Should we be worried about the threat of negative SEO?

Negative SEO and Blackmail

There’s been a lot of well researched articles about the potential threat of negative SEO to your website.  Could unethical and wicked competitors be sabotaging your marketing strategy and investments in great content by building spammy links to your website to destroy your rankings and get you penalised by the search engines?  Not a day goes by without someone speculating that persons or persons  unknown are up to no good in all sorts of industries worldwide – it seems even law firms are not immune.

Google’s view on this has always been that this type of bad practice is unlikely to impact their ranking algorithms – and as long as your own house is in order you’ll be just fine.

Bing’s view has been much along the same lines.

If you think this might have happened to you – check your backlinks in Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools and use their disavow tools.  (Better still check yourself using our backlink tools).

But what do you do when someone blackmails you with the threat of negative SEO?

This happened to us yesterday (and we’re not the only ones) – see Barry Schwartz’s article on SEL.  And it leaves a nasty taste in your mouth  (not unlike Butterscotch Angel delight).

I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to grace the blackmailer with a response, however, Matt (our part-time actor/writer/comedian and full-time Head of Training) is always quick to respond to any incoming email!

His response amused me, in fact I laughed out loud (a lot), which is unusual because he’s not the funny one in the office!

So I’m sharing it here for two reasons:

1. To make you laugh too.

2. To hopefully get a few shares and some decent and relevant links to offset the spammy links these lovely people plan to build for us! (Hint, hint).

Here’s the blackmailer’s email


speed.seo.2014 Yesterday 20:41


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 (this is our website and go and see on this
website, you will find our email from
which this email right now is being sent to you) :

View Here

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.



And here’s our Matt’s reply (if you think he’s funny then you can follow him on Twitter here).
>>>>Matt’s reply:

Hi Rannvijay,

Thanks for your reply. I must admit I’m amazed at the costs of your service! Only $1,500 for 20,000 links??? That’s only 8p a link! What a bargain! How can you even afford to pay someone to do that for so little money is beyond me. Either you pay your guys a very minimum wage or they’re incredibly efficient coders. Which is it? I’d love to know your secret. We’ve got engineers here and they’d laughed at me if I asked them to add a link to a page for 8p! What CMS do you use? WordPress? I like WordPress. It helps make our website look pretty! :n)

And you said they are DOFOLLOW links?? We don’t know much about SEO here, but that means that if people see those links, they just have to follow them, right? Which means we get lots of nice traffic, right? Yay! Your service sounds too good to be true!!!

Where are you guys based? I looked up the .pn top domain thingymajig and Googly said you might be in Pitcairn Islands. Is that right? That’s in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, right? If so, I bet that’s amazing. Wookipedia said there are only 56 people living there. Is that right? I bet if I booked a flight over there, I could easily find you. I’d love to meet up or visit your office to see how you work your magic. Are you on LinkedIn? Want to send me an invite?

Regarding payment, what’s Western Union? Sounds like one of those old rail companies you used to see if old movies about the American Gold Rush. “I’m off on the 6am to Cali-forn-ia to fetch me some of that there gold!!! Choo Choo!” I used to love those films. What sort of films do you like? I like Billy Elliot. It’s probably my favourite. I cried when the dad came in and saw how good his son was at ballet. He didn’t want him to do it, up until that very moment. I’m always amazed by actors. How some people can appear to be one thing and then turn out to be something completely different. So I do a bit of acting now and again. Do you have any hobbies?

Or is Western Union a Trade Union? I’d have to check with my boss in that case. He doesn’t like trade unions. We don’t have one here, which is probably one of the reasons I’ve already done twenty hours of unpaid overtime this week, but it’s cool because I get to talk to savvy, techie people like you! What hours do you work? I bet you must start very early in the morning to get all that amazing link building done.

Can we pay by invoice, by the way? Cash is a little tight at the moment as we’re waiting for some money to come through from a former Nigerian army general. Or can we pay by installments? $10 a year? I recently purchased some new pills from an online store which they said guaranteed I would live another 150 years at least, so I’ll be good for the money. 🙂

And what’s extortion mean? English isn’t my first language, as I’m Irish, to be sure. I know what contortion means as I recently took up Yoga. I find it helps calm me down and I treat other human beings better as a result and don’t abuse, threaten or unjustifiably ask them for money. I used to do that and yoga really helped to make me a better person. Do you do yoga? How far can you bend? I can touch my toes. Can you? I bet you’d make lots of friends if you can. I can definitely imagine you having a long stretch… It’s funny. Many a time I used to come home from my yoga lessons and my girlfriend would be in the bath and be screaming about a spider and she’d ask me to come in and remove the spider and I’d say “I can’t remove that spider, but I CAN DO THE SPIDER and I’d bend over backwards… oh, how we laughed. Good times.” That was before she left me, of course. ;n( But hey ho, life goes on. Are you married? I bet you must have the time for a special someone in your life seeing as you can do all this technical SEO gubbins so speedily, right?




I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this?

Can someone come up with a better reply?

If we get everyone in the industry to build one dodgy link to their site can we take them down first? 😉

We’ll find a suitable prize for the most amusing riposte…….so please get creative….

How would you have responded – let us know here….

9 Comments. Leave new

  • on the reply letter. Hilarious.

  • Gold! We use google apps and I think they filter this rubbish out so I never get the chance to respond to such nonsense. Great response.

  • This is, definitely, the best way to handle these kind of emails. Bravo!

  • Thanks Guys @steelframewindows – we use Google Apps too so we must need to adjust our spam filters !

  • Norton Loomer
    15/08/2014 14:08

    This is funny, especially the paragraph starting with “And what’s extortion mean? English isn’t my first language, as I’m Irish, to be sure.” But I think the best response is no response at all. They might take your attempts at humor as interest in their services. Or they might decide to launch their 20,000 link attack on you in retaliation.

    • Alexander Albuquerque
      15/08/2014 15:03

      We nor anyone else should worry about any 20,000 link attack. Its not as straight forward as it sounds and any resulting impact can be quickly rectified. Besides, I’m sure these “extortionists” blast these types of email to every list they can get their hands on – good luck bombarding them all! 🙂

  • That’s an awesome come back.

    I’m assuming they never actually pointed any links at your website?

  • Not yet – but as you can imagine we have the tools at our disposal to keep tabs on our link profile !


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