Negative SEO Blueprint – Webmaster Alert!
Negative SEO is a bit of a difficult thing to explain, this article on negative SEO tactics (found on the ‘evergreen’ Wikipedia) may well be useful for reference – it’s covered in the section on online Reputation Management.
A much bigger negative SEO image is lower down, so there’s no need to squint at the one on the left! Just carry on reading this negative SEO article and you’ll get to it in no time!
I don’t know whether you’re as ‘anal’ about SEO and online marketing as me, so please bear with me as I explain how I discovered this Negative SEO Blueprint. From an educational point of view, understanding how negative SEO techniques work, can open a ‘can of worms’ online marketing wise.
Don’t go there. Negative SEO is (as my children would say) a ‘naughty bad’ thing to do, understanding how it’s done or how best to react to it however is educational. Forewarned is forearmed and all that!
This negative SEO method was discovered mainly by putting two and two together, (isn’t most good SEO discovered through research and testing?) whilst connecting a blog post from March 2014 that I’d read, to a discovery in my ‘SEO methods’ research in the last few days.
I’ve struggled with whether it was the right thing to do or not – to write a post about negative SEO. The company that’s being targeted is pretty well known and the company that looks after their online SEO is decent.
The company doing the SEO have a good blog and it’s always worth a read. It was via one of these full and frank online marketing blog posts, that I first became aware of a ‘big’ UK site being the target of a negative SEO campaign. A negative SEO campaign using pretty nasty keywords as anchor text.
The blog post offered proof of negative SEO. Served as an educational piece, not in a how to do negative SEO type way, but showing stats, whilst not revealing the details of the client.
It’s also a fact that Negative SEO in it’s most basic state can be pleasant, funny and mischievous. Yes sometimes negative SEO can be used to give a message - when used to Google Bomb the self righteous or moronic for example.
Google Bombing used to be called Search Engine Bombing, the majority seem to be aimed at Google, although there have been a few aimed at MSN and Yahoo over the years.
I think the “French Military Victories” Google number one natural search result (from back in the day) on hitting I’m feeling lucky, still provides a smile on the face for most Englishmen. It used to return a dummy error page when searched on in Google. Basically the page it delivered stated; “Did you mean French Military Defeats?”
In fact, if you perform the search at the moment, you’ll get a tribute page to the people originally responsible. You can then read and giggle away at your heart’s content!
Or an example of the political Google Bomb from the other side of the pond, George W. Bush’s ‘Miserable Failure’ Google bomb of 2004. And our own Tony Blair’s ‘Liar’ of 2005. Both of which started a trend of political and celebrity Google bombing that brought (if sometime’s brief) smiles to people world wide.
All employed (and many many others like it) basic negative online marketing techniques – in the form of mass link building and anchor text spamming.
As a side note, it is good evidence to the continuing power of links – that search engines write, release and hold us waiting with baited breath, waiting to see the effects of algorithms and updates specifically looking for this kind of negative SEO.
The fact that there are now companies offering negative SEO services, just adds further proof to the power that links still have!
In this case it takes the form of keyword anchor text link spamming.
Getting enough sites linking to you using a target keyword in the old, not too competitive days was a sure route to natural SERPs success in pretty competitive niches. It still works today in competitive and non competitive niches. In competitive niches and if your ‘footprint’ is too obvious, you’re likely to have to churn and burn your sites; but in non competitive niches, you might never ever get caught.
But once again, it’s naughty, so don’t do it…
Anyway I digress, back to the negative SEO blueprint discovery.
So I have some good friends who work in online marketing as freelancers in some pretty competitive niches. This includes of course the finance and gambling online niches. The natural SERPs for these niches sometimes resemble (in my mind at least) the online marketing equivalent of a bare knuckle or knife fight.
Heck, some of my friends have got it so bad that Google recently launched and then updated within weeks, a specific algorithm update just for them. I kid you not, you think you’ve got it tough, go work in the finance and pay day loans sectors. Not that I feel sorry for them of course! Lol!
So obviously, keeping tabs on what the chaps are up to in these niches is an education, and so I do this via various online and easily available tools.
It stands to reason, keep your knowledge up to date through the experience of those at the sharp end. If it works for them in the super competitive niches, then a watered down version should do ok in the non competitive more under the radar niches eh?
When I say keeping tabs, I’m not cyber stalking them you understand? I may do this every few months, or have their sites tracked automatically for me using a software program, that I check every now and then when I have ‘free time’.
One of the sites I keep an eye on is City Index. They are a fairly well known in the UK (and World Wide) and operate in the super competitive Spread Betting and CFD Trading niche.
According to their site, City Index offers a platform through which you can trade a range of Options markets including Shares, Indices, Currencies and Commodities, all online or via your mobile device.
It’s not my bag, but it’s a profitable niche and sites operating in it (as well as affiliates referring to them and selling ebooks and the like.) make an absolute fortune.
It came as a bit of a shock therefore when I checked the other day and saw some strange anchor links being used to link back to City Index. Of course this is an absolutely wicked thing to do, but someone appears to be operating a negative SEO campaign against them.
One only has to perform a search in the free version of this SEO Link Checking Tool to see that a number of undesirable anchor texts for this particular site have been used, and that these links are, errm, not quite <cough-cough> site relevant.
Does Negative SEO Work And Who Would Conduct Such A Campaign?
Well the jury is out on this. Only the other week there was an open laying down of a gauntlet by this very well known online marketing site.
It’s not difficult to see from the link structure that this Negative SEO campaign appears to be of a ‘mischievous’ nature. I will explain further, but it doesn’t take much effort, (and I’m not going to tell you, because if you can’t see it, then you should be doing something else.) to make this a very dangerous and potentially damaging technique.
No amount of assurances given so far have convinced me that it wouldn’t be possible to execute a negative SEO strategy against a competitor, (or foe.) that could be at very least a headache and time consuming to clear up – especially if it was ‘ongoing’.
The reason I think this campaign may ‘mischievous’ in nature is due to two of the less, errm, pornographic anchors used in this negative SEO campaign.
One of them refers to ‘Patrick’, one presumes aimed at Patrick Altoft, who wrote the blog post that partially revealed this attack on City Index back in March 2014. The other is basically a ‘taunt’. What else is ‘lol branded3 lol’ supposed to mean?
Just like the serial killer (who is usually portrayed in all the movies) taunting the beleaguered and over worked Detective, this is a “…look at me, bask in my glory!” taunt!
I’m no Columbo, but it could be potentially a disgruntled former or current employee, or an SEO / online marketing consultant who has been ‘slighted’ at a conference? Some one who’s ‘advances’ have been rejected?
I’m thinking whilst replaying over the imaginary movie ‘big screen’ in my mind;
“You promised me microphone time on stage!” or “I waited for hours outside the exit of the SEO conference hall, just to touch your hand or hem of your wizard cloak and you, you rejected me you heartless beast!”
Either that or it’s a spread betting or CFD competitor, but surely no competitor would stoop so low?
So that finally leaves a naughty black hat who’s testing a theory out on a ‘big’ site to see if it works.
The end result is still the same, that is a total waste of someone’s time. The poor someone who is regularly having to submit ‘disavow’ requests via Google Webmaster tools. This obviously has a cost in labour and I would imagine, if they could ever catch the culprit will result in some kind of legal action.
So it’s now getting late. I promised I’d get this out tonight, so here it is. I’ll tart the negative SEO news article up a bit over the next few days.
For the time being, if you have a comment on negative SEO, feel free to enter into the spirit of things below. Also, please don’t forget to like, re-tweet and share this negative SEO article. I thank you!
More interesting Google Bombs can be found here;