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 Caught Using Paid Links

Google promise to do no evil… but they have been caught manipulating website ranking using the very same technique that has seen other sites punished – paid links.

Basically, Google has paid for “advertorials” in online newspapers, and within the content is direct links to Google products. According to Google the only legit way of doing this is to ensure the links are “no follow”. In the examples uncovered, the links are just regular, meaning Google benefits from the link juice.

Full story at SEO Book

These things can easily happen when a company gets too big, and especially when they assign a publicity campaign to someone who has no knowledge of SEO practises. I doubt it was deliberate!

Meanwhile, in the UK Google has punished flower delivery service Interflora, as well as more than 150 news sites that they had advertorials on, just like Google, without “no follow” links.

Google News Now Reads Meta Tags

Search engines stopped looking at meta keyword tags many years ago, because they were abused by spammers – combined with better software for determining the topic on the page. But now Google has found a reason for reintroducing their use, by following this logic:

  • All sites that appear in Google News have been manually reviewed for quality – and even if spammers gain entry, they don’t last long
  • When semantic content is wrongly determined by Google’s software, it can look bad on the news page – so genuine & accurate meta keywords will have value

However, there are some sites that appear in Google News that are heavily SEO optimized. They rewrite stories continuously and have elaborate internal linking systems. These sites might take the meta tag reintroduction too far…

Full story at SitePro News.

Google Dumps Content Farms (without AdSense)

According to MediaPost, the new search algorithm over at Google has caused Mahalo and Yahoo’s Associated Content to lose rank, while eHow by Demand Media is unaffected. Obviously Yahoo’s properties don’t use AdSense. Mahalo has some AdSense. But eHow and the other Demand Media sites make a significant contribution to the coffers of AdSense. I suspect that the new algorithm has been tweaked so Demand Media sites are unaffected, Mahalo is collateral damage, and Yahoo loses out.

Google always maintains that their algorithms have no bias, and that will likely always be true. However I suggest that almost certainly the tweaks made to the algorithm will be tested against revenue, and the latest iteration will be one that on the surface shows a dismissal of content farms, while they keep their biggest content farmers on board.

There is an opening for a more-fussy search engine.

Posted in SEO