How to find out who created malicious backlinks to our site?


We have been hit with 500,000 (and growing) backlinks that have appeared in two weeks.  We will make removal requests and disavow but Google has issued a manual penalty even though this is not our or our SEO company's doing.  

Just spoke to a competitor who had the same issue over the last two months, with the same backlink sources and they ranked on page 1 as well.  They had to change domain. This seems to indicate a competitor has of ours has done this.

Is it possible to trace the source of these attacks, who carried them out?
Who is Participating?
COBOLdinosaurConnect With a Mentor Commented:
There are blackhat SEO operations that used the same type of botnets as email spammers. It is virtually impossible to find them track them or identify them, and when by some chance you do you find that they operate in jurisdictions where there is no rule of law to use for legal proceedings.

The biggest problem is Google.  They penalize the victims, and thus make the blackhat operations profitable doing this sort of crap.

GaryConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I sometimes wonder why people use WP when hackers are constantly looking for ways to hack it.
You are doing the right thing by using the disavow tools but you might also contact the site owners to tell them their site has been hacked or is been spammed.  Quite a few times the owners will never know because some of the hacks only work if you get to the site via Google.
Are you sure you're site hasn't also been hacked?

Apart from that there isn't much else you can do.
Zoo71Author Commented:
Hi, thanks for the reply and interest.

We will use a removal tool and disavow but I have taken advice and it seems our rankings may never recover from this.  Been advised to start a new domain.

There are some small domains listed but many are Korean blog monsters which seem to exist for nothing else.

I do not think we have been hacked, at least there are no outbound links we do not recognise.

What I want to know is is it possible to trace the culprits.  Two companies have had their rankings and sales damaged and if this was a court case for damages we would be looking at £250k-£500k.

Surely a negative SEO software was used, no way of tracing who used it?
Zoo71Author Commented:
Depressed, but thankful for both you opinions, much appreciated!
You have to weigh the benefits/disadvantages of starting a new domain vs fighting the 'blacklisting' that is occurring.
Google used to say no backlink is a bad backlink - if they are bad they will ignore them.  But they don't seem to be following their philosophy.
The only other thing to do is try and build up more backlinks that are relevant, then when this kind of thing happens it will have less of an impact.
You could also try contacting Google - but good luck with that.
Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.

All Courses

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.