There are widespread reports within the industry of negative SEO extortion emails being sent to website owners, webmasters, SEOs and others. The emails are claiming that an evil SEO will ruin the site’s ranking in Google and other search engines if they do not come up and wire $1,500 to the evil SEO. Both Dan Petrovic, Steve Webb and George Zlatin, amongst others, posted copies of the emails.
The email reads:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Google’s stance on negative SEO has changed throughout the years, previously stating there is “almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index,” to now saying “Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.”
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.”
But if you are concerned about specific links, “you can also choose to use the disavow tool,” Google told us. In addition, Google is recommending you “report extortion to law enforcement,” although that doesn’t do much good if the email comes from countries law enforcement has no control over. But if it is received on Gmail, Google asks you to report it at at https://support.google.com/mail/contact/abuse.
Truth is, negative SEO extortion is not new. I reported about cases of this back in January but this specific email is going out to many, many webmasters and site owners.
If you are concerned, yes, use the disavow tool. But make sure to keep an eye on your most recent links in Google Webmaster Tools and then disavow any new links that come up that concern you. If you do that, these guys will have a hard time hurting your site.
The overall concern is that with the Penguin algorithm and all the manual actions around link penalties, SEOs and webmasters feel it is easier than ever to perform negative SEO on a site. This perception is an issue in an already ‘black-eyed’ industry.
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