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Adverse SEO

How Negative SEO Works

The practice of SEO, or search engine optimization, is known by most internet-based companies. Especially in today's Internet, in which access is overseen almost completely by search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft's Bing, being able to optimize your page to achieve a high search engine ranking is synonymous with success. The techniques associated with search engine optimization, such as sharing links, meta tag use, judicious use of keyword content, and a decent site map for search engines to crawl, are essential for any budding Internet entrepreneur who wants to make money at it. Of course, these techniques are also important for well-established companies who simply want to strengthen their web presence in the twenty-first century.

Why Use Negative SEO?

Any successful business is likely to become the target of negative reviews, attacks, or even outright smears, from disgruntled customers, competition, or personal enemies. If a negative review is combined with effective SEO, it can effectively make the front page of Google or other search engines when potential customers do a search for your company. Having such a highly-ranked negative review out there is, obviously, bad for your brand image. That's where Negative SEO techniques come from. The word "negative" has less to do with any notion of "aggressive" or "combative," and more to do with reducing a page's search engine rankings. Instead of search engine optimization, Negative SEO is more like search engine diminishment.

If you are looking for "positive" SEO for your own websites to improve rankings, then building high quality links is key. Go check out Layered Links Link Building for white-hat link building services.

Differences from Black Hat SEO

Just to be clear, these techniques aren't the same as "black hat" SEO techniques. Black hat techniques consist of things like spamdexing, hidden keyword text, and link farming (one person creating a group of sites which link to all the rest) in order to push your website to the top of the page ranking, which search engines have expressly prohibited. If you're caught doing any of these, you're liable to be penalized in the page rankings, so I wouldn't recommend them.

The Theory behind Negative SEO

In order to automatically prevent Black Hat SEO techniques from being implemented, search engine algorithms are designed to note any sites that use these techniques, and then to penalize them by banishing them to what is affectionately known as "Google Hell," also known as the 200th+ page of search results that you never, ever look at in a million years. Negative SEO takes advantage of these algorithms and allows you to get an offending page, whether it be a negative review or a competitor's home page, banished to Google Hell.

For example, a popular form of Negative SEO, known as "Google bowling," works by posting a link to an offending page all over the Internet. If search engines see that a site has gained half a million links over the course of a weekend, the algorithms will go into effect to banish that site to the nether reaches of the search rankings. Thus, a negative review of your company that might have been in the top three slots previously will be on the 2435th page after a round of Google Bowling, where nobody will see it.

Why Search Engines Don't Mind?

Search engine companies are taking the public stance that their algorithms are strong enough to withstand any negative SEO techniques, and that it is impossible to make a significant dent in a website's page ranking utilizing "Google bowling." Says Google engineer Matt Cutts, "We try to be mindful of when a technique can be abused and make our algorithm robust against it...I won't go out on a limb and say it's impossible. But Google bowling is much more inviting as an idea than it is in practice."

In private, however, there are indications that Google is attempting to update its algorithms to combat the recent rash of negative SEO.

Some Other Examples of Negative SEO

  1. Tattletale - It is prohibited to purchase links from other reputable sites, to hide links on their own site, or any one of a hundred other things. By telling a search engine that your competitor did something prohibited, they can be penalized.

  2. Insulation - By creating a bunch of positive articles for your website or product and then running positive SEO techniques on each one, they can push the negative review down in the rankings.

  3. Copyright Takedown Notice - If you notify a search engine that an offending site is in breach of copyright, the search engine is required to remove it from its rankings for ten days, no questions asked. This can be a way to rebuild your online reputation, but be careful. Unlawful copyright takedown notices can be grounds for lawsuit.

  4. Copying Content - If your site is already more search-engine friendly, you can publish a copy of the negative article or site to your website. If two or more pages have the same information, search engines automatically remove the least-ranked pages (which should include your competitor's page).