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.
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 email@example.com from which this email right now is being sent to you) :
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.
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:
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?
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's response to SEO extortion emails isn't very reassuring: http://t.co/XzWCNDMCwx
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) August 15, 2014