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Is Negative SEO for Real?

Negative SEO is as black hat as it gets.

Can your competitors use negative SEO to tank your page rankings? That’s a subject that’s long been debated by SEOs and has gained new relevance since Google’s notorious Penguin update.

Penguin gave negative SEO practitioners a major boost by punishing sites for the number of low quality links that are pointed in their direction. That made it easy for black hat SEOs to simply link their competitors to a range of spammy links and bad neighborhoods; and watch them fall.

Google has always denied the existence of negative SEO, but has definitely softened their position on the subject in recent months.

To get a better handle on this subject, and whether it really exists, we put the question to our panel of experts at our recent How iGaming Affiliates Can Recover from Google Penguin SEO Roundtable.

Here’s what SEO experts Bastian Grimm, Kay Schaefer and Dave Snyder had to say on the subject. (Spoiler alert: They all agree on this subject.)

Does Negative SEO Exist?

Here’s what Snyder had to say on the subject:

For me, it definitely exists. Google’s assertions that they can stop negative SEO are ridiculous…It’s not something that’s new and it’s definitely real. And Google telling everyone that it doesn’t exist is a huge disservice to the webmaster community.

Want to know more about how to protect yourself against negative SEO? All of our panelists recommended reading Stop Questioning Negative SEO by Cygnus at SEOBook.

Grimm agrees and also pointed out Google’s role as denier-in-chief:

There was a nice change of phrase from Google saying, ‘Negative SEO is not possible,’ to saying, ‘We’re trying to fight negative SEO as much as possible….It does exist and it is a real threat.

Is Anyone Immune to Negative SEO?

Our panelists were in agreement that while almost anyone could be the target of negative SEO, some sites are better equipped to ward it off than others. Schaefer said:

If you have highly trusted age domains, it’s very hard to make them suffer. But even then the clean up process is a pain in the ass.

And what about not-so-old sites?

You could definitely burn small to mid-sized domains quite easily.

Getting Past Negative SEO

Another topic our panelists agreed on is that getting past a negative SEO attack is time consuming nightmare. Even webmasters who maintained pristine link networks may find themselves stuck cleaning up a major mess they didn’t create.

How Google plans to address this subject is the million dollar question. Could this be one of the issues Matt Cutts and his webspam team plan on addressing in the next Penguin update? It remains to be seen.

What do you think about negative SEO? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.