Case Study: How To Identify a Negative SEO Spammer
Post date: Feb 27, 2018 4:33:20 PM
Note I have redacted certain details from the below article.
I have a client who has seen evidence of someone building links to negative coverage of them online to make this content more visible online.
By examining the backlinks to this negative coverage (using Ahrefs backlink tool and the Wayback Machine) I was able to identify the entity in question with some certainty. 'Negative SEO' is generally considered to be 'activities aimed at lowering a competitor’s rankings in search results', but I'd argue that building links to negative coverage of competitors to make this content more visible online to affect their online reputation (and thus the click through / conversion rates) amounts to the same.
We had earlier decided that in terms of the wider & more urgent business goals around this issue, identifying the culprit would be of little / no value with my limited time budget after having spent a short time on it.
However, a few months later I spent a little more time on it (15 mins-ish!) and I looked for other UK based websites linked to from blog comment links that linked to negative coverage of my client to see if I might be able to identify the SEO agency or entity behind this activity . I quickly found a link to a site (with certain details that identified them as a 'suspect') on the next page of blog comments to a link to negative coverage of my client on a popular forum. By following their online footprints I was able to identify the entity in question with some certainty…
These blog links would both have been created by blog commenting software (rather than by a human being) for SEO purposes by someone who was reasonably 'SEO savvy' at the time they were built - there are 10’s of page of spam comments on the blog page in question. As to what the next stages will be relating to possible action based on this information I will need to discuss with my client.
In short, by examining blog comment links in detail it is sometimes possible identify the SEO agency or entity behind negative SEO with a degree of certainty.