90 Digital CEO Nick Garner discussed about Negative SEO in this edition of CalvinAyre.com’s SEO Tip of the Week.
I preface this by saying… I don’t know a massive amount about negative SEO campaigns. This is because I don’t do them. However, I do know about SEO and I hang out with blackhat people who know about negative SEO.
On a high level, it’s very dangerous for Google to make it easy to ‘nuke’ a competitor site. If it was really easy, then war would break out online and the consequences would be nasty.
From what I can work out, the way sites get nuked by competitors isn’t so much about dumping 1,000,000 auto generated spam links into a site, but its more about social engineering…
Examples of engineering situations that would make Google penalise a site:
– Take a recent outing of two link networks in Europe and the mass penalties that followed. If Mr Really-Nasty-Blackhat knows which link networks are effective, but risky, then it makes sense find networks that have been busted and place links on them, or find networks that work, but are probably in line to be busted by Google. Google thinks competitor site is in a link scheme and BANG – penalty time!
– Low quality links are pretty cheap, so Mr Really-Nasty-Blackhat can just start buying lots of ok-ish links and point them to competitor site. Competitor site will start ranking, because these low level links do work (mostly). They will think the Google gods are giving them favour and will probably never suspect anything. Because the site has an unusual number of not great links that will be on Google’s radar, a flag will go up. the site gets a manual review and gets a penalty for being in a not-that-clever link scheme. BANG – penalty time!
– On a theme, of ‘framing others’, Mr Really-Nasty-Blackhat can just go and buy a number of sponsored posts from blogs and newspapers. What they are looking for are placements where the post has a clear notice saying sponsored post or advertorial and where they allow follow links. This is the critical point…follow links. By having these placements a site is clearly contravening Google’s webmaster guidelines and with enough of these placement in the right sites BANG – it’s penalty time!
As you see the biggest issue is being very good at convincing Google manual reviewers that a competitor site is doing bad things to rank.
The stock answer on protecting yourself is watch your Google webmaster tools inbound links and disavow those links. But how do you really know what a link from a link network looks like? The point about those links is they look fairly natural. That means to uncover them, it takes a lot of knowledge and work.
It’s ugly stuff and to make it work, you will have to really know what you’re doing and accept you may well help your competitor rank better for a while, or for as long as it takes to get the site manually reviewed
As Google gets more and more aggressive about sites being in link schemes, so the real threat of negative SEO increases.