Negative SEO — A Reality You Must Be Willing To Deal With

For a long time, Google simply denied the existence of negative SEO. However, those who had been affected or those knowledgeable enough always knew that it was NOT only in existence but was being used by ruthless SEOers to get the competition out of the way.

Now, Google has confirmed what most of us either knew or suspected: Negative SEO is here with us. Just check this page and you’ll see that Google has change the wording of this help page to…

“Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index”

Here is the original wording when this page first went online…

“There’s nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.”

Thereafter, Google tweaked it to this…

“There’s ALMOST nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.”

From “there’s nothing a competitor can do” to “there’s ALMOST nothing” to “Google works hard to prevent”.

Now it’s official — A competitor can hurt your site’s ranking. All it will take is buy one of those spam link building packages that offer 10,000 link blasts for just 20 bucks.

I believe Google has a vested interested in having negative SEOers. If NOT, why wouldn’t they just do the simple and sensible thing: Disregard all suspicious links? This would definitely make it both unprofitable for negative SEOers and spamming webmasters. However, this will also remove the risk factor associated with many SEO techniques Google is trying to eradicate.

Enough of how we got here and Google’s interests; what can you do to keep your site safe from negative SEO? Here are a few tips…

1. Watch Your Google Webmaster Tools Account

Have you noticed an unusual spike in incoming links? Does it make sense for you to have such links? For example, if you are getting links to a post that obviously went viral (a lot of tweets, Facebook likes, pins, etc) then there’s nothing to worry about. If most of the links also come from good sites then there’s nothing to worry about.

But if you see a high volume of spammy links, then it’s time to use the disavow tool.

2. Target Low Volume Keywords

Car insurance is one of the toughest keywords to target but it is also highly profitable. Getting to the top three positions for this keyword could mean millions of dollars in additional revenue per year. So if you have a page that you are planning to rank for such a keyword then it’s a perfect candidate for negative SEO attacks. The simple reason for this is that there’s a lot of incentive to the unscrupulous competitor.

And if there’s a lot of money to be made from a keyword, a lot of cash can be devoted (albeit morally wrong) to pull down competitors.

Now, while car insurance is an extreme case, bear in mind that the more money there is to make from a particular keyword, the higher the likelihood of negative SEO.

Try this instead…

Go for profitable keywords that have low volumes. For example, instead of “car insurance” go for something like “cheap car insurance for college students”. This might have just 590 exact match searches per month but it’s less likely a negative SEOer will go after a site ranking for this keyword. It amounts to a waste of his/her time and resources.

Get 100 key phrases like this and you are in big business without the negative attention a keyword like car insurance attracts.

3. Build A Solid Reputation

Reading the FAQ of a negative SEO service provider (Yes, things have gone that bad — There are people who offer negative SEO services) opened my eyes to something that can keep you safe: A solid reputation. They warned their customer that there are sites they can’t hurt and those sites happen to be sites that have built a solid reputation…

Make sure your site has the best quality of content possible. But that’s just the beginning. Make sure you get the word out. A lot of Facebook likes, tweets, pins — A social buzz. Get a lot of press mentions from reputable outlets and you’ll be a lot safer.

Now over to you: Are there tips you believe should be added to the list? Do you disagree with us in any way? We’d like to hear from you. Please, leave a comment.

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