Warning: Cases of Negative SEO & How to Prevent It
It should also be noted that this article represents the views of the author and not necessarily those of the staff at CAP.
So we’ve all been aware that negative SEO was going to be something of an issue going forward… especially in a sector as competitive as ours.
Having worked on a site that has been recently involved in something of a battering, along with several other bingo affiliates who have taken such a battering, I feel that this would be a good use of my post for CAP this week. In some ways, this is an appeal, both for further information and not to engage in this sort of immoral activity in general. In other ways, this may seem like something of a rant. However, I think it is something that all those working in the gambling sector should read.
I should forewarn you I’ve seen tests (not participated in) on one of the world’s biggest brands and they took the hit. So the FUDD that Google have been spouting about negative SEO not being something that we need to worry about is just that.
Now a lot of your will know the likes of Trev (sunlight-bingo.co.uk), Peter (whichbingo.co.uk), and Savvas (onlinebingofinder.co.uk) and we probably all know someone who works at Ladbrokes (Although the negative SEO was quite inept when it came to them, as most of it points to a subdomain which doesn’t exist http://www.bingo.ladbrokes.com/, although some do point to the proper subdomain).
Needless to say, I may not be quite so upset about my competitors Distilled being hit. See the example below at: http://toggi.co.kr/bbs/read.cgi?board=t4&y_number=10&nnew=2
One of the easiest to follow trails were from the site runtracyrun.com. The image below is a screenshot of the footer, which suspiciously was cited in correspondence with DVishnu and has since disappeared. This site amongst others have links back to the person we believe to be doing the negative SEO work.
As it stands, we have a pretty good idea of who has been involved in this and who has paid for this, however, we are appealing for anyone who has further information to contact either myself (via the comments here on this blog post). Whilst I would like to post the entire email thread between the involved parties here I don’t think that it would get through the screening process as it is very incriminating without hard proof.
The majority of the negative “work” seems to be coming from a DVishnu (http://www.dvishnu.com/). The larger concern that a particular competitor and someone working in our sector has several connections with him via social media. Although it should be noted that DVishnu claims that this is the work of a rogue employee.
The group of sites that seem to be the main victims of the attack is as follows. If you include Ladbrokes then all those in the bingo sector had previously ranked for the term “bingo sites”. It seems quite unlikely to be a coincidence.
You only have to do a quick search on Google for “sunpubdisonline 478″ or “sunpubdisonline 4784″ to see the extent of the malicious posting.
As a result, this is something of a high profile case of negative SEO, having picked up some traction on Twitter with the likes of Branded3’s Patrick Altoft, amongst other notables in SEO, following the events.
What Can I Do to Prevent Negative SEO?
1. Don’t do it yourself, retaliation is a likely outcome and that will just make things worse muddying our sector further.
2. Try to keep a clean profile: It will reduce the chance of being hit (albeit slightly)
3. Monitor incoming links – linkresearchtools.com has a cool feature for this (not ideal, but better than nothing) if you can see them early you may be able to root out the person doing it and get them to stop before they do too much damage. Again this is hopeful.
4. Keep track of the links coming in and send Google a message through WMT as soon as it starts, not tried this myself, but it stands to reason that if you do this at least you’ll have more of a leg to stand on if it gets to the point where you pick up a penalty.
5. Keep in mind you do have the get out of jail free card (301 redirect): I have seen penalties coming through these recently, but not 100% of the time and usually there is some latency giving you some clean up time.
6. Help us prove who paid DVishnu to do this work, so that they may be publicly outed in the community. We already have a very good idea about who paid for this however without a little more proof we can’t name the company.
But most importantly the best thing that we can do as a community is name, shame and refuse to work with individuals participating in these practices. So the underlying point that I’m making here is not one of scare mongering, or one of just wanting to out an unscrupulous individual (although that is a nice bonus), it is a case of making sure the community is aware that now this is happening in our sector and we will probably only see more of it. So affiliates will need to be vigilant moving forward as this could quite easily be any of you on the receiving end of a very hard to clean up spam bomb in the near future. If you rank for a “holywood” or “trophy keyword” then you will be even more at risk.