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Are You In Danger Of A Negative SEO Attack?

ORLANDO, FLORIDA — Our CEO Ali Husayni recently shared a chilling blog post with the SEO team that discussed how to kill competitors’ ranking on Google.

The author, Jared Bates, listed three techniques that a competitor could theoretically use to attack another company’s website and cripple their business by causing their rankings to tank.

“Someone can easily sabotage your search engine presence,” wrote Bates, who is an affiliate marketer. “These techniques are the worst of the worst, although there is really no reason to think they would not work. They violate all of Google’s terms almost simultaneously, yet there are little safeguards implemented to protect us against them.”

Thankfully, the Millionairium website has not been a victim of a negative SEO campaign and neither have any of our clients. Husayni has a decade of experience in search engine marketing and has seen plenty of companies use unscrupulous tactics, but he said the article still sent shivers down his spine.

The internet marketing community has been buzzing about negative SEO with many top SEO bloggers weighing in with opinions. The topic has gotten so much attention that Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team, addressed it in a video on Dec. 18.

“Most people don’t need to worry about this,” reassured Cutts. “If you’re just a regular mom and pop, you’re a small business, this is not the sort of thing where you are likely in any way, shape or form to run up against this.”

Extremely competitive niche markets such as casinos were the exception. Cutts pointed out that although a lot of people have been stressed about the possibility of negative SEO, so far Google has observed very few instances of actual attacks. On Oct. 16 last year, Google released a tool that they claim is a simple way to diffuse potential attacks: disavow links tool.

Users can upload a text file list to Google and tell them which links they want the algorithm to ignore or to not count when determining the ranking. For example, if an SEO scammer tried to send thousands of low-quality inbound links to an online gambling website, the site’s webmaster could use the disavow links tool to tell Google to ignore those links and avoid a penalty.

“In theory, this should be a good tool to combat negative SEO if you’re actually experiencing it, though there is no guarantee that Google will actually ignore the links you tell it to,” writes Chris Crum in a WebProNews post.

In a question and answer section in the official blog post announcing the tool, Google explained:

This tool allows you to indicate to Google which links you would like to disavow, and Google will typically ignore those links. Much like with rel=”canonical”, this is a strong suggestion rather than a directive — Google reserves the right to trust our own judgment for corner cases, for example — but we will typically use that indication from you when we assess links.

While Google said it might be rare, there are some cases of negative SEO, such as Robert Prime, a web developer who had a site designed to help people sell their cars sabotaged by competitors before he even officially launched it. Although he admits to using black hat SEO techniques with previous sites, he decided to strictly use organic SEO for his new site. To his dismay, he noticed a sharp drop in rankings and discovered his site had been blasted with more than 13,000 bad links just before the drop. Prime opted to use the disavow links tool and hoped that Google would show mercy, but on Twitter a month later, Prime said the site was still not doing well despite disavowing them.

Google said that the process can take multiple weeks since they have to recrawl and reindex the URLs a company has disavowed before the disavowals go into effect.

“The disavow tool taking months is a token gesture that doesn’t near cover things,” said Prime in the comments section on his blog post.

Like the founder of SEO Book Aaron Wall mentioned in the comment section, someone with ill intent could easily cause 10 hours of link cleanup work each week with only $10, an anonymous email account and some gift cards. Or they spend $20 daily and make it where cleaning up links is all the person under attack has time for, which Wall called a pretty stupid, perhaps evil, incentive structure by Google.

“It’s not very hard for a software to produce 10 million bad links and direct them to different pages of a website from different URLs,” said Mahdi M. Zadeh, who is one of our SEO experts in the sales department.  “How can it be affordable or even possible for a human or a team of humans to sit down and clean up the mess a high-performance machine created in no time? Then the victim of the attack is penalized by Google and has to spend more for Google AdWords to stay visible in search results.”

In the race to rank at the top of Google, there will always be individuals that attempt to harm competitors with unethical tactics, but according to Husayni there is a way to help prevent potential damage to a website. The main tactic is to keep a close eye on the site’s backlink profile.

He recommended doing this by downloading a complete list of links pointing to the site, marking any that came from the negative SEO attack and submitting those links using the disavow links tool. Just disavow with caution because, used incorrectly, the feature can potentially harm a site’s performance in Google’s search results.

“Google needs to accept responsibility for the mess it made and take more aggressive measures, even consider algorithm changes, to correct the problem,” said Zadeh. “In the meantime, people will have to use the disavow tool.”

Are You In Danger Of A Negative SEO Attack? was last modified: July 18th, 2019 by Millionairium
  • David, I checked with our CEO Ali Husayni regarding your question, and he said he\’d need more details about your situation to be able to answer it. There\’s a contact form at the top of the page where you can request a consultation with him.

    Thanks for stopping by the blog. I hope you\’re already a subscriber and come back soon!

    Vonya 6 years ago
  • Actually I don\’t know much about it… but have been following you for many years so I thought I should try your free SEO services .. if I get benefits I would love to go to the premium packages.

    Ali 6 years ago
  • I absolutely agree that to prevent negative SEO attacks it\’s good to check back-link profiles.

    Anonymous 6 years ago
  • Ali, the free SEO service was for companies without the resources to afford a comprehensive SEO project as a way to showcase the abilities of Millionairium. As you noticed, it\’s been put on hold, but what were you hoping free SEO would deliver for your website?

    Vonya 6 years ago
  • Hi,

    I am doing SEO for a reputed website that deals in 4-wheeler tyres. While reviewing the organic traffic in Google Analytics, i noticed some keywords that are completely irrelevant to the theme of the website. Some are porn related terms while some are like google, yahoo, laptops, youtube etc. It seems someone is doing negative SEO for my website, as a result of which a decent number of searches are coming from these irrelevant terms. What should i do to block traffic from such terms as this may harm my website\’s performance in search engines.

    Please suggest.


    David 6 years ago
  • Hi
    @Saeed Khosravi and @Vonya … thanks for the response I was in search of the answer of this for the last year and finally got it. Thanks for answering with such detailed information. I also wanted to know if your company is still offering free SEO. I have been trying to find out about that for the last few months and if it\’s not available, is there any plan for starting that again?

    ALi 6 years ago
  • @ali Here is the answer to your two questions:
    1- Approving a trackback/pingback means to give a link to the site sending the trackback or pingback thus it is not recommended unless the site sending the trackback or pingback is actually referencing your site in a way or another; so you might want to first check the specific blog entry on the site sending the trackback to make sure there is a good reason for them to send the trackback.

    2- In that article on the \”Investment Saving Online\” site it is being said that trackback/pingback can be utilized to identify those trying to sabotage your rankings by linking to your content from a site already banned by Google in an attempt to pass the penalization to the destination site in case both sites support this blogging features and have it enabled.

  • Yikes! Seriously? I am new to the industry and somewhat intimidated with the numerous sites discussing SEO tips. So aside from learning SEO (still considering the use of the ColibriTool), I must also learn how to safeguard from intentional attacks. So glad to have found this. Bookmarked of course!

    Yvonne 6 years ago
  • Jason, I pulled this from the Google Webmaster Central Blog: \”One great place to start looking for bad links is the “Links to Your Site” feature in Webmaster Tools. From the homepage, select the site you want, navigate to Traffic > Links to Your Site > Who links the most > More, then click one of the download buttons. This file lists pages that link to your site. If you click “Download latest links,” you’ll see dates as well. This can be a great place to start your investigation.\”

    You can find the link to the whole post in the second paragraph below the Matt Cutts video in my post.

    Vonya 6 years ago
  • Behzah, I haven\’t read or heard anything about Google+ Local pages or profiles being sabotaged like this article is referring to, but competitors posting phony reviews can be a concern.

    Vonya 6 years ago
  • @ali, I\’m not sure what the answer is to your question, but I\’m checking with the people in our company who are experts in the technical side of SEO. I\’ll get back with you as soon as possible.

    Vonya 6 years ago
  • Excellent guidance, it is very helpful to understand the concept of SEO.

    Robert Smith 6 years ago
  • Thanks for the article, Serious issue these days. Every webmaster should be aware of negative SEO.

    vikram 6 years ago
  • Really nice post ! Thanks for for the information.

    rajeev 6 years ago
  • Great post. It helped me out a bunch to better understand SEO.

    Jes Slaydon 6 years ago
  • In order to avoid Negative SEO you have to monitor you back links and it\’s really time consuming because you face a lot of websites and you have to decide about their quality.
    Also I like to know do we have any thing like this about Google places too, I mean, is this possible someone sabotage your profile over there?

    behzad 6 years ago
  • Where is the best resource to gather all the links pointing to one of my sites? Thanks for the great info!

    Jason 6 years ago
  • Disavow links tool seems to be effective to prevent attacks from those who would like to make your business penalized by Google. We can easily run away from the attacks of Negative SEO by using this tool.

    Ghoncheh 6 years ago
  • Google knows these tricks so as long as you get top links from respective sites then with good seo on your site, you will be on the first page.

    Lee 6 years ago
  • Hi,
    Please guide me on something for my WordPress based website. I receive pingbacks and trackbacks … now should i approve those pingbacks and trackbacks or not….
    Usually I just click on spam or trash options for all trackbacks and pingbacks… What do you suggest .. i have searched around but didn\’t get the right answer…
    I read the article you mentioned in this blog on \”investmentsavingsonline\” and in the first solution for Black Hat Technique, it is stated that \”Keep ping-backs and trackbacks enabled\” what does this mean … should we approve all ping-backs and trackbacks on our blog… or WordPress website.. ??

    ali 6 years ago
  • I am new in the SEO field and this is information which will help me a lot in doing SEO to improve website rankings by using PPC and organic SEO at the right time to divert traffic to my site without being in any danger of a negetive SEO attack.Thank you for sharing this important information.

    organic seo service 6 years ago
  • Hi Vonya, thank you very much my friend, I really like your post, keep in touch.

    Icahbanjarmasin 6 years ago