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Every business owner wants to rank number one in Google search results for their targeted keywords.  A few are lucky enough to get that number one ranking.

But, there’s a new concern in the SEO world – Negative SEO.  Negative SEO is based on the principle that if you can’t beat ‘em, take ‘em out.

If your business is sitting on a number one ranking for a profitable keyword and your competitors have tried and tried to outrank you for that position, they might resort to negative SEO.

What is Negative SEO?

In general terms, negative SEO is doing things to another’s website that will likely get them penalized in the search engine rankings.

Yes, that means competitors could go after you to intentionally lower your rankings so they can move up in the rankings.

This isn’t really a new threat since in some form, the potential to do damage to another person’s website has always existed.  But, it’s becoming a bigger concern due to Google’s latest algorithm updates.

Google Algorithm Updates

The updates (Panda 3.5 and Penguin) target low-quality content and spam, as well as the way Google evaluates links.  Although Google’s explanations of the changes are vague (as usual) the search world has interpreted the changes to mean that more sites with spammy link profiles will be penalized.

As a result of the recent changes, several companies have popped up that offer negative SEO services.  You can hire a negative SEO company to take out your competitors.  If this service works as stated, that means chaos for a lot of online businesses.

Here is a short list of some of the things that competitors can do to negatively influence your search engine ranking results:

  • Insert malware into your site
  • Report your site as SPAM
  • Reporting your site as SPAM to sites linking to you
  • Buying links from disreputable sources and pointing them to your site
  • Creating SPAM blogs with duplicate content with links to your site
  • Bombing your Google Places page with fake reviews
  • Using fake emails to get “authority” links to your site taken down

The purpose of all of these tactics are to decrease the authority of your site in the search results.  Unfortunately, you can’t control who links to you but Google uses those links in their rankings algorithm.

While you can’t prevent this from happening altogether, there are some things you can do to minimize your risk.

  • Maintain a clean backlink profile
  • Give your site visitors a good user experience
  • Create content primarily for visitors while considering on-page SEO
  • Focus on building your brand authority and mentions online


Only time will tell whether Google’s algorithm will allow this practice to thrive.  Until then, focus on building a strong brand, diversify your traffic sources and make sure you use social media to grow your business online.