So I recently wrote an article about Negative SEO over at HowToStartaBlog.org. The article actually documents what I believe was a semi-successful to very successful Negative SEO attack on that site. (read it here).
And here’s an actual graph of traffic from GA:
And just to be thorough, here’s a screenshot of a small selection of some of the actual links that were created just 2 to 3 months before the drop. (click to enlarge)
This isn’t really clear cut, because my traffic drop coincided with the Panda 4.0 update, but I have to think that the attack played a pretty big role in the drop.
After I discovered that the site may have been attacked, I started doing a lot of research. Looking for others who may have also been affected. But I really didn’t find much. It seems like a lot of the trusted sources are all saying that basically this isn’t going to affect “most people”.
To be fair, Marie’s article was really informative. It’s not at all bad. I just don’t feel that it really took Negative SEO seriously enough. But also to be fair, maybe I’m taking it a little too seriously. But someone needs to.
Here are two more quotes from Matt Cutts, where I feel that he is especially kind of ‘poo pooing’ the idea that this is possible.
“… most people don’t need to worry about this …”
“I know that there’s been a lot of people stressed about this. Whenever we dig into what’s actually going on, there’s been a lot of discussion, but very little in ways of actually people trying to do attacks.”
— @mattcutts from his video Negative SEO on youtube (link to the full video at the end of this article)
He goes on to describe that group of “most of the sites on the web” who don’t need to worry about NSEO as “mom and pop” businesses, and describes the people who *might need to worry about Negative SEO as those in “Super competitive poker, casino, whatever kind of niches…”.
I kind of see what he’s saying, but I just think there are a lot more site owners out there who need to be concerned about this.
Just last night, I came across another example of what looks like a really obvious case of a successful attack. This guy posted about his NSEO problem on Reddit.com. he shared lots of info, including a link to ahrefs (where got the charts above). He also posted a link to his actual GA traffic as well.
I suppose both of these examples could be a coincidence, but I seriously doubt it.
Here’s what I’d say.
- If you’re in a niche has the potential to make money, then your site is a potential target.
- If earn any income on your site, then your site is a potential target.
- If you ever get people contacting you asking to purchase your site, then your site is a potential target.
I just don’t buy the whole “most site owners don’t need to worry” thing. If you fit any of the descriptions above, you should be logging into Google Webmaster Console and checking your backlinks at least once per week. If you see anything out of the ordinary, disavow immediately.
from my comment on reddit:
This [Negative SEO Example] really shows how much more important off page factors are than on page. Yes, you’ve got to give enough clues (keywords) on your pages to clue google in to what your site is about, but I seriously doubt it has much influence at all anymore.
I think the only important “on page” factor that’s really important anymore is that your site isn’t spam — >(Not over optimized. Not generated by a computer. Ratio of unique content to duplicate content is right. Doesn’t break outbound link rules. and so on)
Whether it’s bad backlinks actually causing a penalty, or what I think is more likely, Google deciding to completely wipe away a huge chunk of your backlink profile (the bad ones – and probably any others that were low-ish quality), so you just lost most of your link authority – and of course your rankings are going to tank. — Either way, that’s a huge change that happened from off page factors.
Just look at how much they’ve done to try to preserve (keep using as their main ranking factor) backlinks. First, pressuring people to use nofollow. Now pressuring people to use the Disavow tool. Something I never thought I’d have to use, but what choice do I have now?
I’d love to hear anyone else’s experiences with Negative SEO. If you have any, please share in the comments. — Thanks!