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Negative SEO

Competitor Negative SEO

Over the past few years, the practice of negative SEO has garnered more attention than ever. For some SEOs, the burning desire to rank is so great that they break the unwritten rules of SEO and decided to attack their competitor's website. While very difficult to do, negative SEO is at least theoretically possible, despite that Google claims it is virtually impossible. So what exactly is negative SEO and why would someone do it?

What is Negative SEO?

Very simply put, negative SEO is the practice of intentionally attempting to harm/lower another site's rankings in the search engines. Typically, this would be done by someone with a financial interest in seeing another site's rankings slip, most often by a competitor to that site in the same niche. The most common type of SEO is link-based since Google has become so tough on spam and "blackhat" techniques. However, there are still other forms of negative SEO that we'll get into soon.

How Does Someone Perform Negative SEO?

As we mentioned above, negative SEO is typically link-based. In other words, someone attempting negative SEO will send backlinks with the hopes of negative impacting another site's rankings. How can they attempt this? They'll typically try in three ways:

  • Sending hundreds of thousands/millions of low quality forum links (from the formerly popular tool Xrumer). These links are often from hacked Russian or Chinese sites, which are of the lowest quality.
  • Placing links on "bad neighborhoods" - ie. pornographic, gambling, hate, or hacked websites.
  • Using hundreds/thousands of low quality spun blog posts with high anchored text ratios to trigger a Google Penguin penalty.

Typically speaking, these are the three most common ways someone will attempt to negative SEO another website. However, a competitor could also try to DDOS (distributed denial of service) another website with the hopes of taking it down for a prolonged period of time. In theory, this could result in another site's rankings tanking because Google takes into account whether or not a site is up/page speed into their algorithm.

Why Would Someone Negative SEO a Site?

Negative SEO is no laughing matter and it has already caused some business owners to lose everything. In almost every documented negative SEO attempt, there was one of two reasons for the negative SEO attack:

  • An individual had a personal vendetta against another individual or business.
  • Two competitors decide to play dirty and attempt to negative SEO the other business to overtake their rankings.

For the most part, attempts at negative SEO produce little results and are a waste of time. Search engine algorithms have adapted over time to reduce the likelihood that negative SEO attempts can be successful, and Google even reportedly has an internal tool that can (allegedly) accurately discover negative SEO attacks and discount or nullify their effects.