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Okay, so let's pretend i have a site about "Dogs". My main business, however, is insurance. For some lucky reason, I appear on top for "insurance". Then one day, company B appears and they beat me on Google. So, one way to harm their backlinks is to create many from unrelated niches. I.e. I could create links back from my dogs website to my competition's website.

I actually did this by accident to myself, so i know: It killed my site's rankings and even got banned from Google for a while. So basically, my dogs website, with it's massive traffic, is a grenade, waiting to get thrown at a site. By directing bad traffic, I can kill someone's site. And worst of all, they will think they are getting a LOT of traffic, when actually, I'm screwing them in the long run.

So my questions are....

  1. Am I right? This would kill PR, or was the time it happened to me purely a fluke (it was so bad, that if you typed in "dogs" followed by my country name, my site would appear 4th, even though it probably doesn't have the word dogs on the entire site once).
  2. How legal is this? (i'm scared this is a normal blackhat seo tactic that already exists.... is it?)
  3. How can something like this boomerang?
  4. Why is no one doing this? Or are they?

Thanks!

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is morally wrong. How would you like it if the targetted site had a more authoritive site and did the same to you? All of a sudden your site isn't in SERPs? Not to mention you could be playing with someones well-established business or hard-earned income.

As you mentioned, this is a black-hat SEO tactic.

The victim would probably (quite easily) figure out that they received lots of links or traffic from unrelated searches, traced back to your website and they'd be well within their rights to notify Google. You'd probably end up getting your dogs site severely penalized/banned, which is just a waste if it's as reputable as you say.

Google do make manual SERP alterations sometimes. After your dogs site was banned/penalized it would only be a matter of time until the targetted site returns to it's true positions.

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I understand the moral aspect. That's not my question. Is this a blackhat seo tactic? I didnt know. What is it called? –  coderama Jan 28 '12 at 10:06
    
And then, I understand that google could penalise me. But are there other threats? Him doing it back? Him sueing me? –  coderama Jan 28 '12 at 10:06
    
As a general rule, anything you do to alter SERPs against Google's wishes can be seen as blackhat SEO. As for what it's called, I don't know. Link-bombing is probably a fitting term. If he has the resources, he could do it back. It might take him a little time to find out which site to target though (he'd have to figure out which site you owned in his niche just from the site that link-bombed him, WHOIS records might help him there). This isn't a legal forum and I'm no legal expert, but I think it'd be incredibly hard to sue at this level. Finding the person and proving it was them and not –  Anonymous Jan 28 '12 at 10:21
    
somebody that hacked the server is far more trouble than it's worth unless we're talking millions of dollars at stake. From your questions it sounds as though you are planning to do this and I can't express strongly enough how I don't condone this, at all. –  Anonymous Jan 28 '12 at 10:22
    
I'm more concerned about protecting myself against this. I run a repitable business, and can't risk being seen as a company that does this. Also, everyone knows i run the "Dogs" website, and will wonder why the traffic is going where it's going. –  coderama Jan 28 '12 at 17:16
  1. Yes.
  2. It's legal in the sense that you can't be prosecuted for most blackhat SEO practices (it took ages just for email spam to be outlawed).
  3. Not sure what you mean. But if you're asking whether the blackhat technique can come back to hurt the user, I'd say it's mainly in people discovering that you're using it, which could get you dropped from the Google index and also hurt your reputation.
  4. There are SEO companies doing this. There was a Forbes article about this sort of thing a while back interviewing an SEO expert who dabbles in this sort of false-flag blackhat SEO on occasion. He states that it has always been extremely effective when he'd done it.

Google claims that other people linking to you can't hurt your search ranking, but this really isn't true. There's no way to combat blackhat techniques without penalizing them in some way, and if you do that, there's always the possibility that someone can use these penalties to their advantage by intentionally framing their competitors.

However, there's not much you can do about this sort of attack other than monitor your external backlinks and report suspicious activity to Google before or when you start being penalized. So it's just not something worth worrying about.

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