What is Negative SEO and How Can You Safeguard Your Business From It?



Negative search engine optimization (SEO) is generally referred to as: ‘when a website purchases links and forwards them towards a competitor’s website in order to destroy their rankings’. A few other examples of negative SEO include tactics such as review bombing (paid perfect reviews), hacking a website to execute damage, or by simply reporting other websites’ “black hat” tactics to search engines.

There are many reasons why negative SEO works. One of the main reasons is the fact that the site owner cannot control external links. This gives competitors the power to improve their own ranking by destroying their competitor’s standing. It is basically the Internet world’s version of attack ads.

This would make many people believe that competitors can very easily improve their website’s search rankings by using negative SEO tactics to outsmart their competitors. However, the reality is that it is a partial truth. There are ways through which you can safeguard your website. So, before you begin to worry about a competitor that is targeting your website to gain his own ranking through negative SEO, you need to know that:

● A website with a solid domain authority is considered safe and is less likely to become a target of negative SEO.
● Negative SEO is a huge liability risk, so, engaging in such a risky campaign might not be a practice of legitimate businesses and should refrain from the gamble.
● It is very important to keep an eye on SEO factors that can easily be manipulated. These include reviews and backlinks, etc.
● Google is well aware of this conduct. So they have systems that review sites to trace any affected ones. If they gather adequate evidence, Google will intercept the misconduct and provide an opportunity to recover from the damage.

Negative SEO Tactics

There are several tactics used in negative SEO. Let’s have a look at some of these:

Paid Linking

This is a very powerful tool that can impact your site in a negative manner. If out of the blue, hundreds of links begin to point to your website then there is a considerable chance that Google would get track of it; in this case, get in touch with Google and change your website keeping their guidelines in mind. Afterwards, submit a request for reconsideration elaborating the situation and emphasizing the fact that the situation was not in your hands.

Content Stealing

Everyone knows Google hates plagiarized or duplicated content. Stealing content simply means getting access to a site’s content before it is published, and putting it out so that it looks like that the original site is actually stealing the content. To prevent such conduct you need to maintain an updated site map and consistent publication of new content. This will depict the authenticity of your website and its content.

Fake Reviews

Competitors can very easily add reviews to business forums which can be problematic. If the reviews are very positive they’ll look fake causing problems for your business. Not only will your business lose prestige, Google also looks at this as a blackhat. To prevent this, you need to extensively monitor reviews and if you find any that seem fake, make sure to report it to Google.

Site Speed

Crawlers can cause a site to get slow and cause problems for the user. Excessive crawling can be blocked by preventing access to your website, but it must be done in a careful fashion as Bing, Google, or any other search engines should not be blocked.

DMCA Removal Requests

This is a highly effective tactic. In this target, one looks for high quality backlinks and emails and removes the links as the page contains material that does not belong to the original website. To prevent this you need to keep an eye on the new referral traffic. Establishing a relationship with the site before it can happen can be another defense.

To sum it up, negative SEO is bad for your website and you must take actions to safeguard your business. Don’t know how to do it? Not to worry – get in touch with PurpleCowAgency today and let us handle it for you.


  1. Hi Michael,
    Its great sharing this detail about Negative SEO. Indeed, its bad for a business or website. Every webmaster should watch out for these tactics and safeguard their business from penalties and obliteration.

    If a site maintains good ranking, quality content, smooth traffic and have a good monitoring tool in place then it becomes easier to track Negative SEO and do something about it.

    Constant monitoring of competitor’s activities will go a long way to help safeguard against negative SEO.

    In addition, it is always important to key into the dictates of Google so that the best SEO practices would be applied to avoid penalties!
    Sunday William recently posted…How do Google Algorithm Changes Affect Your Website Today?My Profile

  2. Hi Michael,
    Negative SEO should not be ignored but must be checked to safeguard a business.

    There are many factors that constitute negative SEO and businesses must watch out them.

    Thankfully, the common ones are listed in this post – content stealing, fake reviews, paid linking, etc.

    The blogger must do all things possible to get rid Negative SEO.

  3. Hello Michael,
    The competition in the SEO sphere is high and little wonder many competitors will do anything to get rid of of their opponents.

    It becomes important to understand what can be done to safeguard the business from negative SEO.

    Its a good thing that at least we have ideas of what Negative SEO tactics to avoid.

    Thanks for sharing this for it is so enlightening!

  4. Hi Michael,

    I feel the problem with Negative SEO is to verify the intentionality behind it.

    In fact, for a publisher or a webmaster, it’s difficult to know whether the link they’re selling is a fruit of Negative SEO or if it’s the company itself to request it.

    Restricting publishing policy to only nofollow links safeguards the target URL in any case, but what about genuine-looking outreach emails suggesting an editorial link?

    I’m a blogger who has written several sponsored posts and replied to many link requests in the past. Yes, some revealed themselves to be a form of Negative SEO, but I only knew it years later, when I received link removal requests from the companies.

    So I came up with a couple of tricks:

    – Check the email address of the sender. If it’s a Gmail or other free email host, I can contact the company they claim to represent to know if it’s the address of someone from their marketing department. If it isn’t, I can report the message to the company and as spam in my mailbox.

    – Ask the contact for confirmation that they really want a naked link (dofollow) back to their site. If they take time to tell me it’s the quality of my content that counts for them, the request has high probability to be legit. If they only insist on dofollow links for rankings (AND they’re not writing from a company email address), I won’t do it. I’ll contact the company myself instead and ask about it.

    In general, editorial links from small blogs, forums and review sites don’t constitute Negative SEO, even though they might affect the target URL negatively if they carry some penalty with them. They might just be genuine in intention.

    If I find out that my business site is being linked to with suspicious intentions and in a suspicious context, I will contact the webmaster and learn more about how my link ended up on their site in that context. Then we would go from there.

    ~ Luana
    Luana Spinetti recently posted…8 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Accept To Write For FREEMy Profile

  5. Hey Michael,

    I knew there were various was to discredit website but I didn’t know any of the tactics that were being used.

    This was definitely an eye-opener!

    It sad to think that people would put time into discrediting your brand and business. The good thing is that Google notices negative SEO and intercepts it.

    But thanks making us aware of these different strategies that others would use against us. I’ll keep in mind the PurpleCowAgency!
    Sherman Smith recently posted…Diversify Your Shares With The Social Warfare WordPress PluginMy Profile

  6. Excellent article Michael, really!

    These negative tactics are really scary when you consider how much time some people spend to outrank other sites by doing negative SEO tactics, instead of trying to improve their websites.

    These tips from you are really good and thank you for posting this article because it’s really useful to know how to protect our sites 🙂
    Burim Bekteshi recently posted…15 Proven Strategies to Increase your Site Traffic NowMy Profile

  7. Hello Michael,

    Thanks for throwing more light on Negative SEO.

    It’s too bad that Google still hasn’t done something to prevent these, even after denying the existence for long time.

    Are they still denying it’s negatively affecting rankings?

  8. Hey Michael,

    The negative SEO sounds cruel. Hence, it becomes necessary to find a safe ground against it for the business.

    If a business has any inkling of negative SEO, there should be no reason to pamper it.

    I am quite familiar with paid linking, content stealing and fake reviews. Therefore, it becomes necessary to safeguard the business against any of such negativity!

  9. Hi Michael,

    I didn’t know what negative SEO was either. It is horrible that people would go to such lengths just to get a business advantage. Very sad.

    Thank you for this article and the concrete points you gave us to prevent a negative SEO attack.

    Have a great weekend!


  10. Hello Michael,

    Negative SEO can be a nightmare, and basically ruins your entire site. You should always abide by Google guidelines, and not try to trick your way into better rankings. They are clever and usually catch these tactics, then like that, they hit you with a penalty.

    All the methods you’ve described is definitely negative SEO, and will get your site penalized by Google.

    Content stealing and paid links are the two things you’ve listed I think everyone should stay away from in regards to negative SEO.