Negative SEO has become a topic of interest since automatic link building tools have allowed webmasters to create (low quality) links en masse and more recently since Google began punishing webmasters for unnatural SEO. But does negative SEO exist?
Does Negative SEO Exist
It’s a bit ironic how SEO has evolved when it comes to link building in this way when you stop and think about it. Receiving hundreds of keyword/anchor text optimized links used to be a powerful way to jump to the top of the SERPs when it first came out. Google quickly adjusted and in the wake of the Penguin update, Google began punishing websites for over optimization and this was especially true for sites with lots of targeted keyword links.
Ultimately it just obviously didn’t look natural to Google and unnatural to Google means that you’re trying to game their system just for the purpose of putting your website above your competition in the SERPs for the keywords you’re targeting. Whether it deserves to be there or not, Google doesn’t take kindly to this. This manifested when Google began sending out their dreaded letters to webmasters via their webmaster tools accounts which essentially let them know that, unless major changes were made, their sites would disappear from the SERPs or at least take a massive hit.
With that background in mind, this brings us to negative SEO. This is the practice of using bad links and over optimization as a weapon against your competitors in the SERPs. The basic gist is that you’re knocking your competitors out of their positions in the SERPs with negative SEO so that you can take their place without necessarily having to do any positive SEO on your own site.
Link building tools are easy to get and blasting your major competitors with hundreds or even thousands of low quality links overnight so that they’ll catch the attention of Google and lose their ranking and that your site rises above them in the SERPs.
I tend to believe that negative SEO does exist (NO, NOT THROUGH EXPERIENCE), because from a realistic point of view, there are ways to disguise where those links are coming from or in other words there are ways to make it so that Google won’t know where those links are coming from or who created them, leaving the blame to fall on the webmaster.
If thousands of links are created to a site overnight which has been building just a few dozen a day, this is going to cause problems for that webmaster one way or another and it won’t take much for the dark hearted SEOer to make that happen.
Google has also given a nod to the credibility of negative SEO with their creation of the Disavow Link tool in their Webmaster tools. I’ll give a proper post and video next week on this but it’s essentially a tool which you can use to explicitly tell Google which links pointing to your site you don’t want to be counted.
Ultimately, the debate rages on between webmasters and SEOers as to whether or not negative SEO exists and/or is a legitimate threat. How do you weigh in on this? Participate in our poll to voice your opinion.