I recently came across a great article on moz.com on the concept of “negative SEO.” Though prior to 2003, Google claimed there was nothing someone else could do to hurt your SEO, they retracted amended their statement to say that there’s “almost nothing” someone else can do to hurt your SEO and ranking. Why the change?

Google realized that, just like pointing good links to a site, pointing bad links to a site can have an effect on rankings. A very bad effect. Fast forward to 2012 when Google refreshed their Penguin update. This update targeted unnatural links. It’s at this point that Google introduced the disavow tool, which allows webmasters to request Google not consider particular links when assessing back links to a site. It should be noted that this tool should be used properly, not as a remedy for poor link building practices.

It’s important to note what is and isn’t negative SEO. Just having odd links point to your site doesn’t mean someone’s out to get you. Links from scraped information can come from legitimate directory listings. These aren’t necessarily “bad links” and can actually be quite common.

Sadly, it may be SEO with the best of intentions contributing to your poor rankings. Here’s a list of just a few things that could be hurting you:

  1. You’ve purchased links to your site. Pre-Penguin, purchasing links was a common practice. Now, Google highly frowns upon it.
  2. Inexperienced SEO’s. If you’re using an SEO who may not understand the nuances of Google’s periodic updates, they may be considering dated tactics, or even overlooking older algorithm rules that still apply.
  3. You’ve been hacked. This is pretty self explanatory. If you’ve been hacked, dropping in page rank may not be the only thing you should worry about.

If you are concerned that your site may be a victim of negative SEO or just want a complimentary Google report card, give us a call.

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