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Is My Niche Site a Victim of Negative SEO?

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Is My Niche Site a Victim of Negative SEO?

If you have been following along with my public niche site project, you know that it has started to rank on the first page of Google, and is doing very well.  The site is currently ranking #3 or #4 in Google for its primary keyword and traffic continues to climb for related keywords as well.

I should be ecstatic, right?  Well, I am very happy and hope that the site only continues to improve as I add more content and try to gain the #1 spot in Google.

However, I have recently been noticing some links pointing to my site that are causing me concern.  These are links that I did NOT build or ask for, and I have no idea how they got there.  But in my post today, I want to make some educated guesses about where these links are coming from and why they are cause for concern.

And before I move on, I will simply ask that if you are the person building these links to my site…PLEASE STOP!  I ask you to contact me privately here if you are responsible or know who is.

How Did I Find the Bad Links?

I first noticed odd links pointing to my site when going through my Google Analytics.  I looked at my referral traffic and noticed I got a couple of hits from totally unrelated domains.  (Things not even close to knife or outdoor related).

That’s odd.

So, I took a look at these domains and all I could do was shake my head.  I found 3 or 4 sites that were linking to my niche site using my exact match anchor text…in the sidebar!  And these were pretty obvious spammy domains as well.  The content was all probably auto generated, and other sidebar links were pointing to casinos or other types of sites often associated with spam.

Again, I want to re-iterate, that I had NOTHING to do with these links!  I did not ask for these links and certainly did not want these links.  Here is a couple of images of the types of links I am seeing:

oddlinks1

oddlinks2edit

oddlinks3edit

oddlinks4edit

My conclusion is obviously that someone reading my blog here is responsible for creating these links.  Stuff like this does not normally occur when building a website.  Either the person or persons responsible for these links either think they are helping me, or they know that these links could cause damage to my site.

So, am I a victim of negative SEO?

First, lets take a deeper look at the links pointing to my site.  When I went to Ahrefs, I saw an astonishing large amount of links pointing to my site.  As you can see from the images below, Ahrefs has found nearly 1,500 backlinks coming from 74 different linking root domains!

ahrefs

ahrefsreferringdomains

Notice the large spike in number of referring domains between March 19th or so to March 25th.  Someone obviously decided to suddenly add a bunch of links to my site…and I’m not happy about it!  You see, my site was going as planned before these links ever arrived.  I was ranking in the top 10 already by March 15th, so I only view these links as possibly damaging.

And what is perhaps even worse than the sheer number of links, is the fact that ALL of them are using my exact match anchor text (as far as I can tell).  According to Ahrefs, 86% of the links pointing to my site are using my exact match anchor text.  Not good.

ahrefsanchor

Again, these links are not from me, as I would NEVER recommend anyone using this much anchor text to their site.  In fact, you can see my link building and anchor text recommendations here.

Why am I worried?

Google has made it clear with their Penguin update, that they do not like these types of links that I just explained (from spammy domains all using exact match anchor text).  So, I’m clearly worried that Google is going to start noticing all these links and will no longer feel like a top 10 ranking is warranted for my niche site.

This is obviously one of the big risks that I had to consider when building a public niche site.

Again, this could be someone that actually thinks they are helping my site; however, more likely its coming from someone doing Negative SEO.  I personally feel like most people will never ever have to deal with negative SEO, but because my blog is so public and because I’ve been so open about my niche site…I’m much more likely to be attacked negatively by someone.

So, the chances of the average person dealing with negative SEO are extremely rare.

What is negative SEO?

Negative SEO is essentially where someone intentionally sabotages your SEO efforts to make your site rank lower in Google.

This is a scary thought.

Suddenly, its possible to not only do good to your site by building links, but its possible for someone else to damage your SEO efforts by building poor quality links to your site.

The argument has been made both for and against the existence of negative SEO; however, we do have some clues that it exists.  First is the Penguin update itself.   This update was all about Google penalizing sites that used over-optimized anchor text and overall using poor quality links to their sites.

I hate to say it, but my niche site is looking like a good candidate to get penalized by Google Penguin at this point.  But I had nothing to do with it!

The second piece of evidence that suggests that negative SEO works, is the Google disavow tool.  In other words, if  bad links couldn’t cause a penalty, Google wouldn’t have created a tool specifically to remove penalties caused by links.

And obviously, anyone can build links to any site.  So, a malicious person can certainly build poor links to your site just as well as they can to their own site.

How to Combat Negative SEO?

So, now that I’ve established that I personally feel like someone can indeed hurt your site through negative link building; what can you do to combat this issue?

Well, its VERY difficult to stop.  However, most people will never have to deal with this.  I personally think my site is a target simply because my blog is well-known and someone wants some attention.  Its highly unlikely that the average person reading this will ever be a target of negative SEO.

  • The first thing I did, was to email the site owner of the links I found and asked them to remove the links immediately.  I only found contact info on a couple of sites and have received no response.  This is likely a dead end for me.  However, contacting the site owners and asking them to remove links is a viable option in some circumstances.
  • If you get an unnatural links warning in your Google Webmaster tools, you can use the Google disavow link tool.  Others have claimed that this can be effective in removing a Google penalty.  This is not an easy process and is a manual review of your site from Google.  So, you would need to provide VERY clear evidence that you have done everything you can to remove links on your own and make a case to have the penalty manually removed.
  • Build more high quality links to your site.  Building more quality links to your site may help if your site has not actually been penalized yet.  My site has NOT been penalized yet, even though I’m noticing lots of poor quality links.  Ideally, Google will just not “count” these links and will only view the higher quality links that I build on my own.  This in and of itself is not likely to actually “remove” a penalty however.

A Few Good Signs?

Despite the fact that I’m seeing lots of unwanted links pointing to my site, there has been no negative impact on my rankings just yet.  I hope that this remains the case.  In the meantime, I would ask whoever is linking to my site to PLEASE STOP!  And please REMOVE all the links!

I have been checking my Google Webmaster tools and have not received any sort of unnatural links warning, so that’s a good sign.  Is it possible that Google is just ignoring these links?  At this point, I am only seeing quality links point to my site in Google Webmaster Tools (here’s a few):

webmasterlinks

The links that Google is showing me in my webmaster tools appear to be the quality and relevant links that I’ve set out to get.  So, is it possible that Google is only recognizing my quality links and not taking into consideration the poor quality links that someone else is building to my niche site?  At this point, that appears to be the case.

In addition, Open Site Explorer is only showing a few links pointing to my site.  Now granted SEOmoz only updates their index every few weeks, so it wouldn’t show any of the newer links.  But they do update tomorrow, according to their calendar…so I’ll be checking back.  You can get a free trial to Open Site Explorer right here.

opensiteexplorer

The other good sign is obviously that my site is still ranking well in Google.

So, at this point I am seeing no ill effects from all the poor quality links coming to my site.  I hope it stays that way, but I’m quite nervous about it.  Honestly, it really just hurts you the reader of the case study more than anything else.  This is a newer site for me, and is not my “bread winner”, so the income impact is basically non-existent.

The only real negative impact would be if I can’t complete this case study because of a link penalty caused by negative SEO.  Either way, I plan on fully documenting and sharing what happens with this site.

Your Thoughts

As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and discussion below.  Perhaps some of you out there would be better than me at researching who has done this and getting them to take down these links.  If anyone would like to try, be my guest.

Overall, its unfortunate that I have to experience and share the darker side of SEO, but I suppose it comes with the territory of doing a public case study.  I’ll keep you posted on any updates.

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174 Comments for this Post

  1. Ray

    Ray

    Scary post! I’ve always feared this. Hope the culprit stops and/or you get those spammy links removed!

    • Bradley

      Bradley

      I agree. Scary indeed. I don’t think that anyone is trying to help you with these links. If I had to guess, I’d say that some lazy competitor is attempting to sabotage your site while secretly building up their own knock-off site.

      The good news is that I have heard of this backfiring on people… trying to penalize a competitor’s site by blasting it with crappy links, yet nothing happens (or the site even moves up). It seems that Google doesn’t always care. Perhaps they’ve turned down the knob on the link penalties? That would be nice.

  2. Robert at My Multiple Incomes

    Robert at My Multiple Incomes

    Spencer, I’ve been the victim of another negative SEO trick that is similar to what you seeing.

    I wrote an article about Best Buy Customer Service, and it was tweeted, liked, and even mentioned by the Consumerist. As a result, after about a month, it was ranking #3 on Google for the term “Best Buy”.

    As you can imagine, Best Buy didn’t like this too much.

    As a result, they created a bunch of niche “Dummy Pages” and backlinked them to their main site. They were all SEO’d to the max, and leveraged the power of Best Buy’s own site ranking.

    As a result, they were able to push my site off the first page of Google and down in the rankings to bury the story.

    It’s tough, but it’s one of those things that is difficult to combat. You can find the whole story here: http://www.mymultipleincomes.com/690/companys-attention/

    Best of luck and fight the good fight!

    • Max

      Max

      Robert – that’s not negative SEO in my book. It’s notably different to Spencer’s situation.

      There’s nothing morally questionable about Best Buy working on a group of niche sites of their own, using white hat methods to rank above your post. Those kind of tactics are commonplace in the world of search reputation management.

      They don’t want negative publicity about their brand ranking on page one, naturally.

      It Best Buy had used black hat, spammy techniques to get your post penalised by Google (which they didn’t, right?), then *that* would be negative SEO.

      What they did was fair enough – they didn’t want customers to see your negative publicity, so they created content that outranked it. If you had the resources, wouldn’t you do the same?

      • Robert at My Multiple Incomes

        Robert at My Multiple Incomes

        Very true – David and Goliath story here, with resources burying truth.

        Call it brand management, call it whatever you want, I consider anything that tries to hide natural search results “negative”.

        Yes, they aren’t spam linking my site, but creating niche sites of their own that Google won’t penalize?

        What’s to say in Spencer’s case that the same person who is linking to him with “spam” links doesn’t then create other sites and make good links to them.

        In combination with both a Penguin Update to the site and other pages starting to outrank, it can spell bad news for him.

      • Sean Kaye

        Sean Kaye

        According to Matt Cutts and the Google ToS, what Best Buy did would be considered “manipulating the search results” and should subject them to a penalty.

        All people can ask for is a level playing field. The deck is stacked heavily in favour of a Best Buy and other large companies because of their reach and resources, but when they actively manipulate results to the detriment of “quality information” this is where Google needs to step in.

        Punishing niche marketers for delivering “low quality” information and then letting big brands decimate them when they deliver great information just isn’t wrong, it’s evil.

    • Bradley

      Bradley

      I agree with Max. They were not trying to penalize your site, but they were trying to “bury” your site. Since your story was a negative one, Best Buy didn’t want a lot of people reading it.

      I hate to be cynic, but you see this stuff every day. In the U.S., corporations often manipulate the media to change or bury a negative story. Why follow the rules when you can simply have them re-written in your favor?

      Good luck, Robert!

      • Robert at My Multiple Incomes

        Robert at My Multiple Incomes

        A commenter on my original post said the same thing – he used to work for a firm that did essentially what Best Buy did. Sad, sad world.

        • Syed

          Syed

          It’s a form of reputation management.

      • Max

        Max

        For sure, they were trying to bury your site. But isn’t that the point of SEO? To outrank the competition for your keywords?

        Building content that ranks well is not ‘manipulating the search results’ – it’s the whole point of the game! There’s no guideline that says you can’t have more than one page rank for a given keyword.

        Sorry Robert, but the only thing Best Buy have done is outgun you by creating better content – at least in the eyes of Google. And there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

    • Derrick

      Derrick

      @Robert,the best thing is that you innocently wrote your article with a passion,with no seo in mind,and still got it to rank effortlessly :) What Google really wants.

  3. Casey Dennison

    Casey Dennison

    It’s a shame that you have to deal with this, people see someone doing good and they want to ruin it for everyone. The only thing I can say is, before Google rolls out the huge penguin update they have coming, build some more links to balance out your anchor text distribution. This way you can (hopefully) stay under their radar. Anyways, I hate to read this kind of ‘bad news’.

    Regards,
    Casey

  4. Chris

    Chris

    It’s really irritating that someone is trying to sabotage the niche site. Is there anything in common with the sites that they are posted on – for example similar WHOIS details etc..? Is it a possibility all of the sites that have given you a sitewide link are owned by one individual? How about checking the IP addresses of the sites if the WHOIS is privacy protected, are the server IP addresses the same?

    Just a few ideas, if Penuin is only updated on a periodic basis then you should be able to disavov the links before any penalty hits.

    Anyway fingers crossed it doesn’t affect your rankings in a negative way, Chris.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I suspect it is indeed a large network all owned by one person. I’ve checked a couple of whois and tried to contact them by email, but its likely not going to get me anywhere…

      • damnthespammer

        damnthespammer

        Spencer i think your site just became a lab rat for spammers… this 100% negative seo, no doubt about it.

        anyway i’m now thinking could they have started spamming it days before and that is why your site actually jumped to page 1? i guess we’ll know after the cleanup… btw you should inform google too…

  5. Joe

    Joe

    Hey man, thanks for publicly displaying your niche, i think it’s really awesome you’re doing that but yes, it looks like the inherent risks are great. And sorry to hear about this.

    I had to comment because I had a site that got “negatively seo’d” with a scrapebox blast over (13,000 backlinks) for my main KW anchor text and for some ODD reason it shot to #1 (49,000 uniques) and stayed there for 4+ months, now it’s at around #3 – #5. strange…

    Keep pushin!

    • Bradley

      Bradley

      Joe, although I haven’t experienced this myself (thankfully), I have heard of similar things happening. It’s impossible to predict if Google is going to care about those low-quality links.

  6. Bob

    Bob

    This is truly sad. Why would someone sabotage your work? You took a risk to do this, we knew a copycat site for sure, but someone spamming your links, WTF? I would check back at the person(s) who made comments trying to disprove your affiliate link theory. Obviously it’s someone who is following this study.

  7. Max

    Max

    Hi Spencer
    I’m really annoyed at the fact that all the good work and time you invested into this experience to teach and inspire others is all going to crumble because of some neg seo, intentional or not intentional ? thats the question but looking at the quality of the links and the images within the articles it seems that someone has gave you a senuke blast and you will discover more links as they get indexed in the future.
    i only know that because all the websites you got the bad links to are in a web2’s list that i downloaded from an IM related forum.
    and as of the website still ranking well, i think its normal as you’ve only got a few bad links vs great content + great keyword research. from a personal experience, bad links can only harm your site if there is more than 30 of them.

    Good luck
    Max

  8. Fran

    Fran

    Hey Spencer,

    Gutted to read this. I’m really enjoying keeping up with your open niche pursuit and hope this doesn’t scupper your efforts. However if someone has gone to the efforts to do this to you already I would fear that they’ve got more to come. I seriously doubt it’s anyone trying to help you. Hope you get things sorted.

  9. Nina

    Nina

    That sucks big time :( I’m personally really, really worried about people being able to do this. My client was at the top of a competitive niche (they just hired me to get them back to the top), and they’ve told me that their site has been subject to a ddos attack before. If their competitors can launch a ddos attack, then negative SEO is a piece of cake. I feel like a sitting duck waiting for it to happen. The disavow tool takes way too long too? I really, really hope you manage to find out who it is. Good luck

  10. Top Jobs

    Top Jobs

    Unfortunately this is the environment we now find ourselves in when building sites. It truly does look like a negative SEO campaign.

    Having said that, I wonder if it is one of the other top 10 sites that has initiated the campaign ? I would want to think it is not a reader of your blog, but instead a competitor that is afraid of you outranking them.

    Either way it really stinks. I really appreciate this case study and the time you are devoting to this project and the fact you are sharing it with us is amazing!

    thanks Spencer, and hope this gets fixed

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I hadn’t thought that it could be another site in the top 10, but I suppose this is also a very real possibility. However, I still would think its more likely just a rogue reader of my blog here.

      • Andrew

        Andrew

        That should be pretty easy to find out. I would check the backlinks of the other websites on page 1 for your term. If you see it happening with all of them, then you would know. If not, it is someone that is really f***ed up.

        The issue is that the anchor text density is going to screw the site when the next update rolls around. I had a website that a competitor did this to, the nice part was that the network that they used went belly up and all of those links disappeared. It did take it’s effect on the website however…

        Great post and really disappointing at the same time.

  11. Michael

    Michael

    Hey Spencer, I guess you should have expected something like that – there will always be haters.

    It will be interesting to see if it actually has any impact on your site. I’m fairly sure the search engine folks are wise to those tactics by now.

    Keeps things interesting that’s for sure.

    Michael

  12. Dragos

    Dragos

    That’s very bad thing and the person that is doing this has to stop because most likely your site will have to suffer.
    In Google webmaster the links appears with some delay after 2-3 weeks.

    Most likely if this doesn’t stops you will be penalized.
    You can use the dissalaw tool to ban this links from Google because it looks like negative SEO.

    It’s a shame that someone will do this especially as you were sharing everything and this project has some very good information’s.

    I hope the person that did this will stop.

    Good luck!
    Dragos

  13. Tammy

    Tammy

    Wow that really sucks … Sorry to hear about that. I wonder why there is no way for us as website owners to block the link from our end ?

    I had a site recently that was #3 for a great keyword just starting to get decent traffic I had no backlinks at all just lots of great content and all of a sudden poof into nowhere land so I check ahrefs and there was 1 new backlink from some weird site unrelated but when I went to check it out … I got the big warning the site was found to have a virus or something do not enter … So I automatically assumed this is what took my site down. Feels like negative seo too

    So I can relate … It is bizarre we have no options from our end to protect our sites better …

    Good luck I hope your site remains unaffected … We want to see the case study : )

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Would be great if we could pick and choose the links that pointed to our site, but obviously can’t. Sorry to hear your site disappeared in the ranks :(

  14. Jeff Brady

    Jeff Brady

    While I understand your concern, what would stop a person from doing this to every one of their competitor’s websites in an attempt to push them down in Google rankings? I would think that Google has to take this into consideration, and just ignore the low quality links as opposed to penalizing you for them. Otherwise, i’m going to start my own blackhat SEO company with a network of shady sites and charge $200 to put a link from each site to whatever competitor site you choose :)

  15. Ben Hebert

    Ben Hebert

    While I think that it sucks you’ve been targeted with a negative SEO campaign, we can always spin this into a case study on its impact.

    You have a relatively new site that’s indexed and growing in authority. Someone sent a bunch of spam links and now what’s going to happen?

    Interesting stuff.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I agree Ben. I’ll be rolling with the punches here…so if it turns into a case study of how to deal with spam and negative SEO, then so be it. Interesting either way, but I would much rather just rank in Google and collect my paycheck! :)

  16. Matthew Allen

    Matthew Allen

    This certainly appears to be a case of envy. Do you know the difference between jealousy and envy? Jealousy means, “I want what you have.” Many of us are jealous of your online entrepreneurial success. Envy means, “I want what you have, and I don’t want you to have it either.” This is just pure evil. I can never understand why anyone would waste time trying to destroy someone or something else when time could be better spent being productive.

    I often wonder if I should keep blogging publicly about my online endeavors like you do. When I do become wildly successful, I’m not sure I want to deal with this kind of stuff.

  17. Chris at SEO-Update.com

    Chris at SEO-Update.com

    I would start adding content on a daily basis now. Google will keep coming back. I believe that .com extensions hold up better than others with stuff like this. Maybe those other sites won’t get indexed for a while if they are super crappy. By then the site will be more authoritative.

  18. Kevin

    Kevin

    On the bright side, you have one less competitor in the IM space, as the idiot doing this is spending so much time building links to your site, he’s never going to increase his own business, and will continue to sponge off his parents, living in their dark, musty basement.

  19. John

    John

    To answer the question, yes of course the site is “attacked”. It looks quite obvious that someone purchased a link package. In that case it doesn’t really matter if you request someone to remove the links, since the process is automated. There’s also no idea to try to contact the “site owners” since most of these sites are just there to provide links that people pay for.

    I’m just perplexed that these dirty tactics aren’t more common. I’ve been reading about this before, and it seems like sometimes the sites under attack are hit really bad, but sometimes they even get a boost and rank higher?!

    I really hope that googles algorithm in some way can overlook this, but I doubt it. On the other hand, it would be way to easy to hit competitors if all you had to do was to buy some links for a few bucks… So far, we haven’t seen this to often, hopefully because it doesn’t really work…

    Keep your fingers crossed…

  20. Adam Roseland

    Adam Roseland

    Spencer,
    Ouch! Never a good thing… but great detective work on finding the problem quickly. If I had to make an educated guess, I would assume it is someone VERY close to you with just about the exact same keyword. Their “Guide” site lists right above yours on my results page and wouldn’t be surprised if it was them.

    Either way… try to look at the bright side, someone respects you enough to make you a target. Much better to be attacked because you are feared then ignored because you pose no threat.

    Best of luck, looking forward to hearing more on how this works out for you.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      My site IS the “guide” site :). I think you must think my site is something else…

      • Adam Roseland

        Adam Roseland

        Doh!!! I got you and the site under yours confused… sorry about that. I guess I meant to say the “non-guide” site with the exact same keyword in its domain… may be the one.

  21. Dolores Pepper

    Dolores Pepper

    Spencer,

    Sorry to hear this and while I’m not sticking up for them, do you think they are linking to you to get some link love from your site?

    We are told to link to authority sites and since your site seems to be rising star, maybe they are trying to use this to their advantage. Not to help you so much but trying to help themselves?

    What are your feelings about linking to authority sites? They end up with all sorts of links both good and bad or does Google take that into consideration?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      No, they are not linking to get link love. Linking to authority sites is good, but not from dozens of sites all in the sidebar. This is clearly a very unnatural link from someones network of sites.

  22. rahul

    rahul

    Hi spencer,

    It is not the matter of concern. when someone add sidewide link in side bar link increase like this in ahref. We are also linked some of my site to each other and 400 links increased in 10 days.

    When you will closely monitor many large site. this is absolutely normal thing.

    if you go and see, Pat blog
    https://ahrefs.com/site-explorer/overview/subdomains/smartpassiveincome.com

    you will notice sharp decline may because peoples are not linking or most big blogger already linked him.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I’m not just concerned with the number of links, but also the number of linking root domains. Clearly someone is linking from dozens of their sites. I understand that one sitewide link can account for hundreds of links; but the referring domains has increased dramatically…all from spammy domains.

  23. Johan Horak

    Johan Horak

    Hi Spencer

    This is the risk we all take.

    Some are willing to be open about it and expose the truth.

    You have been honest about everything. You sell a great tool. You know you had/wanted to sell the “how” and what better way than sharing a case study.

    There’s consequences. And you have been brave. That shines through.

    At the end of the day it’s not only about the functionality but also and most importantly about credibility. And that you are getting – big time.

    Sleep well.

    Go for it.

    Love it!

    Have fun

    Johan

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Johan…appreciate the kind words!

  24. Nicolas

    Nicolas

    Wow… Just found out ahrefs.com…
    And I now realize that I also have 2000+ links pointing to my page, some of which I don’t have a clue why and how… Just did the same, contacted the owner to know where and why he had some links to my page.
    Thanks for the post!!
    Nicolas.

  25. Mark

    Mark

    So if I manage to get to #1 in Google with a crap load of hard work then a ‘competitor’ can simply initiate a spammy backlink campiagn on my domain and ruin me??!

    How is a law-abiding newbie supposed to compete with the evil big boys if this is what they are doing?

    Google needs a way to put a stop to this!

  26. Alain Schlesser

    Alain Schlesser

    Hi Spencer,

    Sorry to hear your site is being attacked. But I think you don’t need to worry too much about these links.

    Google will mostly ignore these links, because these sitewide sidebar and footer links are all but worthless. This is because things like themes or plugins often include a link back to their developer’s homepage and similar. I don’t think Google even really considers these links anymore.

    What’s more, by now (after Penguin, Panda and all the other animals) almost all of the sites of this kind that can be easily filled with such lowly links are already deindexed by Google, so they most probably won’t even be seen by Google’s crawler.

    Hope this helps you feel a bit better about your case study, and keep up the good work!

    Greetings,
    Al

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Al:
      I really hope you are right, and you make very good points. Perhaps all will be well…and perhaps Google has figured out these tactics. I guess we’ll find out…

  27. Tony

    Tony

    This is happening on several of my blogs. Porn sites and spammy .ru (russia?) sites. Not my doing and I don’t like it either. No penalties yet, but my most popular blog has lost half of it’s traffic (600 visitors a day lost). It had been number 1 in Google for several years for my primary keyword – now it is not in the top 100! I am Panda & Penguin conscious and not doing harm to my sites. Friggen frustrated.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Tony, sorry to hear about that. But if your site is no longer in the top 100, it sounds like a penalty to me. Maybe not a manual penalty, but sounds like an algorithm penalty for sure.

  28. Carter

    Carter

    Spencer, while it is extremely irritating that somebody is trying to do this to you, I’d be surprised if it actually ended up hurting you.

    The vast majority of spam links are merely ignored by Google. Most of the sites that actually get penalized are the ones with the spam links on their sites, not the ones with the spam links pointing toward their sites.

    This can adversely affect you if some of your links came from those sites, but it’s usually because you lost the links, not because the links actually counted against you.

    Most sites that get “negatively SEO’d” either see no impact or actually see a (temporary) boost in rankings. Not always the case, but generally true. It’s why the negative SEO industry has never really taken off. If it was that easy, the negative SEO industry would be huge by now.

    I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I don’t expect it to. I guess, to make lemon aid out of lemons, at least we’re getting a public negative SEO test out of this. I wish you the best and hope this doesn’t hurt you.

    • Jeff

      Jeff

      Have to wonder if this is part of why Spencer’s site jumped to the front page so quickly

  29. Cathy

    Cathy

    Why do a few jerks always have to ruin it for the rest of us. This is why so many people are afraid to share their sites.

    I love reading these type of test cases and it helps so much to actually see the site. It pisses me off that some creep wants to sabotage your site.

  30. Don Shelton

    Don Shelton

    Click bombing had me concerned enough as it was! However, if your site had shot to #1 and starting rolling dough without problems, this exercise would not be nearly as helpful. While we would all like a template that just makes money, the truth is few worthwhile things are created without problem solving, and learning to problem solve these types of bumps along with you really validates this experience. In a world filled with hype, something real – including real problems addressed – is valuable. Much appreciated.

  31. Todd

    Todd

    I noticed a lot of the links on those sites that point to you have a tld of nl. That’s the netherlands.

    One is a directory http://wldirectory.com/submit.php
    They have a sumission form. It requires an email address. You may be able to ask them who submitted the link and to take them down.

    I also see links to fiverr and gigbucks. Perhaps this person paid someone there to do it. You may be able to talk to people there and find out..

    • Todd

      Todd

      Also I noticed the other pages around your site do not have a spike in links like you do.

  32. Howell

    Howell

    That sucks…

    You’ve been open to us about your niche and how you do things,.. we thank you for that.

    But there are just haters that can’t do anything.

    But one thing they can’t do is put a good man down!

    keep it going, I’ve learned a lot following this blog.

  33. Jeff Brady

    Jeff Brady

    Are the spammy referring domains indexed by Google?

  34. Dimitar

    Dimitar

    I can’t add more from my previous post, I just can say that this person has to understand that he/she is not doing any harm at you at all. I mean, I am sure not even 1% of your income depends on that, I am pretty sure you were aware that something like that can happen, you are building a lot of other sites for sure.

    This case-study is for us, so we can learn something and see it’s still possible to build successful sites.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      You are absolutely correct Dimitar. This really just hurts the readers of this blog and case study.
      (And I removed your link to the image; while it did make me laugh; someone could take it the wrong way).

      • Dimitar

        Dimitar

        It was obviously a joke, but Ok :)

  35. Gabe

    Gabe

    Couldn’t this be part of the reason you’re ranking so well right now too?

    Didn’t the links start showing up when you started ranking page 1?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      This links started showing up about 5 days AFTER I was already on page 1. So, no I don’t think these links helped.

  36. kashem

    kashem

    Thanks for sharing the incident . Definitely we will learn a lot from this .

    As it is almost obvious that the person has done this with some intention , I think he will respond to your request or reply your email .

    So it will be better to concentrate on other strategies to tackle the situation .

  37. Youssef

    Youssef

    Clearly someone is trying to negatively effect your site, Spencer.

    I think the best you can do is to continue building links from trusted sources and use Disavow links tool. Will be interesting to see changes after a Google update.

    On a different note, what do you use to interlink your posts on this blog?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I manually interlink within the posts. But then I also use the Yet Another Related Posts plugin for the links you see after the posts.

  38. Michael

    Michael

    Wow, That’s Pathetic. Whoever is doing this should build links for his business instead of ruining somebody’s else. Some people gets too much time on their hands, I guess.

  39. Nuno

    Nuno

    Since the beginning I thought about this could be a problem for you, and you could never know the real ranking of the site because the Negative SEO.
    There are people who can’t live with success of the others.
    I noticed that Webmaster Tools can take a long time to consider your links submitted to Disavow links tool.
    One more time, thanks to this project and please continue.

  40. Jason Chen

    Jason Chen

    I agree to this. it’s not site owners issues. Fundamentally it’s google who invented bad SEO panelty that does not make sense at the first place. now it’s backfiring in various ways. Google has to rethink this through and before that happens stop penalizing site owners, honest site owners.

  41. Julzwriter | Article writing services

    Julzwriter | Article writing services

    Wow! This is the first time I have heard about something like this happening. I guess that means that all websites are vulnerable to spam linking. Not very encouraging for those of us who are following your blog with the intention of building our own niche sites. I am definitely interested to know how you will handle the situation. I guess now I know why most businesses keep their dealings secret, to prevent such problems!!

  42. Dick

    Dick

    Hey Spencer,

    Sorry to hear that your site was hit this way. And a big thank you for sharing so openly about your observations and actions.

    Best wishes for getting out of this mess and hope you have little impact.

    Perhaps the gurus of search could spec some code in the robots.txt file that would identify disavow link or disavow a list of links in a file.

    I’d suggest this for a list of bad link sources:

    disavow links: mylist.txt

    and this for a single bad link:

    disavow link: http://www.bad-guy-site.com

    All the best,
    Dick

  43. Jim Weston

    Jim Weston

    This is kind of a scary thought. I don’t like the idea of people being able to hit your site with a Google penalty so that they can rank ahead of you. Hopefully that Google Disavow thing ends up working well.

  44. Rick

    Rick

    According to SEO expert Josh, Panda/Penguin based negative SEO is not possible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSP05I8SciM#t=16m11s

    He says the worst thing that could happen is you get a temporary boost and then fall back to where you were. Penguin penalizes pages, not links. A link from a spam page counts as zero: neither good nor bad.

    I don’t know much about SEO but hope that he’s right! Good luck with your public site.

    • Marty

      Marty

      Penguin is a penalty that applies to your link profile, which is why it’s almost impossible to recover from unless disavowing the links. Try buying an aged domain that has a penguin effected link profile, you wont stand a chance of ranking it. (been there done that)

      Negative SEO certainly does work. There’s a lot of people who have been hit by this type of thing.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I hope he’s right for sure :)

  45. tori

    tori

    Why would someone do this? Does it mean they have a competing survival-knife site? Are there a lot of those?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I don’t think its a competitor. I just think its just a reader of my blog here that cares more about sabotaging others than improving his/her own business.

  46. Iain

    Iain

    This presents an interesting twist to the case study.

    Even though it is pretty rough situation, it is something that we can learn from nonetheless.

    As some people have said, it is quite possible that it is a case of envy, which is unfortunate because I don’t wish bad business on anyone.

    Perhaps it could lead to a whole post about Google disavow link tool which could be interesting in itself. It think that would be more for authority sites, but not limited to just that.

    I am sorry to hear that this is happening and would love to see you turn it around.

    Iain

  47. Dennis

    Dennis

    I have a site that all of a sudden got a few hundred exact match anchor text links to it. They all came from Argentina. At that my site, it disappeared from Google.

    I was stunned and disappointed because I did only manual back-linking via article marketing and such.

    Probably about the same time, I created internal pages, each with a list of short Amazon Pro and Con type of reviews.

    So in view of Spencer’s Amazon problem and his still-ranking situation, I’m going to test first the Amazon hypothesis and then the spammy back-link hypothesis.

    This roller coaster ride you are on, Spencer, is quite educational for us. We’re learning things in a short time that could take forever otherwise.

    Thanks,

    Dennis

  48. Kurt

    Kurt

    Hey.

    Do you do anything like ping the sites that you comment on to try and get that link counted? I have commented on a few blogs and stuff like that but none of these “links” are showing up in webmaster tools?

    I know they don’t show up immediately but I was wondering whether you did anything like that to try and get it noticed.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      No, I don’t do any pinging. Google only shows a small fraction of the links they actually “see”…at least that’s my understanding. Its just a sample of the links they are aware of.

    • Jim Hrbek

      Jim Hrbek

      Hey Kurt,

      If you are trying the comment link, you have to make sure it is a do follow link. In my opinion this method isn’t as good as it once was.

  49. Darnell Jackson

    Darnell Jackson

    Thanks for sharing Spencer,

    This is my problem with the whole idea of a “bad link”.

    How in the hell can you control who links to you?

    Now you have to sit there all day in webmasters tools using the disavow tool?

    That’s crazy.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Well, I think my situation is a bit unusual; most people will never have to worry about this. And hopefully (and perhaps already?) Google is moving towards detecting this sort of bad behavior and not penalizing sites because of it.

  50. Peter Rose

    Peter Rose

    I know this is purely hypothetical, but what if Spencer’s site was now considered to be an authority site with more than 500+ pages and it was over 2/3 years old with good PR and low alexa ranking. Would negative SEO be as harmful as a newly built site?

    Shocking that this should have happened, the culprit will get his divine retribution in some way or another that’s for sure. What goes around will come around!

  51. Fred @ OnlineProfitsFactory.com

    Fred @ OnlineProfitsFactory.com

    Man that is some straight up bull crap. Forgive me for being honest Spencer. It’s a shame that we have haters in this industry who would go to these type of lengths to stop someone else’ success.

    Negative SEO is real. Even Matt Cutts knows it even though he claims that “very few” people are affected by it. He talks about it in his Negative SEO video. If you have not seen that video, you can check it out here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWJUU-g5U_I

    Hopefully your site won’t tank because of this Spencer. This is one of the best case studies that I have seen in a very long time.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Great video Fred, thanks for sharing. And yes, Matt Cutts is confirming here that Negative SEO exists. However, he also said some things that let us know that Google is very aware that negative seo could occur and they are making their algorithm very robust to autmotically detect this and ignore. I hope that’s the case for my site. If not, the disavow links tool is there…but hope I don’t have to go down that road.

  52. Theodore Nwangene

    Theodore Nwangene

    This is one of the flaws of this public case study, many people will intend to help you while hurting you instead.

    I don’t know there intentions for now Spencer, but i just pray that whoever is doing it will heed your request and stop it.

    Good luck and kudos for your success so far.

  53. Marty

    Marty

    Google have to do something about this, it’s not right that someone can attack another site and have them penalized.
    I always wonder how an online business e.g. eCommerce that relies on organic traffic would cope with this, they could literally be out of business.

    They should go back to devaluing this type of link rather than a penalty. I’ll be interested to see what impact it has, hopefully none, good luck Spencer.

  54. Quinton Hamp

    Quinton Hamp

    DUUUUDE!

    Stuff likes this makes one question humanity as a whole.

    The stuff you’ve shared on your site and in the Warrior Forum has always been a huge help to me. I still tell everyone that you taught me how to do kw research.

    But when people do stuff like this, you find that you have to share less, and less.

    I know I do.

    So thanks for making yourself vulnerable. And make a sleeper backup site in the same niche. You might need it.

  55. paul

    paul

    bad news Spencer however on a more trivial note your open site explorer is linking to seo moz …….i had a site in top 3 last week and its now shot to 400, i just checked and last week i have had some link from a Chinese site no English. not sure if that’s the issue or not…..good post im sure many will now be checking including myself

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      SEOmoz created Open Site Explorer, so the link is correct (its goes to the free trial of SEOmoz, which gives you access to Open Site Explorer).

  56. Rod

    Rod

    Spencer,

    Dang bro, that sucks! Leave it to some jerkwater idiot to sabotage something they are unable to compete with. I hope it backfires big time! I’m getting extreme value out of the NSP and it’s keeping me inspired to replicate your success. Cheers my friend, and whoever did this can go take a flying leap…

    Dr. Rod

  57. Mary Grace Viado

    Mary Grace Viado

    Good thing the negative SEO done to your website did not cause you a fortune. Getting high ranking from Google is quite a task and what would really break you into pieces is not the natural drop in rankings but the intentional plantation of unrelated links pointing to your website. The real intention of people doing negative SEO is to cause harm to people adhering to search rule and giving their audience what they want. Hopefully, Google could come up with a better tool that would just give no bearing on those damaging links.

  58. Owo

    Owo

    This is actually revealling. I have often heard of linking to bad neighbours but I am just hearing about bad neighbours linking to you. While you have easy control over the former, it is sad that the latter seemingly is uncontrollable from one’s end. Google just got to do something about this or better still SEOers can possibly come up with some scripts, plugins or whatever to combat this (maybe some kind of backlinks firewall and am sure this is going to sell like hot cake) for website owners.

    Thanks for the good work and info Spencer, I really hope this has no -ve effect on your ranking. I will be keen to know how you overcoming this.

  59. Rinkesh

    Rinkesh

    That’s pretty sad to see someone doing this just for having some fun with your niche site. All I can say is that you are pretty lucky that you have survived from any Google penalty.

    I’ve twice faced negative SEO for one of my blog and it lost its rankings for major keywords. It took me a lot of effort and time to get back to top pages of Google.

  60. Nick Kizirnis

    Nick Kizirnis

    Hi Spencer,
    Wow, I am sorry to hear that you have to deal with this, but glad that you haven’t been penalized. I mentioned in another post that I’m seeing something really similar, but no one cares about my site, so I’ve just been riding it out … some of the links have gone away. At one point I had hundreds of links, and then later ahrefs reported I had 8.

    So yesterday I thought I needed to read up on negative SEO and hey what do you know? You posted just what I needed to read … but its sad that you had to post it.

    BTW my niche that got beat up was in weight training (I know, I know), I have another in diet that hasn’t been touched. But in your case it sounds malicious (or at least very very misguided).

    Thanks for publishing this series, its really awesome. I’m looking forward to hearing you on the SBI podcast!

  61. Rea

    Rea

    Hey Spencer
    At least you know you are successful otherwise they would not have bothered. Still sorry to hear that news you are a good and helpful person and you will recover

  62. amul

    amul

    First : Big fan of your blog & content…

    Truly sad to see this sort of cutthroat behavior directed towards you.

    The silver lining here is a teachable moment of “repairing” neg SEO penalty if one is imposed on the next update. I hope you continue these extraordinary case studies.

    Good luck! And keep your chin up!

  63. yskan

    yskan

    It’s pretty sad to see this negative SEO. I hope this will stop from now on.

    Keep up the good work!

  64. ralf

    ralf

    Hi Spencer,

    I follow your blog, and your niche projects.
    I have learned a lot.

    to your SEO spam problem:

    Is it possible that your site got hacked?
    your are using wordpress right?
    It happend to me, someone hacked my blog, set up a new user with admin rights, and inserted some malware ( SEO Spam thing ). I got 100s of links from really strange sites, links which I don’t want. What a mess…

    Look into your wordpress set up
    Is there a user, which you don’t know??

    All the Best,

    Ralf

    • Nick Kizirnis

      Nick Kizirnis

      OMG, I thought it was bad when my site got hacked, they didn’t do anything but lock me out of it and turn it off … how horrible!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      No, my site wasn’t hacked. Besides the links are all external, so my site being hacked wouldn’t explain the links.

  65. Backlinko

    Backlinko

    Sorry to hear about this, Spencer.

    Why would someone waste their time building spammy links to your site? That’s time that could spend BUILDING something of value.

    Someone once hit one of my sites with 25,000+ blog comments. Like you, I was upset.

    Fortunately, that site had a bit of age and a clean link profile…and nothing happened.

    But because your site is new, it may not have the same trust in Google’s eyes and may not fare as well (obviously, I hope it survives). This has been a cool case study and I’d hate to see it ruined because of some loser with nothing better to do than to sabotage other people’s work.

    Either way, I think they’ve gotten pretty good at ID’ing negative SEO and discounting negative SEO links. So I hope this doesn’t hurt your site.

  66. Is Google Blogger Blocking? (not provided)

    Is Google Blogger Blocking? (not provided)

    […] Every time you turn around they’re sending a brand new dangerous algorithm animal that usually causes as much collateral damage to good sites as it does in penalizing sites with bad links. […]

  67. Chetan

    Chetan

    Hey Spencer- Extremely sorry to hear about this… You don’t deserve it…. especially when this case study was initiated by you for helping all of us do better in terms of ranking our sites. Despite the negativity, you are handling this situation quite nicely…. any other person would have lost his/her composure & stopped the case study right away.

    I think your positive attitude is what makes you the best in our industry. Whoever (as..wipe) is trying to negate your efforts, will end up getting trashed (karma will do it’s part). Thank you for being transparent & sharing everything that’s part of your business journey… please keep your head up & remember that we all support you during the good & bad times. I don’t think your site will tank… as others said it will only increase in rankings over time!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Chetan…thanks for the kind words! And so far the site is holding up…maybe Google knows what they are doing after all :)

  68. Charley

    Charley

    Whilst you may be doubtful about the culprit being a competitor, it could well be one. The owner of the other niche site could be a reader of your blog. Nonetheless, I think if someone were trying to jeopardise your chances of hitting #1, they wouldn’t be pointing links to your site from domains with PageRank.

    Obviously, the links have done nothing but improve your rankings (I see your site at #3). So I would advise you to build better links and balance your link profile rather than fret about it :-).

  69. Matt

    Matt

    All I can say is WTF. I’d just disavow them and move on, but my guess is the sob will continue to build them until he harms your site.

  70. kannan

    kannan

    Spencer
    Just checked your site. The backlinks count has raised to 2.3K..still they are building links.. Bad Karma.
    I watched all your videos to learn from you . I hope you will come back from this situation…

  71. Financial Samurai

    Financial Samurai

    Howdy Spencer,

    Thanks for reminding us of the ahref.com site. I just ran my site through it, and am having trouble interpreting the charts. May I trouble you w/ some questions?

    1) URL Rank: Lower the better? Any idea what the scale is? My site says 110.

    2) AHREFS Domain Rank: 99.8. Seems like a lot of sites are there. Scale?

    3) Total Backlinks: More is not necessarily better? I’ve seen a swoon from 410K to 390K and trending back up. What’s a good number? Why would one LOSE backlinks, especially if one never pays for backlinks?

    4) Referring Domains: I see a more vertically leap in referring number of domains around end of Feb, early March. Is this when Google algos changed? what would cause this?

    Thanks for your thoughts. If anybody else has thoughts, or can point me to a page that tells me how to interpret the data, that would be much appreciated!

    Best,

    Sam

    • Financial Samurai

      Financial Samurai

      Would love a response Spencer. Thx!

      • Spencer Haws

        Spencer Haws

        I did a quick google search to get some answers:
        1. http://ahrefs.com/faqs.php#howdoesahrefsrank . You may have to search around their site for an answer to #2.
        3. No, more is not always better. Quality is better. You could loose backlinks as an article stops being listed under “recent posts” in the sidebar or for other reasons (one sidebar link could count on every page).
        4. Just more root domains added links – don’t think anything else caused this. And ahrefs is not reliant on Google algorithms, so that certainly wouldn’t have anything to do with it.

  72. Brian

    Brian

    Spencer, I have been following along and creating my own niche site, however about two weeks ago I did some more keyword research and found that I picked the wrong niche. It turns out it is going to be very hard to rank for the keyword I selected so I am going to take Pat Flynn’s advice and Let go:) This stings a bit because I have build the site and it is up and running.

    …. After hours on longtail pro I think I have pinned down about 5 more keywords that look promising.

    Would you recommend that I tackle them all at the same time? I am going to have to out source the content OR go take a creative writing class because I have serious writers block on the topics that I found.

    Thank you you for creating this content, I earned my first $10.00 on a different niche site last month!!

    Brian

  73. Jose

    Jose

    I never leave comments but I feel for ya and you provide really great content so I run SEO campaigns for my business…you might want to run a Dilution Campaign. When you get negative SEO like this you want to run wash anchor text at the same velocity rate as the culprit did. Example is if 1000 links were created within 7 days you might want to run a similiar campaign but with “wash anchor text” like click here, read this, etc… this will help you balance out the bad seo and will help you with the links already created lol, you have to keep a 25-33% ratio so in this example 1K anchor targeted links were created you want to create 4k wash links. Helps with penguin and hopefully you will not only get out of penguins radar but this will help you improve ironically on that negative seo that someone created.

    Good luck man

  74. Nick

    Nick

    The site is number 1 in Australia. Hope it stays for you. Regardless of the outcome, keep up the great content.

  75. Kim Borsato

    Kim Borsato

    That really is unfortunate, Spencer but we are confident you will overcome this in no time! Best of luck to you and your niche site! Will stay tuned for the next post. Thank you always.

    Kim

  76. Casey

    Casey

    Your site is #1 in Texas.

  77. Sarah

    Sarah

    Yes Spencer
    I agree with Kim.
    I see this as an extra challenge for you. I’m sure you’re going to find a way out of this and it’s going to add to your experience and knowledge even more and who knows, maybe even another piece of software to sell in the future ;) There’s always a silver lining… :)

  78. Nhan Nguyen

    Nhan Nguyen

    So sorry for head that, so thank’s for your sharing, wish the good for you

  79. Ian Wilcox

    Ian Wilcox

    There is always some jealous people out there who try to wreck things for not only you but everyone enjoying this brilliant follow along.

    They must be insane to be using there own time to build links to your site rather than work on there own!

  80. Simon

    Simon

    I know your pain.

    This happened to me also, like 2 weeks ago. I received ~100k links with exact anchor, from spammy and porn sites. Not only that, but I got adsense clickbombed, too.

    Even if I didn’t notice drop in rankings, I decided to take this website down, I didn’t want my adsense account to get banned.

    The most funny thing is that this was like ~1k exact match website, not a big deal. I have no idea why this idiot did it to me…

    You can’t do much about it, especially with the new website like yours.

  81. Niche Site Project Income Report for March 2013 | Niche Pursuits

    Niche Site Project Income Report for March 2013 | Niche Pursuits

    […] too many affiliate links.  In addition, I also have good reason to believe that my site is being targeted by someone doing Negative SEO…(but thankfully none of the ill effects have materialized […]

  82. Pamela

    Pamela

    It seems like sometimes no matter what you do, people are still gonna point bad links to your website/blog just so they can stay ahead or because they fear your site will rank higher than theirs. I’ve had this happen to me also. I saw weird links linking to my blog and I used to wonder where they came from until I did some research for answers. I feel your pain and it sucks

  83. John J. Ziemba

    John J. Ziemba

    Spencer, whenever an IM guy like oyu decides to go public and share information and techniques based on personal experience to help other folks, it seems to me that you eventually get attacked by soime nimrod wantign to cause trouble.

    And the sad thing about all of this is, they don’t necessarily need a reason, other that they can. It sucks!

    I do thank you for continuing on despite this crap attack. I admire the way you are rolling with the punches and NOT laying down to wet all over yourself. It proooves your integrity.

    You may not be the only one attacked. Pat Flynn was attacked recently with a DOS attacks that shut down his site and cost him as estimated $12K.

    Keep your chin up. I’ve become a big fan of you and your efforts.

  84. Jack

    Jack

    Hi Spencer,

    Why aren’t you disavow those links? I think that’s the best way to play this game safe.

    However, from what I see now is that on all the keywords they use as anchor text, you are ranking pretty well in the top 3.

    Can we learn from this that somehow Google knows they have to ignore these spammy links and still let you rank in the top 3? Or is this just a temporarily effect?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      The links are now just finally showing up in my Webmaster tools, so I could disavow them now. However, I’m actually impressed? that google appears to know which links are spammy and is still ranking me well. Maybe they are smarter than I thought and negative SEO is not having any negative impact on my site. At least I’m still ranking very well.

  85. Karl Lassonde

    Karl Lassonde

    Looks like someone is doing a case study on negative SEOing your site.. and is spending a lot of energy/time on it. There’s a difference between manually setting up sidebar links in a blog network and just lauching scrapebox and comment blasting 200k AA blogs with the same anchor text.

    That’s a lot of work just to TRY to hurt a site making 200$ a month imo…

    I personally would never ever ever ever disclose my sites publicly but I guess you’re making a great case study here!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I did this case study for others to learn, I’m not concerned about the money I make or don’t make from this site. I have MANY other sites that are not public that bring in the bulk of my niche site income.

  86. Negative SEO Attack Results in Record Traffic Growth
  87. bernie

    bernie

    Its quite interesting in Market Samurai to see a site called bestsurvivalknife.com showing 7000+ links too. Dont know if there is a connection there. Maybe someone is trying to take down both sites.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Nope, not connected. That site was around with LOTS of links before I ever started.

  88. Negative seo

    Negative seo

    Just dilute the links…not that difficult to fix.

  89. Arwin Adriano

    Arwin Adriano

    Looks like someone is doing their own experiments using your own website. Hopefully the links wont have a big impact with your website.

  90. Tyler

    Tyler

    I’m relatively new to this, so if it’s an elementary question I apologize – but what’s the difference between a good link and a bad link? Is it a bad link because it’s associated with a site that is largely spam/junk? Would it be a good link if someone wrote an article (for example) of the best five knife review sites and linked to your page?

    (and thanks for the helpful info, I’m learning!)

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Yes, its a bad link if its associated with a spammy site. Yes, that would be a good link that you mentioned.

      • Tyler

        Tyler

        Thanks Spencer!

  91. Neil Rhodes

    Neil Rhodes

    The same thing has happened to me right now, 1700 odd links from 2 sites about mobile phone unlocking. I didn’t ask for them! Since this happened i have noticed a competitor come from no where and take the no. 1 spot for my chosen keyword. Coincidence? Possibly, but those diluting links must be doing something. How do you get that many good links to combat the problem? Disavow them and suffer a 6 week slump in ranks while your site recovers… that could easily bankrupt a small business.. im not impressed.. I feel for you Spencer.

  92. Alan

    Alan

    Looks like your site made it through Penguin 2.0 ok. Nice job on the site, looking forward to the next income update.

  93. Christine

    Christine

    Your site ranks #1 for your top keyword, as per my Google results in Texas…. I do, however, see a #2 ranking site, with .net tld that appears to be almost an exact copy of your site. Unfortunate that people lack such intelligence and creativity…..so much so that they steal intellectual property from others. That’s one of the pitfalls of this industry…..scammers everywhere….

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Definite copycat…in fact I own the .com of their domain :)

  94. conie

    conie

    What I’ve never understand is why they never put the same amount of time into growing their business correctly, because time is obviously not an issue. Hijacking links and spammy comments are the most annoying

  95. Outranked! Was My Niche Site Copied? | Niche Pursuits

    Outranked! Was My Niche Site Copied? | Niche Pursuits

    […] see, my site was a target early on from someone trying to perform Negative SEO on my site (same person as the copy-cat??).  I caught a lot of flak, because some people actually believed […]

  96. Tom

    Tom

    Being a web developer, your strategy of waiting before responding, is a good one. When some of my clients drive me crazy, I find it best policy to not to respond then, but rather in the morning.

    I’m enjoying Long Tail Pro and your blog and articles as well as Pat Flynn’s. I’ve built many custom websites and programming but don’t know enough of the SEO side and so an undertaking the Niche Site Duel challenge and referencing your Survival Knife blogs. I’m going to do 2 sites – one that appears ‘easier’ with less competition but less traffic and another getting over 6000 with more competition.

    I just noticed the COPYCAT last night so was pleased to read this article today. It’s one thing to borrow ideas (I will use the comparison chart for one of my sites) but out-right copying the entire site is pathetic.

    The guy’s intent is clearly not just to out-rank but to be insulting and malicious. And obviously to me, he most likely is responsible for the negative SEO. With all this, hard to not want to do something ethical to fight back. This crosses the line. Anyway ..

    Liking Long Tail Pro – even my girlfriend has it now. And will use for niche sites but also plan to use for new webpages for my site and blog and possibly some other marketing ideas.

    Keep up the good work and the frankness of addressing this as I wanted to know your thoughts too.

    SEO is alive and well.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Tom! Best of luck with your niche sites – I think its good to have at least one easier niche site to start. Good strategy. Glad you AND your girlfriend are enjoying Long Tail Pro :)

  97. Steve

    Steve

    Matt Cutts covers this issue here. If you’re a regular ‘mom or pa’ you’ve nothing to worry about. If like many of us your lively hood depends on your website, be prepared to be a little frustrated.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWJUU-g5U_I

  98. Henry

    Henry

    Really, Google should find a better way to combat the possibility of negative SEO occurring. I know that Matt Cutt had once said in a video that the links you get cannot hurt your site since you can’t control who links to you.

    I think Google should just find a way of ignoring low quality links.

  99. Making Money in the Jobs and Employment Niche | Niche Pursuits

    Making Money in the Jobs and Employment Niche | Niche Pursuits

    […] at the problems with your Niche Site Project, I’d say it’s best that I don’t reveal the URL of my site. I will say that it is […]

  100. Was that you that did the negative SEO? | SeoRockStar.ME

    Was that you that did the negative SEO? | SeoRockStar.ME

    […] For the ones that do not know what I am talking about, you can read more on Spencer`s blog here: http://www.nichepursuits.com/is-my-niche-site-a-victim-of-negative-seo/. – in that article Spencer says that somebody throw at him a bunch of PR2+ sidebar links with exact […]

  101. Karen

    Karen

    Hey Spenser….would you mind telling me how you created that comparison table. Did you use a plug in or hand code the table?

    Thanks in advance.

    Karen

  102. Niche Site Project 2 – Vote Now! | Niche Pursuits

    Niche Site Project 2 – Vote Now! | Niche Pursuits

    […] truth is that I did have my site targeted for negative SEO purposes (as shown here) during my last project, and this likely could have been avoided if I hadn’t revealed the […]

  103. Success Story: Making $300 a Month Reviewing Coffee Makers | Niche Pursuits

    Success Story: Making $300 a Month Reviewing Coffee Makers | Niche Pursuits

    […] should only VIEW the site that Benji has shared.  Please do not be like some of the people from my Niche Site Project that send spammy links, click on ads, or otherwise manipulate his site in any fashion.  Please be respectful of the work […]

  104. I Got an Unnatural Links Warning! New Manual Spam Actions Viewer | Niche Pursuits

    I Got an Unnatural Links Warning! New Manual Spam Actions Viewer | Niche Pursuits

    […] a Negative SEO campaign against my site to try and get my site penalized.  Here is the post where I wrote about the Negative SEO several months […]

  105. I Got an Unnatural Links Warning! New Manual Spam Actions Viewer | Smart To Be Marster

    I Got an Unnatural Links Warning! New Manual Spam Actions Viewer | Smart To Be Marster

    […] a Negative SEO campaign against my site to try and get my site penalized. Here is the post where I wrote about the Negative SEO several months […]

  106. Niche Site Project Income Report for August 2013! | Niche Pursuits

    Niche Site Project Income Report for August 2013! | Niche Pursuits

    […] about the fact that there are many links pointing to my site that I do not want as a result of someone trying to perform Negative SEO.  You can read all about how Google has devalued those spammy links here.  Unfortunately, I am […]

  107. Effect of Penguin 2.1 on Niche Sites

    Effect of Penguin 2.1 on Niche Sites

    […] why did Spencer’s site drop and not the others? Could it be that the Negative SEO attack that he received a month into the project finally kicked in? I’m not certain on this, but if this was the […]

  108. Angie

    Angie

    Hi there, I have a fashion and lifestyle blog. I have had the blog since 2011, and don’t have a lot of followers, but have a decent amount of page views. I haven’t blogged in the past 3-4 months, but have left my blog public, so that people can still check it out and follow and read what’s there. I used to be on Google search when I would type my blogs name in the first page 2nd or 3rd in the list but recently I noticed that its been dropping. I blog for fun at the moment and as a hobbies so I don’t know about SEO (proper way), or have the means to hire somebody, I am learning as I go along. Anyways I have noticed that in the least 2 months or so I have been getting referral links (visitors coming to my blog) from bad websites (porn, scam pills, etc), at first it was nothing. But now I am getting 4-10 visitors a day from these sites. I don’t know what to do, and I am worried. I don’t know how this happened in the first place. And I have been searching, day and night for a solution online. But all the help online is useless or to hard for me to understand. (Not tech/website savvy). Plus I am a full time college student and don’t have the time for this type of problem. If all else fails I might have to delete my blog but I don’t want to do that because its taken me forever to get those few viewers that I have. Help. Thanks for the post. But now I am worried like crazy.

  109. Paul Rone-Clarke

    Paul Rone-Clarke

    The reality of negative SEO has come to the fore in a very big way since October 4th.
    Whether real or imagined, many in the darker recesses of SEO have decided that more sophisticated attacks are the way to go. Mixing link types, content and even buying “toxic” links just to point at competitors sites.
    http://www.demondemon.com/2013/10/25/petition-to-halt-the-increase-in-negative-seo/
    Is a petition to challenge Google to answer whether this is real or imagined, and if real – if they really are promoting the creation of spam by the back door. Asking them to stop ASAP. It really can’t be a good thing.

  110. Reducing WordPress Comment Spam - Jay Dorsey

    Reducing WordPress Comment Spam - Jay Dorsey

    […] Ben Goodsell does a great job of explaining negative SEO campaigns. The short version is a negative SEO campaign is when a competitor uses tactics to make a site appear like a spam site to Google in an attempt to lower the sites ranking in google. Often it comes in the form of crummy links pointing back to your domain. Spencer Haws also has a great story about negative SEO. […]

  111. Online Singulair Discount Code

    Online Singulair Discount Code

    I do not drop many responses, however i did a few searching and wound up here Is My Niche Site a
    Victim of Negative SEO? | Niche Pursuits.
    And I do have a couple of questions for you if it’s allright.
    Is it just me or does it give the impression like some of these responses appear as if they are left
    by brain dead visitors? :-P And, if you are posting at additional online social sites, I’d like to follow everything new you have to post.
    Could you make a list of every one of all
    your public pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  112. Quality Contents For Niche Site That Not Cost Your Wallet

    Quality Contents For Niche Site That Not Cost Your Wallet

    […] build niche site. But I won’t share the real URL of my niche site, due to I might be attacked by negative-SEO. I’m not sure for this, so I have to protect myself first. I hope you got my […]

  113. SEO Attack Against BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com: A Full Link Analysis and Case Study | Niche Pursuits

    SEO Attack Against BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com: A Full Link Analysis and Case Study | Niche Pursuits

    […] thousands of spammy links to my site, many months before a penalty was ever applied.  You can read how I reported on the negative SEO in March, about 6 months before the penalty […]

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