Negative-SEOIf you’re a business owner or executive who pays close attention to trends in Internet marketing, then it’s likely you’ve recently heard a phrase that made you uncomfortable: negative SEO.

Should you be worried about your competitors trying to “sink” your website using unethical tactics? To get to that answer, there are two things you should know:

First, negative SEO works in a simple way. Unlike SEO, which has a number of factors to address as part of a successful campaign, negative SEO tends to be basic—which means it is easy to understand. Until recently, a lot of marketers would try to improve their search engine rankings by sending lots of cheap, low-quality links to their own websites. Since that has stopped working, a few of them got the bright idea to start pointing those links at other people’s websites (thus making the targeted websites seem spammy in the process). There are a variety of tactics involved in negative SEO, but the one most commonly used is linking.

Second, negative SEO isn’t that effective—having lots of low-quality links point at your website is a bad thing, but it won’t matter much if you have unique content, good links, and other strong search visibility factors. Plus, negative SEO can be somewhat “undone” by disavowing links, which is something a good web design team can help you with.

There are two things you can do to stay abreast of the status of your website.  If you haven't already, be sure to set up Google Webmaster Tools Email Alerts, which will help keep you in the loop for various events on your site that could be the result of negative SEO. You'll also want to monitor your backlinks. There are a number of tools available online, like Monitor Backlinks, that can help you do so. And, of course, in the unlikely case that you believe you are being impacted by negative SEO, you can reach out to Google via their webmaster forums for assistance.

Negative SEO is a particularly slimy tactic that some companies are turning to, but in the end, it probably isn’t worth worrying too much about. We've seen little of it among our clients, and a good, solid (positive) SEO program will keep you on track.


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