While Negative SEO isn’t new it is gaining new found prominence. In the last few days we have seen several sites get downgraded in the Google Rankings only to be told that Google made an error by assuming they were parked domains. Many people were screaming that it must have been the new SEO Over optimization penalty. (Just as a little bit of background, Matt Cutts of Google recently announced that Google will be penalizing sites that are “over optimized” for SEO. )
At the same time, there has been several people talking about Negative SEO. This is the practice of creating a a link campaign with what can only be described as a dodgy link profile. That is a series of links that Google would or could count against you. Examples of these types of links are paid links, reciprocal links and links within a link network. Over on Traffic Planet, a user by the name of Jammy talked about a case where he used such tactics in order to get a site knocked down in the Google Rankings. I was initially surprised to see that Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz offered his own blog and SEOMoz.org as an experiment to see if it could get taken down by the negative SEO tactics of Jammy and other negative practitioners. At first it didn’t make sense to me until I realized that many people, such as myself would give links back to his site. Furthermore, I saw Cyrus Shephard of SEOMoz mention that Organic Google search is not their only source of traffic, so they have been very wise in that regard. So it looks as if they have done as much as is possible to “Negative SEO-Proof” their site. So this in itself will be interesting to see if what they preach in terms of White Hat SEO and Inbound Marketing actually helps them in this instance. I think it will, but I am going to keep an eye out to see if anyone can do it.
Anyway, back to the point about Negative SEO, I think that this tactic is dirty and I can’t see myself ever doing it. However, I did talk to someone I know (name has been redacted) and their response kind of surprised me. They said that they have no issue with using these negative tactics and they think all is fair and love and SEO War. I disagree, but dug deeper to try and understand their response. They feel that if this happens more often and enough people complain then Google has to change the way that they look at rankings. I think this is already going ahead, but I am stumped if I know of a way that can’t be gamed.
Also in the last few days, it was interesting to see that SEER interactive, an SEO firm seemed to have their pages downgraded in the Google rankings for their own branded terms. They managed to get it back up a couple of days later, I would love to know why you guys think it was taken down. Let me know in the comments below.