Many webmasters have long been bothered by the idea of a negative SEO attack being launched by a competitor against them. What puts them and SEO professionals on edge are concerns that Google isn’t really doing much to handle the issue in a way that would give them a little peace of mind. As far as they’re concerned, Google still hasn’t put up an effective system that would combat the threat of negative SEO. That makes them afraid that a negative SEO attack would ruin their reputation online and their revenue as well.
What is negative SEO?
The general perception about negative SEO is the one where it refers to the efforts of one webmaster to buy links and point them at the websites of competitors to get them penalised and torpedo their rankings. Negative SEO, however, could come in different forms. The review bombing, for instance, is negative SEO that involves pointing many 5-star reviews at a business and make it look like it paid for those reviews. Some prefer to do negative SEO by reporting to Google any “black hat” SEO practices they believe a competitor is employing. Then there’s plain and simple hacking, where a site gets hacked and damaged one way or another.
No negative SEO detection system in place
The thing is, Google hardly detects any negative SEO that’s happening. While negative SEO may not really be that much of a problem for large businesses with old, established websites which already have thousands upon thousands of incoming links, the same thing cannot be said of small businesses and new websites that are still trying to build a following. With the fierce competitiveness of small niches, some webmasters are simply not beyond nuking their competition with a targeted negative SEO attack, and Google has not yet presented a way to detect such attacks.
For now, the tool that Google presents as a way to combat negative SEO is the Google Disavow links tool. If you think you are the target of a negative SEO campaign, just send a file listing those spammy links and Google will take those links out and everything will be hunky-dory once again. Except, of course, for the sad reality that even the Google Disavow process remains unclear, that Google might take long to disavow those links, or if Google would actually remove them. Should the links actually get disavowed, the webmaster will already be left behind by its competitors, probably including the one that conducted the negative SEO campaign in the first place.
Then again, successful negative SEO attacks are kind of rare. Still, they pose a threat especially to small businesses and new websites. As long as Google doesn’t come up with a much better system of detecting negative SEO attacks, those who run small businesses and new websites will always be living in fear of waking up one day to find their businesses penalised by Google, and their rankings pushed down to the cellar. As long as Google does not come up with a definitive way to detect negative SEO, that will be the way of life for these webmasters.