Negative SEO in the news again
It is vital for consultants to keep up to speed with developments in the world of search. A failure to keep in touch with change will soon have a detrimental impact on their campaigns. It will also undermine their capacity to provide reliable SEO Information via their articles and blog posts.
Certain fears stalk the optimisation community. One of these is negative SEO. This is the idea that a site can be directly harmed by the underhand activity of a competitor. The major search engines like Google are conscious that this could be a problem if people had the capacity to perform it.
Most of the time, the apprehension related to the possibility of negative SEO is dormant. However, when there is a lot of change occurring then the anxiety can come to the surface. This has happened in the aftermath of the Google Penguin update and its initial refresh.
Why has Penguin brought back the concern?
Penguin has made people nervous about negative SEO for three major reasons. Firstly, the impact of the update on the rankings was significant enough to make quite a few site owners unhappy. Secondly, there was a feeling among some of those who lost out due to Penguin that they had not been doing anything wrong. Thirdly, the sites which did experience worse performance often did so because of their links.
Worry began to circulate among some individuals that Penguin had made it easier for others to interfere with the prospects of a site. If bad links could get a site into trouble then there was a degree of logic to this view. However, it seems that sites which have a decent link profile enjoy some kind of protection from the potential impact problematic links would otherwise have.
What does Google have to say?
Head of Google’s Webspam team Matt Cutts is adamant that negative SEO should not be perceived as a problem. He has commented that Google has made a big effort down the years to ensure that individual sites cannot be tampered with by unethical rivals. However, Matt Cutts opted not to respond to a question in relation to a case which seemed to show that negative SEO was possible.
It is worth noting that Google has altered the wording of its written advice on this issue. Before the Penguin update occurred, they changed their position slightly. Previously they claimed that there was virtually nothing rivals had the capacity to do to harm a site. Now their official line is that they do an awful lot to prevent this kind of underhand behaviour.
Although it might seem that Google has backtracked significantly in relation to negative SEO, it should be remembered that the timing of their word change did not coincide with the arrival of Penguin. Even more importantly, there is no evidence that negative SEO constitutes a big threat to a site.
SEO Advice does not always enjoy a long shelf life. Nevertheless, it seems to be that at the moment being alarmed about the possibility of negative SEO is not a productive attitude.
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