Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Search Engine Deoptimization

Take a company you have a problem with

1. Imagine you hate Ryanair. I do not btw they are just an example of a company this would work on.

2. You decide you want to harm them commercially

3. You go to their terms and conditions here and see they do not allow linking to their website

"Links to this website. You may not establish and/or operate links to this website without the prior written consent of Ryanair. Such consent may be withdrawn at any time at Ryanair’s own discretion."

There is a list of other companies that do not allow linking listed here. That where I heard of this T&C clause.

4. Now spider all the websites that do link to them. This is easy to do and you now should have a list of many websites. Either from a whois or just from scraping the website get an email address for each site.

5. Send all these linking websites official looking notices that remind them that "You may not establish and/or operate links to this website without the prior written consent of Ryanair" including a link to the official Ryanair terms and conditions. You would have to be careful here. You would not claim to be Ryanair for legal reasons. You do not want to break any laws or threaten anything. Just say you are from some official sounding company "John Smith and associates business compliance coordinators" and remind them of what the companies own policies say. It is not like you are lying.

6. Watch Ryanair drop down search rankings as people delete links to them. Search rankings are mainly based on how many (and what sort of) sites link to you. As they drop down the search engine rankings they will suffer commercially. With my google of "cheap flight dublin london" Ryanair comes up as the third site. Which implies they must get a fair amount of traffic from search engines.

I think this attack should be called Search Engine Deoptimization.


The Beer Nut said...

It sounds silly, but I think deep linking may still be technically illegal. Certainly when I was taught The Internet at library school in the late-'90s I definitely remember being told or reading somewhere that deep linking was against the law. This would have been shortly after the landmark Shetland Times case. That settled out of court and didn't leave a precedent but I don't think it's ever come to trial in Ireland: those sites which ban deep linking are probably well within their rights to sue anyone who does.

Mind you, if you used the Internet at all, or a VCR for that matter, prior to 2000 in Ireland there was a cell waiting for you in the ©-wing of the 'Joy.

red dave said...

I heard Irish law is particularly odd when it comes to these things. Those iphone to your car radios were recently unbanned.

I am willing to bet laws will delay automated cars in Ireland to the point where somewhere else gets a winning headstart

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with Irish Law and probably more to do with Ryanair trying to stop screen scraping:


red dave said...

That could be the reasoning alright. If they have the right to prevent links to a particular deal that would make those flight comparison websites easy to prevent.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth would they forbid links to they site? I have never heard of anything like that.

Yumehara Nozomi said...

Oh yes, removing links to your opponents is one of my favorite SEO tricks. I'm not going to reveal details, but there was a time that I removed 2/3 of the links that one of my competitors had and stole their #1 spot in a month.

Of course, it helps that I had a better site than theirs too ;-)

Julie said...

Looks like Belgian newspapers are doing to themselves.