Update Negative SEO Is Possible

At SEO Liverpool we’re always testing, reading blogs and talking with others inside our industry about current optimisation issues. In previous posts we’ve discussed negative SEO. To clarify what we mean by negative SEO, it isn’t devaluing your own site through black and grey hat techniques that end up with small penalties, which may affect your rankings. We’re discussing factors outside of your control that could get you de-listed.

Many years ago, I was made aware of certain techniques that a skilled SEO could use to actually ‘burn’ another site. It was possible to go against influence Google’s search algorithm by pretending to be part of a particular site and through various, difficult and laborious techniques actually get a site delisted from Google. This would take a very long-time and was extremely difficult, more so to hid your tracks. We would never do this and just to be really clear we’ve have never heard of anyone actually trying it.

Google has pretty much always denied this is a possibility and has stuck to the belief that search engine factors that are outside the website owners control, can’t harm you.

The recent update to webmaster tools with their link disavow tool suggests their stance has changed!

How about a theoretical example.

We have a webpage that competes pretty well on page one for a particular key-phrase lets say ‘Halloween Masks’

They’ve a good content strategy, and link building is continuing at a steady pace. They’ve a good mix of both semantically linked websites and personal blogs with low PageRank.

It seems to me, that if Google have created a tool where you can disavow any link, then some links are deemed to be detrimental to website health. Therefore, if a competitor contacts a disreputable link-building agency and asked to place a few thousand links from a disreputable sites, link-farms and porn-sites, using our desired keyword, then the site in question will be penalised. Eventually and with continual bad link partners this particular site would not only be penalised but also eventually be removed from the Google index.

This would happen quickly and without the knowledge of the website owner, particularly if they haven’t yet signed up to a webmaster tools account.

You will get a warnings for inappropriate links, but thousands pointing at your site, from poor value web properties and link-farms will surly harm you.

There you have it. As an SEO in Liverpool, we’re convinced that negative SEO through no action of your own is now possible.

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Negative SEO Is It Possible?

SEO training has evolved over the past 4 years, the fundamentals are still the same, but with vastly different ancillary objectives. As Summit Online Marketing, we go into businesses offering our tailored SEO packages. Generally, we discuss actions, provide robust strategic marketing plans and discuss relevant activities. Sometimes, a sheepish employee will asked this question “can we affect our competitors SEO efforts”?

Let me explain, a few years ago, we looked at the impacts, if any, of negative SEO on websites, and a discussion arose from an article on search sabotage.

A year later, we’re still discussing the consequences and seeing if negative SEO is still possible. In various threads we’ve read, the SEO community have indicated there are still ways to sabotage websites and rankings, from hijacking competitor’s DNS to doing it to yourself by killing your URL structure.

Now, though, there’s potentially more with the impact of new technologies. New concerns about sabotage may take the form of cloaked sabotage or reputation sabotage. This isn’t to say the impact of traditional techniques such as parasite hosting and embedding hidden links has been diminished.

We’d recommend that you need to be the one who protects your site, because Google isn’t necessarily reliable in that regard. (After all, Google is tracking billions of pages.) However, not many people know how to protect their own websites.

We believe that a lot of SEO sabotage attempts involve trying to trick Google into thinking that a site should be penalised and does not meet guidelines. That can be by directly modifying the site (through legitimate mechanisms to do so, or by finding vulnerabilities and exploiting them) and by modifying or setting up external references to a site.

Food for thought

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