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5

We Received a Negative SEO Extortion Letter

By George Zlatin on 8-14-14 in Search Engines

We received the following letter yesterday after replying to a sales info request that was sent to us (posing as a sales lead).

extortion letter

 

First six things that went through my mind (in this exact order) after reading this:

  1. What? Wait a minute, What?! Wow! Really?!?!?!
  2. There is no chance in hell that this guy is actually going to get my $1,500.
  3. I’m curious to see if he will actually try this.
  4. If he does, what will be my backup plan?  It will be relatively easy to disavow all of those links via Google’s Webmaster Tools Disavow Tool.  Although it will probably still be a lot of work and a giant pain in the ass to disavow 20,000 backlinks.
  5. This is a prime example of why I don’t agree with Google’s policy about penalizing webmasters for spammy links.  I’ve dealt with my fair share of sites that have been penalized and are still recovering from it, so there is actually A LOT of validity to this guys claims that he can “ruin my precious business permanently.” It’s crazy that this is what Google’s webspam link policy has come to.  It’s like the war on drugs.  It’s a fight they can’t win. How many people are caving into this and paying the money?  GOOGLE HAS CREATED A PLATFORM FOR EXTORTIONISTS!
  6. The fact that this guy sent a sales inquiry first, to make sure that the person receiving the letter was someone who had already responded to a previous email, was interesting.  It meant that they were targeting people that they knew would read the letter and were more likely to pay the money.  Seems like an old trick from the extortion 101 playbook.  You can get the extortion playbook here.

At this point, we’re just going to take inventory of all of our current links and disavow anything that this guy throws at us.  Looking at the bright side, this is going to make an awesome case study if he goes through with it since we’re going to document the whole thing.

It looks like we’re not the only ones.  Since I’ve started writing this post, I already noticed others are writing about the same exact letter here and here.  I guess we’ll find out how this plays out soon enough.  Stay tuned!

BTW – Funny little sidenote, the extortionist names himself Rannvijay Singh, who happens to be a famous Indian TV show host.


George Zlatin is the Director of Operations at Digital Third Coast, a company focused on SEO and PPC based in Chicago. You can find George on Twitter and Google+. Connect with Digital Third Coast on Google+.

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4 comments
JeffLouella
JeffLouella

Just download the text file and make it your disavow file. I would add some comments to it for the Google engineers that states that this is a preemptive strike to fight off extortion. 

gzlatin
gzlatin

@AndreBuxey Yes, Andres, crazy is a good word for it.  Luckily it also seems like the guy who is not the brightest bulb in the shed.  What would be even crazier is if someone who actually knew what he was doing tried it.  

Trackbacks

  1. […] have been several people who have posted this email, including Dan Petrovic, Steve Webb and George Zlatin.  Below is a copy of the […]

  2. […] Zlatin over at Digital Third Coast even went as far to say that Google has created a platform for extortionists by punishing the webmaster when a spammy link signal pointed at their website has been picked […]

 
 
 
 
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