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An Unintended Side-Effect of Google’s Hunt for Bad Links

As you’ll probably know Google has been ramping up its fight against webspam recently, especially focusing on bad links. As a result, many sites that have received ‘bad link’ notifications in

Webmaster Tools and/or have been hit with the sledgehammer of a Google penalty are scrambling to get those spammy links removed.

In some cases this might mean a company has to embrace a rather extreme approach to getting links removed. On the PSKL site one such example is chronicled, when the site got asked to remove all links to the LifeShield site.

Apparently the site was hit by a Google penalty for bad links, and it hired a company to send DMCA takedown notices to linking websites that they felt were ‘bad links’.

However PSKL is not a spam site (even though you can understand someone jumping to that erroneous conclusion based on their .us domain name), so the DMCA notice was rather ill-received:

As you would assume, I was furious. I forwarded the email to a sales manager at LifeShield and then called them and left a message. I got a call back later that night from the sales manager. She apologized and said I didn’t have to remove the links. I said I was pretty annoyed at being threatened with a BS takedown notice and a simple apology wasn’t going to cut it. I wanted to know that this isn’t how they do business.

It does beg the question though: can ‘bad links’ – and the negative effects they have – be considered trademark infringements and are thus punishable under DMCA legislation?

Also, in the email exchange with PSKL, LifeShield seems to say that their site has been hit by negative SEO:

…we had a site cloak lifeshield and generate over 700K back links to our site without our knowledge. Google stepped in and slapped us with a search ranking penalty to which our business has suffered major losses.

This might of course be just a case of arse-covering deniability, but if it’s true it does seem to confirm that negative SEO can work.

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