Google The Cause Of Lawsuits Over Links To Web Sites

May 10, 2012 • 8:59 am | comments (26) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

linking jailCan you imagine writing a story, linking that story to other relevant web sites and then years later being hit with a lawsuit over linking to a web site?

Well, that is what is starting to happen to some webmasters and publishers!

As you know, Google has been notifying webmasters for unnatural links pointing to their web sites. They stepped up those notifications drastically this year and has gone to greater lengths to penalize link networks and warn about gray links.

So SEOs and webmasters are less about link building these days and more about link clean up. We have articles on how to remove bad links and SEO tool providers building out spam detection tools, despite the controversy around them.

But despite many webmaster and SEO efforts, removing unwanted links to your site might never actually work enough to remove a Google penalty.

So some webmasters are taking extreme measures and threatening to sue publishers and webmasters who are linking to them. The topic of needing permission to link to web sites is not new, we actually covered it in 2008. But I have no doubt in my mind that the topic will come up extremely frequently now that links to your site can hurt the ranking of that site in Google.

Yea, you cannot control who links to you and Google knows that. But if you have bad links to your site and Google has penalized you for it, you might want to take extreme measures to encourage those linking to you to remove those links.

Would you sue or threaten to sue someone who is linking to you and refuses to remove the link?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Image credit to ShutterStock for prisoner

Previous story: Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard Bug



05/10/2012 01:18 pm

Seriously.. Now that calls for a "WTF" .. This is ridiculous.. Should a webmaster spend time in getting links removed rather than improving content and other factors on the website for it's users? What kind of Penguin is that? Defines a complete failure of a logic that went wrong in the first place of its inception... Nonetheless, I for one, would not bother about the links..and shall have moved on without worrying. -ve SEO won't last for long, if it does, it will ruin the industry..!


05/10/2012 01:19 pm

This is complete madness. We don't need SOPA and CISPA anymore if we start behaving like this and threaten the internet freedom ourselves...

Nick Stamoulis

05/10/2012 01:55 pm

Threaten to sue?! That should only be the ultimate last resort and only if it's a major problem. One bad link is not going to send the rest of your SEO crashing down around your ears. If you threaten to sue someone that links to your site, you're effectively undoing the web part of the world wide web!


05/10/2012 01:56 pm

How much more controversy do you want to create? There is absolutely no need to go around and sue sites for links. Not even to contact websites multiple times either by email, phone or by driving to their house to remove bad links. Fact is that you can only control outgoing links, but never incoming links. Google spent millions of dollars on their algo, don't you think they have thought of this in the first place when ranking sites?

Barry Schwartz

05/10/2012 02:57 pm

I know for a fact people are going this route. I am just reporting it. Have you been reading all the concern over negative SEO? I didn't create that concern.

Jill Whalen

05/10/2012 03:15 pm

Two words: Slippery Slope

K Huffman

05/10/2012 04:11 pm

If you know you are being penalized for a link from a certain site, put a link to your competitors sites in that exact spot. Then Google will be wasting their time just as much as it's wasting yours.

K Huffman

05/10/2012 04:21 pm

I would imagine that Google is just making a big deal out of this right now to try and prevent people from Link Building just for the sake of PageRank.

Muhammad Osama Hussain

05/10/2012 04:27 pm

i cant understand why you all are creating lots of sound about this ... wait All Will be well

Muhammad Osama Hussain

05/10/2012 04:32 pm

i think its all about PPC after this act people are looking to add their site more than past ..

Alan Rabinowitz

05/10/2012 06:03 pm

What kid of degree do you need to work at Google nowadays? I'm guessing they're no longer hiring rocket scientists that their system is this moronic? Stockholders, hold on tight! Facebook will launch their IPO soon - might want to jump ship.


05/10/2012 06:09 pm

It's absolutely rediuclous, thanks Google..


05/10/2012 07:41 pm

About six months ago I discovered, that 5 of my inner pages got links from 5 unknown domains in .co TLD (well known as spammy tld). Every page of these five websites contained a block of links to 5 pages on my website. In the next couple of months the amount of pages with links increased drastically, means the amount of links skyrocketed. I checked some background - all of the domains were registered to one person. So, it was definitely done on purpose. I can only speculate what purpose exactly, but it doesn't matter here. So, in couple of months later GWT showed 100000+ links from these domains. I didn't get any warnings from Google. No messages, no alarms, just nothing. Latest Panda refresh and Penguin was perfect for me. (First good update since I got a huge hit from first Panda). Now GWT shows strong decrease of these links amount day by day. Some links are still on, but probably about 10-15% from the maximum. Conclusion : Google can perfectly understand what's going on with your links and how did you get them. My experience make me think, that most of the webmasters, who blame Google (again) are just not honest about there links. And I pretty sure, that 100% of SEOs who blame Google (again) are not honest.

Aaron Alexander

05/10/2012 08:07 pm

Suing people for linking to you is ridiculous. I agree with K Huffman and his Google assertion, that the ol Googs likes to scare the less than knowledgeable. If Webmaster Tools follows through....I heard that they will allow the site owner the ability to "nofollow" incoming links. Problem Solved...

Jan Dunlop

05/11/2012 12:29 am

Threat of legal action can be a good motivator so yes I imagine we will see a lot more of this.


05/11/2012 03:21 am

I know some people or seo using this trick to penalize their competition. Putting the competitors sites to a bad website as comment

Isaac Wendt

05/11/2012 03:58 am

Yeah i wish google never opened this can of worms. Negative SEO can't be good for anyone, and these legal things aren't good.


05/11/2012 06:26 am

As a responsible influencer on seo, you should put breaks on this. Negative SEO is a hype created by the SEO industry that started with the google over-optimization algo update reports which were publicised an attempt to initiate external self-cleaning mechanisms among the seo and webmaster industry (so congratulations to google for a successful campaign so far). If at all, negative seo applies just to 'a handful' of sites (in comparison to the overwhelming majority of sites in google's index) and are subject to manual review.


05/11/2012 09:11 am

Don't get aggro at Barry for reporting what is happening in the real-world. He isn't running the Iranian National Propaganda weekly, there is no reason to hide the truth.


05/11/2012 10:03 am

Barry is just reporting a legit concern effecting the SEO industry.

Sumer Kolcak

05/14/2012 01:30 am

google is committing a crime linking to any web site or spidering. theft is theft wire tapping laws apply intellectual property is intellectual property theft is theft. wire tapping laws apply your site is your intellectual property if google crawlers take a bite and then publish it on their site and make money and use the money to send troops to iraq and murder innocent people welcome to sickness those of you that do not believe this story are sick in the head. - Sumer Kolcak

Lee hodson

05/19/2012 01:45 pm

I was hit hard by Penguin. I'm lazy when it comes to backlinks - I don't try to get them, I wait for people to link to me. I was getting around 7000 daily page views from between 1000 and 1500 recordable daily visits. When Penguin hit, my traffic dropped to around 400 daily visits. At lowest it was 300. I'm slowly climbing backup to to the 600 mark. Point is, I'm white hat through and through and I never went link baiting or commenting on forums and blogs etc... just to get backlinks. My content is well written, well researched and useful. So good in fact that sploggers and the intellectually inept regularly rip it off and perform better with it than I do (and I understand SEO very well). Long term, Penguin will be good for me because those who have ripped off my content will eventually lose out to my good practices and quality content. So there is a plus side to it but the downside outweighs it in many ways. If you think Google can do no wrong that web masters must be dodgy if Google penalizes them then you need to think again. Just wait and see your traffic drop again when Google's next update, Knowledge Graph, is fully rolled out.

Tom Forrest

05/24/2012 08:34 pm

Barry is correct and Andy you are wrong. Google makes million dollar mistakes, please think about all their failed tries at a product to win against Facebook. Also Google has and does penalize many innocent sites and Google's new tougher policies create a new industry "SEO sabotage". Meaning if someone knows about Publishers Google does not like, they can put their competitors links up on these "bad sites" and have them unfairly penalized by Google. In fact we are seeing many cases of this already happening and when the innocent victims complain to Google, they get no response. Google has made a huge mistake, and hopefully soon they will reverse it.

Brenda Lee Ayala

07/11/2012 06:04 am

Lol one never realizes of the reason's this internet laws have been created till the same laws you did not understood before save your azz today!!

Nita J. Kulkarni

07/11/2012 07:28 am

I must say you are very positive thinking when you say that Penguin will be good for you in the long run event though your site has taken a battering. One thing you say is true, Google is punishing all sorts of sites, and some of these are genuine sites.


05/21/2013 05:31 pm

Linking Most often, a website will connect to another in the form of a link (also known as a “hypertext” link), a specially coded word or image that when clicked upon, will take a Web user to another Web page. A link can take the user to another page within the same site (an “internal link”), or to another site altogether (an “external link”). You do not need permission for a regular word link to another website’s home page. If there is some concern over the link, most issues can be squared away by having the linked site sign a linking agreement that gives permission for your link.

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