By attorney Michael P. Ehline, Esq. – This report really is more about the new Google tool available in WebMaster Tools (Click Here.), and probably has similar implications in its use, as with Bing. Although I have seen many comments about the new Google Link Disavow Tool, and its potential ramifications as ranking factor, I have not seen much on how this could potentially hurt a site that is a spam site, but that was not picked up by Penguin, or any of the 200 other ranking factors. Or could even an innocent site get hurt if someone simply lodges a report against the innocent site?
Could Link Disavow Be Used to Take Down Sites Like the DMCA?
Previously, we discussed that Google definitely will de-index pages, and even whole websites that are reported for engaging in copyright theft. So naturally, it follows that Google, at some point, will de-index sites that are disavowed by multiple Googlers. It only makes sense. (See also Google site block) So apparently Google has a system in place to make sure that would happen. But Google also used to say it was virtually impossible for someone to do negative SEO against your domain. And we all saw what happened there.
Sometimes Google will subtly warn you in advance about things. Case in point, was the time that Google was talking about using site speed as a ranking factor. Many people ignored this idea, and then, kablam, it happened. Site speed is now a ranking factor. Know that Google is looking to see if the site you reported is a spam site, no doubt in my mind about that. And this does raise the issue of whether or not you should report every site.
Reasons Why You May Want to Contact the Site Owner First Before Disavowing
1. The Offending Site Could Have Been Hi-Jacked
God knows that many a WordPress owner has been attacked with spam comments and even spam posts after site hijackings. I would sure want a fellow blogger to contact me and point out the spam, before I laid the hammer down, and reported his or her site as a spam site.
2. The Offending Site Deserves the Courtesy of an Email Before Being Reported as a Spam Domain
In my opinion, reporting a spam site, is in effect laying down the gauntlet. This will probably earn the offending site an irreversible penalty at some point. So make sure to give the offending site a chance. Of course, it could be some site that was set up to link bomb you, and in that case, you may just want to lay the hammer down.
The Whole Googleverse Benefits When Link Disavowal Tool is Only Used In Extreme Circumstances
Getting sites banned and blocked should always be as a last resort. Heck, reporting your own site when you disavow links can probably put you in Google’s cross-hairs at some point, if you disavow the “good links” [or even the bad ones]. So why not just be civil and send the host, as well as the webmaster for the site, an e-mail explaining the with the DMCA example, and that their entire host could be blocked (blacklisted.)
What Do You Think?
Don’t you think Google is looking for hosts who have massive reports of spam dripping off of them? We already know that Google knows how to look for bad neighborhoods. Why not give the host a chance too before everyone on their network gets blown out in a Google one fell swoop? (See Google ISP Blackisting here.)
If There is Also Copyrighted Content on Offending Site Is A Link Disavowal Tool Better or Faster or Vice Versa?
This covers a hybrid issue where there are copyright and negative SEO issues. I say pull it out at the roots. If your brand is being diluted, you should send an email to the host, and if possible, a notice to the webmaster. If they do nothing, and you have “negative SEO”, as well as a copyright issue (in my mind brand dilution is also negative SEO), then do the DMCA first. Usually it only takes a few days before you know if Google is gonna take it down! Also, the Disavow Tool could take forever to work. Google doesn’t want spammers to know, so it is a secret.
I Am An Attorney Not a Web Dude How Do I Find Out the Info To Email a DMCA Hybrid Negative SEO Takedown?
Members of the Circle of Legal Trust already know that most of this information is available just by Googling “how do I do this or that?” But, if you must know, the answer is for you to Google “Whois“. Then you enter the domain, and it shows you the name, address and number of either the host, the webmaster, or both, and you can then attempt a contact. Sometimes the e-mail is invalid, or the info is private, etc. In that case, proceed with a DMCA takedown.
Example of E-mail to Webmaster/Host
Dear webmaster, someone has been performing negative SEO on my domain and brand, by publishing spam content on your site [and is also duplicate copyrighted content of mine]. My domain is www.gotscrewd.com and the offending page on your site is: www.screwdme.org. Rather than file a DMCA takedown notice, or use the link disavowal tool with Google and Bing, I wanted to give you an opportunity to remove the spam and/or copyrighted [comments, snippet, and other materials]. As you are aware, the exact match anchor appears to be spam, is all to commercial websites, and offers no value to anyone. It is clear that sites with multiple link disavowals against them are probably spam sites, and that Google will probably de-index sites and pages it considers to be engaging in negative SEO and copyright violations. Please let us know by the end of the business day today, or we will continue to exercise our legal and administrative rights in this matter.
As you can see above, I am not trying to intimidate anyone, and I am not directly accusing anyone. I am pointing out the obvious. Hey, “I don’t know how”, but your site ripped off my content, or your site was hijacked, possibly by a bot, or a hacker to lay down bogus exact match anchors as a matter of course. Some people use programs like SENuke, AMR, BMD, Xrumer, Scrapebox, etc. Anyways, some of my blogs got hit with this before, so I know hackers can get it and lay down crappy links from your site to another’s and it sucks.
In closing, I say, pull it out at the roots before the doomsday device, of DMCA, or a Link Disavowal is taken.
Posts by Michael Ehline
- New Metrics for Old and New Sites
- The Decision to Outsource Legal Work
- Building Your Reputation With an Ethical Base
- Playing the Modern Public Relations Game
- Surfing the Online Review Game
- Google's Online Advertising Plan Will Make Things Work
- Uber Fires Controversial SDC Car Engineer
- Uber Murder Another in Long List of Rideshare Violence
- Program and Syllabus COLT Con 2017 - Palazzo Hotel
- Las Vegas 2017 Circle of Legal Trust Convention - April 20, 2017-April 22, 2017