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Watch Out for Negative SEO

Competing for organic search results can be an ugly business and unfortunately website owners occasionally fall victim to negative SEO. What is negative SEO? It’s an attempt to hurt another site’s ranking by building spammy backlinks. Such tactics are worrisome after algorithm updates such as Penguin have been released by Google.

Google has said before that there is nothing a competitor can do to harm your rankings, but negative SEO exists and it’s a cause for concern for any site. In recent weeks webmasters have received emails that claim to perform negative SEO against their site if they don’t cough up $1,500.

The emails have been forwarded to Google and apparently the search engine investigated the claims. They aren’t sure how credible the threat is but Google representatives states that their algorithms are designed to prevent such attempts from harming websites.

Googles mentions that if you do review your backlinks and find spammy links, you can use the disavow tool to remove them. However Google has previously asked webmasters to try other means of removing bad links before using the disavow tool. Such an example would be contacting the site where the link is located and asking them to remove it.

Here at WSOA we recommend being proactive against negative SEO by occasionally reviewing your backlink profile. If you’re wondering what a good backlink profile looks like, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Variety – Your backlinks should be comprised of a combination of guest posts, blog comments, resource links, etc. Having a nice balance won’t send any red flags to Google.
  • Relevancy – Your backlink profile should consist of links on sites that are relevant to your industry. Building links on non-relevant sites may harm your ranking and this is a big part of negative SEO.
  • Diversity – Google wants to see that your links come naturally. If you build a lot of links with the same anchor text, it may be an indicator to Google that you’re attempting to manipulate their rankings. Do your best to change up your anchor text as much as possible and avoid building links with keyword-rich anchor texts.


Link building under these rules has become quite a challenge and is very time-consuming. However performing negative SEO and placing links on low quality sites is easier than ever before. Do your best not to become a victim of such a tactic by paying attention to your backlinks. What are you doing to stay proactive against negative SEO?