Negative SEO Extortion is Real

According to three commentators, emails extorting webmasters are real – pay us $1500 or we will create thousands of bad links that will trash your Google ranking.

For years Google told us that it wasn’t possible to negatively influence someone else’s ranking. Then they said, well it might be possible, so here’s a link disavow tool.

The big problem is that the extortionists can create thousands of bad links with the click of a button, but the disavow process for so many links can take many hours – and worry!

Fortunately this problem will only occur for those in the middle tier – not so small that nobody cares, and not so big that such tactics won’t harm them. Still, that’s a lot of vulnerable websites.

You can guarantee Google is working to fix this, but it remains to be seen how successful they will be.


Google Acquires Word Lens

For an undisclosed sum…. and makes it available for free.

The app translates words in images and photos into your own language – a typical example is to help decipher road signs in a foreign land.

Unless Google just bought it to reduce competition, the purchase could indicate an extra dimension will be coming to its mobile search offerings. I can imagine being able to enter an image directly into the search app. This already is kinda possible with image search, where you can enter an image URL and let Google find similar images.

Future uses could include:

  • Take a photo of a restaurant sign – and Google will combine that with GPS to bring up a menu and reviews
  • Take a photo of a product (as an alternative to its barcode) and find price comparisons
  • Take a photo of a person and find their social media profiles!
  • Take a photo of a numbered letterbox or house and order a taxi (again, combining the image data with GPS

Right To Be Forgotten

The tide is turning, and members of the public are now able to remove inaccurate search results that negatively affect them – in Europe at least.

Hundreds of people including an ex-politician seeking re-election, a paedophile and a doctor have applied to have details about them wiped from Google’s search index since a landmark ruling in Europe on Tuesday.

The deluge of claims trying to exercise the “right to be forgotten” follows a decision by Europe’s highest court, which said that in some cases the right to privacy of individuals outweighs the freedom of search engines to link to information about them although the information itself can remain on web pages.
[The Guardian]

It is really hard to see how far this will go in the future. In one direction this is just a glitch, and it will be a case of collateral damage (bad luck if a few people are affected) vs the greater efficiency.

In the other direction, people get to control how they are represented online. This might (ironically) require unique identifiers so we can distinguish between people with different names.

I certainly don’t want this, but for the sake of efficiencies I suggest that people can choose to have a unique identifier / username / handle that would be displayed alongside your regular name online. It would be a case of claiming or disclaiming online references. In doing so you risk legal action that makes the connections more definite (or not).