Negative SEO! What’s that you ask? Well, thanks to our friends at Google and the constant updates to the algorithms, Penguin in particular, some unethical companies and slime balls are using tactics to hurt their competitors. Google rolled out the first Penguin update back in April 2012. The update was aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using now declared black-hat SEO techniques, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, participating in link schemes, deliberate creation of duplicate content, and other strategies. The guiding principle for the update was to PENALIZE WEBSITES using manipulative techniques to achieve high rankings.
Generally Google’s algorithms reward websites for doing a good job of providing relevant, useful content for the visitors, or so they say. As far as the SEO community knows, this was the first time that Google began to penalize sites for attempting to manipulate the search engines with shady tactics.
So the big question is, what is stopping people from implementing some of these manipulative tactics on your website? Not too much! Thus we have negative SEO. It’s becoming a reality in the online world, and it’s something that businesses should be aware of, particularly in regards to backlinks to your website.
Over 11 years in the industry, I have had the privilege to work with amazing business owners with high business standards and integrity. We haven’t had to worry too much about this as we have implemented SEO tactics based on Google’s recommendations, and have received some great results. Unfortunately, I recently met a new client that has fallen victim to some bad link backs.
Let’s see what Matt Cutt’s has to say about this here
So what can be done about this? I have done a ton of reading and consulting with other SEO professionals who have had success with overcoming negative SEO.
Here are the steps that we recommend:
- Use these three tools to complete your link mining. Webmaster Tools, Moz Open Site Explorer, and MajesticSEO. These tools will help you to determine which websites are linking to your website.
- Organize the link backs into a spreadsheet, removing duplicate entries.
- Things to look for: low page rank links (3 or less), low domain authority (30 or less), links that are not relevant to your product, service, or geographical region, and finally, spammy anchor text links.
- Contact all of the websites that you would like to have your link removed from. Yes, this seems daunting, but it is necessary. This tool helps to speed things up: Rmoov
- Then you wait. Wait. And wait some more. Give it about a month for website owners to respond. You should see a 5-10% response rate.
- After you have attempted to have the links removed on your own, you can then submit the remainder of your list to the Webmaster Tools disavow tool. Google requires that you attempt to have the links removed first before using this tool.
Yes this is a tedious task. And yes it is necessary if you have been hit with a some negative SEO. Hopefully in the future, Google will release an update that prevents negative SEO from happening. Our recommendation is to run your business with ethical business standards and hopefully this won’t happen to you. If you are one of the unlucky business owners who is affected by negative SEO, then consult an SEO professional to help you. Trying to clean it up yourself and abusing the disavow tool could potentially hurt your site more.