For a long time, negative SEO was seen as sort of a myth, spread amongst webmasters. But it may finally be recognised, not only as very real but also quite a substantial threat. It doesn’t really affect sites with solid link profile and powerful reputations. Smaller websites, trying to carve out a web presence through organic SEO, are very much at risk though.
Ironically, this sense of denial was mainly espoused by Google, who only just recently admitted that it was even possible.
What Is Negative SEO?
Fine tuning your SEO to get a slight bump in your rankings on Google can often be a frustrating process. It’s incredibly time consuming and often misdirected, due to lack of expertise,.
This is mainly due to Google sharing only certain details on their ranking practices. Of course this makes sense, in order to avoid unethical exploitation of the system by webmasters.
Lowering their rankings, is one thing everyone knows how to do though.
Negative SEO is a form of attack that focuses on just that: making competitors look like spammers. Thereby increasing their rank by comparison, without having to do any SEO on their own site.
Methods of doing this vary:
* Hacking your site
* Spam-linking to your site
* Falsely reporting your site for spamming
* Writing negative site reviews on Google
The Google Solution
In a relatively simple development, Google announced its intention of allowing users to disavow links to their site, in Google Webmaster Tools. Doing this will exclude the weight of that link in the graph.
This will essentially nullify any potential threat that these links pose to your site’s reputation.
Although, as this is a passive reporting system, it’s still open to abuse in its own respect. We may soon have links just disavowing each other as a form of negative SEO.
Other Possible Benefits
This news came hot on the heels of Google’s recent Penguin algorithm update. Many industry expert are saying that it has great potential as being a more reliable spam reporting tool without labelling it as such.
Obviously it wouldn’t be a conclusive way of identifying spam. But this kind of new data can help Google make more informed decisions when deeming whether a site is practising unethical SEO or not. This could help Google optimise its ranking practices and reduce the sometimes unfair penalties levied against certain sites.