Google’s Response to Negative SEO Extortion “No Bueno”

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Barry Schwartz wrote an article on Search Engine Land yesterday on Negative SEO extortion, and the Google response to these letters.

First off here is the letter:

Subject: I Want To Buy. Please Guide Me.

Hello,

Read this email very carefully.

This is an extortion email.

We will do NEGATIVE SEO to your website by giving it 20,000 XRumer forum profile backlinks (permanent & mostly dofollow) pointing directly to your website and hence your website will get penalised & knocked off the Google’s Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) forever, if you do not pay us $1,500.00 (payable by Western Union).

This is no false claim or a hoax, download the following Notepad file containing 20,000 XRumer forum profile backlinks pointing to http://www.negativeseo.cn.pn/ (this is our website and go and see on this website, you will find our email address issmt1@yahoo.com from which this email right now is being sent to you) :

http://www.mediafire.com/download/eizjwnpq2rsrncu/20000-XRumer-Forum-Profile-Backlinks-Dofollow.txt

Just reply to this email to let us know if you will pay just $1,500.00 or not for us to refrain or not from ruining your precious website & business permanently. Also if you ignore this email and do not reply to this email within the next 24-48 hours, then we will go ahead and build 20,000 XRumer forum profile backlinks pointing directly to your website.

We are awaiting your wise decision.

RS

 

Barry noted the Google response after forwarding some of the emails to them, We forwarded these negative SEO extortion emails to Google and Google responded that they have “investigated” the claims. They added that it is “unclear how credible this threat really is.” Google told us their “algorithms are designed to prevent these kinds of activities from causing problems for webmasters.”

Someone in the comments posted a humorous reply and a link to how they approached the person sending the email. Matt from Analytics Seo wrote:

Hi Rannvijay,

Thanks for your reply. I must admit I’m amazed at the costs of your service! Only $1,500 for 20,000 links??? That’s only 8p a link! What a bargain! How can you even afford to pay someone to do that for so little money is beyond me. Either you pay your guys a very minimum wage or they’re incredibly efficient coders. Which is it? I’d love to know your secret. We’ve got engineers here and they’d laughed at me if I asked them to add a link to a page for 8p! What CMS do you use? WordPress? I like WordPress. It helps make our website look pretty! :n)

And you said they are DOFOLLOW links?? We don’t know much about SEO here, but that means that if people see those links, they just have to follow them, right? Which means we get lots of nice traffic, right? Yay! Your service sounds too good to be true!!!

Where are you guys based? I looked up the .pn top domain thingymajig and Googly said you might be in Pitcairn Islands. Is that right? That’s in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, right? If so, I bet that’s amazing. Wookipedia said there are only 56 people living there. Is that right? I bet if I booked a flight over there, I could easily find you. I’d love to meet up or visit your office to see how you work your magic. Are you on LinkedIn? Want to send me an invite?

Regarding payment, what’s Western Union? Sounds like one of those old rail companies you used to see if old movies about the American Gold Rush. “I’m off on the 6am to Cali-forn-ia to fetch me some of that there gold!!! Choo Choo!” I used to love those films. What sort of films do you like? I like Billy Elliot. It’s probably my favourite. I cried when the dad came in and saw how good his son was at ballet. He didn’t want him to do it, up until that very moment. I’m always amazed by actors. How some people can appear to be one thing and then turn out to be something completely different. So I do a bit of acting now and again. Do you have any hobbies?

Or is Western Union a Trade Union? I’d have to check with my boss in that case. He doesn’t like trade unions. We don’t have one here, which is probably one of the reasons I’ve already done twenty hours of unpaid overtime this week, but it’s cool because I get to talk to savvy, techie people like you! What hours do you work? I bet you must start very early in the morning to get all that amazing link building done.

Can we pay by invoice, by the way? Cash is a little tight at the moment as we’re waiting for some money to come through from a former Nigerian army general. Or can we pay by installments? $10 a year? I recently purchased some new pills from an online store which they said guaranteed I would live another 150 years at least, so I’ll be good for the money. :)

And what’s extortion mean? English isn’t my first language, as I’m Irish, to be sure. I know what contortion means as I recently took up Yoga. I find it helps calm me down and I treat other human beings better as a result and don’t abuse, threaten or unjustifiably ask them for money. I used to do that and yoga really helped to make me a better person. Do you do yoga? How far can you bend? I can touch my toes. Can you? I bet you’d make lots of friends if you can. I can definitely imagine you having a long stretch… It’s funny. Many a time I used to come home from my yoga lessons and my girlfriend would be in the bath and be screaming about a spider and she’d ask me to come in and remove the spider and I’d say “I can’t remove that spider, but I CAN DO THE SPIDER and I’d bend over backwards… oh, how we laughed. Good times.” That was before she left me, of course. ;n( But hey ho, life goes on. Are you married? I bet you must have the time for a special someone in your life seeing as you can do all this technical SEO gubbins so speedily, right?

Regards,

Matt.

Rand Fishkin tweeted out that the Google response to this whole scenario was not very assuring and that SEO professionals should not have to spend their time constantly monitoring webmaster tools and disavow links.

Google Wants You To Encrypt Your Traffic and Will Favor Those That Comply

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Another homework assignment for webmasters given by Ms. Google

Google announced that it will start to favor websites that encrypt their traffic in their search results.

Google said:

For these reasons, over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content—while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

Read Write did an article on the topic:

Google on Thursday applied its not-inconsiderable leverage as Search King of the Universe to “encourage” websites to encrypt their traffic, thus protecting themselves and their users from hackers and other spies (hello, NSA!)

What Google announced, specifically, is that it will begin favoring sites that encrypt their traffic in its search results. As offers go, this seems eminently reasonable and optional. Adopting Web encryption—technically, the HTTPS standard, also known as HTTP over TLS—is pretty straightforward; lots of sites (banks, many email services, Facebook, etc.) use it already. (ReadWrite, alas, does not.)

(A technical aside: HTTPS only protects the security of messages as they transit the Internet. It has nothing to do with whether data stored on cloud servers is locked up against snoops).

Read the full article here

Hong Kong Court Rules Entertainment Tycoon Can Sue Google Over Autocomplete Suggestions

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We all start searches at Google and get the autocomplete function going into full effect, giving us suggestions as we type each letter. Apparently one Hong Kong tycoon did not like the results the autocomplete suggested when it came to him. He wants to sue Google for defamation and a Hong Kong court has ruled he can go right ahead and do just that.

The South China Morning Post wrote:

A Hong Kong court has ruled that a local entertainment tycoon can go ahead with his defamation lawsuit against Google, a decision that could have far-reaching consequences for the future of the global technology giant’s search engine.

Albert Yeung Sau-sing, the founder of a company which manages some of Hong Kong’s most famous celebrities, wants to sue Google because the “autocomplete” function of its search engine links him to the city’s notorious triad gangs.

When users type “Albert Yeung Sau-sing” in English or Chinese into the search engine, Google automatically suggests related search terms such as “triad”, “Sun Yee On” and “14K” – the names of triad gangs.

Yeung wants a court to order Google to remove the “defamatory” suggestions and to pay him compensation.

Google’s Take

But Google’s lawyer, Gerard McCoy SC, warned that “the entire basis of the internet will be compromised” if search engines were required to “audit” what could be accessed by internet users, a task he said was an “infinite duty” and “should not be foisted on Google”.

He said Google adopted “an algorithmic based approach that requires no human input, operation and/or manipulation in the search processes for the results to appear”.

Google was “a mere passive facilitator within a legal safe harbour”, McCoy argued.

Read the full article here

Wikipedia Will Be Restricted Under Right to be Forgotten Law

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wrote a piece for The Guardian today that Google will restrict search terms to a link to a Wikipedia article under the right to be forgotten law. Jimmy Wales founder of Wikipedia said, “You do not have a right to use the law to prevent Wikipedia editors from writing truthful information, nor do you have a right to use the law to prevent Google from publishing truthful information. Wikipedia can and should work hard to do a good job, just as Google can and should work hard to do a good job.”

From the article:

Google is set to restrict search terms to a link to a Wikipedia article, in the first request under Europe‘s controversial new “right to be forgotten” legislation to affect the 110m-page encyclopaedia.

The identity of the individual requesting a change to Google’s search results has not been disclosed and may never be known, but it is understood the request will be put into effect within days. Google and other search engines can only remove the link – as with other “right to be forgotten” requests, the web page itself will remain on Wikipedia.

In May, the European Court of Justice ruled that citizens could ask search engines to remove particular links from results for a search made under their name, if the material was deemed to be out of date, no longer relevant or excessive.

Jimmy Wales, who co-founded Wikipedia in 2001 and has overseen its transformation into the sixth most visited site on the internet, told the Observer: “It’s completely insane and it needs to be fixed.”

Wales is one of 10 members of an advisory council formed by Google to decide how to handle takedown requests. The council will travel Europe, with a first hearing scheduled in Madrid on 9 September, before writing guidance for Google and other search engines, such as Microsoft’s Bing, on implementing the new law.

It was a test case brought by a Spaniard called Mario Costeja González, who wanted a 1998 article about his home being repossessed removed from search results, that triggered the change in legislation.

Read the full article here

The Google Penguin has become the Punisher

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Has the Google Penguin become the punisher ?

Eric Enge wrote a very good article on Search Engine Land that took a look at how punitive the Google Penguin really is. Enge expressed that he had a heavy heart with relation to the unforgiving nature of the Penguin.

Enge gives those webmasters new to the game a primer on how the Penguin came to be:

History Of Penguin

The first release of Penguin took place on April 24, 2012, and it landed on the industry like a ton of bricks. From my perspective, everything seemed normal when Penguin 1.1 landed on May 25, 2012.

Things were looking like Panda, that we might expect regular updates, and webmasters who had been gobbled up by Penguin had a reasonable way to recover if they cleaned up their acts and started doing what Google wanted. But then the updates became rare. Here is the entire update history:

  1. Penguin #1 (1.0): April 24, 2012

  2. Penguin #2: May 25, 2012

  3. Penguin #3: October 5, 2012

  4. Penguin #4 (2.0): May 22, 2013

  5. Penguin #5: October 4, 2013

  6. And then, nothing!

I am not an SEO expert so let me get that out of the way up front, but I do read a lot about SEO and at times I think it can become confusing for those like myself who know a little, but nowhere near what an SEO professional knows.

From what I understand there has not been a new Penguin release for several months, and without it, those who have followed their Webmaster tools updates and have gotten links removed or disavowed, still cannot improve their ranking.

Enge points out three scenarios for why Google is doing what it is doing:

Why is Google handling Penguin this way? I can think of only three possible answers:

  1. Doing data refreshes of the algorithm is incredibly hard. I only list this one for completeness, because I don’t believe it to be true.
  2. They believe that frequent data refreshes would make it too easy for churn and burn spammers. This one is a real possibility.
  3. They are frustrated and angry after a long war against a tide of spammers that never stop. Just like the Roman army trying to hold back the barbarians.

Could it be that the third reason explains why Penguin almost never updates? All I can say to that is, I hope not.

There are 71 comments which are also very good, one commenter talked about how he has done all he could do and his business is still down because of no Penguin refresh.

Karl Baxter wrote:

There’s rumour’s that google will not refresh penguin as Matt Cutts stated “they can’t run penguin as it is too susceptible to negative seo. and they don’t care who is affected” I am a business owner that made the mistake of paying a trusted S.E.O company in the UK to work on our site in 2010 to 2012 , My site got hit in April 2012 and I have done everything possible to try to get my site to recover. I know its my fault as I did not understand S>E>O fully and was at the time happy with the results but with 95% of organic traffic removed my company is really struggling now and I have had to make Family members redundant including my Brother :(
Please Please Please Google can you refresh the data. I can do no more now on link removals every spam link has been removed or disavow’ed our link profile is showing only 80 spam domain left (all disavow’ed) that are Live and over 700 domains with natural links including links from the BBC, NBC, Yahoo News etc Our website is a good quality site that provides a great user experience, but no organic rankings :(

Read the full article here