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Thread: Strange Attack on WordPress Site

  1. #1
    TopDogger's Avatar
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    Strange Attack on WordPress Site

    There is a strange attack taking place against one of my WordPress sites. This has been going on for months and is becoming annoying.

    Someone has set up dozens of blogs attacking various Paintball sites.

    The attack works like this. There is usually a genuine article about paintball on each blog that uses contextual links. Throughout the text of the article there are nonsense phrases in hyperlink text embedded in the content that link to various paintball sites. There is always one contextual link with a valid paintball phrase that points to the paintball site that I think is behind the attack. I have threatened the owner of that site that I will report their site to Google if they do not cease their attack, but the attacks persist. The number of attacking sites is getting overwhelming. I suspect that hundreds of blog pages have been set up with this attack.

    The nonsense phrases in the hyperlink text are things like "with envy", "great oaks from little acorns grow", "full of vinegar", "grow, dam'it", "go out on a limb", "full of piss and vinegar", "if it walks like a duck", etc. I have collected over 110 trackbacks from web pages with these types of embedded links.

    They are not just attacking my site, but also several other paintball sites. There are usually 3 or 4 nonsense links on each blog posting and one valid link that always points to the same paintball site. I think they are trying to dilute the number of effective keywords that represent each of their competitors' sites by flooding them with unrelated keyword links in order to dilute and drive down the rankings for the paintball-related keywords--if that is possible.

    I'm looking for a way to redirect all traffic from these links back to the attacking site's home page using a 301 redirect or simply block all traffic from these sites. Ideally, I would like this to work for search engine spiders, as well, if I could effectively redirect the attack to the attacking site. A PHP referer variable could be used. I probably will put a redirect like this in place. However, I don't think this will always work for search engine spiders due to their tendency to collect and store links and then check them out later.

    Has anyone seen this attack before?

    Does anyone have any good ideas as to how to effectively deal with this attack?
    Last edited by TopDogger; 1 August, 2011 at 16:38 PM.
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    bogart's Avatar
    bogart is offline Super Moderator
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    I don't think that this is an "attack" per se. It appears to be a link scheme and they are attempting to "cover their back" by linking to all the top PB sites as well. But of course with nonsense anchor text phrases. So, there's no benefit except to them.

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    TopDogger's Avatar
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    This is very systematic. There are always 3 or 4 nonsense links. You are right that they are doing this to all of the popular paintball sites, including the major paintball e-commerce sites. If my site is only one from a list of sites that just randomly shows up in blog post, then they literally have several hundred blog articles posted all over the world. It looks like they are using blogs that allow guest authors.

    I have never seen anything this bizarre. If it is a linking scheme it is very poorly conceived.

    Check your PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopDogger View Post
    This is very systematic. There are always 3 or 4 nonsense links. You are right that they are doing this to all of the popular paintball sites, including the major paintball e-commerce sites. If my site is only one from a list of sites that just randomly shows up in blog post, then they literally have several hundred blog articles posted all over the world. It looks like they are using blogs that allow guest authors.

    I have never seen anything this bizarre. If it is a linking scheme it is very poorly conceived.

    Check your PM.
    I don't believe that this will have any negative effect on your site. Though for weak or new sites that don't have a lot of backlinks, this could drop the site.

    I came across another story about another NYT paid link story. In this case Google said:

    “None of the links shared by The New York Times had a significant impact on our rankings, due to automated systems we have in place to assess the relevance of links. As always, we investigate spam reports and take corrective action where appropriate.”

    http://www.pagetrafficbuzz.com/link-...rk-times/9090/

    This is certainly bizarre. In one way it makes sense in that linking to the top sites would in theory allow the blogs to pass the smell test. At least where bots are concerned. It seems that they tripped up with trackbacks unless that was also part of their plan.

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    Hellas (27 September, 2011)

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    I would have never known about this network of blogs if it were not for the trackbacks--and the fact that I have learned to check all trackbacks.

    You are probably right that this will not hurt anything. It just seems like a very strange tactic. This guy is not only linking to Paintball blogs, but also to the top Paintball stores on the web. None of the blogs that he is using have anything to do with Paintball. I think he is just using guest writer blogs to post his articles.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin


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    I will report their site to Google if they do not cease their attack, but the attacks persist
    I guess you will have reported them as a spam site? I don't think that there is any warning to them required, although it's possible that they might remove your URL from their list of sites to target if you look like you are onto them?

    Maybe they are experimenting with black hat SEO techniques?

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    TopDogger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy101 View Post
    Maybe they are experimenting with black hat SEO techniques?
    That was my first thought. I haven't reported them to Google because I have been trying to figure out what they are up to. I also don't think that Google will take any action.

    I sent two requests through the contact form on the paintball e-commerce site that is obviously behind this. I even included several of the links to the blog posts just in case the site owners are not aware of what an SEO company may be doing. Since then, the number of blogs postings seems to be accelerating. They must think something is working with this. My traffic is down, but I think that is more due to the lack of new content. I have not updated it with new articles in about two years, but do plan to re-work the site in the future.

    This seems like an absurd tactic and is perhaps part of an experiment to see if they can knock a couple of dozen paintball sites out of their way in the search results. My paintball site is not one of my most important sites, but it still earns $25 to $50 per month.

    I don't know if it will do any good to report the sites, because they appear to all be WordPress blogs that are set up for guest authors. I checked the WHOIS on several of the sites and the owners seem to be scattered from Australia to Switzerland to Canada. Either the registrations are phony or numerous independent blogs are just being used to set this up.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin


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