In 1996 the creation of Google led to the “boom” of web pages and the knowledge that you could make money with them. Hence, day after day the competition to reach the first positions in the search engines is becoming more important.
It was then when SEO was created (Search Engine Optimization). Although for the readers of this blog it is not necessary to define this concept, a brief explanation never hurts.
As its own name indicates SEO is all about improving the visibility of a website in the organic (unpaid) results of the different search engines.
That is why more and more websites and companies use SEO to improve the effectiveness of their websites and make them more outstanding to Google. The more visible you are to Google, the more customers your website will have.
It’s like a high school popularity contest, the more people saying that you’re the best football player, the more people will believe in you and the greater your popularity will be.
Now, so important is the role SEO plays on websites that many have used it as a weapon to defend themselves against their competitors. This weapon is known as Negative SEO.
In this article, Trendhim Marketing Managerexplains the consequences of these attacks and useful techniques to combat them from her own experience.
It can be a real disaster when a link bomb attacks your page. We have experienced it. Unfortunately, neither the police nor the insurance companies can do anything about it. You are the only responsible for solving such problem.
Last August, as any other Thursday we were reviewing our analytics. Everything looked normal, except for our backlink profile. Suddenly, our 38-degree office was frozen. We had been attacked by more than 8500 “link bombs”.
We did not know what to do, it had never been the case that a Danish page was attacked by these links, we had only heard cases of someone who knew someone who knew someone … ”
In the online marketing industry, people joked about “bomb links”, but no one had experienced it. Until now.
It is assumed that when you send more links than normal to a page Google suspects. 5 years ago you could manipulate Google and buy links, but now it is not about the quantity but the quality. Nowadays Google has mechanisms used to penalize other pages that try to improve their rankings with false links.
This is not the only way you can be penalized, if the keywords that link to your website have no relation with the content of the website, Google algorithm knows that something is up. That’s why Negative SEO attacks are not very sophisticated, since one of the most frequent actions is to send backlinks under the term “porn”, subject Google doesn´t particularly like, but sometimes works and it is important to know how to react.
Generally the responsible for these attacks are people who want to harm their competitors. For about $79 you can buy “link bombs” that will eliminate your competitor from the market. Thousands or millions of links will link to your competitor’s website.
Affected by a link bomb
As we have mentioned our website: Trendhim.dk was attacked with a link bomb. Most of the links where linking to our sunglasses page, which fortunately, is not our big source of finances and we didn´t lose as much as we could have lost if the links where directed to ourpage.
Unfortunately not everyone is aware of the measures that need to be taken for such attack. This is what we did to avoid the greatest possible harm:
- Take action as soon as possible. The less time that passes, the less damage your rankings will suffer.
- Find the websites linking to your site. We currently use a combination of ahrefs and Google’s Search Console. Both programs tell you who is linking to your website and how they are linking .
Once we identify the links, we sent a list with all of them to the list of unwanted links from Google – The Disavow Tool.
In addition, we also ensured that our page remained secure – that it had not been hacked.
Then we contacted the police and our insurance company without any results. Insurance companies do not cover websites damage. It may sound melodramatic, but we could be discussing the life and death of a business.
Our next choice was the police. That, unsurprisingly, could not do anything about it either. They simply did not know this type of crime. We tried to explain that we had been attacked by Negative SEO, a slightly more formal explanation than actually explaining that we had tons of links coming from websites that told Google our web is about “porn.”
We tried to explain a little more in detail what was the negative SEO and what impacts it has, but without any results. We were trying to report a crime that was not really a crime, they did not know what it was. It’s like saying that your store may be on fire but no one is dead.
Getting in touch with the owners of the linking websites
Many websites linking to us had been hacked, and no one was aware of it.
So, we tried to be Sherlock Holmes and contacted these pages, one by one, with the purpose of deleting the link linking to our page.
You have to go page by page, which takes a lot of time and a lot of work, but it is actually effective.
It has certainly been an experience. We managed to fix losing the minimum number of customers. The rankings are back to normal, but the competitor who attacked us is still out there, sitting in a dark room in front of a fire drinking whiskey. We do not know who he is, we do not know anything about him and we cannot find anything about him. He’s basically playing with your paranoia. Is he someone we know personally, acompetitor, or just a teenager trying to use a new tool? We will never know.
The temperature in our office has returned to normal, and if we are attacked once more, we will know what to do. You cannot get insurance, the police cannot do anything about it, but you can get rid of your competitors for $79.
Sara Lopez Alaguero
Marketing manager en trendhim.