After Panda and Penguin update targeted to remove web spam and over-optimized sites, anyone would think that Google is out to protect legitimate commercial and non-commercial initiatives online; however, few SEO industry experts have shown that reducing the SEO results of a well-to-do site is relatively easier, and this process is known as ‘negative SEO’.
What is Negative SEO?
SEO practices which is targeted towards reducing the SERP rankings of a website or blog is negative SEO. The experts say it is easy to bombard the SERP rankings of competitor sites and downgrade its authority in Google’s eyes.
Recently, the popular SEO professional, Dan Thies, proves this concept right by lowering the Google ranking of his three keywords over a thousands spots within a month. Further, Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz has challenged people to use negative SEO tactics and try to reduce the organic rankings of SEOmoz or RandFishkin.com. His premise is that negative SEO does not work on well established sites. He says:
“I’ve never see it work on a truly clean, established site. I’d rather they target me/us than someone else. We can take the hit and we can help publicize / reach the right folks if something does go wrong. Other targets probably wouldn’t be so lucky.”
While some will call this announcement boastful, it raises a pertinent issue – can well established sites be downgraded with negative SEO? Let’s see some of the tactics people use to unleash negative SEO.
Negative SEO Tactics – Beware!
Note: Don’t use these tactics on a competitor; rather, learn about these and prevent your site from negative SEO injection.
(1) Click Bombing –
Negative SEO experts will click bomb sites running AdSense or AdWords. Ideally, Google can easily predict unqualified clicks but sometimes, they pass the Google radar and it can negatively affect the search engine rankings of the website. Repetition of click bombing can lead to AdSense getting banned permanently.
(2) Virus Injection
Sometimes you click on a search engine result and the next page shows a warning as the webpage or website being potentially dangerous, right? This is an example of virus injection in negative SEO where the site is infected through cross site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities. If this is not diagnosed and rectified, Google will remove the site from its listings.
(3) Google Bowling
This is the act of making Google believe that a site is engaging in spam and hence, get the site removed or de-indexed. The spam alert radar on Google goes up when a site receives lots of back links in a matter of few days from link farms, bad neighborhood sites and spam pages.
Further, if the agency or person engaging in negative SEO begins to drop the target site links in thousands on directories, blogs, forums and link farms, it is likely to be detected and classified as ‘black hat’ SEO technique and thus, lead to complete de-indexing.
These were some negative SEO tactics. Other link paid linking, falsified DMCA removal notices DOS attacks are some other negative SEO practices. A website owner has to protect their online initiatives from these practices.
In the next installment, we will discuss the ways to prevent negative SEO practices.