Google confirms “Negative SEO”

by Jim October 17, 2012

Today Google has confirmed that negative SEO is a reality. Webmasters for years have been claiming that negative SEO is possible simply by backlinking to your competitors sites in a way that violates Google’s quality guidelines. I have not seen any data that conclusively points to negative SEO working even though I have seen a lot of attempts at it. A few years back it was about buying backlinks to your competitors from known dodgy network neighbourhoods. Then this year after the launch of Penguin, the talk of negative SEO expanded even further with a lot of SEOs running negative SEO experiments to see if it would work. However up until today I was not convinced that negative SEO was an issue. So what happened? A few hours ago Google launched their new Disavow Link tool . I’ve done a few posts on how to recover from Penguin, and one of the first things to do was to go and remove all those spammy backlinks that you or your “All the SEO you can eat for $10.99 / month” company created for you. Maybe you actually hired someone that charged based on the number of backlinks they created? If you have been unable to remove them all you can now disavow them with the new tool. So why does this new tool confirm negative SEO is real?

4 reasons Negative SEO is real and why you need to pay attention.

Why disavow links at all?

If it wasn’t an issue why have a disavow tool? Many of us have been screaming for it simply to remove all doubt that someone could use negative SEO against your site. If Google was so confident it wasn’t an issue there would be no need for the tool at all.

Google admits it in their Q&A today.

Here is what they say in today’s blog post.
Google on Negative SEO Now whilst I am sure Google does all it can to “prevent other webmasters from harming your ranking” they still say there is a chance it can happen. Whilst I haven’t seen any concrete proof of it working, if your site got hit by Penguin because of your backlinking strategy, why not just employ the same backlinking strategy on a competitor?

For f’sake, check your webmaster tools.

I am constantly amazed how many webmasters do not have Google webmaster tools set up. I have seen multiple attempts at negative SEO pop up in Webmaster tools. Here is how you check.
Go to the “traffic” menu then “links to your site”
webmaster tools backlinks Have a look at the domains that are linking to you. If there are sites with names like “” chances are you’ve hired a dodgy SEO or someone is trying SEO of a negative flavour on your site. Then have a look at the individual pages they are linking to.
Backlink list in webmaster tools The backlink profile above makes sense to me as they are links to blog posts that I updated in Google+. When I see something like this though it gives me pause as I point out in today’s show.
Dodgy backlinks

We’d love to know if you’ve seen negative SEO and if you think the new tool will help.

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