Negative SEO: Fact or Faked? Or Just Stupid? Big Daylight SEO Blog
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Negative SEO: Fact or Faked? Or Just Stupid?

Posted in Digital Marketing — April 26, 2012

There’s been a fair amount of uproar in our admittedly rarefied world about not only the possibility, but seeming probability, of negative SEO. Negative SEO (also called Link Bombing, also called Rogue Element Initiated Electronic Pariahfication (OK, I made that up)) is the apparent ability of an online competitor to create (either via simple application or purchase) an influx of bad links with keyword-heavy anchor text pointing at a competitive site, thus impacting their competitor’s ability to rank and, potentially, attracting Google’s Eye of Sauron spam detection and instant unmerciful obliteration by fire.

Link BombThe hubbub began with a supposedly innocuous Matt Cutts’ statement (why Mr. Cutts, by now, doesn’t realize he can no longer make an innocuous statement is beyond me) in which he said, basically, that Google was going to begin to focus on “overoptimization.” Given that they’d already addressed issues such as keyword stuffing, link farms, article farms, crappy copy, and the like, well, we should be in a time beyond overoptimization, no? So, what? Is? He? Talking? About? What does that mean, man?

Add to this the strange tale of one Mr. Dan Thies, who via Twitter congratulated Matt Cutts on a recent Google update that hammered blog networks. Some folks (I’m guessing those who run/use blog networks) didn’t like this, and as a result decided to take down Dan’s site. Dan got an unnatural link notice in Google Webmaster Tools, then his site tanked in the SERPs. Oh, but also, he began using a new template. The waters are sufficiently muddied. Was it the template, or Link Bombing? Aaron Wall seems convinced it was the latter.

But really, how could this be? Google has long said that while bad incoming links won’t help you, they really can’t hurt you. Or, at least, they’re not going to make it easy for someone to hurt your site using that tactic. But then, they say participation in link schemes can hurt you. Huh? Plus, c’mon. If bad links can affect your site, why, someone (with a fair amount of free time on their hands, as is seemingly common with such folks) could get mad at you and aggressively build a bunch of crappy links using spammy anchor text, point them at your site, and sink it. Not fair. Not fair in an age in which there are apparently legions of people just waiting to get pissed off about something, anything. Are we all, now, walking on glass? Why would Google let this happen?

Have they, even? Rand Fishkin, often the SEO industry’s voice of reason, sure doesn’t think so. He’s so convinced that negative SEO isn’t a thing that he’s offered up both his sites (SEOMoz.org and RandFishkin.com) and said “do your worst, freaky hacker trolls!” And if anyone can take it, it’s Rand. Thing is, both his sites are crazy-strong. It’ll be interesting to watch, but it’s not as though it’s a mom and pop site bearing the brunt.

The worst aspect of this situation/nonsituation is the willingness, and even glee, of some folks in our industry to turn on others, to throw away any pretense of ethical, responsible behavior in order to get what they want. SEO is and has been, unfortunately, defined by the actions of our sleaziest brethren. Whatever way this turns out, the fact that someone’s even giving negative SEO a shot is no help.

4 Comments

  1. I’m the guy on Fiverr who had the nseo gigs that the blogosphere has been talking about. *braces self* Anyway, you should know that they were all rejected by fiverr, who understandably, frowns upon negative seo.

    However, while I have a new gig up for simply building over 6,000 backlinks, and another one for over 10,000 links, (under the name NegativeSEOguy) I feel any buyer could get a similar effect from using other gigs that are similar. So, yes, this is a gap in the search algorithm, but let me suggest that there might be times when some feel this gap can, and should, be exploited for good reasons, such as when a competitor puts up a site like ‘(yourbrand)sucks.com’ or if you have stuff on the first page that you don’t want prospective employers to see.

    I’ve had people buy my gigs that are losing business because some joker puts up a free blogger site that makes unfounded accusations…yes, this could be actionable under the context of ‘libel’, but nothing is to stop the person from doing it again…also, some people are extorting businesses with ‘Hey, if you like your current ranking, and want it to stay that way, pay us $x…if not, we’ll blast you down to page 300.’

    The next 6 mos will be a Wild West as far as the serps are concerned, with people trying to gain and retain rankings by any means necessary. Perhaps the good thing about NSEO is that it reveals the need for search to evolve once again.

    Posted by NSEO, April 27, 2012 | Reply

    • Hi NSEO: thanks for reading and for sharing your experience “from the trenches” (so to speak). Thought-provoking info, to be sure. I absolutely agree that the fact that these tactics work reveals the need for the engines to evolve and more closely adhere to their core missions: to return the most relevant results. Cheers!

      Posted by Admin, April 27, 2012 | Reply

  2. Negative SEO is not new seo tactic. It is the process of downgrading your competitor’s rankings in which it helps to boost your own sites rankings.

    Posted by negative seo, May 10, 2012 | Reply

    • THANK YOU soooo much for your insightful contribution to this conversation, which previously lacked depth. Your erudite take on negative SEO has allowed me to see the issue in an entirely new light. Plus, guess what, comment spam is also not new SEO tactic. I edited out your URL. Keep up the good work!

      Posted by Admin, May 10, 2012 | Reply

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