Negative SEO is Possible, Yet Difficult, Says Matt Cutts

Jul 4, 2007 • 9:18 am | comments (13) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Two posts in DigitalPoint Forums and WebmasterWorld post point to a very interesting Forbes article on a lesser known practice of SEO known as "Google bowling" or "negative SEO." In this tactic, search engine optimizers force competitor websites down in the rankings so that the desired client's website has more visibility.

According to Brendon Scott, who sells this service to clients, this is indeed possible.

"I understand the rules of search," Scott says. "And once you understand the rules, you can use them not just constructively, but also destructively."

And Google's Webmaster Guidelines say "There's almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index," which leaves room for these deceptive practices to occur.

This is confirmed by Matt Cutts in the article:

Matt Cutts, a senior software engineer for Google, says that piling links onto a competitor's site to reduce its search rank isn't impossible, but it's extremely difficult. "We try to be mindful of when a technique can be abused and make our algorithm robust against it," he says. "I won't go out on a limb and say it's impossible. But Google bowling is much more inviting as an idea than it is in practice."

Interesting article, especially in light of our findings that competitors do try to trash rankings. DigitalPoint Forums members believe that it's definitely eye-opening:

Maybe this will put an end to all of the people who keep saying that if you got penalized you must have deserved it, and cut back on someone of the "Google knows everything" groupies.

Barry has written more on Search Engine Land. According to the article, there are 7 ways you can impact your competitors negatively:

  1. Google Bowling
  2. Tattling
  3. Google Insulation
  4. Copyright Takedown Notices
  5. Copied Content
  6. Denial of Service
  7. Click Fraud

Forum discussion continues at DigitalPoint Forums and WebmasterWorld.

This entry was written on July 2nd and scheduled to be posted on July 4th.

Previous story: Should You Stop Advertising on the Main PPC Channels?
blog comments powered by Disqus