I have put together this article to show effects of Negative SEO Attack on PissedConsumer. Even though Google states that Google Algorithms will identify and prevent affects of Negative SEO, some companies try to utilize these methods to silence its critics. In this article I will speak about 2 separate instances of Negative SEO that was employed against PissedConsumer.
For most other websites it may be difficult to understand the source of Negative SEO attack. In the case of PissedConsumer, it is extremely easy to identify the source of the attack and the company that ordered the hit. You just need to look at the subdomain of the company being attacked. The logic behind it is simple, perpetrators believe that by using negative SEO, company will be able to suppress results from search engines.
PissedConsumer uses subdomain structure to group together reviews for a particular company, i.e. we group all reviews for a particular company on its own subdomain. Today I will be talking about 2 particular subdomains that were targets of Negative SEO attacks:
In general, subdomain carries most 'SEO juice' on PissedConsumer.com, and therefore subdomain page is chosen as a target of the attack. As you can imagine, when a gripe site like PissedConsumer experiences an attack on one of its subdomains, it is easy to assume that the company who is the target of those gripes that benefits the most.
Instead of working with customers and addressing their issues on our website, these companies choose to silence its customers... Does it make sense? What are the values of these companies?
Attack by Four Seasons Sunrooms
Four Season Sunrooms is located in Holbrook, NY 11741. Based on the information provided on their website, company has thousands of installers, available to do installation in your area.
At the current moment there are 72 reviews on PissedConsumer.
Negative SEO Attack on https://four-seasons-sunrooms.pissedconsumer.com/review.html started in February of 2016.
I will call this attack ‘301 Redirect attack’. The attack was structured in the following way: a great number of 'Bad' domains that were previously banned by Google were 301 redirected to https://four-seasons-sunrooms.pissedconsumer.com/review.html. In most instances, domains that were previously de-indexed by Google were used to redirect traffic from them to PissedConsumer.com. Therefore, the purpose of the attack was to use negative value of previously 'bad' domains to negatively affect Pissed Consumer. Our assumption is that the purpose of the attack was to associate bad value with PissedConsumer and spam PissedConsumer subdomain to be kicked out by Google from ranking in SERPs.
The chart above shows a sudden explosion of new backlinks and referenced domains in February of 2016.... Below you will find Google Analytics screenshot that shows corresponding landing page traffic after the hit.
Some examples of the domains that are still redirected to Pissedconsumer.com:
- http://giggay.com is an example, where the entire domain was redirected to PissedConsumer.
13K backlinks and 0 TrustFlow for Giggay tells us that it is a spammy site.
Yet another example of Bad Neighborhood link redirected to PissedConsumer with 301...
The same story here…
Another type of unpleasant attack was done by using Wikipedia.org. Actually, it is a nasty side effect for PissedConsumer. In Wikipedia.org articles, in the External Links Section perpetrators were adding links to Four Seasons Sunrooms subdomain on PissedConsumer through intermediary, 301 redirected websites. Four Seasons Sunrooms placed some of these bad domains on Wikipedia.org using their edit option of External Links section. One of the Wiki editors has caught the redirected 'bad' domain and banned PissedConsumer.com as well as belliterre.com website. According to Wikipedia it happened around August of 2016. bellitere.com website that still 301 redirects to https://four-seasons-sunrooms.pissedconsumer.com/review.html.
PissedConsumer has blocked belliterre.com through our Google disavow file back in early 2016, but we are still banned on Wiki. Our SEO team has emailed to Wikipedia and one of their volunteers/editors - Rayna West replied with the following:
"…Regarding the use of links to the site, the site was added to the media-wiki blacklist <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MediaWiki:Spam-blacklist> in August 2016 as links via the site were being used for spam. You can read the rationale at <https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=MediaWiki_talk:Spam-blacklist&oldid=735469124#bellitere.com_and_pissedconsumer.com> Entries can be removed by application at <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MediaWiki_talk:Spam-blacklist#Proposed_removals> but good reason has to be shown... "
This means that bad guys went far beyond simple 301 redirect attack and decided to abuse Wiki TOS and Policies in order to spam PissedConsumer.com and get rid of bad reviews on our website. As a result Wikipedia punished good guys (PissedConsumer) instead of bad guys. We intend to contact Wikipedia again regarding this matter and to address the issue in the very near future.
We have updated our Disavow file all through out 2016, when we noticed the situation. The biggest update to disavow file for this attack was in October of 2016. And that corresponds to the second drop of traffic on the screenshot from Google Analytics for four-seasons-sunrooms.pissedconsumer.com subdomain.
We had to clean out close to 1500 domains in our disavow process for this attack. Additionally, we wrote letters to Godaddy, where most of these domains were hosted but we had no luck, presenting our case to Godaddy, to have those 'bad' domains removed.
Glam Seamless Attack
Glam Seamless sells Hair Extensions. Besides selling from their own website, they also trade on Amazon. Currently, there are 72 Glam Seamless Reviews on our site.
Glam Seamless Attack was based on Wordpress hack called 'Pingback Attack'. The attack targeted https://glam-seamless.pissedconsumer.com/review.html. SEO team that was executing Negative SEO attack on PissedConsumer went as far as to use the exploit in WordPress and send out a bunch of Sex related Anchors to PissedConsumer.... Lots of it. I wonder if FBI would be interested to learn about this SEO technique, since we know who ordered this attack and SEO perpetrators affected thousand of Wordpress sites that had this vulnerability... :)
Attack on glam-seamless.pissedconsumer.com subdomain contained close to 5K Backlinks coming from 250 referring domains with similar Anchor text...
Anchor Text that was used, was of sexual nature. This is a keyword cloud the way Majestic sees it now for glam-seamless.pissedconsumer.com/review.html...
The hack that was used for this attack has affected quite big sites as well as small ones, with a lot of Trust and juice.
We had attempted to contact webmasters to let them know that the hack was used on their WordPress. However, we have not received a reply.
The affected page on BlackEnterprise is - http://www.blackenterprise.com/small-business/go-business-family/
We received no answer from BlackEnterprise regarding our emails and voicemails on the issue of the hacked website. If they get to read this article, details are below:
The affected wordpress HTML with this hack, would look like below.
</li><!-- #comment-## -->
<li class="post pingback">
<p>Pingback: <a href='https://glam-seamless.pissedconsumer.com/review.html' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>lesbian sex</a>()</p>
This is an example from blackenterprise.com website, where a link was inserted via Pingback, with the anchor 'Lesbian Sex'.
Another great example of the result of this attack is the link from FedEx.com domain. The hack has affected even Fedex WordPress. Example of the page, where you can still see the link:
Another variation of Glam Seamless attack used against glam-seamless.pissedconsumer.com subdomain is most likely manual. To get the keyword 'Sex' in the URL itself, someone has created a manually shortened URL for the subdomain.
As a results of these attacks our disavow file on Google Webmasters has expanded to 6K+ bad links/domains. Even though, these attacks, if anything only increased our traffic during the time of the attack for these given subdomains, I wonder how it affects overall trust of PissedConsumer. We felt prudent to update our disavow file not to have unnatural links pointing to Pissedconsumer.
Wikipedia attack was the most unpleasant attack for us because we could not track it easily through the tools that were available to us. Wikipedia simply put a ban on us without any notification. And even though we have included bellitere.com into our Google disavow file early, Wikipedia had the right to assume that we were the bad guys, since they have not seen the full extent of the attack that we had experienced.
You may ask, why I put together this article if we did not lose traffic, well, I need your advice. It takes quite a lot of efforts to monitor and clean up after such attacks.
I would not be surprised that these types of attacks would be initiated and then at a later point, someone would send to Google a letter stating that it is PissedConsumer itself inflating the traffic using these methods. This is a part of the reason we are coming out publicly to share our findings.
Shall PissedConsumer retaliate and how?
If you have read this post till the end, please think about the following and let me know your opinion, by using Contact US form:
- Shall we submit our Findings to Google?
- Shall we contact FBI and talk about commercial exploitation of hacking online?
- Shall we retaliate by putting 301 redirect of garbage sent to our subdomains, to pump it back to the companies that are financing these attacks?
- Shall PissedConsumer sue the attackers?
Your opinion is very important here.