a long time?

Hmmm… apparently so.

I coulda sworn the Google help page about competitors harming your rankings used to say that there’s “almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking….” (Here’s a blog post that shows that old wording from that Google help page).

Now it says…

(yellow highlight mine)

So it went from our competitors being able to do “almost nothing” to “Google works hard to prevent”?

Naturally, the SEO community is torn and is at constant debate over whether a competitor can REALLY hurt your rankings or not (here’s a short discussion at InBound.org that gives just a little taste of the debate at hand).

Again, going back to the Q&A session with Matt Cutts at SMX the other day, another “live blogger” has more of the talk between Danny Sullivan and Matt Cutts regarding negative SEO (yellow highlight mine):

(note:big thanks to ManagingGreatness.com. You can read the full transcript here.)

So now, in my opinion, we have some real answers.

Google used to claim that it was almost impossible to hurt anothers ranking. OK, got that.

But apparently, they are seeing more examples of this very thing happening (ie, someone else doing things to hurt your rankings).

They try very hard to stop that.

OK, good – glad they’re working on stopping it.

But that last part I highlighted kinda throws me for a loop (underlined part is mine)…

A lot of people waste their money on buying links, and it hurts the whole industry. Now we’ve gone further and try to get those links to actually hurt you.

So, they’re working hard on the whole “Negative SEO” concept, BUT they are also working hard to make those bad links hurt you now?

Google used to ignore those links (hence the former wording of “almost nothing a competitor can do”) but now Google is trying to make bad links hurt you (hence the change in wording to “Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking…”).

So much for holding on to my faith, right? Yep, that faith just went down the drain.

Sounds like it’s a freakin’ free-for-all in the Google Ranking World now.

A MAJOR can of worms has been opened. Or perhaps a major can of fish to feed the Penguin? Sounds like we really DO need something in Webmaster Tools to tell Google which links NOT to count (supposedly being worked on by Google according to this article, but that’s MONTHS into the future at best…what about NOW?)

I don’t understand how you can be working hard to stop something you SEE actually happening and ALSO be working hard to make sure that very same thing HURTS rankings.

I know, I’m not a genius. Heck, there are Google experts out there that have forgotten more than I’ll ever know.

But for those of us in the same boat as me, I’d like to ask for ALL of us…

w. t. H.????

How in the WORLD do you STOP someone from linking to you? That is totally against the way the internet has grown and how GOOGLE has grown. Whether that link is being done genuinely and editorially or done maliciously – how does one STOP it?

We can only truly control what we each do ON our own sites. We can’t control what is being done TO our sites from other places around the web. I feel for all the ‘Joe the Plumber’ and ‘Beth the Baker’ local sites out there…man what a mess for them. All it takes is ONE competitor to take them all down?

Looks like there’s a need for some new type of tool/service that sends an email every day telling you who linked to you in the last 24 hours. If you don’t want the link, you say ‘No thank you’ and the link is magically removed (or no-followed).

Anyone got that service? If so, you’d make a frickin’ boat load of money right now (and yes, when you DO make that money, I’ll gladly take my 10% cut for the idea).

But for now, I guess we should ALL start saying, “Holy Sh*t!!! Please don’t link to me!!” ?????

Seems sad, doesn’t it?

Especially when I got the next tweet from Ryan:

That’s what we’re headed towards, isn’t it? (yes, please, someone tell me how wrong I am)

Oh, and to those I’ve linked TO in this post, sure, I’ll unlink you if you want me to ;) Guess I need something new in my terms/privacy policy page letting people know how sorry I am for linking to them and citing them as a source inside my content…and how to ask me to remove said link. {insert BIG sigh from me}

And if you want to link to ME – knock yourself out. I’m still happy and thankful for any mention of my work – regardless of what Google thinks.

Your thoughts?



{ 55 comments }

Steven Barnhart June 7, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Jennifer…
I am totally frustrated, confused, angry and do not know what to believe anymore… so I have decided that while the rest of the world debates this big mess… I am going to continue doing the best I can to take care of my customers…
I have 6 e-commerce sites and countless other web properties pointing to them…
Penguin killed 50% of my traffic and with it sales.. however I was under the “illusion ” that Google wanted their customers to have a good experience with their search … well I have 1000′s of testimonials that state they did… and what better endorsement can a person give you than when they purchase products from you?????

Ian Scott June 7, 2012 at 9:24 pm

I have been watching this debate for some time. I have seen theory put forth on both sides – and am aware of the NSEO campaign that was apparently carried out against one of Dan Theis’ websites.

HOWEVER – thus far, the sites that I’ve seen take a major drop in rankings since Penguin (I’ve had a few folks call me up for help), I’m not so sure it’s been about links. If it is, it’s more of a combination of that along with some major over-optimization onsite, as well as other “quality” issues onsite.

But that’s just what I’ve been seeing and of course, most folk in this business won’t share actual data that can be verified as it would provide too much information to competitors, to Google, etc.

PotPieGirl June 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm

re: “more of a combination” – Agreed. And Google has SO MANY changes and filters running, etc that it’s easier to say, “Everything is wrong” as opposed to being able to say, “this ONE thing is wrong”.

You’re also right, the sharing of real data (online publicly) just doesn’t happen. The more someone tries to prove it out in “the open”, the less credible it feels for me.

Like, for example, the WPMU situation…. Supposedly, they removed all those “bad” footer links and then PRESTO, without any manual action on Google’s part, their site magically was healed from their Penguin slap. Doesn’t it take quite a while for the Google algo to make its way through and recrawl ALL those pages to see that their gone? Can that really happen in a week or so?

Or perhaps, since that situation DID have a lot of public attention, that there WAS manual action? Or – with all the public attention and LINKS to their site FROM that attention, those new, good links were enough to cause the Penguin Filter to set them free?

Just so much going on. It’s always been plenty hard to test ONE thing in regards to Google – now it’s virtually impossible (and I’m sure that’s the way G wants it…lol)

Ian Scott June 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm

I can speak for a couple of dozen sites. One site of my own that is ten years old, used to rank on page one for a variety of key words and phrases, totally tanked after Penguin. It makes me very little money, so in that regard, I’m not worried about it.

It’s backlink profile is crystal clear. It’s always ranked highly, for the past ten years, and visitors to the site send emails and comment regularly about how much they enjoy it, so I _know_ it’s a “quality” website, with thousands of pages on it.

Why did it tank? Quality issues – things I didn’t bother to do, like the canonical tag which created duplicate content (actually triplicate) as somehow Google started to crawl the IP address as well as the server name, and treated it as three different sites. A few other “quality” issues that only Google would know about – stuff that was never intentional, but as the site grew, some pages with dup title tags, dup descriptions – just out of being in a rush at times.

As that has been cleaned up, so has it’s rankings.

Other sites that I’ve been asked to help out on – dropped, but did not tank.. and their backlink profile is not so crystal clear – but those sites did not totally disappear.. but as overoptimization onsite is being cleaned up, those are slowly coming back as well.

With my own data (which I realize is not as much as some other folks, but it’s pretty good too, to get a good overview), those who think that Penguin is all about backlinks just aren’t correct.

I have no doubt that it might be a component – and indeed, I have no opinion about a site being xrumered with a huge blast as to whether that will hurt or not as I haven’t worked with any sites that have had that, either “against” them, or where it’s been requested by the site owner.

Your question about the WPMU situation is a good one and it begs the question: “What onsite stuff did they also fix up that we don’t know about?”

newyorker_01 June 8, 2012 at 11:16 am

WPMU recovered just because Matt Cutts was aware of it (being contacted by major newspaper in Australia and asked about this specific case). Penguin and Panda recovery is not possible so quickly and in such scale without manual intervention. This was a bad example of recovery that SEO community bought without even thinking about it. WPMU even got direct link to bad links from Matt Cutts (hey, who else can get this) and was able to correct it. Even with this being done, I still think it was manual algo tweak that recovered WPMU because automatic algo would take ages to bring it up the ladder again.

Jon@affiliatesouth June 7, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Would agree with his “… lot of people waste their money on buying links, and it hurts the whole industry” statement but of course it was Google’s emphasis on backlinks for rankings that caused that problem in the first place. Fortunately I ignored backlink schemes just as I ignore schemes for buying FB likes, Twitter followers, etc., believing that anything unnatural will ultimately come back to bite you on the bum and with all the complainants out there that proved the truth.

cglardon June 7, 2012 at 9:28 pm

I would post a link to my site in the comments section but I am affraid!!!

PotPieGirl June 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm

hahahahahhahahahha!!!

cglardon June 7, 2012 at 9:48 pm

All kidding aside I love your articles because they hit home hard. My number 1 site that got 11K-12K unique visitors per day dropped like a rock because of a over link hungry webmaster i hired and now I am cleaning up the mess. I am laying off my staff and going back to my 1999 roots and selling products on bing and some shopping sites so my kids can eat. sucks bad!! but I should have paid attention

Ian Scott June 7, 2012 at 9:54 pm

cglardon – ok.. so your site was #1. So, the webmaster that was “link hungry” probably had a good deal to do with you being #1 for as long as you were. If you were not #1, who knows where you would have been, and you might never have had staff in the first place. Not being argumentative, just showing a different side to this.

Now, perhaps all those links have been devalued – and your site is where it would be without all those links in the first place. Has your site been deindexed? Are you sure there are no other quality issues going on with your site?

If you’re selling products, are your product pages “thin?”

There could be a ton of reasons for this, after Penguin.

Mark June 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm

I recently went through Webmaster tools for a bunch of my sites and was shocked to see how many links there were to it from dodgy websites… sites that if I were Google would raise a big alarm for me. I’m sure they haven’t helped me in the eyes of the recent Google updates.

And that’s worrying – because I’m the one that’s getting punished for this! Perhaps Google needs to drop the idea of having to penalize sites that have links to them from dodgy locations and simply ignore them.

PotPieGirl June 7, 2012 at 10:00 pm

The thing is with those types of links comes down to this:

Are they actually HURTING your site and rankings?

Or,

Did they suddenly stop HELPING your site and rankings?

If the “bad” links boosted your rankings based on artificial power, once that power is removed, your rankings drop.

But now Matt Cutts claims they are actually working on making those links HURT.

I dunno… mind-boggling, at best.

Charley June 7, 2012 at 11:16 pm

It’s funny that one of my sites just took a hit today, something which has opened my eyes to reality. My new decision is to forget about bad links/good links and how much damage or help they’re doing/rendering and just build a high quality site by your potential readers’ standards and not by Google’s. Why? Algo updates strike both low and high quality sites so why waste your time trying to please Google?

The site that took a hit was making $15 per month and I won’t do anything about it, even if it was making a good sum. If they don’t like my site, then I’ll simply “pack my toys” (lol) and move on.

BTW, Your post was a good read. I was hoping I would be the first to comment ;-)

Roger Shann June 7, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Jennifer, did I really just put a reference to one of my sites here? Am I mad? No not really, since I cannot believe that Google really intends to stamp on the person putting up real honest and informative content. I see that as the way that they are intending to go. Give the searcher what they want.

I know your past postings brought up real problems in search for certain terms but I expect the Google alogorithm to put that right. (am I being over confident?)

I do also think that getting away from Google is probably one of the best things you ever advised.

Keep up the good work Jennifer

Roger

PotPieGirl June 7, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Thanks, Roger!

The less we depend/rely on them, the less it matters. Google sends about 30% of the traffic to my site…and that’s about the way I like it.

Hopefully (she says with fingers crossed) this WILL all start to straighten out.

Roger Shann June 7, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Fingers crossed on that too but I do think you are right. :-)

Farky Rafiq June 7, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Well in other areas of marketing there are things that can really hurt your brand which are completely out of your control. Like bad PR, editors giving poor news coverage. Word of mouth, Ex employees, I’m also sure that not all bankers are ‘bankers’ but they’re tarred with the the same brush and will be for a while but who do they have to complain to? Negative pr has probably shut a few companies down It seems louder online because wte’ll see a negative drop on rankings from the Google gods. But at least its measurable unlike PR (Sorry just playing devils advocate) maybe author rank and social signals (G+) ll will become more important by showing that collectively a quick change in the site’s link profile is out of character therefore shouldn’t be hit by a manual penalty there needs to be a an acceptable threshold.

Franklin June 7, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Great info Jennifer…I sometime wonder if the folks at Google really know what the Panda and Penguin updates are doing…kinda reminds me of the movie, “War Games” when this fictitious computer took over the nations missile system…lol

PS..I’ll get your survival guide next week..:)

bj @ The Work at Home Mom Newsletter June 7, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I just got a mental image of Google-ites laughing like hell at the chaos they cause.

My take on what was said is that they’re really targeting bought links. So the blog network links or things of that nature (eventually SENukeX stuff?) are going to be severely penalized. And I’ve gotta wonder if places like Fiverr are being looked at and used by those same Google-ites to figure out how to write these changes in the algorithm.

For the record, I’m very suspicious of any tool the Goog freely supplies. They’re in the INFORMATION business. Never forget that WE are the product Google sells.

David June 7, 2012 at 11:38 pm

“We can only truly control what we each do ON our own sites. We can’t control what is being done TO our sites from other places around the web.” Apparently Google’s logic is from another planet. Ask those, like myself, who have had their Adwords accounts banned for “violating” their TOS YEARS after those “violations” had taken place, never mind that they were not violations at the time. Or those, again like myself, who were banned because we could not change landing pages that did not belong to us and had no control of whatsoever, to Google’s liking.

Wesley June 8, 2012 at 12:16 am

Hi Jennifer,
Gonna need that survival guide soonest! I got through Panda just fine and one of my sites actually doubled the visitor turnout immediately following the first edition of the Penguin. Bring on 25 May and Penguin 1.1 and got slapped (still indexed) around quite a bit and lost almost all traffic to all pages except the home page which retained 1st page rankings – weird.

Stephanie June 8, 2012 at 12:41 am

“But seriously, people are asking, threatening, and DEMANDING that those they once asked to link to them (or arranged..or did automatically…or paid..or happened naturally) to now REMOVE those links.”"

I had that happen recently. I had someone demand that I either remove the links in the article they gave me, or I remove the article entirely. It wasn’t phrased with an “or else” but that was implied.

I removed them because it was easier than dealing with a pile of angry emails. I thought it was kind of funny though. This was someone who, until a few weeks ago, had no problem using article directories to build back links. Now that they no longer work, they’re trying frantically to erase those links.

DeAnna Troupe June 8, 2012 at 2:27 am

See this is why I quit trying to figure out how to work with Google. Every time I think I have it figured out they “flip the script” on me. So now I just focus on writing stuff humans want to read and go from there. So far my site is still surviving despite all the updates. We’ll see how it does after this one.

Linda @ rehab centers blog June 8, 2012 at 3:53 am

People worry too much about the others links hurting them, I think. It is similar to worrying that some idiot is going to say they like your product and people deciding well if that idiots likes it, it must be bad.

I think the idea that it is “illegal” to link to things is lame. But big companies, with lawyers that want to get overtime (I guess), sued people for doing just that. Hopefully the bozos lost but I bet the lawyers kept doing such lame things. Didn’t the USA try to extradite (and I think it was looking like it would be successful) some kid from England because the copyright industry didn’t like some of the links he added. The “legalities” are so crazy that while I think it would be idiotic to say it is illegal to link to some web site, I wouldn’t say thinking such a thing would be as idiotic as what well paid lawyers and our politicians say is illegal.

Alex Havian June 8, 2012 at 4:59 am

Jenifer I think honestly that in order to bring down good establish competition site from #1 position it probably need months of constantly using negative SEO how I know that ? I have been testing this with Scrapebox and Xrumer for one site ranked #1 site has PR 3 I sent over a MILLION backlinks using single keyword as anchor text and copy and paste those link into link indexing tools for faster crawling as well monitor links for that site using Majestic SEO to check links it has been 6 weeks already and I see that Google has indexed about 700K links for that site as single anchor site is still ranked #1 on Google I haven’t see any drop in the ranking is still ranked #1 for all internet browsers Google Mozilla,Chrome, internet explorer, Safari If you want to know kw site is ranked #1 for term “how to get your ex back” I don’t see that site drooping the ranking…

KyleCrafty June 8, 2012 at 5:36 am

Wait.. I don’t quite understand.. how can links to your site HARM you? Unless you’re a family friendly site and porn sites and pirating sites link back to you I can see that as a problem but nothing to damage your indexing? What am I missing here?

Wendy Owen June 8, 2012 at 6:34 am

Hi Jennifer, it seems Google may be bringing out a tool that combats negative SEO. Check out the link here….
http://searchengineland.com/live-blog-you-a-with-matt-cutts-at-smx-advanced-123513
Cheers
Wendy

Gordon June 8, 2012 at 6:57 am

Don’t build a business based on Google.. more and more ordinary folk are using Yahoo and Bing.. More stable platforms in my opinion. F***K Google……

cleaning service naperville June 8, 2012 at 7:02 am

You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something
which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex
and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

Malablues June 8, 2012 at 7:11 am

Regarding Ryan Jone’s comments: I believe it is called Extortion.

Andy June 8, 2012 at 8:30 am

Hi Jennifer
In the highlighted bit where it says they are trying to get those links to hurt you, the paragraph starts of talking about “bought links”. Are you sure Google have said they want bad links to hurt you, or is it just bought links. I know Google have been identifying sites that sell links for a long time and they’ll have their database of them, so maybe it is just places like this where they can be fairly sure people have bought the links to their sites?
Even so, it is still possible that webmasters could buy links to their competitors from sites they suspect Google are monitoring. It’s just a big mess of Google’s own making.

Stephen Byrne June 8, 2012 at 9:05 am

Hi Jennifer, A fine post as usual.

First, has Google actually issued any statement saying, look, here how it is, no linking to each other or linking out.
Second, I do not understand this panic, basically, If I write a post today about this and say in my post “as here where Jennifer talks about this problem” and links back to your site, you get penalised, that make absolutely no sense.
If this is the case then what chance does any site have, I’m confused on this one.

Kyle Whitford June 8, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I do local SEO and other marketing in Charlotte, NC. ( non-moving target.) Someone gave me 3,000 trash links about 3 years ago in an attempt to give me the finger, bring me down, irritate, or otherwise harm me and my business. OK. Silly kids feeling power via a sense of control. There are so many introverted SEO types who, for the first time, feel a sense of power by just watching their SEO work. Google is weeding them out and in the process there will be stray bullets. I’m cool with that. Those moron vandals don’t have the stamina to stay with anything for long. They will move along to the next pinterest soon. BTW PPG, you are wrong. You ARE a genius. Have a good day.

Ryan Jones June 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Must. Fight. Urge. To. Comment. Spam. This. Post.

hehe…. seriously though.. It’s only a matter of time. I need to do a post about negativeSEO though. There’s WAY more to it than just link building, and that’s probably what Cutts and Google are talking about.

Who wants a guest post? (haha sorry)

Russ Jones June 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm

It is really unfortunate that this has become a new SEO reality. There are services, which I won’t link to, (Google it) that will do negative SEO on your behalf. And there have been some real, publicized successes of negative SEO. I don’t believe this is very common by any standard, but the sites that are at most risk are those who are already pushing the limits. For businesses who see their competitors “getting away with it”, negative SEO looks like an option now more than ever, especially when their spam reports to Google seem to fall on deaf ears. Admittedly, my company has jumped on the link removal bandwagon with our launch of Remove ‘em. It is damn hard to remove links, especially when they were acquired by some third party with or without your knowledge. For what it’s worth, your readers are interested, they can use the coupon potpiegirl and get 20% of our link removal tool.

Himanshu June 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Thanks Ryan for being the inspiration behind this post and for the humor.

I strongly believe that this is a passing phase even though it is killing many people.

See the irony, Google started all these to stop people from gaming its search engine and it has created more chances to be gamed. I am sure, the “MEGAMINDS”s at Google will come up with some other anomaly to overcome this anomaly, create new gamers there upon, kill some honest folks, come up with some new anomaly to counter the existing ones etc and etc till the system becomes so complex that it breaks under its own weight.

There will always be some people who will game Google.

Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson June 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I think you summed it up nicely when you said “And if you want to link to ME – knock yourself out. I’m still happy and thankful for any mention of my work – regardless of what Google thinks.”

Keep up the great work. Keep linking out to relevant posts. Don’t fuss so much over getting backlinks (but don’t give up on it either).

If you’re trying to make your backlinking “look natural” then you’re probably going to end up shooting yourself in the foot. Don’t make it look natural, make it natural. Use the web the way it is intended… to share information, network with people and have some fun!

Ryan Jones June 8, 2012 at 8:02 pm

You inspired me to do a follow up about negative SEO. here’s what competitors CAN do to harm you.

http://www.dotcult.com/negative-seo-what-is-it

Deane Alban June 9, 2012 at 3:51 am

Hilarious tweet! Hopefully the mafia won’t get a hold of this idea. It will be a lot easier for them than burning down people’s restaurants.

Frank Turner June 9, 2012 at 11:39 am

Nice post, i think that you put a good effort in writing it and it was also well presented. Hope to read more of your work.

Pobman June 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm

No matter what Google do comment spam, like this one above, will still be big business. However Google should just be ignoring this, and I hope that in most cases they do… However they have been quite honest in saying that they now want bad links to hurt you … How they police this and draw a line I don’t know … Because even if they are using multiple factors, so just running xrumer does nothing to your competitor, it would not be hard to run an entire campaign consisting of many links from many sources over a long period to zap the competiton.

I am thankful I took on what PPG and WA said years ago and diversified everything, not reliant on one source of traffic or a single product.

GODOVERYOU June 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Hi PPG,

Been subscribed to your list for a long time, but it wasn’t until this post that I had to respond. I’m the admin of SEOSunite, and recently wrote an intro to beginners at: http://seosunite.com/f2/negative-search-engine-optimization-beginners-71/ (Don’t ‘link slap’ me bro…)

The reason I’m responding is pretty direct. Negative SEO is -EASY- to pull off, and Google continues to pretend it some magnificent feat that someone could do this – but only when they are asked about it. Otherwise, an average xrumer user can tank rough 10-15 sites a week with a single installation. I thought your readers who might not fully understand the implications of Negative SEO might want to really think about what it might be like for a single person to go around tanking 50-100 sites a week with a handful of servers running.

Now, take a forum full of xrumer users and have them focus on a specific topic, or set of 100+ keywords. Consider the implications that could have on the internet as a whole over the course of time.

Maybe I’m not being specific enough…

What if ‘we’ (meaning link spammers) were to target super PAC’s in this upcoming presidential race? We could take out the online presence of an entire side (republican or democrat) of this race, and all thanks to Google.

I’ve seen a few comments now that don’t seem to take Negative SEO seriously… and my response to them is YOU SHOULD! The Presidential Race is merely an example of how damaging Google is allowing this to potentially be.

Abdul Rehman June 10, 2012 at 11:34 am

First of all, funny tweet. It’s sad but it is true. I remember all the SEO gurus telling us that bla bla bla negative seo doesn’t work, because if it did all the spammer would be topping all google serps. Well, I think the reality bares half resemblance to that scenario because for a long time now negative seo has been a part of the seo strategy of many unethical people. Instead of improving their website to go from 2 to 1, they’ll bring down the other website from 1 to 2 with mass link building campaigns to hurt their site. This is not how it should be done. *sighs*

mike June 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I have had enough of the net. On to more lucrative endeavors

Mikey June 12, 2012 at 7:33 am

Wow, I had no idea that things are getting this serious with google. I agree, with what some people have said, about building content that satisfies readers. Jennifer, I have a question about linking to authority sites, you know like ezine articles, squidoo. How are the links from these websites, are they still good in google’s eyes? I just can’t believe that things have changed so drastically, but perhaps it because there’s tons of spam out there. Look forward in hearing from you.

Scott June 12, 2012 at 5:42 pm

In my humble opinion, the best defense for this is a great offense. Building a diversified link profile with non keyworded anchor text link is probably the best way to deal with this problem. It would give a business or company padding against potential attacks like this (to a point, people can spend ridiculous amounts of money on blasts).

SEO gets more and more seedy every day, yes? Feels like the local thug down the street roughing up the local merchants for money. “You need protection for, Vito? Ok?”

Rand Fishkin has famously invited the black hatters to attack him and his companies. However, we all know that is a losing fight because of his name in the field. He has defended his site well because of the work he put in before the black hatters started to spam him.

Whatever the case, it is probably best to establish a base and pattern to link building as a defense against black hat attacks. At least the history of the natural link building could show normal activities and the blasts of others could show abnormal attacks from other people.

Either way, keep your heads down and get to work. Its all you have right now. Perhaps micro site strategies are in order for particular keywords to diversify the traffic portfolio.

Donna June 13, 2012 at 7:09 am

Google only wants one situation to happen on their side of the web, and that is to serve and offer websites of value to those people who use them.

The only real way to solve the puzzle is to start a new site and monitor it, allowing lots of time between any changes you do to affect the site’s ranking.

Only then will you know what good or bad things affect the site.

Is it really about quality content?
I still see a lot of sites with low quality content ranking, and I don’t think for one minute that Google bot can tell the difference between good and bad quality content. There must be something it’s looking for something on or off site that triggers the result.

Is it really about Back links?
Are all back links bad, or is it just one kind of link that kills your site?
Could it be automated software footprints that do the damage? The list is endless.

Be patient collect the data over months and document it, that is your future solid foundation to build the success of your online business.

Trying to resurrect a site from the far reaches of cyberspace may work, (I’m not so sure). However, if it can be done, most will not do it slowly and document what they did over time… Just removing back links on mass, undoing on page SEO may help, but may also undo and remove the good things that helped the site’s rankings.

One of my sites got a Google kicking,(Slap is just too mild). The first to go, was the main site rankings, over time the individual page rankings. That tells me there is more to this then just off page or on page, SEO.

Google never goes back on what they say, unless they got it wrong. Anything they find that points to your website that Google considers led to artificial inflated rankings will most likely remain where Google put it. I’m thinking there may also be a trust issue with those sites now.

Don June 19, 2012 at 2:03 am

So what’s a newcomer to do? About the time you learn something, Google has made it obsolete.

Those who have been in the game for a while have at least some idea how to “fix” a website, but not so us newbies. In their effort to police the web, Google seems to be doing more damage to newbies (and legitimate webmasters) than to the scammers and schemers they claim to be trying to eliminate. At this rate, we’re going to see internet start-ups go the direction of the family farm.

Michael Ehline June 19, 2012 at 5:40 am

Nail meet head. PPG. I am a lawyer, Google stockholder, and freaked out about Penguin. Google just said it wants to hurt you if you have a “bad link” (subjective as to what they “think”) I just collaborated on an article discussing potentially suing a tortfeasor if he/she links to you for a wrong reason here: http://www.dolmanlaw.com/blog/nationwide-legal-resources/google-penguin-linking-risk-sued/

Lorii Abela June 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Great read. Though I’m still thinking how can these links to your website harm you, anyways?. Still got a lot of things to learn.

George June 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm

You are definitely right; you can’t stop anyone from linking to your website and negative SEO really works these days. Just posted an article that discusses about Penguin’s penalties, negative SEO and so on on my blog – here’s the link to it:

How to future proof your website

I’m not sure if you allow links in comments, so feel free to delete it if you don’t find it to be useful. It’s a 3,000+ words article and I’ve spent a lot of time doing my research, though, so you might like it.

chatterb0tX June 21, 2012 at 3:13 pm

anyone can do negative SEO to anyone but it only works in certain situations. there is more than one way to do it but each situation is different.

but the really concerning issue to me here is the fact everyone is now freaked out to who links to them AND who they link out to in an overly concerned way.

i think it is pure reverse psychology they are using on the population. google wants it to be harder for you to get backlinks. they want to control how and where you get links. they want you to be afraid to place your links.

this serves google VERY well in what they are doing.

also lets be real here – how many blogger splogs, wordpress splogs and youtube trash do you see all the time which is completely malicious, with spammy backlinks, and linking to downright malicious content? all the time.

but google takes it upon themselves to NOT penalize their own products and other major corporate websites which are obvious targets and which get linked out to by highly malicious websites in the tune to MILLIONS OF SITES

bottom line is this – we all got sold out, they do not care about you or your site, they only care about their shareholders and people spending big money on adwords

but this nonsense of people actually removing good solid links is ridiculous. use common sense judgement. dont put your link on junky malicious websites. truth is sometimes taking a link from a certain place even if it gets you a small penalty is WORTH MORE than not taking it! theres alot of good strategies with linking and google does not want you to be really thinking about and analyzing it too hard.

if “X” site is penalized heavily but you still know that getting a link on a certain page their will bring you 1000 hits a day – then why wouldnt you? because GOOGLE says its bad!? HA HA weigh the pros and cons out. you can always make up for penalties or overcome them in other ways.

always continuously be building decent links to websites which actually write their own content. and above all – STOP worrying about GOOGLE INC. glad to see you gave them the boot potpiegirl

P.S. potpiegirl why do you close your comments on articles so early? you should leave them open on each article for at least 6 months IMO. your missing out on so much more readers and free content, stories they will post for you!

Seosunite June 27, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Hey CB,

If this ‘makes the cut’ this time…

Remind me to give you the short version of the reply I made here that she didn’t approve. Long story short – big G is a big joke and your absolutely right. Your post reflects on the attitude they have of being the Internet police, judge and jury by deciding who is worthy to have links loved and not loved.

Anyways, shoot me a PM and I’ll tell you the story that didn’t make it here.

GOY

SEO Girl June 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Well it’s funny this has come up now, 3 years ago our site was killed by a competitor building every crap link you could imagine to our site. We dropped out of the rankings everywhere fast. When I researched to figure out why we had links from every spam site you could imagine from Russia and China. We didn’t do this, but clearly a competitor who wanted us out of the way did. At the time there was no appealing to Google so we had to sit and ride it out 3 years later we’re only just getting back to the rankings we had before.

Google said that others from the outside couldn’t hurt your site for years, but we were living proof that was false! So I’m glad that things have progressed this way and sites that do have this crap happen to them by competitors have an avenue to appeal and save themselves years of lost rankings!

Ed Brophy July 6, 2012 at 6:43 pm

So what’s the solution?

There’s one thing more powerful than Google and that’s word of mouth advertising.

“Life is good” T-shirts are now a $100 million dollar business. Over a 100 years ago they created
the slogan, “There’s a toy prize in every package.” Every kid wins!

A strong brand transcends Google doublespeak, has more staying power,
is more flexible, and affords the business more control over its destiny.

Brandable domains are not at the mercy of Google’s organic search.
Brandable domain names are not as hard as you think to come up with.

When people mention you on Linkedin, are they going to talk about cheap-mp3-online-buy-cheapest.com? Would they feel comfortable recommending it to their friends and networks of contacts?

Does it make them look good? Will they remember your domain name five minutes later? Would it be something they’ll pass on? Even those webmasters who do link out tend to be cagey about where they link.

I’ve never posted on this blog before, yet I’ve often seen the name Pot Pie Girl.
I’ve never been obsessed with the link thing and stuffing keywords in domains.

As a matter a fact, I’m labeled as a troll in the SiteSell forums where they talk about domain names. It’s very sad to see these new work at home parents get on board and be steered the wrong way. Networking and catchy names are where it’s headed.

I put together a page below that includes 20 examples of catchy creative website names,
including Pot Pie Girl.

The purpose of a business is to get and keep customers.

“Customers don’t buy products, they buy certainty. They buy trust
and likeability, they buy perceptions and reputations.” ~Brian Tracy

The essence of competition…is differentiation: providing something different, more attractive, and better than your competitor. Preference is an idea that differentiates. Your business name is your greatest asset.

Driven by their gold mine persistence to outwit Google, many wizened webmasters will start out creatively broke, digging deeper to discover what is the true value in words,
and lay claim to richer resources—like Comstock kings:

http://www.incometrue.com/catchy-business-names.html

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