rants from the dark side of marketing

SEO sabotage

After a couple hard months, you’ve managed to get nine of the top ten positions for a keyword and there is still that guy at number 1. Obviously, you have to do something instead of watching him steal your traffic. Since “googlebowling” is too specific, I’m going with “SEO sabotage” instead.

Disclaimer:

This article is for information purposes only and under no circumstances should be seen as suggestions in any way. Some of the ideas presented below might be against the law in your country, so avoid even thinking about them. I’m writing this because some sabotage tactics have to be filtered and prevented by the responsible parties.

Monkey linking

This is the original sabotage method from which, “googlebowling” was born. You hire a bunch of monkeys and they start creating massive amounts of “bad” links to your competitors website. “Bad” links can be interpreted very widely but I think I have found a way to summarize it.

“Bad” links = links from a page/site that will be, or is already, banned from some search engine’s index

The problem with this method is that you might actually be helping your competitor rather than sabotaging him, so be careful you don’t want to send free traffic to anyone. On the upside, getting caught doesn’t really matter.

(Bonus link: linkdiy.com)

Blog spam

This is better than general monkey linking, since it’s bound to piss some poor blogger off. The key here is to be excessive, by sending 100 or 200 comments / trackbacks per day to a single blog, you can ensure someone will be take notice and start swearing at his screen for all the misfortunes in his life that spammers have brought upon him. Personally, I love the blog spam I’m getting, so keep it up you idiots. (The number of spam comments I get is in the 3 digits in this blog alone)
Problem number one is that pissing people off has its dangers as a hobby. Bloggers don’t have much to do (hey, since they blog in the first place), so someone spending enough time chasing you, might actually find you.Hell, there was that dude that followed a spammer to his home and was then asking what to do next.
Ping spam

This is most effective if your target is or hosts a blog or any kind of rss/atom/xml feed. You start by pinging every ping update service through XMLRPC, submitting to feed directories, submitting to blog search engines, etc etc, every 5 minutes. A lot of webmasters from this kind of services make blacklists that they share, so take extra care with any service you know that maintains such a list. You will be stopping the blogger from using those services, as well as limiting the reach of his feeds if any.

Referral Spam

Referral spam is ugly and means you most probably have to waste time cleaning your logs. For maximum effect find other domains belonging to the same person and spam them too. Gives the spammed person a harder time and raises suspicions. This is something you can employ within other SEO sabotage methods and will raise probabilities of success.

Email Spam

Spoofing email spam from the target domain is highly effective, even if itdoesn’t have any direct correlation to SEO sabotage but you can improve on that. If they publish any newsletter or send any emails from their domain, you will be giving them a hard time to keep a good delivery rate, if any. Extra points if you use the free email services of yahoo, msn and google in the email campaigns. The probability they hand review the domain is raised, as is the chance they take action against the target.

Hosted Spam

Creating hundreds of sites on free hosts and hundreds of hosted blogs all being connected to the target in some way. You can get more creative than just linking back to the target, just spend some time thinking. If you have that much time or money, you could also spam these hosted sites for added effect.

Tipping off the spam hunters

The amount of spam hunters has been increasing lately and you can easily manipulate them to your advantage. Obviously, you should have faked a wide selection of spam already, before you contact them about the spam activities of the target. You could even start a couple “spam hunter” blogs yourself, it’s not hard. Additionally, you can contact them about the fake domains you registered (read below “Fake domains”) or the hosted spam you created. As I’ll say again, indirect is good.
On a sidenote, I’d like to say some things about “spam hunters”. Why on earth do they even exist? It’s one thing to work for an anti-spam company or develop anti-spam solutions, but finding spam and posting whois info on your blog means you really should find some hobbies.

It doesn’t take anything special to type queries in google or follow a couple spammed links. Spending 8 hours a day finding splogs on blogger.com, could possibly be the biggest waste of time I’ve seen. Pasting whois info or saying “Damn, the spammer’s hiding behind a whois proxy” is not useful. Doing reverse-ip’s and finding other domains isn’t something secret, we all know about it. Mapping out their links and network of sites, can be done faster than you clicking the links manually.

You are not doing anything useful, find something else to do and stop caring.

Fake domains copying the targets whois details

You can register bunches of domains, copying the whois info from your competitor’s domain, then filling the domains with spam and spamming them with the other methods mentioned in this article. This is certainly illegal in most countries but you can get some Nigerians to do it. Hosting the domains on the same hosting service the target uses, is a good idea and makes your attempt more credible.
If your competing domain utilizes whois protection, then you will have to make a couple phone calls/ send some faxes to the whois protection company. With some spam accusations you will easily retrieve the real whois info behind the protection. There is a lot of synergy here, since you will have some very handy data about the spam that was sent “from that domain”, making it quite easy for you.

If you try hard enough, the spam domains will be noticed by the search engines’ quality teams and they might do something that affects your initial target. I guess that if this happens to you, you will have a hard time proving your domain is just being sabotaged. Of course, at this point you are beyond targeting a domain, you are effectively sabotaging a whole company or person. It’s really something too naughty to be doing.

Link killing

Removing your targets backlinks should be quite effective, but maybe not possible if there are huge amounts of links involved. You could start contacting webmasters that link back to your target, asking them to remove it for a reason. You must be a bit creative to pull this off but I’d say it’s usually easy. Careful though, because if the webmasters know each other and you are noticed, your target might try to stop you from doing further damage.

Again, there’s synergy here, because if you spam the domains that link back to your target, they might remove the link on their own. You could push them in that direction by making them aware that they link back to a spammer. Being indirect is rather effective.

Downtime

Making spam complaints to the target’s webhost will apparently be easy after all of the above. Many hosts will be real quick to suspend accounts when faced with such an array of spam complains, we are quite crafty, aren’t we? Something else that will get a site down fast is any kind of DOS attack, getting the target’s IP null-routed is quite effective. Prolonged periods of downtime are known to have effects on rankings and indexing. You could also use one of the previous “fake domains” and make it look like the site has moved there while it’s down. Do some link killling although instead of asking for removal, ask them to change the link to the new site.

I guess that would be faking the move of a website, which is pretty cool, however this is leading out of the scope of this article, so I won’t be going any further.

blackhat-seo.com 

Posted on Wednesday, June 21st, 2006 at 2:39 pm under Rants. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Comments

rollinj Says:

Since search engine SPAM itself isn’t illegal, would it not be defamation for a “Spam Hunter(ess)” to post your whois info in the wrong way?

START SUING THE SPAM HUNTER(ESS)

countzero Says:

Please, don’t.

There are enough frivolous lawsuits flying around. We don’t need more.

Black Hat Seo Says:

Hey, theres a lot more you can do as well – such as actually slowing down the competitors website.. this means his pages will time out when search engine spiders come along – sometimes even deindexing the page – you can do this in many ways depending on their site – a good way is if they have a site search box – just send thousands of search queries every minute – using an anonymous server, or post refresh tags on spam blogs to their pages which have large images.or…. hmm don’t want to give too much away you can buy the bloody book you cheapskates !!

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