If you thought you’d mas­tered all there is to know about SEO in 2018, today marks an oppor­tu­ni­ty to eval­u­ate and round out the thor­ough­ness of your knowl­edge and SEO strat­e­gy in busi­ness.

You prob­a­bly know that the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing world has dili­gent­ly curat­ed SEO experts and a bot­tom­less sup­ply of tac­tics to opti­mize search rank­ings, but did you know that there is a world of black inter­net mag­ic that com­peti­tors can use to neg­a­tive­ly impact your site and from which you can pro­tect your­self?

That’s right — for every pos­i­tive SEO strat­e­gy exe­cut­ed that wins you points on a search engine, you like­ly have unpro­tect­ed ele­ments lin­ger­ing in the back­ground of your web­site, mak­ing you vul­ner­a­ble to neg­a­tive SEO.

The good news is you can a) build a defense against said neg­a­tive ele­ments and b) build an offense to tar­get the neg­a­tive poten­tial on com­peti­tors.

What Exactly Is Negative SEO?

Neg­a­tive SEO is a night­mare catch­phrase to any mar­keter who has worked to under­stand the ins and outs of SEO. The con­cept is the oppo­site to pos­i­tive SEO, which is defined as any tac­tic per­formed to pos­i­tive­ly impact a website’s rank­ing posi­tion. The neg­a­tive coun­ter­part refers to any tac­tic employed by the web­site host or attached third-par­ty that neg­a­tive­ly affects the site’s rank­ing posi­tion.

Under­stand­ing areas in which you might be lack­ing, your com­pa­ny can over­ride these neg­a­tive areas with SEO tac­tics that simul­ta­ne­ous­ly improve your brand’s web­site, and weak­en the rank­ing posi­tion of your com­peti­tors.

What Does Google Say?

Google has its web­mas­ter mon­i­tor­ing your site and pro­tect­ing it against oth­er com­pa­nies try­ing to derail your rank­ing sta­tus. How­ev­er, Google does not con­trol page con­tent and thus, is not liable for neg­a­tive tac­tics that might be under­way.

The examples of negative search engine optimization

  • Out­bound link requests. Request­ing an out­bound link to your site over a competitor’s site to get more traf­fic and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, leave your competitor’s site with less.
  • Com­ment spam­ming. This is like key­word stuff­ing to negate the intend­ed key­word use on a competitor’s page.
  • Bad links. Send large quan­ti­ties of bad neigh­bor­hood links to a tar­get URL.
  • Out­ed net­work links. Buy links from out­ed net­works that have the exact anchor that match­es to your site.
  • Hotlink big images. Hotlink to the biggest pho­tos on your competitor’s site to slow down their site speed, cause a band­width issue, or oth­er detri­men­tal error.
  • Bad URLs. Index URLs with bad con­tent. The con­tent should be per­ceived as bad due to a CMS flaw, not by actu­al­ly inject­ing into the CMS.

Neg­a­tive SEO blurs lines around hack­ing and black hat prac­tices. While some prac­tices opti­mize your site, oth­ers seem to delib­er­ate­ly bring down com­peti­tors. It is impor­tant to work with an SEO expert to deter­mine which tac­tics are fair to bring into your strat­e­gy.

Protect your website

Now that you under­stand the ways you could employ neg­a­tive SEO or the ways a com­peti­tor might employ it against you, reg­u­lar­ly observe all growth, and mon­i­tor web ana­lyt­ics. While you can­not pre­vent an attack, you can spot an attempt ear­ly enough to pre­vent it.

Still have ques­tions? To get a com­plete under­stand­ing of neg­a­tive SEO, which tac­tics are eth­i­cal to use, and how it might be impact­ing your site, reach out to our team at Rosy Strate­gies.

Find out which tac­tics are safe to include in your strat­e­gy and start opti­miz­ing your SEO, today!