Google SEO & Search Engine Marketing Services

I Can Sabotage Your Google Ranking! Using Negative SEO?

Thats right, according to a story Forbes, SEO professionals can actually sabotage your search position in order to advance their clients position. They do this by link spamming a particular site, therefore making Google believe your a spammer and subsequently penalising your site, it’s also known as “Google Bowling”.

My first thoughts are that this is 100% unethical and anyone who practices it should be treat as cyber criminals. On the other hand I have always questioned it’s effectiveness, I have always been from the school of thought that spammy inbound links are only ever going to have a minimal effect on a well established site with a solid brand. This is something I kind of stand by, however Matt Cutt’s was quoted as saying;

“We try to be mindful of when a technique can be abused and make our algorithm robust against it,” he says. “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.”

So Matt admits it is a possibility but states quite clearly that it is something Google are aware of and that it would be difficult to perform. Critics have said that Matt Cutt’s statement is a concession, implying that negative SEO can and does occur.

The story is based around a ‘negative’ SEO named Brendon Scott, who admits to performing negative SEO for clients to the sum of thousands of dollars. He even states that he has been hit by negative SEO forcing one of his sites to lose 5 million unique visitors in 10 days. He obviously signs non disclosures with these clients so cannot give us any solid examples. hmmm.

Brendon does go on to admit that the effects of negative SEO are short lived and Google soon recovers the situation and amends the index, pretty much how Google deals with most web spam.

I personally still feel that to sabotage a competitors site that is a sound quality resource is highly unethical. If your fighting against a bogus report on your product or service sitting on a site like rip off review then yes you should try and impact the relevant search terms. However I would do so by writing and distributing positive content aimed at elevating the positive information and pushing the negative review further down the index. It does the same job and will stand the test of time.

If you build a solid resource and effectively build your brand, you are safe guarding yourself from any spam attacks and in my opinion have no need to worry.

Please let us know your thoughts.

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Author: Tim (254 Articles)

is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 9 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Director of Search at Branded3, a Digital Marketing & SEO Agency based in the UK.

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{ 8 comments }

Manish June 29, 2009 at 3:55 am

Hi Tim, Quite researched post. However, it doesn’t seem that negative SEO might hurt a website too bad. As Google clearly stats, Google will only penalize the websites who are linking irrelevant websites on their websites rather than the websites which are being linked.

If the negative SEO concept is true then one would stop working on his own website and will work negatively on his clients websites. I personally tried the same to check the impact of negative SEO with one of my finance blog, however, I have not observed any downfall in ranking and traffic but a positive swing towards rankings.

Tim June 29, 2009 at 4:00 am

@Manish,

Thanks for the input. Ye I am very skeptical of the whole negative SEO concept. I have seen sites penalised in the passed for having excessive inbound links from known link farms, but don’t see how simply link spamming will negatively effect a site. You could set up a program in a couple of hours that would sabotage your competitors in a weekend? Something doesn’t sound right to me.

PotatoChef June 29, 2009 at 6:48 am

There is not enough time in the day for me to do all of the “above board” things that need to be done. I wouldn’t waste my time on something like this. Besides, in the niches I blog it really is not worth it for a short term gain.

Tim June 29, 2009 at 7:19 am

@Potatochef,

It was an interesting story but I’m not sure how much I’m going to read into it. It only really apply to the bigger sites that dominate huge niches, like travel, technology and finance. It doesn’t really apply to everyday niche bloggers, it was simply something that I found interesting.

Kai Lo June 29, 2009 at 9:12 am

I agree that it should be a crime because the site owner has no control over the person spamming links. I’m glad it is only a short-lived problem though.

Tim June 29, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Hi Kai,

I doubt how genuine the chances really are of being able to pull it off, even though to pay $3000 dollars a day for someone to do means there must be something in it.

busana muslim December 3, 2010 at 4:09 pm

can this be categorized blackhat ?

Tim December 5, 2010 at 5:57 am

Since I wrote this post it seems impossible to do this now, but ye definitely a black hat tactic

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