By now just about everyone working in SEO knows about Google’s Penguin update targeting web spam. Many say Penguin made a mess of search. It sure shook up the SEO world.
Industry forums were flooded with posts screaming frustration and rage; many attacked Google, a few lashed out at other SEOs. Some resorted to Negative SEO, which we will likely see much more of now.
Surely Google knows penalizing a site for backlinks rather than discounting the links encourages widespread negative SEO, which Dr. Philip Nikolayev calls Hostile SEO.
Nikolayev, founder and president of Search Benefit, wrote a well-expressed open letter to Google from white-hat SEOs, first published on SEOchat. In the letter Nikolayev mentions a case study using Negative SEO bring sites down. It worked. Hopefully, Google took notice and will make changes to rectify that.
Negative SEO is Not the Way to Go
It’s bad karma.
Although not new, Negative SEO is gaining more attention now. It involves efforts to push a competitor down or out of search results – not by improving your site, but rather by attacking the competitors’.
One way of doing so is to quickly build thousands of bad links to a competitor’s site. You could hack into a competitor’s site, or more easily make spam reports to Google against your competitors. Many things, all negative.
Surprisingly, there’s now an increase in advertising for negative SEO services. Seriously, people. That’s not what we want our industry to be about.
If Your Site is Hit by Negative SEO
Unfortunately, you will go through basically the same process you would if negative SEO wasn’t the problem: dig into your analytics, webmaster tools, and link profile to find the problem and correct it. The difference is that if you had used questionable practices, you would at least have an idea of where to start looking for what caused your site to drop.
Your best defense is to keep a close eye on your site. If you see a large number of links or reviews flooding in unexpectedly, tell Google about it in advance – before your site drops.
On the other hand, if you bought bad links and lost rankings post-Penguin, don’t submit a reconsideration request. If it’s not a manual penalty, a reconsideration plea won’t help.
Regardless of how stressful or difficult your work in optimizing for Google and Bing Search may be, using negative SEO against a competitor should not be a part of your work. Don’t condone it. Don’t do it, and don’t pay someone else to.