The SEO industry has always been full of tricks—often bad ones—just to give one’s own websites a boost in search engine rankings. So far, however, one of the worst tricks to ever have been foisted on the SEO world—and an effective one to boot—is negative SEO, which basically allows site owners to sabotage their competitors by pointing hundreds or thousands of negative backlinks towards their sites.
Victim of negative SEO
Negative SEO has been known to work, and has had success at harming a victim site’s organic search rankings. It’s not even unheard of for a negative SEO campaign to succeed at completely removing a site from Google’s index. So if you check on your own websites and see that you actually have thousands of negative backlinks pointed to it, you’re probably a victim of a negative SEO campaign.
Disavow unnatural backlinks with Google tool
It’s a good thing Google has put up a Disavow tool which allows victims of negative SEO to disavow unnatural backlinks and basically tell Google to ignore them. This tool, however, should only be used after you’ve done as much as you can to directly remove those problematic links yourself. If some bad links persist after all your efforts, that’s the time you use the Disavow tool and upload to Google a Disavow file that contains the URLs that you are unhappy with.
Disavowing as part of negative SEO campaign?
Some victims of negative SEO have been wondering if uploading a disavow file that includes URLs containing backlinks to competitors’ site would hurt their rankings, especially if Google finally takes action and disavows those links. These questions are being raised because the same thing can also be done to them by competitors as part of their negative SEO campaign.
According to Google, when they disavow unnatural backlinks to your site upon request, that same URL is not Disavowed for all other sites that it may be linking to. Google says a URL is Disavowed when a site owner is logged into Google Webmaster Tools, and only for sites that the logged-in user owns or controls. In short, other sites will not be affected by that Disavow file.
So if you think your site is being torpedoed by your competitors with a negative SEO campaign, just remove them directly as soon as you can, and disavow unnatural backlinks using the Google tool later. I understand it can get pretty tedious especially if the unnatural backlinks number in the thousands, but that is more preferable than letting your site’s rankings suffer because of this.