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.Line Break
Author: Tim (294 Articles)
Tim Grice is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 7 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 Head of Search at Branded3, an SEO agency in Leeds.