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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kick Your Competitor With Negative SEO?

Google in their help files once said that there is “almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed” from their index.” I emphasized the almost, because it means, according to Google, there are some things a competitor can do to hurt your rankings.

A current article by Forbes takes a closer at “negative SEO.” Brendon Scott, the SEO-worker who’s interviewed for the article, says “I understand the rules of search ... And once you understand the rules, you can use them not just constructively, but also destructively.”

What Scott claims is that by posting a lot of spam-like links all around the web (links pointing to a competitor), the competitor in question might be buried by Google and Yahoo’s anti-spam algorithms. Scott says:

If a new site gains half a million links over the course of a weekend, it looks suspect from Google’s point of view ... So you make someone look naughty, and then get them caught.

I always figured Google would be smart enough to only raise the “bad neighborhood” flag when you link back to the bad neighborhood too (i.e. when there’s also something spammy going on on your domain, not just elsewhere). But perhaps Scott is right, and this problem of what some call “Google bowling” is real?

Google’s Matt Cutts also appears in the article, and admits that to some extent, Google bowling does work indeed. “I won’t go out on a limb and say it’s impossible,” Matt argues, “But Google bowling is much more inviting as an idea than it is in practice.” Perhaps Google engineers simply concluded that the pros of battling Google bowling don’t outweigh the cons, and since it’s not a widespread tactic yet, if you end up being bowled... well, tough luck, you’re having an exotic problem.

Other ways to throw dirt at competition to have them potentially get into ranking trouble, Forbes says, are:

[Thanks Alek Komarnitsky!]


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