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Negative SEO Reality Check

 Posted by on July 30, 2013
June 12, 2014
 

Can Competitors Harm Your Rankings Simply By Building Spam Links To Your Website?

A true story and case study of negative SEO attacks…

True Tales of Negative SEOSearch Engine Optimization, or SEO, when done properly, can help ensure that people find your website before your competitors in Google and other search engines. Many have tried with varying success to find and exploit loopholes in Google’s algorithm in order to rank in higher position than they may really deserve. Google’s webspam team works to counter this by closing the loopholes, and sometimes penalizing websites that violate its Webmaster Guidelines.
Now, there are many who believe you can use those penalties against a competitor…

 

Negative SEO is Born (sort of)

Google’s updates, penalties and filters, particularly the Penguin algorithm update, have some webmasters convinced that someone could build lots of spammy links to a competitor’s website to make it look like they have violated Google’s guidelines, and cause the site’s rankings to drop off the search engine results completely. Is it possible? Maybe, but effective “Google Bombing” is not very likely as Google’s Matt Cutts explains in this video:

Despite Google’s insistence that there is no serious issue, fear mongers seeking attention, companies who sell sabotage services, and webmasters who want to put the blame on something other than their own actions still believe – or want YOU to believe – that it is easy to destroy a competitor’s rankings just by pointing lots of bad backlinks at the site. This is despite the lack of definitive proof that link based negative SEO actually works, or even any examples of NSEO having any effect at all.

A few reasons why “NSEO” is not likely to work against an otherwise legitimate site:

  1. It would take a lot of work to be successful. People who would do such a thing tend to not work hard and would find that it is just not worth the effort.
  2. A site with a strong, natural link profile would be able to carry a relatively small number of bad links without a problem.
  3. Google is (theoretically) smart enough to know the difference between a “blast” of spam and a site’s normal link profile.

These reasons could mean that a new site with not much of an established link profile (as in, not a big name like Moz.com), could in fact take some damage if someone pointed a bunch of  links spam directories, irrelevant sites, link farms and other questionable sources to the victim’s site. Still, it isn’t likely to work unless maybe the site already has link profile that is on the edge of a penalty.
How do I know?
Starting in February or March of 2013 (edit: turns out it went back to more like October 2012!), someone really started going out of their way to cause problems for KerCommunications.com and it had some interesting effects, none of which were a massive drop in rankings. Here’s an overview of how it all went…

Background

Our Link Profile
Prior to the attack on this site, it had incoming links from maybe 300 or so different domains. Most of these were legitimate, though to be honest, there were a few “questionable” links. A few not-so-great directory choices, and a handful (less than maybe 10) blog comments that were signed with something other than a name or company name. Nothing worthy of a penalty, and I would say that none of those had much of a positive effect on the site’s rankings. So the site had a smallish link profile for an SEO company, but mostly clean. Those who believe there is an epidemic of linkspam sabotage would probably see the site as an easy target.

Keyword Positons
Before this accidental experiment, Ker Communications ranked in the top 5 for several localized search terms like “Pittsburgh SEO”, and quite a few non-local searches like “guaranteed search engine optimization”.  That one is kind of funny because we don’t offer that and the old blog post that ranks for that phrase is very anti-guarantee.  Most of our traffic does not actually come from those local keywords – more (and better) search traffic comes from more “real language” searches than simple, two keyword searches (more on that here).

Why Did This Happen? Who Would Do Such a Thing?!

Maybe it was one or more competitors. In the Fall of 2012 into 2013, the site began to rank higher for a lot more of those competitive local keywords, often sitting at number one. It is possible that some of the local shady and/or incompetent SEO providers decided to try to sand bag the site. Since they couldn’t continue ranking with their own spammy ways, they could try to bring Ker Communications down to their level. There were also several attempts to login using my name and the names of some people who work for or with Ker Communications, which would suggest it was a bit more personal than a random hacker. I’d like to think that most of the competition in Pittsburgh is above that, but it is very possible that it was a local SEO.

someone is wrong on the internet I think it is more likely that I brought this on myself in a way. I have been active in various forums and discussions on sites like SERoundtable where people complain about how they feel that Google is out to get them, wants to destroy small businesses and a slew of other whines about how it isn’t easy to make a crappy site rank higher than it deserves. When I see someone spouting pure BS where other people can read it and make bad decisions based on misinformation, I like to try to set them straight and present some rational thought when I can. There were a handful of people who had been ranting about how Google has intentionally made NSEO as easy as buying a few Fiverr.com gigs. When I pointed out how ridiculous that was for a number of reasons, some even threatened to prove it works by targeting my site.  So it could have been that, too, though I had not poked any of those hornet nests with a stick in a few months when this “attack” started to happen. But then, people who rant irrationally can do some pretty ridiculous things – like this guy, “Alan” (who deleted his profile and is now “Guest”) who made a bunch of slanderous claims about me, threatened to go on a link spamming spree through Fiverr and thought that everyone who disagreed with his rants was really just me in disguise. I probably should not be surprised when people who don’t know how to behave like a decent person in forums or comments, also do not know that trying to sabotage a business to prove a point is just wrong.

The Attack

Starting in March of 2013, a huge number of spam links started showing up. At first, there was a surge of about 30-40 links per day which were mostly comment spam, pingbacks – the low quality type of things you can get on Fiverr.com. Unexpected links from scrapers, spam blogs, or even low quality directories are not out of the ordinary, but suddenly seeing comment spam with keyword anchored links when there was none of that before got my attention.

After a week or two, those links stopped appearing in ahrefs.com and majesticseo.com, so it looked like a failure. About a month later, similar links started showing up, this time with a wider variety of spam including more comments and trackbacks, spun articles on spam blogs, scraped copies of the site using appspot, links on social bookmarking and wiki sites nobody ever heard of, and probably some things that are so shady that the link tracking sites don’t even see them. This time, the numbers were more like 1000 new links per day. Many of these were site-wide, like in a recent comments sidebar, so the number of actual sites was more like 100 to 200 per day.

The Strategy

It appears that the perpetrator went to SEMrush.com or a similar site to find out what keywords for which we ranked well, and tried to spam the hell out of those in an attempt to get a penalty or unleash the Penguin. When this all started, those keywords were things like “Pittsburgh SEO” “Pittsburgh SEO consultants” “guaranteed search engine optimization” “SEO company Pittsburgh”. After a week or two, links using slight variations of those keywords started to appear, too. One strange thing to note is that there was also a sharp increase of links using just the plain URL, the company name, and sometimes my name. Just a guess, but it looks as if this was the byproduct of a low-end link spammer who was hired to do the dirty work, but thought they would help their client by trying to diversify the anchors rather than using nothing but the keywords they were requested. So I guess when you hire someone to do online business sabotage, you still get what you pay for and that’s what a $5 link builder will do.

Another larger wave of link spam started a few weeks later, this time targeting not only the home page, but pages on the site that previously had no external incoming links. There are some neglected blog category pages, and general info pages on this site that didn’t have or even really deserve to have any links. Perhaps the perpetrator thought that those were secret pages and thought that it would cause problems if they appeared in the search results.

Backlink Profile showing spike in links

If THIS doesn’t get an unnatural links warning, then Google is smarter than the NSEO crowd thinks.

The malignant growth on the link profile continued to swell with new types of link spam every week until around the end of May 2013. Then, the new links virtually stopped appearing. Since many of the sites involved were abandoned, or the webmasters figured out how to remove the pingbacks and comments; the number of incoming links to KerCommunications.com began to shrink to something closer to normal. Some spam links continue to appear in the link trackers, but those seem to be older links that are just now being crawled and discovered.
EDIT: After publishing this article, the link spam attacks got worse, and more hacking attempts and DOS attacks on the host servers started happening more often.

The Effects

Does Negative SEO work? Not the way you might think it would!

Thousands of spam links later, the big question is, “what effect did all of this have on rankings?”
As of today, none. Well, nothing noticeable anyway. No “unnatural links” warning in Webmaster Tools, rankings are nearly the same as they were back in February, traffic has also grown at around the same rate it was growing before.
There was a brief period of “flux” around the time of the Penguin 2.0 update, but that also coincided with some changes made to the site, and the loss of a few good legitimate links, so I can’t attribute the ranking turbulence to the link surge, Penguin, the loss of good links, or even the changes that were made to the site since they all happened around the same time. A list of the spam links was submitted through Google’s Disavow Links Tool just a day or two before Penguin 2.0 hit, which also could have contributed the fluctuations while Google devalued those and reevaluated the site’s real links.

Why didn’t it work?

I don’t have any definite answers, since I don’t work for Google or profess to know exactly why they do what they do, but I have some good ideas. Apparently, tricking Google into thinking a site is bad is not any easier than tricking it into thinking a site should rank number one.

  1. It didn’t look like business as usual for the site. With just a few hundred domains linking to KerCommunications.com over the past few years, rarely growing at a rate faster than maybe 5-10 new links per week (more is not always better), even a dumb algorithm could figure out that this surge of bad link building was not typical.
  2. Keyword choices. The perpetrators went after keywords for which the site already ranked highly. Why would we spam those if we already ranked well for them without spam? Prior to this, there were very few links using those keywords as anchor text. Why would anyone suddenly start spamming for high ranking keywords this way when it was not needed? Even if the algorithm couldn’t see that, I am certain even the sleepiest manual reviewer at Google would see it as a frame job.
  3. It just looks like a NSEO attack. Even if the previous two reasons did not apply, it seems likely that other sites have had almost the exact same pattern of spam links – especially if the attack came from one of the services that have been promising to destroy your competition for just a few bucks. Chances are, they automate that process and automated SEO is rarely effective.
    Google really is smart enough to know the difference

Negative Effects

While this campaign had no significant impact on rankings or traffic. It has been a nuisance.

  1. Link profile is much harder to analyze. With all that spam taking up space in the charts and graphs, it is more difficult to determine what links have had an effect on rankings and traffic.
  2. A little stress. While I have been confident that malicious link spam from third parties is nothing to be overly worried about, such a huge increase in the number of links did make me a little uneasy at times.
  3. I can no longer smugly point to this site as an example of how a site can do well without a large quantity of backlinks.

Positive Outcomes

good not badMaybe I am just a glass half full optimist, but I have seen some very positive effects from this.

  1. Link Profile is now obfuscated. Webmasters and SEOs of new sites will often look at the competition’s link profile to try to find places to get good links. Competitors who want to try to get the same links as KerCommunications.com will have a much harder time figuring out which ones are actually good. I have already seen evidence of a few newer competitors who are trying to get links from some of the shadier sites involved with the attack, and they may even be trying to buy spam comments and bulk social bookmark and wiki links.
  2. Some of those previously unlinked pages on the site are now getting some traffic that is actually converting. Thanks! Also getting some direct traffic from some of the spam links, but that is probably webmasters wondering why they have all those pingbacks and trackbacks.
  3. Learned about “the dark side”. I see everything as an opportunity to learn. From this, I learned more about some types of spam links to look for when helping clients deal with penalties from previous SEO mistakes. I also became very familiar with link monitoring tools from ahrefs.com, majesticseo.com and linkresearchtools.com.
  4. Made some new connections and even got some new clients. The comment spam prompted some bloggers to write or even call to ask why they kept getting these notifications. I took the time to explain what was going on, and when possible helped them clean up all the other comment and pingback spam on their sites and prevent it from happening in the future. As a result, there were a few who hired me to do some other work for them.  I don’t think an increase in sales was the goal of this attack.

Should You Worry About Negative SEO?

To be perfectly clear: This is not a denial that link based sabotage is possible.
Like Cutts and others have said before, it is possible, but extremely unlikely to happen in a way that would do permanent harm. This attack went on for months against this relatively small site using a variety of methods, and it failed. Doing NSEO effectively may be just as time consuming and difficult as doing legitimate SEO. If someone is out to destroy your website, do they really have the time, resources, or enough malice to make it happen? If they hate you that much, they will likely find a more effective way to mess with you than Google bowling.

I help many sites deal with ranking drops due to penalties and algorithm updates. Some of the website owners come looking for help with a ranking drop they believe is caused by a surge in maliciously built links. More often than not, the problems come from irrelevant spammy links they built in the past, or the work of an SEO company that chose to go against the guidelines without the client knowing about it. Nobody really wants to look at their own site or actions as a cause, and it is easier to blame Google’s Penguin or a competitor, but I haven’t seen a real effective case of linkspam sabotage yet. An analysis of every suspected attack I have seen has revealed a number of other issues that had nothing to do with the malicious competitors. Telling people things like that may be what provoked this attack to begin with, but it is the truth.

UPDATE November 2013: One Careless Spammer Caught!

Scritty Paul Rone-Clarke Ultimate DemonScroll down to the comments to see how the most recent attacker, Paul Rone-Clarke (AKA “Scritty”) known for “Ultimate Demon” linkspamming software, was caught almost immediately. Makes a nice example of how negative SEO works against the perpetrator. More to come…

Negative SEO Reality Check by
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  • Winston

    It looks as if it really did work. I checked those keywords you said were targeted and you are ranking at #2, not #1.

    • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

      Everybody’s a comedian…

      But I bet we are in good shape for “negative SEO” keywords :-)

      And how about that – got some links and decent ranking for this post without having to do any spamming, and this site is clearly not one of those “big” sites.
      There’s another thing that bugs me – people complaining that they have no choice but to spam because they aren’t as well known as the big sites. “I can’t get links just by hitting publish because I am not as big as Moz.com so I have no choice but to buy links” seems to be the latest excuse for poor SEO.

      There I go being arrogant again.

      • Panks Fp

        Hay Nick ,

        Nice Post i really appreciate to share very useful information on the topic. I just read you 4 posts .. I mean i was managing my bing campaign and just started reading about negative seo . Came to your site from Barry’s website.. And Congrats you caught the spammer ….

  • Guest

    Hi Nick, great blog. We are suffering a same attack, and i’m considering not to use the disavow tool and have faith in the Google algorithm. Did you disavow all the links? Or just a part of it. And did you also disavow the No-follow spam links?

  • Remko

    Hi Nick, great blog. We are suffering a same attack, and i’m considering not to use the disavow tool and have faith in the Google algorithm. Did you disavow all the links? Or just a part of it. And did you also disavow the No-follow spam links?

    • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

      That’s a good question and I really should have included more detail about how the Disavow Tool was used.
      Here’s how that went:
      The flood of spam links was noticed almost immediately – maybe a week or two into it. Since most of the links used keyword anchor text which we had not previously used, it was pretty easy to download a CSV from Webmaster Tools and segregate them from the legitimate links and disavow them. At first, ahrefs.com was also used, but since Google has said that WMT would be good enough, we stuck with that. WMTs link report is delayed, and seems to be updated weekly, so a fresh version of the disavow list was uploaded weekly for the first maybe 6 weeks. After about two months with no noticeable effect on rankings or traffic, I no longer updated the disavow file.
      When Penguin 2.0 rolled out and there was still no reason to believe the attack was working, I decided to take a chance and see what happened if I removed the disavow file completely. Risky, I know, but I wanted to see if it would make a difference if it was removed. Nothing happened that could be directly attributed to the disavow list being there or not. The rankings and traffic have improved, but the site also gained some good legitimate links since removing the disavow list. So unfortunately, this did not turn into a good test of the disavow tool.
      Disavowing made me feel a little better about it – like I was staying ahead by disavowing these links BEFORE a penalty was put into place – but I really can not say for certain whether it actually made a difference either way.

      A few thoughts on that before anyone decides to just ignore a link blast attack:
      1) It could mean that Google had already stopped counting those links from the previous disavow submissions I made, and did not “un-disavow” them.
      2) It could mean that Google never counted the spam links to begin with because they are so ridiculous.
      3) It could mean that this was done through a NSEO company which uses the same techniques each time, and other websites have already disavowed many of these links. If hundreds of webmasters have already disavowed these domains, they were just ignored from the start.

      Personally, I lean toward 3 (which is really an extension of 2, I guess).
      While analyzing link profiles of other sites that have penalties that they brought on themselves, and some that have had similar attacks from a third party, I have seen many of the same spam blogs, directories, bogus social bookmarking sites, etc. Many of the sites where spam comments and trackbacks were placed have thousands of such links and it would be hard for Google to not notice that the sites are compromised. This leads me to believe that by now, many of the links used in the attack are already being ignored by Google.

      I tend to have a little more faith in Google’s ability to sort things out that most do. Since it didn’t seem to hurt anything to disavow the links, it is probably a good idea to at least disavow the worst of them, if not all of them. If, like a lot of webmasters, you are worried that disavowing may cause more harm than good, I would recommend that you do what you can to keep track of the links and have your disavow list ready to submit just in case.

      Good luck!

  • Myke Black

    Great article! Hopefully, this should deter people from even attempting to try this method of negative SEO ( although there are other things they could have tried in order to harm your site, but the perpetrators appear to been either too lazy or technically unskilled to try the more nefarious methods).

    • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

      Thanks, and I agree that most who would be tempted to try to tank a site’s ranking would not be skilled enough or committed enough to do so. As far as I know, the only such attack that has been confirmed by Googlers to have worked, was actually some kind of DNS hijacking. To me, that would be in the realm of higher level hacking and not exactly the “anyone can bring down a site’s rankings with spammy links” that so many people claim is running rampant.

      There were also plenty of hacking/unauthorized access attempts that coincided with this linkspam attack, but none of those were effective.

  • Scritty

    At the time of writing I was inclined to agree with this post. However. Penguin 2.1 had an element of “bringing the stand alone link investigation into the main algorithm” and that, coupled with the very shaky and noisy serps environment over the past 3 weeks has lead many in the business to beleive that negative SEO is a real possibility where it wasn’t previously
    To that end, a petition to ask Google to at least clarify the situation. People thinking neg SEO is real is almost as bad as it being real. Spam is at an all time high on my 9 serversm and a browse around internet help forums shows this seems to be a common complaint – anecdotally anyway ( SPAM LINK REMOVED as per comments policy: http://kercommunications.com/comments-policy/ )
    Let’s also not assume that those trying this sort of attack are stupid. If comment and forum spam don’t work – and the ROI f a couple of place raises in SERPs are good enough. Why not just buy “private ” links to point at your comeptitors site? the ROI is still likely in the hundreds if not thousands of percent and those link types are treated with “hair trigger” penalization when discovered by Google. Or just get a slightly better spamming tool to make a more 2not very well made but natural attempting” link profile.
    Once again the ROI would, in many cases, make this more than worthwhile.
    The answer for google would be to “Ignore spamW so it benefits no-one.
    While spam or bad links benefits someone – or at least their is the PERCEPTION that it MIGHT – then this current downpour of spam will continue.
    Google – stop Neg SEO – or clearly and unambiguously make a statement that there is no sych part of your algorithm. Then we can return to calm again.

    • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

      Sorry, Scritty, but I need to call bullshit on a few things in your comment:

      “…has lead many in the business to believe that negative SEO is a real possibility where it wasn’t previously” Examples? There are plenty of people “in the business” who either don’t know what they are talking about, or will say just about anything to try to get attention. There are even those who still think article marketing, mass directory submissions & forum profile links are a good way to promote a website.

      Unless someone has finally published evidence that NSEO has harmed a site that did not already have some issues that violated the Webmaster Guidelines (like a history of spam link building), “belief” in a widespread epidemic of linkspam sabotage is nothing more than a belief. Yes, there are plenty of anecdotes on forums, but any of those that I have seen are posted by people who refuse to say what the site is, or think that the thousands of spam comments using the same keywords in links that they posted a year ago should not be penalized for some reason. I still have not seen any solid proof that someone brought down an otherwise clean site by pointing a bunch of spammy links at it. I have even audited sites where the owner claimed to have never done anything that could be a problem, only to find out later that he did a ton of article marketing with keyword anchor links, used Build My Rank, and some other nonsense and said “but that was almost two years ago!” But all those self-inflicted spam links are still there.
      “Could happen under certain circumstances” and “happens frequently enough to worry about” are two very different things.

      Since the publication of this article and the rollout of Penguin 2.1, there has been a renewed attack on this site, with a somewhat “smarter” approach. So far, at least 5K new links and climbing – and still no problems with ranking or traffic. I don’t believe Penguin 2.1 is any more “hair trigger” in its judgements than previous versions.

      Google actually has made their position on this pretty clear, unless what they say is not what you hoped to hear. A Googler (can’t recall who or where at the moment) did acknowledge a “fringe case” where a site was hijacked and it caused the site’s positions to fall, but to me, that would be a hacking/security problem and not what most people think of as neg SEO using spam links. Other than that, they have said things along the lines of “not likely”, “we work hard to prevent things like that” and “if you are worried about spammy links to your site, use the disavow links tool” – all of which seem to be pretty dismissive of the link bomb theory. I can’t speak for Google, but I suspect they feel they have said enough on the matter. In the end, some will believe want they want to believe, regardless of the facts. Some people still believe NASA faked the moon landing. How many statements do you think NASA should issue to calm those people down?

      Google used to do as you say – just ignore/devalue the spam links. But apparently it was a never ending battle as new places to get spammy links would appear, or people would come up with new link building “systems” & software. So things like Penguin penalize those who don’t just have a few questionable links, but show a pattern of using inappropriate methods to manipulate search results. I suspect it is more effective as a deterrent with the long term goal of cleaning up the SERPs, rather than a way to immediately remove spam from the SERPs.

      An increase in comment spam on your sites (or anyone else’s) does not necessarily mean more people are attempting to knock a site down. It could just be that spammers have recently discovered your sites, or that their bots have come to the conclusion that they may be able to get through the filters. It could also be that there are still many people who cling to methods from years ago and think that comment spam is a good way to get links.

      I have no problem assuming that most of those who try to sabotage other businesses this way are in fact stupid. To go to all the effort it would require to bring just one site down, then have to do it for every other competitor that pops up rather than simply improving one’s own site and way of doing business – all while knowing that one day links may have little to do with how people find your site – is downright foolish. Given the choice between doing things right and having a site that stays on top if it deserves to be there, or repeatedly getting in a cat & mouse game with competitors who (if neg seo did work) could get out of the penalty or get a new domain… which one do you think is smarter?

      • Scritty

        And I’m going to have to call it back.

        The spam in question is 1000+ links a day since July 4th this year – and still on going, some from paid links from networks that used to be part of “Sape” (but are now sold at very much lower prices specifically for negative SEO purposes).

        Most of the links are NOT comment and forum spam (as I say that’s “old hat”)

        Why does everyone assume that those doing negative SEO are stupid and/or lazy and not prepared to do a proper job?

        WIKI. WEB2.0, comments, forums, Press releases, paid links (now at 80cents per month per link I’ve found)
        And as for just finding them naturally here is an example – a very typical example of a comment (and similar to the bookmarks) that I have censored somewhat to obscure the keywords.

        Come to [mysite] there you will find the [keyphrase] discount and [keyphrase] bonus. The [keyphrase] expert is always there to help you with [keyphrase] stuff.
        A few weeks ago I was struggling with [keyphrase] I nearly got rid of [keyphrase] but after finding this great [keyphrase] site I decided to keep [keyphrase] and have since got the best value out of [keyphrase] and now understand what eveyone means when they talk about [keyphrase] being a great idea. I am now a [keyphrase] convert

        Every time I open my admin area the trackbacks from links I didn’t make flood in. Every time I pop to Majestic, there they are as well.

        Day after day, week after week month after month. With these toxic “paid network” links thrown into the mix as well.

        In every single link KEYPHRASE has been used in this way. It is always the anchor text. No variation what-so-ever

        They use SWL’s links from Malware sites and “clumsy looking self promotion” stuff like very poorly put together link pyramids.

        But the main thing they use – the real killer is PAID LINKS FROM PRIVATE NETWORKS.

        Ask yourself this. What would stop me from finding the next BMR/SAPE and spending $50 a month putting my 2 main competitors on it? Given that in some of my niches the difference between being number 5 and number 3 in SERP’s is around $22,000 in revenue a month That’s one hell of a good ROI if I can get them slapped – even temporarily – just 90 days.

        The assumption that so many make when they dismiss Neg SEO is that it’s all about stupid spam, comments and forum blasts. It’s not. Some of the services charge 997 dollars a month to take down one site. It’s serious business and done with a great deal of care and thought as to what looks like a careless over self promotional webmaster might have done themselves.

        The other option is Google have a magic 8 ball and know the exact providence of every link on the internet.

        I’m really not inclined to believe that Google are omnipotent and would be surprised if any sane individual would be

        The denoument?

        I have a partial site penalty and no longer rank for ONE out of close to 500 phrases I track my site in the top 20 of Google for

        Care to guess what that one phrase might be?
        If you guessed

        [keyphrase]…
        You win a coconut

        Also – as it happens I am in the middle of doing a case study. Showing the links, the clean up and everything. The first two parts are on my blog. Happy to share it with you.

        Scritty

        • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

          That’s a funny way of calling bullshit – by slinging more of it.

          Your story doesn’t match what ahrefs shows for the link history. Looks like your problem started quite a while ago (chart below only goes back to Jan 2013). Just clicking a few random links took me to things like spun articles and comment spam from at least 9 months ago. It also looks like you did some link pruning starting back in April 2013. While you may indeed have a spike in linkspam now, you already had a history of questionable link building.

          Since you write about things like tiered link building systems, sell things like link lists, tools to “create” links, and tools to scrape (steal) & spin content – could it be that those things are no longer working for you?

          It could also have something to do with the content found on the site. Stolen content is generally frowned upon.

          Stealing content, then leaving bullshit-filled comments on the very page you took it from is just stupid.

        • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

          That is a funny way of calling bullshit – by slinging more of it.

          Your story doesn’t match what ahrefs shows for the link history. Looks like your problem started quite a while ago (chart below only goes back to Jan 2013). Just clicking a few random links took me to things like spun articles and comment spam from at least 9 months ago. It also looks like you did some link pruning starting back in April 2013. While you may indeed have a spike in linkspam now, you already had a history of questionable link building.

          Since you write about things like tiered link building systems, sell things like link lists, tools to “create” links, and tools to scrape (steal) & spin content – could it be that those things are no longer working for you?

          It could also have something to do with the content found on the site. Stolen content is generally frowned upon.

          Stealing content, then leaving bullshit-filled comments on the very page you took it from is just stupid.

          • Scritty

            Not one word on that site is stolen. Allbut two of the posts (300 posts on about 20 months) was written by me. The two not written by me were written by friends of mine and only published once (on my site) In addition, every one of the 140+ videos embedded on that site was created by me (as the Youtube channel they are on will testify – that’s me)

            My writing style is on every post on that site. I have Google authorship attribution for every post on that site – much of it going back top the day I first found out about the “rel=author tag”

            Claiming a level of omnipotence for yourself regarding knowledge of the providence of offsite link building is, while 100% incorrect (and betraying a level of arrogance that is staggering) might just be forgivable – that’s simply falling into the trap that everyone else seems to i.e guessing how sites came about their bad link profiles by the sound scientific method of “assumption”

            Claiming that 1 single article on my site is copied is not acceptable. I would like a public apology for that please.

          • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

            I guess you missed that screenshot of YOUR SITE, with the graphic you took from THIS POST?! And you expect me to apologize for calling you out on that?! If you find that unacceptable, I suggest you think about that the next time you decide to use someone else’s work without permission or attribution – no matter how minor you think it is.

            I didn’t claim omnipotence, just an ability to look at the data that is readily available and accurately interpret it. You can call me “incorrect” if you’d like, but you would be wrong or lying. The fact of the matter is your link profile and history does not fit your story. You’ve got spammy links dating back much longer than the recent blasts of them.

          • Scritty

            Ah I see…

            So you are claiming the original owner of the image at the top of this post are you? Even though there are several other sites using it whose published date predates your post, some by as much as 6 months.
            You have an interesting and rather one sided (sociopathic maybe?) view of right and wrong.

          • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

            Yes. Would you like me to upload the original vector file or something?Care to prove your claim that it appeared elsewhere first?

            Tineye and Google Image Search say you are making stuff up again:
            http://www.tineye.com/search/a715a881d5307243016539b08c3fa5c1a90d8b81/?pluginver=

            http://goo.gl/YhHUDe

            If you want to make stuff up that isn’t true, stay on your own site or affiliate spammer forums. If you keep doing it here, you are only going to look more foolish.

          • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

            It may not be fancy, but it is mine.
            Get info:

          • Pritesh

            OMG! What is this guy thinking?
            Automated spam like what he sells is the most likely cause of his ranking drop. Blaming Google when you screw up is the latest in internet marketing. Does he not know that anyone can go to ahrefs.com or majestic.com and see that he already had thousands of junky links?

            And he has the nerve to insist on an apology because you caught him using your graphic. Then he accuses you of stealing it. INSANE!
            Even funnier is that he says you are the one with the messed up sense of right & wrong.

            This is fun to watch. But be careful. You’ll probably have another attack soon.

          • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

            Yep.

            Took a look at ahrefs (I swear I don’t work for them) today, and whaddya know… a big ol’ spike in new referring domains around the 10th-11th of November, mostly with anchor texts that one might believe are keywords for which I would like to rank. Quite a few are from Russian and South Korean sites. Hmm…

            And for anyone following this ongoing NSEO nonsense, one of those Fiverr guys sort of proves my point that people who do this sort of thing are not very bright: https://plus.google.com/113010193794892926956/posts/dt88moR8QpR

            “Stupid is as stupid does”

          • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

            So yesterday I found that someone had in fact purchased a fiverr link building gig and was aiming it at this website. https://plus.google.com/113010193794892926956/posts/dt88moR8QpR

            Fiverr user KyleFurry has responded to my request for info, and he wasn’t thrilled about being implicated in a sabotage scheme.

            He was kind enough to inform me that a user called “iScritty” (aka Paul Rone-Clarke) had purchased the gig and instructed him to build links to my site. http://fiverr.com/iscritty

            And since Scritty might think that someone is out to get him with a complex scheme of pretending to be him, I figured I better check the wayback machine to see if this fiverr account had just been created. Nope. It goes back to at least April of 2012, where you can see “iScritty” selling link spam. http://web.archive.org/web/20120403032019/http://fiverr.com/iscritty

            Irony alert – a quote from Scritty (aka Paul Rone-Clarke), about me: “You have an interesting and rather one sided (sociopathic maybe?) view of right and wrong.”

          • Winston

            Amazing.

          • Pritesh

            I am still curious. Are you going to pursue any legal action or do anything to expose this charlatan? I searched for his name and Scritty and found lots of places like black hat forums where he advocates spam link building with his Ultimate Demon. But on his own sites he behaves as if he is all white hat. I don’t think he really had any attack on his site but was just putting on a show to try to get links. People like this need to be shown as what they are so they do not do any harm to other peoples websites with spam or by selling them bad advice.

            Did you know that searching for Paul Rone-Clarke Google Petition which is what he says to search in some other comments he made, shows this post at number 5?

          • Winston

            Wow… talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

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