Do you need to worry about negative SEO? The hurting of a website’s search engine rank through repeated low-quality actions taken by competitors—also called negative SEO—has been an issue for years.
Guest Post by Adrienne Erin: Since Google’s latest update, Panda 4.0, launched on May 20, however, concerns regarding negative SEO have soared. Many people speculate the update has made it easier than ever to affect site rankings through negative SEO.
What Did Panda 4.0 Do for Websites’ Rankings?
Searchmetrics’ investigation into sites impacted by Panda 4.0 showed sites tweaking already-published information – like sites covering celebrity news, for example – took the greatest blows to rankings.
The algorithm aims to remove spammy sites from the ranks, but it doesn’t work perfectly. It has impacted reputable sites while failing to touch all the bad ones. Even though there is also a human team working alongside the algorithm, there are still some holes in the system.
Google’s Indirect Confession
Google denies the effectiveness of negative SEO adamantly, but it actually changed the wording of its online Webmaster Tools back in 2012:
It used to read: “There’s almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.”
It now states: “Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.”
This may be just a single sentence, but it says a lot.
How It Works
Webmaster World’s Google discussion forum explains outright the way negative SEO works. Such is evident with its most recent post: “The New SEO is Negative SEO – How to Tank a Site in Google 101.” This is what they have to say about playing dirty with SEO:
“The first month, contract a couple $5 guest blog posts [make sure the posts are in broken English of course], then go back to what you were doing.
Second month, try a few more [4-8] $5 [broken-English] guest blog posts and add some forum link drops to the mix. Go back to what you normally do — nothing will happen.
Third month, add even more [broken-English] guest blog links [2x or 3x per week], increase the forum link drops and sign up for long-term [“undetectable”] directory additions.
If the site hasn’t tanked yet, month 4 hit ’em with 20,000 inbound links all at once — Keep doing it and eventually the site you’re aiming at will tank and they won’t be able to figure out how to recover — It takes almost none of your time and costs very little to tank a site due to the “penalty mentality” Google has decided to run with.”
The author notes the piece was not written to encourage bad behavior on the web, but feels Google needs to be driven to make positive changes.
Who Needs to Worry About Negative SEO?
Negative SEO is most prevalent in the name of competition. Webmasters often utilize negative SEO to bomb the status of competitors’ sites, pushing their own to the top of the search engine results.
Members of specific industries may need to be most concerned. Think, for example, of CAT dealers. There are a number of companies supplying CAT equipment, and all of these companies are battling for a small group of consumers. Other specific niche industries face the same issues and may need to carefully protect their sites.
If the hype surrounding negative SEO is real, it may require money, time and energy to keep sites safe. Prepare yourselves.