Negative SEO is a scary black-hat SEO tactic that can totally destroy a website.
In some unfortunate cases, companies hire link-building companies to specifically target their competitors with these negative strategies, sending thousands of undesirable backlinks to try to get the competition hit with a Google algorithmic penalty.
To hurry the process of hurting a competitor, these shady link builders will create links with the exact anchor text of keywords that you want to be found for.
I've seen cases of negative SEO many times, but it seems to be getting worse.
There are different types of negative SEO tactics, but the one I see the most is tied to backlinks.
Since links are still one of the strongest Google ranking factors, you want to get quality backlinks from relevant sites. (Good, helpful content will help attract natural and relevant backlinks, but we will save that for another post.)
Backlinks from high-quality, relevant websites can really help your site.
In contrast, shady backlinks from unrelated sites can hurt your site, especially when the links are using targeted keywords as the anchor text.
It is pretty much impossible to stop a competitor from doing this, but there are ways to protect yourself from being penalized by the Google Penguin algorithm.
The only thing you can do to protect yourself is to use the Google disavow tool. But it's not easy to get to—and for good reason.
When it was in the main Google search console nav, there were many people hurting their sites by disavowing quality links. When they disavowed these good links, they were losing a lot of authority.
It is important to have a professional do this work for you (or at least provide consulting for you), because you do not want to hurt your site while trying to protect it.
The other thing to do if you think you are being targeted by negative SEO is to monitor your site’s backlinks closely and update your disavow file bi-weekly. It's time-consuming, but doing so can protect your site from a penalty that takes even more work to get out of.
Talk to a Pro
If you think a negative SEO attack may be going on with your site or you have seen a massive loss of organic search traffic, contact one of our SEO experts.
We offer several solutions. Find out more on our B2B SEO page.