Negative SEO in 2015 It's real, and it can happen to you

So I recently wrote an article about Negative SEO over at 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)

Negative SEO

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”.

for the vast majority of you who are reading this post, you DO NOT NEED TO WORRY ABOUT NEGATIVE SEO — @Marie_Haynes from her article on Negative SEO at

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 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!

Are 404s Hurting Your Rankings?

When was the last time you checked your site for 404s? If you’re like most people, it’s probably been a while.

They are not the most important SEO ranking factor, but according to the latest SEO ranking factors from (see here), linking to 404s on your site is a pretty bad idea.

Luckily, there are several great tools available to help clean up 404s. In this post, I’ll list a couple of my favorites. (more…)

1and1 Dedicated Hosting: Cheap, but…

Some of you may have noticed that and were down last night. Both are hosted on the same dedicated server at This server has been running like a charm for well over a year now. No problems.

Out of habit, I immediately called 1and1. They are always good about answering quickly (I also have several sites hosted on their shared hosting) . They transferred me to one of the server admins. While I waited, I logged in via ssh and checked the server. It was fine. So now I’m speaking with the server guy. He asked what the problem was. I explained briefly, and he basically said, “…yeah. You might want to fix that.”

Doh! I felt pretty dumb, but I’ve been dealing with Rackspace so much lately (for work) that I have just gotten used to support fixing pretty much whatever problems I have.

Then I thought to myself, “I should switch to Rackspace…”. It only took about .2 seconds to realize that that wasn’t going to happen. So I did a quick /etc/init.d/httpd restart, and went about my business.

I have to say, I’ve been very impressed with 1and1’s dedicated hosting. $100/month, and pretty danged sturdy, but if you don’t know your way around Linux, it’s probably not for you. You might try their managed option. You get support, but the setup is pretty limited (only one IP, vanilla CP, and no poking around).

Check Out Raven SEO Tools

RavenWhile at PubCon last month, I learned about several new SEO tools. One of the standouts was Jon Henshaw (the product manager) was cool enough to let me try out a premium account.

Having made several SEO tools myself, I can appreciate the amount of work that went into creating this tool set. Raven SEO tools starts with a solid user account/ control panel, to which you can add individual profiles for each website you want to manage. From there you can add details about your website, including your keywords, links, and even your competitors. These details will then be available for use in Raven’s wide array of SEO tools and reports.

If I had to pick a favorite feature, it would have to be the SERP tracker, which takes the worry out of tracking rankings for your keywords. It was simple to upload a csv file with multiple keywords at once. It is automatically updated weekly, and has charts showing trends over time. Very well done.

And though I don’t deal with links a lot, I was also really impressed with the Link Campaign Manager.

– Store and track every link you request or make active, including purchased links

– Use the Firefox Toolbar to quickly analyze and record links in the background

There are several packages available, starting at free (gotta love that), depending on the features you need. For a full list of available features and to give the tools a test drive, head over to, Thanks for the Shirt :)

Just wanted to say thanks to Scott Polk for the tshirt. I’m pretty sure it was Scott who gave me the shirt. Either way, I didn’t get a chance to wear the shirt out at any of the pubcon events, but I did wear it on the way home, and had a hotel receptionist ask about it.

“What does that mean?” she said. “Big Water” I explained. All she said was “Cute”, and smiled. :)

My awesome T Shirt

My awesome T Shirt

I Can Haz Pagerank? Plz?

Ok, I’ll admit, I was selling links via pay per post, and other similar services, but I have long since removed all of that.

It has been well over 10 months since I removed all such links. I even wrote a post about my attempt to clean up the site of all paid links. I took a cut of at least $400/ month (probably more) because of it, but still, the pagerank continues to drop.

Below is a historical view of the PageRank for (courtesy of SEOmoz Pagerank Tool)

* PageRank 2 reported 3 days, 2 hours ago

* PageRank 2 reported on 10/05/2008

* PageRank 3 reported on 07/12/2008

* PageRank 3 reported on 01/22/2008

* PageRank 5 reported on 01/15/2008

* PageRank 4 reported on 11/22/2007

* PageRank 4 reported on 11/09/2007

* PageRank 4 reported on 11/02/2007

* PageRank 5 reported on 08/27/2007

* PageRank 5 reported on 08/27/2007

* PageRank 5 reported on 08/08/2007

So what do I need to do to get my pagerank back? I know a lot of people could care less, and that’s fine with me, but I want my pagerank back.

Google Analytics Rolling out More Useful Features

In my line of work, I’m fortunate to have access to multiple Google Analytics accounts, so when they roll out updates to a select few, I sometimes get to see them.

This week, I noticed some really interesting changes. First, on logging in, instead of being taken to a default profile, I was taken to this list of the different accounts I have access to, showing trend information and stats for each.
new google analytics

When I selected an account, I then had the same sort of stats shown for each website profile.
new google analytics

Compared to the old style (one of my accounts), the new is much more useful.
new google analytics

Here’s something interesting too. The account without the new Account and website profile view is showing some new “beta” features that don’t show in the others. — compare side by side with the old version.
new google analyticsnew google analytics

I haven’t had time to look at the “custom reporting” and “advanced segmentation” yet. I wish it was on the other account though. I was wondering when GA was going to add some new features that they promised with the script/ code change. Looking forward to a full roll out (and hopefully more useful features).

You Down with ADD?

Yeah, you know me. Or technically, ADHD. It’s been about 4 years since I was diagnosed with this. I had to take a series of tests over a few weeks. It’s been a blessing and also a curse. A blessing that I know now why I did so mediocre in school, even though I tried really hard.

I never really realized anything was wrong until I started working from home full time (telecommuting). I would find myself constantly drifting off task. Fortunately though, my sidetracks were working on my own projects (like dnScoop and myIPneighbors), so I was always getting things done, but I would procrastinate doing things that I absolutely had to do (like my job). Usually leading to an extra long late shift to get my 8 hours in.

I’ve had to work hard, but I have been able to learn how to better manage my time. I do take medication, but I still have to work hard to stay on top of things. I’ve found that the best solution for me is to keep a daily routine. For me, it’s checking and logging some info from Google Webmaster Tools. Once I do that, it’s a lot easier to continue with my other tasks.

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. If you can at least get started with what you are supposed to be working on, then you have a much better chance of finishing it.

Wondering how many of you also struggle with these issues?

Integrate your AdSense account with Google Analytics

This is so weird, b/c just 2 days ago, I was trying to view some data from Google Adsense in CSV format as a graph in MS Excel. My results were pretty lame, and not very useful at all, and I thought, “Why doesn’t Google Adsense have some sort of historical graph or chart view?”

Well, Google must have been thinking the same thing, b/c they plan to add Google Adsense data to Google Analytics. They have actually already added it for selected users. Log into Google Analytics, and look near the date range dropdown. If you see “integrate your AdSense account with Google Analytics”, then you can access the new features. If not, you’ll have to wait like the rest of us.

Here’s an official video: