What is Negative SEO and Can It Happen to You?

The world of search engine rankings can be a cutthroat one. Countless companies in any given area and any given industry are all vying for the top spots in Google rankings, which can make for some nasty competition.

In a traditional SEO campaign, you leave your website in the hands of a reputable SEO service who will apply their expertise and skill to help you climb in the rankings, while only utilizing best SEO practices and sticking to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to be certain they’re doing the things the right way.

Unfortunately, not everybody plays by the rules, and some SEO services may adopt malicious techniques. This type of SEO is known as negative SEO, and it’s something all site owners should be on the lookout for as the industry becomes more competitive. Let’s review what negative SEO is, and how you can stay proactive in the fight against negative SEO.

So, What is Negative SEO?

Negative SEO is the use of “black-hat” or malicious techniques that seeks not to boost a client’s website search rankings, but to bring down the rankings of a competitor. Common negative SEO techniques include:

  • Spamming links to a website from less than reputable websites
  • Hacking a website and causing internal issues
  • Copying your original content on other sites
  • Leaving false or untrue and malicious reviews
  • Creating fake social media profiles to affect your company’s reputation
  • Removing high-quality backlinks to your profile

These techniques will trick the search engine algorithms into believing you and your site are the ones performing the webmaster guideline violations and will penalize your site with a drop in the rankings. At the worst, your website could be de-indexed.

Is Negative SEO an Issue?

Who would the heck hire someone to employ black hat tactics? Unfortunately, plenty of people. If you hop on the freelance for hire website Fiverr.com right now, you can find plenty of people offering to do perform negative SEO. Those services wouldn’t be on there if there weren’t a market for them.

Protecting Your Website

It is your job to make sure your site is protected from negative SEO. There are several ways to do this including hiring an SEO or reputation management company to proactively monitor what’s going on with your website, your reviews, your backlink portfolio, any alerts from Google Webmaster Guidelines and other techniques.

As the SEO industry becomes more competitive in the future, the likelihood of negative SEO on your site grows. Always be proactive with your site by watching your backlink portfolio, performing searches on your site to see what comes up, to hiring a reputation management service. Bad people do exist in the SEO world, but you can and must stay above them.

Author: Melissa Popp
Melissa Popp is Director of Digital Engagement for Altitude Agency, a boutique agency helping small businesses win with content online. As a digital strategist with a passion for technology and travel, she coaches her partners to connect with their audience through experience optimization, with the goal of retaining more loyal visitors, creating brand ambassadors, and increasing conversion goals. She can be found online writing for TripSavvy, TechNorms, and The Emmys. Past clients include Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Samsung.