Table of Contents:
Michael Ehline on Content networks
By Michael Ehline – First, let me apologize for not posting anything new or exciting recently on the Circle of Legal Trust blog. I have been very busy trying to thwart incessant negative SEO attacks against our law firm’s website. In the process, I believe we have come up with an approach for identifying who some of the/our attacker(s) is/are, and how to win the skirmishes and battles against those who would do evil to your brand.
Unfortunately, the war can never be truly won until Google comes up with a method to disallow bad actors from harming the search results for top ranking sites. Until then, there will always be an environment of fear, uncertainty and doubt for those accustomed to Google’s more stable algorithm of the past. So for most lawyers like me, it is no accident that you fell on this aggressive attorney’s treatise on this more and more popular topic. Despite recovering millions of dollars for injured victims and having a stellar reputation as a personal injury attorney, for example, a few bad votes from bad neighborhoods, and you can easily lose your position on the semantic legal web.
The Discussion and Test Site Will Be About http://ehlinlelaw.com/ A Statewide Personal Injury Firm Based In So Cal
The Ehline Law Firm PC, is a personal injury attorney firm brand based in Los Angeles, CA, that has been up for about 8 years on the www. Most of our clients are car accident, cruise ship and motorcycle injury victims in the Northern and Southern California judicial districts. When we lose a position for those above terms, it effects our ability to meet our bottom line. Since assisting seriously injured victims is what we do, we were ill prepared for the havoc that post April of 2012, the month prior, would bring. As one of the first 5000 or so members of Google Plus, we were already engaging in social, and had already been top Mixxers, Diggers, and bloggers. So before Penguin broke, we had already created a brain trust of top ranking attorneys on Google Plus. Eventually the outcome of these efforts evolved into the Circle of Legal Trust. Now, our site and others are starting to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of Penguin, and the advent of aggressive, negative SEO.
Here, we will discuss the tools that your law firm should be using to find malicious linking to your legal site, how to get contact information about the attackers (not always possible), how to spot patterns, link spikes, and poor quality sites, both law related and non specific. I will also cover how to get rid of bad links you may have intentionally or unintentionally built to your law website.
I am also proposing the creation of an index of suspected negative seo networks so we can have a blacklist to quickly identify bad links and bad link networks. (we will include a link to our current “Google Links Disavow List” at the bottom resources later today.) So get me your disavow lists and let’s compare notes and share. That way, we attorneys can help eachother take down these negative SEO networks.
So moving along. Any law firm that keeps getting loaded up with “exact match” anchors from “low quality sites” needs to read this this comprehensive treatise. Who knows, maybe Google will do something about this major problem if enough of us legal beagles start clamping down and spreading our stories.
Why The Circle of Legal Trust?
As a collective of lawyers, we can act as watchdogs both when it comes to what the search engines are up to, and help oversee eachothers’ websites when evil-doers are attempting to manipulate Google’s constant changes to harm us. We really don’t want people linking to our sites unless it is a legitimate vote, earned through a trusting relationship.
I know, for example, that when injury attorney, Anthony Castelli, links to my Gplus profile, or our firm site, that it was not a “guest post”, or some other artificial link. It was not an attempt to manipulate Google’s rankings, but instead, it was because he trusts me, he knows I understand attorney search and the quality guidelines, and he feels confident he is not linking out to a bad neighborhood.
He knows my firm and I have an excellent reputation for recovering significant monetary verdicts and settlements, and yet, I still make time to strengthen the public perception of the legal profession by my volunteer work with the Circle of Legal Trust. If he wants to voluntarily link to our law firm, he chooses the topic and anchor text, not me, and all I do is just be me. It is a real vote and I did not even need to campaign for it. I was just being me.
Since COLT members are collectively light years ahead of most other attorneys in their web rankings, we all become unsuspecting [till now] targets of unsavory SEO companies whose clients (other attorneys we compete with), lost a lot of rankings when Google got smarter about detecting bogus and manipulative links. As we continuously improve and they don’t, a few negative SEO attacks, and we disappear or lose rank. The SEO people these firms may be paying, charge from $500, or maybe even $10,000 per month. To keep a windfall of money like that coming in, these SEO people need to show results to keep that unjust enrichment coming in.
Even the law firm’s in house SEO people have to find a way to recover from Penguin FAST or they will picketing a McDonalds for a pay increase for flipping burgers lickety split. And since it is so hard to get a natural link on a contextually related, themed site, why not just pay someone a few dollars to blast a bunch of bad links to each competing site on page 1, and scale your site back onto page 1? Sure, it will probably ignite a war of mutually assured destruction, with every firm on page one firing back at the firm that took over page 1. But who cares, so long as you can show a flow chart that your firm’s site popped back up and keep that check coming in.
So while it is a blessing to rank well on Google, and have a group of trusted attorneys who have vetted eachother giving eachother a helping hand, there are a lot of SEO companies and other bad actors, would rather pay $5 bucks to someone to blast one of our sites with bad links from Xrumer, for example, so they can pop up above your site, rather than engage in proper online ranking strategies. Getting this so far? If you can knock out the first page firms, and you are at the top of page 2, you go back to page 1. Simple!
Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Ranking on Google
So eternal vigilance in tracking your incoming links is now a mandatory, daily job, unless and until Google closes the negative SEO floodgate. I for one, as a Google stockholder, am extremely dissatisfied that Google allows quality sites to essentially be destroyed by negative SEO. But at least Google has provided the ability for aggressive, vigilant attorneys to recover and defeat negative SEO, if you have the time, desire and it is affordable, or are simply ego driven to be the best, like me, you can stave off some of the effects of negative SEO.
For now, many attorneys face two stark choices: (1) Watch your site like a hound and battle spam and malware attacks daily; (2) Invest more money into Pay Per Click and give up on organic search altogether. For those of us who ignore PPC when we search Google, we strongly see the value in a powerful organic presence and brand, and look at PPC as an adjunct to fill in the blanks if we don’ get what we want organically or via Google+..
Unfortunately, now the money we would have spent on PPC, is now being used to pay off negative SEO sites that blackmail us, and to pay dedicated staff members to locate bad links; and our attorneys eat up billable hours doing DMCA take-downs on sites that are hurting, and scraping us. So although PPC use does seem to increase when Google tweeks the algo, the bid prices are now so high, that we now must focus all our energies in getting our organic rankings where they need to be and have had to use our resources like a mobile fire brigade.
Our PPC budget is now eaten up entirely – and some – by our efforts to eliminate or reduce the negative SEO. This is a story I am hearing more and more from larger firms, and why I am writing this piece. So while I totally support getting rid of spam, etc., and I like PPC (It is has doubled my stock values since Penguin was released :-)), I do not want to rely 100% on it, nor do I solely rely upon organic search. But now am seeing a mass exodus of attorneys in my circles, from Google PPC moving to Bing and Yahoo Paid Search! Stories range from “it looks like Google is trying to force us into PPC with these algo changes”, to “with the increased bid prices, despite using Google PPC for 15 or more years, we just could not afford it, and the leads were lower and lower quality” as PPC became more competitive and expensive.)
I could be wrong, but it seems like Penguin in particular, has made Google PPC a churn and burn tool that firms are using to try and save their Google ships from sinking. In the end, they spend whatever money they had left, and felt that they had to give up, or were being “Scroogled”. Whatever the reasons, numbers don’t lie, my Google stocks have doubled and I am gonna do whatever Google says to do, and go with the program. Once I make a commitment, I am in it for the long haul. But below is an example of how easy it is to take a shortcut that is being used against our firm.
Example. Attorney A, B, C rank ok in organic. A in number 1, B is number 3, and C is at the top of page 2. Attorney C knocks out A and B from organic SERPS with negative SEO and rises above their old slots and maybe takes slot 3, or 4.
Attorney C takes over the first page organic slots and A and B, for what amounts to $45.00 worth of bad links. Attorney A and B now are forced to bid entirely all their marketing budget against thousands of other people who have Higher PPC Quality Scores, whose sites are specifically optimized for PPC conversions and placements. A and B spend $50.00 per click for several months, and get low quality calls and leads and are even bidding on negative keywords they didn’t want and have to actually block, and simultaneously risk blocking a word they want to bid upon.
A and B scrap their web sites (just give up) and spend 50k a month for a few months on Google PPC, using up their entire yearly marketing budget in two months. The leads they do get from PPC are not at the same quality level as what they had gotten from organic, and they are starting to get angry. They finally realize that they need to find another way to market online, and that Yellow Pages and bus stops are no longer effective. Many of my friends realized in about June of 2012 that they would, as a matter of budget, have to turn to Bing and Yahoo PPC combined, and are at least able to [still] get some business. They would rather use Google, but now only huge firms can afford PPC, and SEO “experts” also can constantly attack PPC competitors with highly advanced PPC click farm attacks and control the first page of the organics and PPC. So now you are spending an inordinate amount of time doing click disputes to Google. My attorneys who are active in running their own marketing departments at the Circle of Legal Trust, have relayed to me that both Yahoo! and Bing are MUCH more likely to honor a click fraud dispute than Google.
So for many of us, assuming we want to be recognized online, we cannot effectively do everything, and none of dare use or trust organic SEO or PPC click management services like Reach Local. In fact, I personally believe that I was deceived by their salespeople in an ongoing dispute, and have the documentation to prove it. So we have to make stark choices. My hope is that Google will see my evidence below with respect to the major, and incessant attacks on our law firms’ site, along with the actual IP addresses and email addresses, emails, and list of black sites that are improperly trying to hurt, and are actually hurting our law firm’s organic rankings.
We are also going to show you, the average solo attorney or small firm with a shingle out, how to get rid of bad links. We know not whether we can demonstrate to Google how their new policies are forcing businesses in a tough economy to focus efforts on defeating attacks, rather than focusing their efforts on adding quality content and improving search results with fresh, quality content.
But we can help you protect yourself. We are just barely surviving, but remain confident. Negative SEO has become so prevalent against our site, and many other legal sites, our main thrust, and the focus of many law firms has gone from getting good links, to removing and stopping the bad links! My how times have changed.
So What is Negative SEO?
Back in January of 2013, I wrote a pretty comprehensive article about negative seo and lawyers here. For the purposes of this article, we will try and confine our discussion to bad links. But in reality, it can be achieved by malware attacks, hacking that redirects and cloaks, and any number of other methods discussed here at the bottom, So for this article, Negative SEO is the process of building bad linking signals to a website, typically the website of a competitor that has risen above your site, for example, in the search engine results position (“SERPS”).
Building links, exact match anchor, or even branded, dirty or naked anchors from low quality sites, is the primary and cheapest method that most evildoers utilize to hurt your rankings on Google, Bing and Yahoo! Although in the past, since 2006, Google had said it was virtually impossible for a competitor to build bad links to your domain(s).
There’s almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.
Our search results change regularly as we update our index. While we can’t guarantee that any page will consistently appear in our index or appear with a particular rank, we do offer guidelines for maintaining a “crawler-friendly” site. Following these recommendations may increase the likelihood that your site will show up consistently in the Google search results. (Read more here.)
So even back as far as 2006, while although Google admitted that it was possible to take out a website with bad links, they made clear that is was almost a non issue. But then, a month or so before the first iteration of Google Penguin came out, in about March of 2012, Google had actually silently (no fanfare) changed changed their written policies to say that it now would be MORE possible for a bad actor to harm your website.
Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages. (Read more here.)
As an attorney, this new language basically tells me that Google was being honest that there would be some more “give” with the new Penguin algo, that was just around the corner in April of 2012. Interestingly enough, right around this same time, our main site received a huge link spike of exact match anchors for terms we already had been number one, page one for years, from a huge network of Indian, Russian and Swiss based directories and low quality forums. It is almost as if someone on the inside at Google had tipped off some SEO webmasters of a shortcut to number one that was about to be unleashed.
Of course, back then we didn’t even know about tools like ahrefs, majestic or MOZ tools. And we rarely used WM tools, and frankly, it was a waste of time, since it does not tell you the individual pages and file extensions where the bad links are. So we didn’t discover this information as to the dates the massive March 2012 link spikes occurred, until after the first release of Penguin when our site tanked, and desperately searched for, and located effective tools to help us identify negative SEO and bad links in general.
How Do I know If I Lost Organic Ranking
For you noobees, you may already know just by doing a Google search, or from your phone having stopped ringing. But there is an easy way to check your traffic, either by using Google WM Tools, or by using any number of the paid tools we discuss in this treatise.
First, think like an attorney and do some reason and deduction. When was the last Penguin update? We know from Google that the last Penguin update was “Penguin 2.1 (#5)”, on October 4, 2013. So let’s look at our traffic flowchart and see what happened to our website here:
Screenshot of Ehline Law WM Tools
Ok. So from a traffic point of view, we lost about a thousand impressions starting on October 4-5 and lost about 30 real clicks a day, until about October 8, which saw a sharp increase in traffic and then in started to fluctuate. As of today it is down down down and that has coincided with a steady flow of exact match anchors from foreign language porn and Cialis sites. Unfortunately for us, the traffic we are now getting is not for what we are selling, but for our how to become a lawyer with no law school tutorial on our site. You see, we have great content and we get traffic from all over the place (Social signals, past clients link to us from their blogs, Circle of Legal Trust interactions, etc.), so this chart by no means represents just organic search impressions for our valued terms to keep our business alive.
So any net increase in traffic displaced our keyword terms, and other tools like Serpfox, show we fell off the map for terms like “Los Angeles car accident attorneys“, and “Los Angeles personal injury attorneys” compared to where we were before (Page 1, Slot 1, to page 3.) Based upon the timing and history of the Negative SEO links to our site, we see a direct relationship. So using the WM tools chart is not exclusive factor in making our determination that Penguin is hurting us big time. The sharp drop in business and money terms and timing of the releases say yes, it was Penguin.
Other Factors that May Explain Our Apparent, Sudden Bounce Back In Traffic But Not For Search Terms
As soon as we heard Penguin was released in 2012, my team went to work and watched our SERPS. We started reading articles about “link dilution” and discovered various link detection tools that apparently were being used by only a few big SEO firms. After using these awesome tools, we did a history of our domain and identified a huge spike in our BL profile for links containing the terms “accident” and “car accident”, and sure enough, using tools like SERPFOX, we were able to see that we lost rankings for all those terms post Penguin.
So we stopped adding valuable content, stopped researching ways to make a PPC campaign more effective, canceled client meetings, and went back to work on our site. We spent several days doing DMCA Takedowns (and still are doing them almost weekly), notifying site owners and hosting companies, and for all negative sites, we did a disavow, not just a DMCA.
With the most recent Penguin, we dipped again and spotted a new attack that almost would have been overlooked by us, had Eric Enge not told us about foreign language sites. We found that digger deeper into these sites, that although they look English, they are really French, Russian, etc. So we doubled our efforts, and within a few weeks of doing this x 2, starting around October 29, 2013, and Google honoring DMCA’s that had already been submitted prior to the latest Penguin, we started to see our rankings return A LITTLE.
Eric Enge said in our Las Vegas seminar that we have to wait to recover, until the next Penguin update. My only theories are that Google recently changed their recovery policy to be more dynamic like it used to be in the happy times, or that Penguin was still running and noticed that many of these bad links had been shed during the algo run.
A Consistent, Unrelenting Negative SEO Attack is Akin to Plugging a Dam With Your Fingers
Plug the dam – Not
The bottom line, since April of 2012, we have been in a constant battle with negative SEO. When we get links taken down we move up. When a new attack begins, we go down. So we are probably not the best example site since there has not been a period where we have been bad link free. It is akin to plugging a dam with your fingers. You plug one hole with your finger, and a new leak is detected from another area of the dam. But we are an example of a site that is spending almost all of its time trying to defeat attacks, rather than better our site (but isn’t cleaning bad links bettering your site?) So this is probably the best explanation as to why we have not disappeared altogether. Who knows?
So What is an Exact Match Anchor?
As you probably guessed from reading above, an exact match anchor is simply a string of keywords like: “Personal Injury Attorney”, “Car Accident Lawyer”, or some other set of words that searchers commonly use to find an “injury lawyer”, for example, when they type a search query into Google. But it could even be singe word like “Accident”. It used to be the case that the more exact match anchors you had to your site for the same term, the higher it would rank for that specific term (See also “Google Bomb“.) But even as far back as 2006, it was known that a link from a blacklisted, or porn site, would probably hurt your site – but rarely did. During the time, Google had been striving to give more credit to themed, contextually related external sites, and basically seemed to treat links from non themed sites in more of a neutral fashion.
When Penguin was finally released in April of 2012, it sought, inter alia, to identify too many exact match anchors to your site as unnatural, and it actually reduced the rankings and value of both the sending and receiving site. It worked(s) in tandem with Panda. Based upon our testing, if your link is on an overoptimized site, even if it is NOT an exact match money term, you still get punished. Google says it is not a penalty, but an algorithm change that can be recovered from.
In fact, Google even sent out notices via Webmaster Tools, informing many site owners that they had unnatural appearing links, so they could have a chance to restore their site’s value by getting the crappy links removed. But many people were unable to get many of these now “unnatural” links taken down, as many if not all, were naturally obtained, and the parties linking back either refused to remove them, or wanted to be paid, or simply did not respond to multiple removal requests.
There was no link disavowal tool yet for Google, and Bing already had one of their own, beating Google to the punch. While Google debated internally on a disavow tool, Matt Cutts said that some webmasters may be better off trashing their poorly linked sites, and starting over!
If you’ve cleaned and still don’t recover, ultimately, you might need to start all over with a fresh site, Matt Cutts said.
Reading some of the comments on the site link above containing that quote, webmasters and site owners were none too happy, and they almost universally and desperately called for a Google “links disavow tool”, and even for Matt Cutts’ very head. In the meantime, Wikipedia and new, one or two page sites with little to no links started to dominate the first page results for major keyword searches, and many businesses who relied upon their search presence went under, or had to lay people off. So strategies had to be developed to get rid of bad links and recover, or start over from scratch. I am proud to say that Circle of Legal Trust led the Herculean effort at saving our members’ branded, time tested sites.
Google’s Official Position – Negative SEO is It’s “Rare”
Matt Cutts, Google’s representative, has said that negative SEO is “rare”. Considering there are millions of sites and only ten or so organic slots on page one, I agree. But I disagree that it is rare as to those previously top ranking sites that have been blasted to the back page of Google. I have personally felt, and am still feeling the effects of Negative SEO on our brand and on our law firm. We have consistently been on page one for many key terms and phrases for at least seven (7) years, and even have maintained a PageRank Six (6), for several years.
It was not until these huge link spikes and foreign blog networks started to blast us with exact match anchors in about March of 20012, that our slots of the Google Atlantic Ocean suffered, and we no longer enjoyed the “glückliche Zeiten“. Advances in spamming technology made it far more possible than ever for your boat to get sunk by a weaker opponent. And we have all seen many first page companies fall.
Even doing a cursory backlinks check on personal injury attorney websites that historically had used to be on page one, I have seen this same pattern. Tons of exact match anchors were blasted to their sites starting right around March of 2012, right before Penguin, Panda and Hoard hit. What surprised me more, is that it appeared that many of the sites that ended up taking over those ten slots on page one, emanated from legal blog networks, such as Findlaw’s Firmsites.
Enter the Negative SEO Industry
There are also numerous reports of other non attorney sites getting hit and disappearing, as well as documented tests proving how easy it is to destroy a high ranking website for $45.00. In fact, a whole new industry of negative SEO companies has arisen, using old directories and blog networks that used to do well in Google, to link out to your site to hurt you in Google.
They do it so you will pay them to remove the links (aka blackmail/extortion), and/or to help your competitors hurt your site. They even will have a link to paypal to remove the link on the “contact us” page. Genius! (I will show you some screenshots below along with an estimate on how much it has cost us to pay for removals of our links from sites we never asked to be in) And of course, around that, a whole new industry of “link removal” has risen up like a phoenix. So if it is so rare, why is it costing me and others hundreds of thousands of dollars to deal with? How can you focus on building a quality site, when all your efforts are now focused on keeping what you have?
The Google mantra became: Really good sites would get natural links and you should be fine. But as Pot Pie Girl correctly pointed out, and I will prove in this article, beyond the intentional negative SEO, there is indirect negative SEO. “You get scraped, copied, syndicated, spammed, and so on and so on. Those really good sites that linked to the original article and your post also get scraped, copied, syndicated, and spammed as well.” [Emphasis.] (View Source.)
So in my opinion negative SEO hurts Google’s reputation, and bottom line, and it hurts primarily people who were on page one. Sure more people turn to PPC, but the keyword bid prices for law firms are so high, many stop using it soon thereafter. In any event, why would somebody do negative SEO on a site that was on page 3 of Google? Of course it’s “rare”. It can be the result of unintended acts, as well as intentional acts by third parties, AND from a site owner intentionally spamming Google. The algo does not discriminate. So is it fair to let sites get wiped out from these attacks? Wiser legal minds than mine could answer that:
“It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer” (Sir William Blackstone.) Hopefully Google will revisit what is happening once they read this comprehensive report on the disastrous effects of negative SEO on innocent lawyer websites.
Look for Exact Match Do Follow When Cleaning Your External Links Profile, Unless You Built a Lot of Spammy No Follow Links
What is a do follow versus a rel=”no follow” link? Simple, a do follow passes “link juice” (learn more), which directly effects ranking, and a rel=”no follow” does not pass link juice, and only indirectly effects SERPS (example would be that a site with zero rel=”no follow links” looks unnatural to Google.) Matt Cutts has already made clear that no follow links will not hurt you, unless you have a lot of spammy (eg exact match anchors), links or links on obviously bad neighborhoods (defined as a web page that has been penalized by a search engine (most notably Google) for using shady SEO tactics, such as hidden text or link farms), on a large scale pointed to your site. (Learn more about rel=”no follow” here.)
How do I Tell if a Link is Rel=”No Follow” or Do Follow?
Ok, so now, depending upon your level of expertise, your asking, how is a basically trained attorney gonna find these do follow or no follow links? Well, don’t be alarmed first of all. To begin with, there is no identifier that spells out a do follow link like the rel=”no follow” attribute. It is simply and automatically a do follow link unless the landing page itself is set up to no-index all the content on the page, or unless the url (your links with or without a file extension), is set up as a rel=”no follow” link with attribution. Incidentally, there are also attributes like rel=”vote for” and rel=”publisher”, which we discuss another day, and to be ignored when you are sifting your external links. Get it so far?
I am chuckling because you are still left holding the bag trying to locate them quickly right? Wrong. ahrefs and all the other tools have a feature that allows you to locate and even filter out no follow versus do follow links. You can also use your mouse and right click view source and the to an edit “find” in your toolbar editor and type “follow” and look for the links on the page. Below is a screenshot of how to filter the search to locate only the do follow links feature on “ahrefs”. You would simply login to ahrefs, and enter your url in the explorer box, and then in the left under BACKLINKS, click “Anchors”. This will cause all the referring anchors to display, At which point, you click “DOFOLLOW” (See below.)
Helping lawyers find no follows
Of course, you can also keep the anchor link search at default “all”, shown above, and ahrefs will simply show you an anti box next to each link to your target site. Here is a screenshot:
Example of a search on ahrefs for lawyers seeking no follows
In the example above, you can see the anchor text “www.ehlinelaw.com”, is really just a naked anchor from Scoop.it, so you are ok. No need to disavow or try and delete that one. In fact, you may even get some traffic to your site. Cool!
How Do I Find the Offending Site Owners and Hosting Company(ies)?
Great question. Most of the time, they are privately registered. If not they are foreign sites. So make sure to use the Google Translation Tool when you send a takedown. In any event, we like to use http://who.is
Just enter in the url of the offending site, and you will generally get domain registrar info, hosting info and SOMETIMES the actual email contact of the site admin and owner(s). Most of the time these are bogus e mail addresses and a waste of time. Sometimes you get lucky and get a response, as you will see at the bottom of this report.
Enter LSI as a Game-Changer
Some people did in fact trash their crusty old sites, and started over with new sites and in most cases, and for all intents and purposes, unintelligible LSI written legal pages became the new backlink for law sites. In effect, write a page like Carl Sagan, or William F. Buckley Jr. spoke, and you will rank high. Ok, now that you get that, let’s get back to brass tacks.
Is It Really Negative SEO or Is It Bad Content?
Great question right? I mean, after all, you don’t want to go removing all your link signals, if it is perhaps the Panda punishing your site for duplicate, thin, redundant, or semantically poor site (Read more about attorneys and Google Panda here.) I would say in many cases, it is in fact bad content. But think about this for a minute, if the stuff linking back to you is written anything like an over-optimized site that links to, you got trouble buddy. So as you read the articles and content in the link snippet area that links back to your attorney site, what do you see? Do you see constant, repetitive words like: “If you were seriously injured in a Los Angeles bicycle accident, accident lawyer attorneys for crash law are here to help at 888 SPAM-MENOW.” This is called over-optimization, and it used to work VERY well to alert Google as to what your site was about.
If you see stuff like that on your site, or the site linking to you, no matter what kind of link, be it naked, branded or exact match, get that link taken down by hook or by crook! Rewrite your site using the same natural language that an intelligent lawyer would normally use (yeah right – no write like William F. Buckley Jr.) Use semantically related words and phrases. Make sure sites that link back to you do this as a matter of common practice, or don’t rush to get that link! Understanding this so far?
It Could Be Both Bad Links and Bad Content
As noted above, it is very possible that your site got a double whammy. So obviously, you need to be very careful. You need to look at the sites that are beating you and look at their content, backlinks and other user signals and reverse engineer this. So don’t go running out disavowing links. But DO remove duplicate copyrighted content! Especially if it has links pointing back to your site.
Effect of the Google Links Disavow Tool
So many misguided webmasters try and sell us lawyers on the concept of simply disavowing the bad links. After all, so far there has been no downside. But not so fast. As will be discussed infra, Google does not even guarantee they will ignore all the bad links, and they even encourage you to get them taken down yourself. For this and other reasons, I have VERY little faith in this tool.
How to Find Exact Match Anchors on Your Legal Website
Where are These Exact Match Anchors Coming From?
- Ezine Type Sites
- Press Release Sites With Do Follow Exact Match Anchors
- Lawyers.com or Findlaw Sites that Constantly Get Scraped
- Do Follow Wiki Sites that Allow Public Edits
- Social sites that get scraped
- Do Follow Forums
- Do Follow Blog Comments
- Cialis and Viagra Sites
- Other sources -Porn, Russian, Chinese and foreign language sites of all types
- Site-wide Sidebar or Footer Links on ANY of the above sites are instant death.
Efforts at Mitigation Must Follow An Understanding of the Types Sites That Google Does Not Like
Ok. So first let’s wrap our brains around Google’s hammering of Ezine in 2012. Google basically said that article republishing sites are really not themed, most people don’t go to an ezine to find, say a lawyer, and they are really just used to manipulate the SERPS, while offering no real value when they flood non themed sites looking for content filler, with duplicate articles, on say, their pool cleaner site(s). Incidentally, knowing this, if you are a negative SEO company, this is the first place you go to try and hurt someone right?
Of course, if you used exact match anchors in your ezine author’s box, and your articles were shared across a blog network of dry cleaners, porn sites, and other garbage sites, that definitely hurt and is hurting you. Imagine having links like “personal injury attorney” from a pool cleaner site. Especially a pool cleaner site that was probably exclusively created with scraped, or shared articles. No thanks. Penguin would definitely hurt both the sending and receiving sites. The contextual relationships between both sending and receiving sites are simply too far attenuated (Penguin FILTER!) Besides, it is simply a duplicate article. (no value at all.)
So for our law firm, in order to mitigate, we immediately, within days of chatter about Ezine getting hammered in 2012, deleted our article sharing accounts on ezines, and articlesbase, despite all the traffic and lead generation we got. We decided we could see where this was headed, and would rather not argue. Lucky for us, the few sites that did pick up our articles, were mostly rel=no follow and the ones that were do follow were usually cooperative in removing our articles with no real hassle other than the time it took to contact the webmasters. We did this within weeks of Penguin breaking in 2012.
Lawyers.com and Findlaw
This is a huge problem that was addressed by Pot Pie Girl, supra. Authority sites get scraped constantly, along with the links. This means now you have the ezine effect, with potentially hundreds of websites copying and pasting your content ad infinitum onto a never ending supply of scraper sites. There are only a few ways to deal with this, as will be discussed, the big question will be whether you own the content, or not. Sites like Chimyen literally copy and paste every lawyers.com article and blog post onto their sites along with your links (of course it is a privately registered site.) Google knows it is a BS site, and the links to your site from them hurt you now. Understood? Hello DMCA. This is when you use the DMCA.
Lucky for you, most of these sites allow public edits. Many are do follow unfortunately. So the best thing to do is remove your links and ALSO disavow the site, just in case it comes back again. This is the same firm, we opine, as they are still spamming the term “accident”. I posted a screenshot of this link scam set up below. http://www.lsi.us.es/~wiki/dsdm/index.php?title=Evaluate_Car_Insurance_Quotes_United_Kingdom&oldid=1014194
As you can clearly see in the example above, it looks like a decent article and would probably pass ezine community edits, etc. But it is on a foreign language site. Obviously, to Google, this is spam, as an English article on a French or Spanish site, it adds no value whatsoever. Besides that, the wiki site itself is pure BS. It is filled with a bunch of commercial links and scraped content. Even after we created an account and tried to remove our link off of this garbage site, the “wiki edit history” keeps the link on the site. So all we can do is disavow and pray Google will ignore it. We get links everyday from garbage sites like this, and it is hurting us.
Social Sites that Get Scraped
It is common to see articles and news clips get scraped onto crummy networks of news aggregators with your links. Disavow when you find em just to be safe.
Do Follow Forums
For years, there were primarily Indian based companies trying to sell people links from forum comments. Apparently there are paid programs people can use that mass submit exact match anchors to multiple, usually un-administered sites. You need to disavow and contact the site owner who was spammed with your links, and do whatever you have to in order to get them removed. When these Indian companies had their networks outed as spam after Penguin, they converted their networks over to paid negative SEO and probably have not suffered much.
Do Follow Blog Comments
Same as forums.
Cialis and Viagra, PORN It has long been known by Google that Cialis, Viagra and porn, are highly spammed topics. So if a negative SEO company can get YOUR law firm’s exact match anchor onto a few of these sites, you are toast. His client pops up above yours, and you disappear from the first page for that keyword unless you are very aggressive and get Google’s attention. So if you see sidebar or blogroll links, or if the entire site or page itself is dedicated to these topics, contact the site owner right away, as he may have been hacked, or at least let him know you are going to disavow the site unless your links are removed. http://exthoughts.com/article.php?id=20657
Other Sites – Porn, Russian, Korean, Chinese and Foreign Language Sites
Identifying a Low Quality Site Using Tools
Ok, so now what Mike? There are a lot of way I can get hit, but how do I even know? I am busy running a law practice and pay someone else. What do I do? Well, for me, I want to do it myself, since it could be those very people you are hiring who are using bad tactics that got you here, or they just are not as savvy and sophisticated as they need to be to accomplish your mission of a clean site. So you can hire Eric Enge, or you can learn how to protect your own brand and use Eric as a consultant till you learn. The only other person I can recommend is Andre van Wyk. But for those of you with brass balls like me, you learn. So keep on reading.
Ok. So Now I have Identified What Types of External Links Google Doesn’t Like But How Do I Find Out If This is Happening to Me?
I am glad you asked. So first, as discussed, there are several tools out there, from Majestic SEO, ahrefs, Open Site Explorer and so on. They all offer a pretty much worthless free link tool that shows you a few of the links they found, as well as the anchor text, in relation to your site. And they all offer much better paid link detection platforms. None of them seem to find all your external links, as they all DO return a few examples that one other detection platform may not return. Google WM tools also offers snapshot of your backlinks, but fails to show the actual landing page, or anchors of the links to your site, so it is pretty much worthless too IMHO.
We Use Ahrefs Paid Tools, So this is What We Will Use Here
So for this query, you create a paid account with ahrefs.com, and then type in your site url. Now there are several ways you can crawl your site. You can set it up to crawl only the externals pointing to your landing page itself, or you can set it up to find links to all pages on your site. So for purposes of this tutorial, we are going to crawl for all links to each child page and the home page of our site.
*.domain/* is what you would use: See image here below >>>
So go ahead and enter the url of your site into the explorer bar, and click “Search Links”. Next step is to click “Anchors” on the left column.
Other Examples of Attacks Against Our Law Firm Web Site
So using the tool above, searching anchors, you can find all the sites and the terms they link to you with. Although Google asserts these attacks are rare, we beg to differ. Our rankings virtually disappeared compared to what they were, after these concerted attacks.
Bad Neighborhood Blog Networks.
(Typically a network of multi purpose blogs that are now being used to hurt sites, instead of helping them. Could be your own scraped content, or just a sitewide link on a bunch of PR0 sites that are probably already de-indexed or filtered by Google)
Ex. Would be a company that charges approximately $5.00 to $500.00, to blast scraped or user even generated articles to hundreds of sites that all use the same template, content and backlink blogrolls.
Here is a screenshot from a link to a very spammy template page we successfully had taken down on hundreds of sites using the same template: http://car-info.netne.net/Motorcycles/Protective_Gear_On_The_Rider_And_The_Bike__otorcycle_Awareness_3965.html << We are in the process of doing a DMCA on this site now but wanted to be able to do a screenshot first.
Example of a Domain Farm
As you can see, this is a non themed site that probably made someone a lot of money from ranking different types of sites selling sidebar backlinks, that uses scraped content as “filler”. Probably made someone money prior to Penguin, but now acts as a boat anchor on the rankings sites that it links to. The articles to our firm website are versions of ours, but have been slightly altered and filled with multiple exact match links to our site. Clearly not done by us, or at our behest, but Penguin sure would think it was ours.
By the way, this is day two editing this article, and here is the response from the sending site’s hosting company. Site taken down, Victory!
DMCA Takedown Notice (submitted from website)
PLEASE DO NOT EDIT THE SUBJECT OF THIS EMAIL!************************
REPLY HAS BEEN ADDED:
************************Hello ,Listed abusive account has been terminated. Thank You for taking the time to report this.It has been my pleasure to assist you today. If you have any further questions or concerns feel free to contact us again.Best Wishes,
Help Desk StaffBusiness Enterprise Hosting Media
********************You have 24 hours to remove our copyrighted content here:
Later, in our email screenshots with the owner or controller of this network, it is revealed that someone, anyone can blast anything they want on a network of hundreds of partner sites. He alleges that it was done by someone else, another law firm in another state. He even provided me with information about who he thinks may have done it, that I forwarded to Eric Enge and provided the screenshot below.
There are many other sites in this same network that all HAD the same exact article and links embedded on them with the same exact template. Most have been taken down at the host level, due to our aggressive tactics in notifying hosting companies and threatening copyright actions. At the bottom, are the email screenshots with a list of other links on this network that took us months to take down, and of the colloquy between me and the admitted owner of many of the above domains.
(porn sites with membership, dry cleaners and other wikis with old publishing platforms or compromised interfaces that allow public edits with or without user logins.) Typically, although many of these these sites have zero PR, and are probably deindexed, Google still counts the links from them. This is why I do not believe a DMCA is even enough to clean up your backlinks. Assuming Google counts links on deindexed sites, even a DMCA cannot help you!
You have to get the content and the links removed to have security and peace of mind. Here are some examples of some screenshots of nasty sites that are linking to us that we do not want in our backlinks profile for the term “accident”, a highly sought after term for a catastrophic injury law firm!
- Here is one with a broken contact info and private registration. http://www.linkcross.info/index.php?c=44&p=51 <<< Disavowed since that was all we could do.
Directory Networks This is typically a network of old school PHP directories that are paid or scraped listings of lots of businesses. (They typically use exact match anchors for terms you already rank for to try and hurt you and make you fall. Neg SEO people use mass submission programs, and typically blast exact match links to thousands of directories all at once for the same term to create a huge link spike. This of course, will simultaneously trigger a filter that hurts your rankings.) There is a screenshot below of directory listings we do not want, did not pay, or ask to be in, and have repeatedly contacted owners from whois data, and since disavowed in WM tools having had no luck at removal.
Scam Directories that Put Links Up and Then Demand Payment to Remove the Links
At the other extreme, are these directories that started adding links with terms you want to rank for. Typically, when you go to the Contact Us, it takes you right to a “Pay $20.00 to remove your link” form. I can attest that we have spend at least $15,000 doing that in the last year and a half. Below are screenshots of the sites, the contact us forms and the demand for payment of just a few of these sites. And oh yeah, we DID NOT ask for these links, or pay or do any kind of reciprocal campaign. These are PURE extortion sites.
Here is an example of Chimyen, a very low quality scraper site that hides all of its contact data on who.is, and that scrapes content from my lawyers.com blog posts and the anchor text. Killing me. Every time I do a DMCA takedown on one of my posts, ten more pop up. Disavow the entire site, and keep on trying to find a way to get the content removed. Any ideas?
Example of content scraped:
This is one of the many sites that duplicates links and content that Google probably thinks our firm has something to do with. But here, the source was on lawyers.com. We went so far as to delete the article off of lawyers.com but it is still on Chimyen and there is no way to content the site owner. Trust me we have TRIED.
Advanced Negative SEO Is Designed to Appear to Google that You Definitely Put Up The Links
Here is an example on a POS Cialis site, that any manual reviewer would say we created. http://exthoughts.com/article.php?id=20657 You can see that this company is targeting our home page for “accident”.
In the example above, starting in about November, 2013, a string of articles like this started popping up in a hrefs linking to us for the term “accident”. The article seems like it makes sense at first glance. But when you read it, you are left scratching your head as to why it is on a Viagra site. Even more confusing is why anyone would link to a lawyer’s home page for the term “accident.” It is not defined on the lawyer homepage. It just is too slick.
It doesn’t make sense. Accident, in connection with personal injury is not the same as it would be in connection with drugs like Cialis. In any event, a dictionary definition would be a better page to link to for this search term. That link does not even need to be there anyways. This is precisely the kind of reverse engineered negative SEO that the Google algo triggers as suspected spam. I am no dummy as far as these tactics go, but the level of sophistication of this individual made me read the article and look at the theme of the site twice before I recognized it as an unnatural link.
Cloaked Doorway links. Here is an example of a link to our site we did not request that is buried in a porno site on some days and on other days it goes back to its normal url. It appears the Negative SEO company has hacked into a porno website, and cloaked our link underneath images. http://udycomidec.comeze.com/p-government-building-san-francisco.php
If you click view source, you will see our links embedded into the porno site: “<p><a target=”new” href=”http://www.ehlinelaw.com/” >Ehline Law Firm PC | Aggressive California Accident Lawyer | Los …</a><br/>Serving San Francisco, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego and Orange.”
Whether to Use the DMCA or Disavow Tool, or Both, Depends Upon Many Factors
The Domain Copyright Act, or DMCA can be a very effective tool for eliminating your content that you own from the Google index, that also contains links to your legal site that is placed upon another site. The question to ask is, is it your own content, or is it a pure negative SEO attack with just external links, and someone else’s content? If it is yours, this is the best way to have the content and links deindexed. Google also takes steps to notify webmaster who is in violation, that their page was just de indexed, and they will typically have to respond to a ticket that the page was ultimately deleted by that webmaster, in order to get the ticket(s) closed.
In other cases, we have heard reports that Google also notifies the hosting companies – which we recommend you do first before notifying Google, Bing and Yahoo! – and the host will often take down the entire site until your content is removed. But as I discussed above, Google does count links in other de indexed content with respect to blog networks, so why would it not still follow links in a copyrighted article that has been de indexed, but not removed. Are you getting this? Disavow for good measure, but don’t take your eye of the ball. Get that content pulled down!
So obviously, the DMCA provides the optimal muscles to get content and the links within the content removed, and works whether or not your article or copyrighted works were scraped from your article the Findlaw blog network, or the Lawyers.com legal blog. After all, there is a chance the hosting company will force the blog owner or scraper network owner to take down your content permanently. So that should pretty much cover the DMCA as a tool. Soon we will go into detail on our view of the proper use, and effectiveness of the disavow tool for all the other links that suck. But what about compensation for all the money your are spending to maintain your site?
You Have No Legal Basis To Demand of Someone To Remove a Link in Most Cases Unless You Own the Content The Link is Embedded in, or Do You?
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act makes it clear that merely linking to a website is not illegal and that even bad, false and defamatory content posted by third parties on a first party site such as Yelp, for example, is protected. (Source.) Even anonymous reviews are deemed protected as far as the site where info is posted goes, unless the owner of site itself is the person doing the negative reviews and negative SEO links. In fact, there is a process in place to sue the actual party who posted the information, assuming they are not hidden underneath proxies and tunnel servers, etc. (Read more.) In any event, at least one court has also ruled there is no cause of action for trademark dilution, infringement or unfair competition. Good luck if that is your argument.
Below are some snippets taken from Out-Law.com that explain what you cannot sue for with respect to backlinking:
“…hyperlinks do not transmit a work, (to which they link) they merely provide the viewer with information as to the location of a page that the user can choose to access or not. There is thus no communication of the work.” (source) … “Just as an improved search-engine that improves the ability of users to locate material for which they are searching should not be required to obtain permission as a matter of copyright law, so providing links or access to material already publicly available should not be regarded as an act that requires any authorization” (source) “… every internet user enjoys access to the work simply by learning the uniform resource locator (URL) the court held. The hyperlink technique obviates the need to enter the URL manually and merely provides an easier and more convenient way to use the internet.” (source) “… Kranten.com successfully argued that such deep linking to other sites is a widespread and commonly accepted practice on the internet and because, as in UK law, news articles can be copied for the purpose of reporting current events, provided there is sufficient acknowledgement.” (source) [Emphasis]
Other Arguments Creating a Potential Right of Action
Since negative SEO is a relatively new phenomenon that Google is allowing at a level it was not allowed at before, it stands to reason that a creative attorney could sue the company selling the negative SEO services, as well as any co conspirator. In fact, many negative SEO companies are selling you the right to destroy the business and business models of competing law firms.
Unfair Business Practices – Tortious Interference With Business
In other words, this is probably an Unfair Business Practice Under California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 et. seq., and is in such bad faith, that it seems a court could easily find an exception to punish bad actors with unclean hands. Some NegSEO companies will cloak the external links to your law firm site, into a porn site, for example and try and make it appear as though you did it! Clearly this can also damage a lawyers’ non virtual reputation, and even possibly get him or her into trouble with the State Bar. Something has to give.
Remember Google punishes negative SEO based upon the premise that YOU did it. You built these bad links to your site. This means you could do a mixed bag pleading, and even forward criminal allegations to the attorney general of your state and the United States. Identity theft across state lines would entail the FBI getting involved as well, would it not? There may even be a private attorney general’s statute for you to recover attorney’s fees.
Other Ideas to Sue Bad Actors for Bad Links
We are still on the fence whether or not there are other claims that could be sued upon like intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent and intentional interference with business, and so on. Just because a link is not a protected trademark, and more akin to a library index card, does not mean that so called “library index” cannot be used as a tool to intentionally hurt someone’s website by reducing its ranking, and overall brand value. At least, we think negative SEO has opened up a whole new test area for lawsuits. But this does not mean you should not mitigate.
Why the Links Disavowal Tool Is No Ace in the Hole
Google has already said there is no guarantee they will ignore the bad links, and to top it off, the links still appears in your overall ahrefs profile. So you never really can monitor your true ratios of types of links until those links are gone. (View Source.)
A copy of what a disavow chart should look like
Please note that www. is actually a subdomain of http://mydomain.com. So when creating your disavow file for uploading, make sure and make BOTH domain:www.mydomain.com and also domain:mydomain.com on the list, just to make sure. Get it? If not, I will be including a link to our current disavow blacklist below. Please note that although some of these sites are no longer live, or have removed our links, I am not risking taking these sites off the list. These are sites we feel are bad.
When All Else Fails Return a Hard 404 and Delete the Targeted Page From Your Site
A hard 404 error simply returns a page not found. Inherently, Penguin seeks to punish a page ONLY for the terms in overoptimized. So if your “car accident” child page lost rank after a Negative SEO attack, and it does not recover, you can ask the people who linked to you with GOOD links to like to a new page on your site for “car accident”, and you can delete the old page and return a 404 page not found. But NEG SEO people typically target the first page of your site, since most sites rank their home page for most highly sought after searches. Obviously, you do not want to return a 404 error against your main page. So you cannot always use this doomsday approach.
Evidence of an Ongoing, Current Negative SEO Attack Against Our site for the term “Accident”
This particular attack that we think started around November of 2012, is part of the foreign language Cialis ring, and obviously being done by a pro. They use the same templates for the most part, but also mix it up and throw stuff on any site that is foreign and also has security holes, or lack of administrators to clean up spam. I now am able to recognize the writing style. It is probably German or Swiss, based upon the translations and way certain words are reversed. I only know this due to my experience in foreign languages regarding male and female, formal or informal.
On one of the articles, on one of their sites, you can tell it is a bunch of spun, scraped content, combining divorce law, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc., all jarbled and non sensical with legal terms. It also links to one of my friends, Emery Ledger, an attorney in Newport Beach, California, and to our firm’s website with the anchor text “accident” once again. This is a very persistent negative SEO company, or in house SEO person, and I have actually been able to get his IP address(es) (assuming he is not using a proxy, etc), and e mail(s) contact(s) from a few of the sites he has spammed with links pointing to us.
We believe we have traced this person and connected the dots to another lawyer who dislikes both Emery and I personally, and are taking steps to deal with this at the California State Bar level.
The screeenshot above is blurry so here is a copy and paste.
“RE: Feedback from Attorney Michael Ehline
admin FLV <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thanks for pointing that out
Here is the email address
We will be deleting all content from this user account and advising of security changes needed to make
| FLASH VIDEO HOSTING |APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT | FLV FLASH SOFTWARE | Hi DEF ENCODING |
Message: There is a person spamming your site and mine who is scraping our content. This is pure commercial spam. If it is not deleted we will disavow the site and use the DMCA. Here is the offending account. We would appreciate it if you would give if the e mail contact of the spammer so we can sue them. http://www.urbantelevision.com/blog/10937/driving-in-my-car-beep-beep”
As seen above, we got an IP and email to the actual spammer. Our research on email@example.com revealed accounts set up as a man, and woman with various user names on easy to access spam sites throughout Russia, Germany, and other European countries. Now, I have no way of knowing if this is a false lead. But we believe that in conjunction with the other evidence, the source was reliable, and not in a conspiracy. So we researched the IP further, and among other things, we discovered that the IP range has been blacklisted for spamming on at least 20 domains. Sound familiar? Check it now here.
Here are a few shots of this spammer’s work against us on other sites. You can clearly see the level of sophistication of this spammer. The stuff is doing really makes our site backlink profile look like we are a bunch of semantic dirtbags: In this below example, we have contacted the webmaster of AliceOcean at least 6 times with zero response. It is so far removed from anything personal injury related. Yet it again uses the term accident with our home page link embedded into it. What on earth does a law for have to do with making a “spa more inviting”. Again, this is clearly being done to hurt us. Then when you look at the site itself. It has a bunch of random commercial links for home remodeling. Clearly not a topical or theme relevant site. Clearly goes against everything I have been teaching my COLT members to avoid for almost two years now. Exactly what Penguin seeks out. Check it out:
Alice Ocean Negative SEO
Here below, is another example from the same negative SEO spammer and it is really a whopper. It is a Korean Language site. A church for crying out loud. You really couldn’t go much further off topic from a personal injury attorney than a church. I mean are you kidding me? Does Matt Cutts or Eric Enge really think I would ever allow this kind of crap?
Korean Church Negative Seo
Notice that this site uses the same template and comment section as the Alice Ocean Negative SEO site above it? Me thinks we are zeroing in on a blog network. In fact, this guy is so smart, he is even placing our links on mirror, clone rel=”no follow” sites for the same anchor term “accident” here:
Here is another one for a Los Angeles accident attorney that talks about Chicago and mentions Pennsylvania divorce law, and even mentions one of my friends in OC. This has got to end.
So after seeing the above screenshots, and comparing the content on our site, blogs and history of links to our site, it is clear that we do not put out this kind of content historically. This is poorly written, is usually placed upon a porno site, dry cleaner site, Korean church, or some other Russian Language Site. What is advanced about it, is that a manual reviewer would probably assume our firm is paying an SEO company to build these links. After all, they are exact match, they are being build “slowly”, perhaps one article every few weeks, and they are kind of poorly written articles that are scraped with bits and pieces of content from other legal sites.
In essence, they are a montage of legal websites all spun into one article. So it looks plausible that we built that. But in the words of President Obama, we “didn’t build that, someone else built that”, and now we will further prove to you, Google, Eric Enge and Matt Cutts that we are not being “evil” or lying about this.
The E-Mail Colloquy Screenshots
Below, per the advice of Eric Enge, I am presenting what I believe is a very strong case of a deliberate and insidious, multi faceted attack against the Ehline Law Firm PC.
Fake Accounts on Article Sharing Sites
One big problem is the deep thought taken by bad negative SEO companies to hurt top ranking sites. As I will show later on, one way NSEO companies try and spoof Google into hurting your domain, is to create a scenario that makes a manual reviewer believe it is you doing the exact match anchor, “linkbuilding” to your site. How this was done to us is astounding and really hurt us.
How do we know it hurt us? Because once we contacted each article sharing site owner, and got the scraped and stolen articles removed, we popped back up for terms we had lost that contained the anchors, or related anchors to those queries. How can we prove they were not our firm or my own accounts?
Simple, the site owners themselves verified in writing that someone else was doing this, and pretending to me ME! In a few cases, I got IP addresses and e mails, which I am going to provide here-below, for Matt Cutts and the Google Anti Negative SEO Team (Is there even one?). Last, I have never hired anyone in any capacity to set up article sharing accounts for me.
More Proof – Article Sharing Accounts Were Set Up In Our Name By Use of Fraud and Deception – Identity Theft
So you still think we are the source of all these shared articles Google? Hear from the actual site owners and see what they said and didn’t say about these article sharing accounts that they deleted for us.
First we have the honest webmaster approach from ezinemark and then we have the neutral response, and last, the blame the messenger response:
Here is one guy who swears our law firm’s “SEO Agency” did it, but refuses to give us the “results of his investigation”, and said he was reporting us to Google as “spammers” when we demanded he stop blasting our copyrighted content. Yet he did agree to remove our content. He must have learned how to deny deny deny from Bill Clinton. Keep in mind, we have never hired anyone to submit articles on sharing sites. If we had, we would be able to login and edit. Simple common sense.
Here is the first e mail to the Hosting Company>>>
So despite the slanderous allegations of ezine9, it appears they were using the CYA approach. So when a lawyer sends an email, I guess denial is the game one plays. If we had placed these articles, we would have simply logged in and deleted them. Obviously, this is a scraper site. Lesson learned, people get angry when they are caught. So try and be as civil as you can when asking them to stop violating your property rights.
Here is our email back and forth between that site we suspect that responsible for all these bogus domains linking back to us with exact match money terms.
As you can see above, all of these links are to a bunch of PR0 sites. I know this is the guy who is running the pay to post as I contacted him via the pay to post form. This is the only method he would respond to. So it goes on below. And it gets heated. First he directs me to an old article that reflected Google’s pre Penguin policies on negative SEO, and then he admits that it is not me or my firm blasting the stolen content, but some other person
As you can see, finally we are getting somewhere. But he still hasn’t given me the contact info or IP address of the spammer. At least I can prove to Google that our firm is not responsible for this garbage. Now if they could only tell their algo that. In any event. We were able to knock out hundreds of these sites. But we stand ready for the next attack.
The Pay to Remove Your Directory Link Scam
As discussed above, rather than get rid of low quality directories, enterprising scumbags found a way to make far more money than were selling directory listings to spammers. As I said, we were loaded up with over a thousand exact match directory listings in a HUGE link spike starting in about March of 2012. It just does not make sense that negative SEO would start so soon after they changed their policy in March of 2012, just a month before the first iteration of Penguin.
Please use following page to get link removed:
As you can see above, in response to a link removal request, this site directs you to a file extension that leads to paypal.
Here is one that makes you wait 3-4 weeks to remove the link you never asked for, or pay to guarantee removal now!
CostDirectory.com Contact Form : Attorney Michael Ehline
Helen at HitTool.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Images are not displayed. Display images below - Always display images from email@example.com
Hi Michael Ehline,We are working on remove link requests. Your link will be remove within 3 – 4 weeks, in the order it was received.If you need your link to be removed within 48 hours, then we can do the express removal for only $5 and payment can be made via PayPal.
Ehline Law Firm PC <firstname.lastname@example.org
November 4, 2013 2:20:47 PM UTC
Helen at HitTool.com <email@example.com
Re: CostDirectory.com Contact Form : Attorney Michael Ehline
Name: Attorney Michael Ehline
Content: We will pay you right now to remove this outdated link and listing, or turn it to rel no follow. Otherwise, we will proceed to use the Google and Bing \”Disavow tool\”.
Los Angeles Injury Lawyer – Ehline Law Firm PC
Ehline Law, Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, is not just a Los Angeles accident lawyer. We are elder abuse lawyers and tort law experts. Dog bites.
Ehline Law, Injury Lawyer PC <firstname.lastname@example.org>
What is your paypal? I will pay extra to get it done immediately.
Images are not displayed. Display images below - Always display images from email@example.com
Hi Michael,You may send payment to our Paypal account at firstname.lastname@example.org . Please let us know if you need more info.
I am still trying to locate some examples of screenshot of Paypal forms many of these directories have at “Contact Us”, directing you to pay $20.00 to get your link removed. Trust me, there are a ton of them. I will add some screenshots shortly.
Backdating Listings and Articles to Make it Look Like The Site Owner Did It
In any event these evildoers are smart, they will backdate the posts and listings to make it look like they were added years ago, and do anything else they can to make it look like YOU did this, that it is an old listing, and not them. They want your BS links to look “natural” since the goal is confuse the algo into hurting you for gaming Google. It is more believable if it looks old and manipulated. Get it?
Ehline Law Firm’s Link Disavowal Blacklist.