Negative SEO refers to the deliberate act of trying to influence the ranking of a third-party site through excessive blackhat SEO tactics, in the hope that Google penalises the other website for thinking that the webmaster of that site is trying to manipulate their own search rankings.
Negative SEO is becoming increasingly difficult and it requires a lot of time, especially when trying to take down a website that is already considered authoritative in the eyes of Google. Real-time Penguin is also battling against negative SEO, as it now penalises websites on a page level and not site-wide, therefore, a negative SEO will have to build links to each and every page in order for the site to get a site-wide effect. Before, it only took one page to be deemed as manipulation in order for the entire site to decrease in ranking.
A negative SEO may use blackhat SEO tactics to try and decrease a third-party website, however, they tend to make it more obvious that the site is trying to manipulate their rankings by focusing all of their efforts on that sites primary keyword. Tactics may range from the following:
- Including the website into a link farm, this will greatly increase the number of links pointing to the site;
- Building thousands of backlinks within a short time frame using the same anchor text;
- Placing an exact match link in the footer of a big website, therefore, the link is on every page;
- Building links and then reporting that site to Google for buying links / trying to manipulate;
- Intentionally stealing content from the site and posting it on other areas of the web;
- Performing a denial of service attack (DDOS) to ensure the site remains down, therefore, Google won’t be able to reach the site;
- Lote of other malicious, negative SEO tactics and strategies.
In order for someone to execute a negative SEO campaign, they will need a set of tools that will allow them to build links automatically, without having to manually submit links to thousands of blogs. The following tools are known to be used for both blackhat SEO / negative SEO tactics:
- Ultimate Demon;
- GSA Search Engine Ranker;
If the webmaster receiving the negative SEO attack is aware of what’s happening, they need to action on these newly create spammy links and add them to their disavow file in order to protect themselves. If not and the attack is done successfully, it may damage the integrity of their domain, however, real-time Penguin is doing a relatively good job of ensuring that spammy, low-quality links aren’t considered when calculating the page rank of a website. It’s still good practice to ensure spammy links are disavowed, however.