What is Negative SEO? [SEO Wednesdays]

In one of those brave “taking one for the team” exercises, an outfit called TastyPlacement has been seeing if it could knock itself out of the Google results through Negative SEO. The result is that it can. So what is Negative SEO, and why should we care?

What it did was to use a bunch of discredited SEO techniques, including adding thousands of links in forums, blog comments and in web page sidebars. These are the sort of things which cheap SEO companies have traditionally done to improve your position in the search engines, but which are now believed to be own goals. The result was that their number 3 position in Google was turned into a second-page, number 14 position in a fortnight …for just a few dollars.

Nobody would do this to themselves other than in the cause of science, but there is a potential problem: what if somebody else did this to you?

I know it seems unlikely, but you never know. Many companies unwittingly use some quite unscrupulous search engine optimisation consultants. What if one of these was employed by one of your competitors and they decided the easiest way to get their client to the top of the page was to attack all of its competitors, like you? Your company would suffer because of the ignorance of your competitor’s marketing department (who’d probably be delighted with the results, although not if they knew how things had been achieved).

And trust me, companies who should know better are signing up to low-cost, unethical SEO consultancies every day.

It’s possible to retrieve the situation if this happens to you (there are real people at Google who will look at your case), but first of all you need to know that something’s happened. The easiest way is – in your website traffic analytics application – to set up daily or weekly reports of your search engine traffic, and have these emailed to you. This will give you an instant indication if there’s any big drop in visitor referrals. In the Google Analytics report below, this week’s search engine visitors are being compared to last week’s – very simple.

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