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One post that did the rounds recently was Ryan D. Sullivan’s Negative SEO attack. It resonated with me, to some effect, as I used to cut my teeth in the SEO community as an SEO’er. I used to know people who orchestrated Negative SEO attacks, and was on the receiving end of a few myself. Unfortunately, without knowing too much behind the attack in question all I can use is my previous experience in that a) Negative SEO is quite tricky and b) Google has denied it ever existed and c) If you were to go out and do a Negative SEO attack right now, chances are you’d be unsuccessful and actually propel your target to the top of the rankings.

I’m still not 100% sure Negative SEO is incredibly effective. However, what can we, as this fabulous WordPress Community can do, to protect against it?

Well, for one, I feel we can share a bit more.

You see, this is something that I have noticed as an individual who has published a fair few plugins. Occasionally bloggers who feature our plugin link to WordPress.org when sharing themes or plugins that we like. How about, for once, instead of linking to the plugins we link to in the WordPress repository, we link to the actual authors behind said plugin? It’s a five second change that nobody does that could stop most Negative SEO attacks in the WordPress Community , but we all need to do it.

Let me give you an example.

A few weeks ago a plugin of mine – Inline Tweet Sharer – was featured on inc.com. Inc is a massive site, and the link “juice” from here has a massive effect. It linked to the WordPress.org listing of Inline Tweet Sharer, rather than the site linked above. I know correlation doesn’t equal causation, but the rankings for “Inline Tweet Sharer” (at the time of writing) are the following:-

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 08.57.01

You can see wordpress.org number one for the term, whereas this site is #3. I speak as a former SEO (a bit rusty, but overall relatively competent), and I’ve no idea how to beat the .org site. It is so frustrating, as the bone’s thrown back from the WordPress.org repository – beyond traffic – from the plugin repository is quite small. This will probably eventually harm the community as a whole as plugins will get abandoned and people will leave the community. So if you love this community, I believe you should give credits to authors directly, not a profile on a third party site.

I did sit in on a talk at a conference discussing Negative SEO, and one of the easiest ways to prevent Negative SEO is make yourself an authority in the search engines so it’s impossible to fight. Here is the Majestic SEO link graph (a graph that details the relative strengths of each link) for the wordpress.org site – a site that would be nigh on impossible to get a Negative SEO attack against:-

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 08.59.08

And – for comparison – this is this current site:-

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 08.59.50

Obviously in a some weaker position should somebody decide to attack.

It takes nothing to do, beyond a mouse click or two more than you currently do. Be supporting the authors behind the sites we love, we’re actually protecting the community as a whole, rather than sacrificing ourselves so the whole survives.

So, for this “Thank a Plugin Author Day“, if you cannot afford to donate to the plugins that help your site, or thank them in the comments, why not link to them?



  • Ryan Hellyer

    Could extensive linking from WordPress.org/plugins/… back to your own site help alleviate these issues?

    January 28, 2015 at 11:26 am
    • Rhys Wynne

      I’m not sure. From my (old) SEO days I used to preach a “diverse link portfolio”, which was generally getting links more from all over the place rather than from one or two big sites.

      Of course, it’s SEO, and you put 6 SEO’s in a room and you get 12 opinions.

      January 28, 2015 at 2:12 pm
  • John Blackbourn

    If I’m searching for a plugin, I’m much more likely to click on a result to the WordPress.org repo than I am to an author’s personal site, because I know what to expect. I know that on the repo I can see a clear description, stats, reviews, author information, download link, SVN repo, screenshots, changelog, etc etc. If I click through to a plugin author’s site, I’m not guaranteed to get any of that information.

    This is probably the reason so many people choose to link to the plugin repo rather than the plugin author’s own page for the plugin, and hence why the repo ranks so highly. As long as the author’s personal page for the plugin ranks reasonably highly (ie. it’s second only to the .org repo link), then I don’t think you can expect much more than that.

    January 28, 2015 at 6:03 pm
  • Julie @Niackery

    I completely agree with John. I often search for a plugin name along with the term “WordPress” to make sure the repository link comes up on top. I don’t want to see the author’s page, which may or may not contain all the info, as John mentions, and which certainly does not contain it in the same format. Once I choose to use a plugin, or if I’m trying to decide which plugin to use, I may visit the plugin or author website if I want to see the documentation or learn more about the author/company.

    Having access to the ratings, reviews, It Works/It’s Broken stats, download stats, support threads, etc., is far more useful than an author/plugin website, partly for comparison purposes, and partly because author/plugin sites are often promotional in nature. Every plugin is “the best” on its author’s site, of course. The repository offers a more objective position.

    Many plugins place links to author sites and documentation in the description and FAQs, which definitely adds value to the repository. But what’s also useful about the repository is the link to the plugin author’s WordPress profile, which lists the plugins the author has developed, the author’s favorite plugins, and the author’s recent activity on WP.org. I love checking out these lists. If I like a plugin author, I may want to use other plugins he or she made. The favorites list is useful if I also want to see what other plugins he or she trusts. And the recent activity list is useful, too. If there isn’t much activity in a plugin’s support thread, you can evaluate potential support by checking out the recent activity list to see if the author has a presence in other forums. It’s not foolproof, obviously, but it’s an added layer of information that can’t be gleaned from an author/plugin/company website.

    I assume most people feel similarly, and for good reason. The repository is the official home of WP plugins, not the author’s website. I find it strange that you call the repository listing a third-party profile. If a plugin isn’t in the repository, then it’s not “officially approved” or whatever. And perhaps I’m inexperienced, but I’ve never seen a free plugin offered outside the repository. The repository adds trust to the whole plugin ecosystem, in my view. (It’s not well-organized or user-friendly, but that’s a different topic!)

    Which is why I don’t understand your statement that:

    “This will probably eventually harm the community as a whole as plugins will get abandoned and people will leave the community.”

    Can you please explain this further?

    Anyway, I’m going to check out your Inline Tweet plugin — it looks cool!

    January 29, 2015 at 3:03 pm
    • Rhys Wynne

      Hi Julie,

      I will try to answer your comment.

      First of all, when I said “This will probably eventually harm the community as a whole as plugins will get abandoned and people will leave the community.”, you can see how many plugins have been abandoned by individuals. We need to ask why? One way I think is plugin authors could feel unappreciated. That’s the purpose of “Thank a plugin author day”, to try and get people to thank people for working for free. I think that authors cannot see any reward for their work, they will leave. Nobody wants to work without any reward.

      I’m not trying to say that the repository is a terrible resource, far from it. In fact I do link to it from this site. However I also link to the author’s site. I feel that could be easily done by people (so to say “here’s [wp.org link]A plugin by [author link]author), so the people get the best of both worlds – authors get credit for their work (encouraging them to contribute more to the project), and we let Google decide what is the most useful resource for each plugin.

      Hope you like my plugin!

      January 29, 2015 at 8:51 pm
    • Ryan Hellyer

      There are quite a lot of free plugins hosted outside of WordPress.org. Many of them are hosted on GitHub.com as people often prefer hosting them there. A lot of developer centric plugins in particular tend to be hosted outside of WordPress.org.

      January 29, 2015 at 8:55 pm
  • Julie @Niackery

    Thanks to you both for taking the time to reply.

    Ryan, when I saw your comment, I literally slapped my forehead. Of course! What was I thinking? ;)

    Rhys, thanks so much for clarifying what you meant. Now I understand your point of view. Linking to both sites is therefore the perfect solution, and since it’s barely more of an effort for the writer of the article, people might actually start doing it. Great idea!

    January 30, 2015 at 2:22 pm
    • Rhys

      Thanks for your comment. I think that’s what I was getting at (if not explicitly mentioning it in the article). Appreciate the comments!

      January 30, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Comments are closed.