Hyenas & Roaches: Getting rid of negative affiliate review sites for brand keywords

Satvrn

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Morning guys,

the downside of generating a lot of revenue with a handful of products: the roaches and hyenas come out to nibble on your success.

We have a few affiliate sites ranking for our brand keywords hosting misinformation and trashing our products so they can promote a different affiliate product. These sites are strong, aged domains that rank for 10+ other brands. The sites climb in rankings fast and cause quite a bit of pain for us on the customer support side.

What's a good approach to combat these? We filed a bunch of DMCAs with Google as they are using our brand names and images, but most of the submissions are still pending. We are about to file a big, fat defamation notice with Google but I guess that will take forever to be processed.

Is negative SEO still a thing?

Thanks,
Sat
 

mikey3times

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What about creating your own affiliate program that provides better incentives than your competitors? If the affiliates are trashing you to get more clicks on their links, they might be the kind of person to dump the other guy and start trashing them. Yeah, you’d lose revenue on those affiliates, but would it improve your metrics for non-affiliate revenue?

I obviously don’t have experience with this...just throwing out a hypothetical.
 

secretagentdad

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Make some low effort brand identity home page only sites with emds.
Shouldn’t take more than a link and 5$ Of content to rank and push everybody out.

This can also be good for overall conversion rate if done right.
 

eliquid

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Morning guys,

the downside of generating a lot of revenue with a handful of products: the roaches and hyenas come out to nibble on your success.

We have a few affiliate sites ranking for our brand keywords hosting misinformation and trashing our products so they can promote a different affiliate product. These sites are strong, aged domains that rank for 10+ other brands. The sites climb in rankings fast and cause quite a bit of pain for us on the customer support side.

What's a good approach to combat these? We filed a bunch of DMCAs with Google as they are using our brand names and images, but most of the submissions are still pending. We are about to file a big, fat defamation notice with Google but I guess that will take forever to be processed.

Is negative SEO still a thing?

Thanks,
Sat

The old school way was to:
Send it to the hosting company they host with - a take down letter.


Let me know how that goes.
 

Satvrn

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What about creating your own affiliate program that provides better incentives than your competitors? If the affiliates are trashing you to get more clicks on their links, they might be the kind of person to dump the other guy and start trashing them. Yeah, you’d lose revenue on those affiliates, but would it improve your metrics for non-affiliate revenue?

I obviously don’t have experience with this...just throwing out a hypothetical.
We actually have an affiliate program, but these guys prefer to sell their own knock-off product from China instead.

Make some low effort brand identity home page only sites with emds.
Shouldn’t take more than a link and 5$ Of content to rank and push everybody out.

This can also be good for overall conversion rate if done right.
The sites they're using are older, expired sites. The main site has a lot of .edu and .gov backlinks and ranks for almost every brand keyword they target. Do EDMs still hold power? They rank above our brand keyword domains too.

The old school way was to:
Send it to the hosting company they host with - a take down letter.


Let me know how that goes.
We sent out a trademark complaint to the domain registrars abuse email.
You'd send a proper cease and desist letter from a lawyer to his host instead? They're not based in the US btw.

Thank you for the replies guys.
 

Ryuzaki

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In my opinion, this is the perfect scenario to fire up some parasite pages on bigger sites that do NOT provide sub-domains. I've been out of the parasite game for a long time, so I can't give specific examples for you to use in the present but...

In the past you could do things like create blog posts on your MyFitnessPal.com profile, which wasn't on a sub-domain so it kept the benefits of the power of the root domain. You could create the best post on the planet with perfect on-page, etc. Then get some links of the right kind and anchor text and that was game over.

It needs to be something that's "editorial" like described above where you can use proper H1, H2, H3 tags, etc.

Medium.com might be a good candidate. You're looking for something with extreme domain authority, that gives you the ability to use actual HTML tags or at least an editor with the right HTML markup, without any sub-domain crap. Pay for a great article, do the on-page, get it posted, slowly add some links.

You could even give yourself a fake affiliate account to throw the other guys off the trail if you're worried about repercussions. Before you try to nuke their own pages, be wary of how revenge could play out and what you have that's vulnerable.

If it's your "Brand Only" keywords then this is an easy ORM situation to solve. You create and use a bunch of social media and web 2.0 platforms and associate them with your brand using schema and Google will tend to rank them for your brand only keywords, especially with some links.

If it's a matter of them ranking for "brand review" or "brand vs. other brand" then I'd do the parasite stuff, buy posts on high powered sites, wherever you can get long articles with great on-page, and then build links. You can get articles posted on sites that will crush those bad domains, no matter how juicy. The benefit is you don't need to worry about whether or not they have dofollow links in them like SEO's worry about. So your options open up big time. You can do some outreach and offer cash to tons of high powered sites. Cash + "Article is Ready and here's the pics to include, the job is done for you" = easy results. Then it's a matter of links for these types of keywords.

The problem with "brand review" type keywords is Google doesn't want to rank only the brand on these, so you've got to sneak in by getting content on other domains. This content has to actually match the intent of the SERPs, too. It can't just be willy nilly.
 

CCarter

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This is unfortunately a classic ORM problem. This is where you should have employed proactive ORM to control the first 3 pages of results for your brand.

However, even if you did strong affiliates could eventually creep in and do what they want to. I don't want to call affiliates scumbags... but you see from your own experience what they do. Affiliates that have never tried your product/service will just write reviews based on other reviews and create inaccurate information.

The reason TheWireCutter went above and beyond was due to them purchasing the products, doing video reviews, and were actually were seen as using the product. "Well we can't afford to do that." Well that's not really my problem. Now as affiliates you see on the other end what the product/service owner has to deal with.

But anyway, this is what you need to do:

1. Affiliates. Talk to your biggest affiliates and figure out a way to get them to generate content and post it up. You may have to generate the content and straight-up give it to them. Then get those content pieces ranking for your brand. SEO I guess.

In theory, if you can get 30 affiliates that would take up a ton of space within your SERPs for your brand.

2. Use social media, create a brand presence for yourself on all these platforms. Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo, Linkedin, and whatever else is out there. Post on these platforms and engage with users. Those social platforms will naturally rank for your brand and take up SERP results.

I monitor Adult actresses and find the legit social platforms that rank, you'll see Instagram, Twitter, and others in the top results so those are platforms you can use to take up. Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin have a strong presence. Some might wonder why Adult Actresses and not celebrities, it is because celebrities get in the news a lot, versus regular porn stars, so celebrities' SERPs are constantly changing versus adult actresses.

3. YouTube is huge. I would get several videos made with instructional guides, testimonials, and DYI help guides for your product. Those videos will take up slots in YouTube AND it will give your affiliates content to use.

4. Images - you need to create a ton of propaganda for your brand and get affiliates to use these images along with alt-tags of your brand. It will help overall fill your brand's image search.

5. Digital PR - there are agencies that specialize in Digital PR, they create content and get press for your brand. However, your brand has to look the part. It may make sense to go down this route as well to drum up media which will naturally drown out these affiliate sites.

6. Basics of SEO - Making sure you have SiteLinks, regularly blog, create guides, and DYI stuff. Those things take up spots in your SERPs.

--

Don't waste time with negative SEO. That's like playing whack-a-mole - one drops but another pops up. These guys don't really care about you or your brand. What you need to do is think of your brand as a Castle and the SERPs as a moat and bridges across the moat. Using your affiliates, YouTube, and social media to create a powerful brand presence within the top 30 results and whenever some keyword like "XYZ scam" comes around you'll now have resources like your social media, YouTube, and affiliates you can use to outrank the problem domains.

It's easier to go on offensive mode when you've built up resources versus having to start from scratch cause all this can take a lot of time to set up correctly.
 

eliquid

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We sent out a trademark complaint to the domain registrars abuse email.
You'd send a proper cease and desist letter from a lawyer to his host instead? They're not based in the US btw.

That's what I use to do back in the day. Worked pretty damn well too.

This was a decade ago though, but I did send to even non-USA based hosts. I don't remember the success rate though with the non-USA based ones as it's been a while. You might not get much success if they are not US based though.
 

Satvrn

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If it's your "Brand Only" keywords then this is an easy ORM situation to solve. You create and use a bunch of social media and web 2.0 platforms and associate them with your brand using schema and Google will tend to rank them for your brand only keywords, especially with some links.
Yes, we just care about the brand only keywords as these get majority of the traffic. We just implemented the schema stuff. Let's see how it goes. Thanks a lot!
Medium.com might be a good candidate. You're looking for something with extreme domain authority, that gives you the ability to use actual HTML tags or at least an editor with the right HTML markup, without any sub-domain crap. Pay for a great article, do the on-page, get it posted, slowly add some links.
Good idea. We found a few paid press release sites that tend to rank high for some keywords. Will try this and report back.
However, even if you did strong affiliates could eventually creep in and do what they want to. I don't want to call affiliates scumbags... but you see from your own experience what they do. Affiliates that have never tried your product/service will just write reviews based on other reviews and create inaccurate information.
We had some standard ORM with a strong affiliate having 3-4 sites in the top 10. Unfortunately, the domains these rogue affiliates are using seem to be way stronger (DA 55) - I've been out of the SEO game for ages so I'm just comparing numbers here. The domain has a lot of .edu and .gov backlinks and is ranking top 3 for every brand keyword they target.

That's what I use to do back in the day. Worked pretty damn well too.

This was a decade ago though, but I did send to even non-USA based hosts. I don't remember the success rate though with the non-USA based ones as it's been a while. You might not get much success if they are not US based though.
Great, we will definitely give this a try.
 
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As an alternative option, why fight these affiliates when you can become friends with them?

Make your aff program the best - higher commisions or quicker payouts or give affiliates materials (landing pages, banners for banner blindness, etc) to use or give them a connection with your internal teams...make it really nice and slick to work with you. Send affiliates your actual physical product so they can review it properly. Make the whole process easier than them just sending traffic to their whitelabelled chinese product...remember Alibaba etc come with their own headaches, so if working with you is less of a headache then everyone wins. Happy affiliates, happy product owner (you), everyone happy.

Or you can go to war with them and everyone loses eventually.
 
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As an alternative option, why fight these affiliates when you can become friends with them?

Make your aff program the best - higher commisions or quicker payouts or give affiliates materials (landing pages, banners for banner blindness, etc) to use or give them a connection with your internal teams...make it really nice and slick to work with you. Send affiliates your actual physical product so they can review it properly. Make the whole process easier than them just sending traffic to their whitelabelled chinese product...remember Alibaba etc come with their own headaches, so if working with you is less of a headache then everyone wins. Happy affiliates, happy product owner (you), everyone happy.

Or you can go to war with them and everyone loses eventually.
Affiliates are a different breed. They are rutheless...

Whoever is ranking for these negative brand keywords already decided to take over the products success. They don't care about a payout bump. They want the WHOLE margin.
 
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send C&D to affiliate programme they are promoting.

One affiliate isn't worth a legal headache and they'll get dropped or told to stop it.
 
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Buy extremely high quality guest posts / sponsored posts on sites that are much stronger than them. Make sure the content covers the same intent and push tier 2 links toward the guest posts (niche edits might be good for this.). The real sauce here is finding paid post, that are actually good. When I built guest posts for clients, some of the higher quality ones, started to rank top 10 for the clients terms.

Alternatively reach out to affiliate websites that are stronger or on a similar level, but don't cover your niche already, and offer a good upfront payout to them + affiliate program %.

Don't force them to sell your product too much, as even neutral articles will be better if they can outrank the negative ones. As the bigger affiliate sites sometimes do care a bit about providing real reviews, not paid ones.
 

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As a hyena myself, it all comes down to $$$. Can you afford to pay a higher affiliate rate than your competitors?
 

Satvrn

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As a hyena myself, it all comes down to $$$. Can you afford to pay a higher affiliate rate than your competitors?
They are selling their own knock-off product. Can't compete with that.

But it doesn't matter now. We found a sneaky way to basically prevent all brand keyword related traffic. Fuck all SEO clowns.
 

Henry

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They are selling their own knock-off product. Can't compete with that.

But it doesn't matter now. We found a sneaky way to basically prevent all brand keyword related traffic. Fuck all SEO clowns.

You need to either offer affiliates an incentive to write positive things about you (consider it like paying the mob their fee) or follow some simple ORM and SEO techniques to get brand pages ranked over the affiliate sites.

It's affiliate marketing. It's been done like this ever since the dawn of time. You're not going to win with negative SEO. I remember checking my Search Console one day and I saw an influx of spam backlinks to a "XYZ product review: is it any good?" page. Just to spite them I added another 1000 words to the page, re optimized it and lowered my star rating for the product even more. To this day it's the #2 result when you google their brand. Fuck em.

Going off what @Klayne suggested, get some strong ass guest posts on top tier sites and then build some links to those guest posts.

It's really not rocket science but you're looking at it all the wrong way. You're not being targeted, it's just how the game works my dude. As long as there are affiliate offers out there for products in your niche, your product will end up on a best of list and if you don't have a good affiliate program, you will NEVER be the recommended product.

Sounds like you're only trying to win the consumer market. You need to win the affiliate market as well.

Paid ads?

The One Super Sneaky Technique SEO CLOWNS
Don't Want You To Know About in 2020
 

Satvrn

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As long as there are affiliate offers out there for products in your niche, your product will end up on a best of list and if you don't have a good affiliate program, you will NEVER be the recommended product.

Sounds like you're only trying to win the consumer market. You need to win the affiliate market as well.
You can never offer better terms to somebody that gets a China made knock off product made for a few cents, offers it as a better alternative for your product and undercuts your price by few dollars. They're smart and want to maximize their profits. They are not simply promoting some random affiliate product.

We found a short term solution that works, long term we are thinking about advertorials we can buy on newspaper sites.
 
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It's really not rocket science but you're looking at it all the wrong way. You're not being targeted, it's just how the game works my dude. As long as there are affiliate offers out there for products in your niche, your product will end up on a best of list and if you don't have a good affiliate program, you will NEVER be the recommended product.

It's been stated several times already.... The guys that this topic is about are trying to get up their own offer. If they want to become the product owner there is no payout bump, 24/7 special support, daily payment schedule or all expenses paid vegas trip that is going to stop them from doing so. The margin can't get better than becoming the offer owner.

Saturn was not talking about competing with other advertisers on "Top 10" affiliate sites.
 

Henry

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You can never offer better terms to somebody that gets a China made knock off product made for a few cents, offers it as a better alternative for your product and undercuts your price by few dollars. They're smart and want to maximize their profits. They are not simply promoting some random affiliate product.

We found a short term solution that works, long term we are thinking about advertorials we can buy on newspaper sites.

Is it a better, cheaper alternative to your product?

It's been stated several times already.... The guys that this topic is about are trying to get up their own offer. If they want to become the product owner there is no payout bump, 24/7 special support, daily payment schedule or all expenses paid vegas trip that is going to stop them from doing so. The margin can't get better than becoming the offer owner.

Saturn was not talking about competing with other advertisers on "Top 10" affiliate sites.

If there's a big enough market that there are "multiple sites" that are ranking on his brand terms then I assure you there are enough affiliate sites out there that can out rank them. They just need to be given a reason to promote his product.
 

Satvrn

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Is it a better, cheaper alternative to your product?
Not at all. It doesn't even have the features they claim, it's a total scam.

They just need to be given a reason to promote his product.
My cost of good is 7 USD. Their cost of goods is 1 to 2 USD. Price point is 40 USD.
Curious how you would structure a deal where they end up with more money. It's impossible. So we will just cause them more pain than it's worth.

We do have other affiliates with strong sites but unfortunately dominating the top 4 all the time is not that easy. Long term for a new brand we will definitely plan in advance and get advertorials up early and buy a few expired domains to place articles on to get a head start.