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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More Quick Hits

At SEO Liverpool we like to answer as many questions from our readers and clients as possible… so here goes.

In general, what should I concentrate on with SEO to get the most value out of my time?

The golden rule is that content is king! This will never change. Content shows the search engine that a website is still alive. You’re very much mistaken if you think Google is all knowing.¬† Just because you’ve registered a domain name for a year or so, Google has no idea if the company is still trading or the information on site is still valid? Remember Google is essentially an academic tool. It’s core belief is to deliver the most valuable and up to date information to the searcher, therefore, having fresh content on valuable pages is essential. I’d always suggest a blog, with snippets around a paragraph long on a websites key-pages.

Depending on the content, this is also how you generate links. Good/valuable content is natural link bait, which is arguably the second most important SEO consideration. Viral content, or content that is easily shared, fun, interesting or even provocative (polarising) is also great for links. The Daily Mail are the masters of the universe on this one.

New content is also a great way to include keywords and back-links. You don’t want to spam your regular content with lots of keywords you’d like to be associated with, but a regular blog can help reinforce the keywords you already have. Just create a hyperlink to a particular site page using the keyword as the ‘anchor text’.

e.g. type the words ‘click here’ into Google. This illustrates the power of a link, as almost every site that has an adobe download uses ‘click here’ as its anchor text.

Are their any legitimate spam techniques?

Nope, spam is spam is spam. If it hasn’t already got a penalty attached, the likelihood is that it will. Inappropriate link spamming is the most recent aspect to get webmasters and SEO’s into trouble. Put yourselves in the situation of consumer and the search engine, if it looks dodgy, then it probably is. If you’ve been getting away with it so far, then the chances are you’ll fall foul in the future.

Case in point¬† – purchasing lot’s of Page Rank 3 links. If your link profile (the types of links you have) looks artificial, then the search engine will penalise you! If you think about it, how can any business regularly get 25 Page Rank 3 links month after month. Well they can’t, you’re more likely to get rubbish links than good ones.

What is the best tool you’ve got for SEO?

I had a really good think about this one. It’s a dead heat between Firebug and my back-link checker. I’ve done this purely based on the amount of value I get out of an hour or so.

Firebug

This is a plugin for Firefox that lets you easily see the HTML of website whilst the website is still visual in the browser. It has an inspector tool which is vital in checking over your own sites and those of your competition. You can check for various things such as H1 tags, alt image tags, frames, java and sometimes the dreaded hidden text.

Back-link Checker

If you want to investigate a site for links, then a back-link checker is a great tool. You can quickly look at competitors to see who links to them, the value of the link, the anchor text and even the value of the root domain it has come from. Any SEO worth his or her salt is using this on a regular basis.

How do I become an SEO?

If you wanted to become an SEO in Liverpool I’d recommend this is how you should start. Read the basic books on search engines and SEO, then move on to more advanced books on search. You’ll need to understand a little about webdesign and a lot about UX (user experience) design.

The next stage is to take on a project, something small and local, that you can’t do too much damage with. So I wouldn’t mess with anyone who relies on a passive web income that you could potentially jeopardise. Local is good, work for free and give it time. The best way to learn is to give it a try, understand why something worked and why something didn’t.

Start learning Google Analytics and have a regular set of daily blogs that you can read keeping you on the straight and narrow.

How do we prevent being penalised in the future, as we have done with the Panda and Penguin updates

You can’t! You need to be proactive, practical and quickly adapt to change. If you spam, you will get caught, but if you’re static you’ll get left behind.

Hope everyone found this useful.

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