After Google’s recent Penguin update, much has been written about negative SEO. Does it really exist and can it be used to hurt your website? What can you do to avoid problems?

What is Negative SEO?

Negative SEO refers to tactics that companies use to manipulate the organic Google rankings of their competitors. Google’s Penguin update penalized websites that used spammy links to get higher rankings.

If low quality links really hurt the Google rankings of a website, then one of your competitors could submit your site to paid link networks and your Google rankings would drop. That’s what negative SEO is about.

Other things that your competitors could do:

  • duplicate your website content on spammy sites
  • use known spam link generators to link to your site
  • fake business reviews so they don’t appear natural
Does negative SEO work?

This is a very controversial topic among SEO experts. Some think that negative SEO is not possible, others are sure that it is possible to harm the Google rankings of a competitor.

Instead of penalizing websites that have backlinks from spammy sites, Google could simply ignore the spammy links. People who try to promote their sites with these links would waste their time and other website owners wouldn’t be hurt.

Google could also introduce a robots.txt command that tells Google that certain links should be ignored. It’s hard to believe that Google’s engineers would make it possible to harm other websites if there was an easier solution that would prevent this.

What can you do to prevent problems?

If you want to make sure that your website doesn’t get penalized by Google, do the following:

Do not use spam methods to promote your websites. If Google ignores these methods, you’re wasting your time. If Google penalizes these methods, you will damage your website rankings.

If you find fake reviews of your website, ask the website that publishes the reviews to remove the fake reviews. Use white-hat SEO methods to promote your website. If you show Google that your website is a high quality website, then your web pages will get high rankings.

Make sure that your website is not too dependent on Google. You should also get visitors through other sources (online ads, offline ads, links on other websites, etc.).

Negative SEO is highly unethical and one can only hope that Google doesn’t allow other people to damage your rankings. To improve your rankings, focus on the factors that you can influence and optimize your web pages so that they get high rankings on Google.

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