What Google Has to Say about Negative SEO

Sometimes all you want is just to hear from Google. They might be vague, confusing, not answer your question at all, but at least you’re hearing from the source. Fortunately, Google has given us this sense of relief when it comes to negative SEO. Back in December of last year, head of Google’s webspam team Matt Cutts created a video to help us understand just how negative SEO works. Unfortunately, however, companies seem to be losing sight of how negative SEO works and how it can be stopped to gain the best Google ranking. Below is a refresher for companies still getting attacked.

Common Negative SEO Tactics

For those who are unfamiliar, negative SEO is essentially when a competitor points bad links toward a website in order to make their own website look better. Before delving into what Google thinks about negative SEO, it’s always good to remind yourself of the common tricks that competitors use to try and create this bad SEO around your company:

  • Bad Links. As discussed above, this is the number one form of negative SEO. Competitors will go to spam sites and put a backlink to your site. It’s as simple as that.
  • Security Breaches. If you don’t have the proper security, someone could easily hack into your site and block the Google bots from crawling your site altogether.
  • Report You as Spam. Google allows websites to contact them about any spam issues. A competitor could easily contact Google and claim your website is full of spam. This is usually the last step in a negative SEO operation.
  • Fake Emails. In rare cases, competitors will actually create fake emails and email all of your good partnerships and tell them to take down links to your site. This isn’t common, but it’s something to consider.

Google has made it clear (as we will discuss below) that most companies probably won’t have to deal with negative SEO. It is an issue that has been going on for quite some time, but it’s more common amongst the larger websites and companies. Even so, it’s something to take seriously and something to understand now that Google is beginning to come out with tools that combat this type of Internet attack.

The Battle Between Google and Negative SEO

As you can image, knowing all of this information and being aware that negative SEO is a problem does not sit well with Google, which is what helped prompt Cutts’s video found below:

The truth is that negative SEO can work because it is oftentimes difficult for Google to track. Google has therefore put a lot of time and effort into creating tools and processes to stop negative SEO.

The number one tool that Google has created to help with negative SEO is called the Google Disavow Links tool. This tool essentially allows webmasters to compile a list of links or a list of websites that they do not want pointing back to their site. You can then send this list to Google, and you’re free to go. You can learn more about this tool in our article Google Launches Its Own Disavow Links Tool.

So What Does Google Have to Say about Negative SEO?

The moral of the story and the moral of Cutts’s video is this: Negative SEO isn’t going to get anyone—the attacker or the one being attacked—anywhere. If you’re thinking about attacking a site with negative SEO, there is a very good chance that Google won’t even notice (and in some cases it could backfire and actually help a site). On that note, if you’re thinking that you need to worry a lot about negative SEO toward your site, don’t sweat it. It isn’t a very big deal anymore in the eyes of Google because the new Disavow Links tool gives users control (however, you do have to be careful when you use the tool, which you can learn more about in our article Will the Google Disavow Tool Hurt More Businesses Than It Will Help?).

Do you have any thoughts about negative SEO or Cutts’s message? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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