Negative SEO

Since Google’s latest Penguin Update on April 24th, there has been a great amount of controversy. One of the updates involved preventing link schemes, a link scheme is an external factor:

  • Links intended to manipulate PageRank
  • Links to web spammers or bad neighborhoods on the web
  • Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you.”)
  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank

Negative SEO Google Penguin Update.

All this is great logically for improved search engine results. However, there may be major flaws in this update. Can a site lose its ranking due to an external factor? Can a competitor hurt its competitions results?

This operation is called “negative SEO”. Negative SEO has been around since 2007(at least, I can’t find any articles prior to). It was first labeled as Google Bowling. Google’s attempt to clean up the web, opened new doors, “Negative SEO”.

There are a few things a company can do to try to sabotage your results:

Spam links – Google cares about relevancy, if your site has significant links from authoritative sites they help you rank. All the competitor needs to do is build links from non-relative sources that have no authority, build spammy links on forums, social networks, and blog comments. Not only does this get a site demoted from an index, it is also negative branding for a company.

Buying Links– Google does not like to rank sites for buying links. In fact, they despise it. According to Google, if links are bought they should have “no follow” attributes. All the competitor needs to do is add your site to a link farm network for a small price and wait for you to get punished.

Copyright Complaint to Google-

Whenever a company complains to Google (or any search engine) about online copyright infringement they must remove the page for 10 days.

These are just a few unethical tactics a competitor can do. There are many more.

Having a clean search engine is great! Showing a user the most relevant results is exactly what Google wants. Can they do it?

Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz is a strong believer in white hat SEO, he believes that negative SEO is not possible. He challenged the web to attack his site.

What are some of your opinions on this matter?