The topic of negative SEO is not new. It is the process of downgrading your competitor's rankings in order to help boost your own rankings.
But it is highly debated in SEO circles for a few reasons.
(1) The ethics behind hurting someone's income, livelihood by trashing their sites in Google.
(2) Does negative SEO really work and can someone prove it does work?
(3) If it does work, why can't Google prevent it from working?
Where this gets interesting is that a forum thread at TrafficPlanet.com went after a well known SEO named Dan Thies to prove negative SEO can work. Why Dan, well he congratulated Google's Cutts for mass penalizing the blog networks and it upset some people, so they wanted to make an example out of him.
Thing is, while Dan's ranking may have dropped, Dan says it has nothing to do with these negative SEO efforts.
Rand Fishkin from SEOMoz is so confident that negative SEO can't work, he offered up his sites as sacrificial lambs for anyone who wants to prove him otherwise. He said:
I'd like to offer up Moz or my personal website, randfishkin.com as targets for these efforts. I think it would be fascinating and revealing if external link manipulation could hurt either one.
Will people take Rand up on the offer? Maybe but some say that since this is public, Google can be aware of it and make sure it doesn't impact his sites.
The core issue, as Aaron Wall explains is not negative SEO, it is SEOs going after SEOs. There is little unity in the SEO space and that is a huge shame. Although I personally do not think it should be the SEO community versus Google, that was how it was back in the day. It wasn't SEO vs SEO, which is how it is today. I personally think this attitude was created when Google introduced the nofollow attribute back in 2005. I am too tired to explain why because that is it's own blog post and maybe I'll do it another day. FYI, I did elaborate more in my video blog post.