What is Negative SEO?

What is Negative SEO?

You’ve seen the word thrown around a lot, but what exactly does negative SEO mean? How much of an impact could it do to your website? Let’s find out. 

Negative SEO is defined as using questionable SEO methods to boost your website to appear on Google’s first search result page. On the other hand, your competitors might engage in illegal methods to sabotage your website by unnaturally linking to it, create link farms, or worse, hack and modify content on your site. Negative SEO should not be taken lightly; the end result is disastrous. Recovery is time-consuming, and sometimes, it’s a costly affair.

On-Page Negative SEO

On-page SEO attacks are so subtle, you won’t know it’s there until you look at the code. Attackers hack into your website and add in invisible spammy links. You’ll only see it in the HTML or CSS code as, “display:none”. Another tactic is redirecting your site to theirs. This becomes a big problem when you have a steady stream of visitors arriving at your site, only to be redirected elsewhere. If you don’t rectify the problem swiftly, Google will catch on and penalize your site for redirecting to a malicious website.

Duplicate Content

Another offender is copying and pasting your content to other websites in large volumes. Technically, Google knows when the “original” content is submitted, but with sly adversaries, they’ll immediately repost it. Copyscape is a fantastic tool to identify copied pieces and helps prove your content is the original piece. However, the tool only helps pinpoint copied sections, but nothing more. If you want your doppelgänger pieces removed, you’ll have to contact the webmaster of that website to remove it. If that fails, you can always file a copyright infringement report to Google or report to the DMCA.

Link Farms

What’s a link farm? A link farm is a series of interconnected websites that use the same anchor text that doesn’t relate to the product. It can also focus on a specific keyword that informs Google the site owner is doing it intentionally (even if they’re not).

For example, let’s say your website is about the world’s best spa on the East Coast. Your site currently ranks well. However, your competitor wants you knocked off from first place. They intentionally create dozens of websites with harmful anchor texts and links back to you. They optimize “sex lubricants” and viciously link back to every page on your site.

It takes only a matter of days before Google penalizes your site and it’ll drop from the first page. Sounds serious; how do you combat this? You’ll have to go into the bowels of your website and disavow each spammy domain, one click at a time.

Intense Spider Crawls

Google needs to crawl your website to rank it. However, what happens if your website becomes inaccessible due to heavy server load? Google will penalize you and ultimately, de-rank the site. To fix this, go talk to your webmaster or hosting service to determine where the heavy load stems from and block them.


The worst to happen is having your website de-indexed from the face of the earth. By adding the Disallow: / tag to your robots.txt, Google can’t crawl it, and therefore, your site doesn’t exist.