listen to ‘Are you the target of negative SEO? (5min audio)’ on Audioboo

Do you feel like your website is the target of a dodgy linking campaign from a competitor who’s trying to shift you out of the rankings?

A lot of people jump to the “Negative SEO” conclusion because they’ve seen their rankings fall from recent Google updates. And since they feel they haven’t done anything to get them into hot water, they think “It must be some sort of negative linking campaign!”

Don’t jump to conclusions!

Well, my thoughts don’t jump to that conclusion so quickly.

Because we train our students and clients in how to effectively use SEO, we obviously do a lot of linking method tests; and even more so lately because of our upcoming search engine optimization help program, the SEO Method 3. We’ve also done heaps of website analyses for our Google Penguin and Panda audits. With so many linking method checks done on our test sites, it’s become easy to see what works and what doesn’t work.

The results lead me to think the whole negative SEO excuse is quite overplayed and a lot of people jump to that assumption because it’s the easiest answer.

So, what’s the real story then? Let me explain…

Google’s algorithm is really smart; it takes into account a website’s whole linking profile. It doesn’t just zoom into one small segment of a site and say “Ah-ha! You’ve built links from a bad network of sites and now we’re going to penalize you!”

The algorithm takes everything into account, which is why it’s so important to ensure your site is well rounded in its linking profile. What I mean by “well rounded” is you need to:

1) Build a variety of links that are,
2) From a variety of sources and make sure there are,
3) A variety of different anchor texts leading to,
4) A variety of different places to your website.

If you follow these rules, it will be difficult for anyone to take on your website with negative SEO.

Panda & Penguin: Is it news to you?

Interestingly, our audits have shown that those who’ve experienced a loss in rankings tend to have repetitive and excessive anchor texts – meaning the majority of links coming through to their website are using only one particular anchor text (and that’s clearly not following rule #3!). The negative impact of this style of linking is well known within the SEO industry and isn’t a newsflash by any means. But if it is news to you, take note of the rules above and ensure you follow them.

If you’ve suffered from a loss in rankings, have a think about what sort of SEO you’ve done in the past. Perhaps you did some heavy SEO linking, or excessive anchor text, built some links through different blog networks, and so on. One, or all, of these could have played a part in what’s happening to your site now.

For instance, just suppose Google took manual action against a few blog networks and discounted a whole lot of sites by de-indexing them. In that situation, you might’ve been ranking because there were a whole lot links from those blogs holding your site up, then overnight those links were turned off. Naturally, that’s going to shift you down, but it’s not necessarily a penalty. What’s really happened is now you’re simply not getting the same value from those links anymore.

Okay, so for those of you who still think you’re the target of negative SEO, let me emphasize that it’s actually really difficult for someone to bring you down without a fair amount of effort.

One exception to this would be for new websites, and that’s because they’re just starting out and have maybe only focused on one particular type of low quality back-linking. But think about it, if you have a brand new site, it’s not likely to be high up in the search engines anyway. So, the chance of it being targeted for negative SEO is really quite low.

Any rival who has the time to try and bring down their competition using negative SEO is going to target the older, more established websites that are ranking, not a newbie on the block.

So, what if your site is an older, more established one? Well to disrupt it, your adversary will need a significant amount of links to counteract it. And even if you’re competition does try to do that, as long as you have a well rounded linking profile, there’s a good chance they might actually improve your rankings by sending more links to it, and not the opposite.

The long and the short of this search engine optimization help is: you need to focus on good quality link building methods. If you do that, there’s very little chance that you’re going to be the victim of negative SEO. Granted, there are always exceptions, but they’re definitely the exception and not the rule.

If you want more SEO tips like these, make sure to have a look around our site – we have heaps of resources available for you. Or if you’re ready for actionable, step-by-step, tailored solutions, visit

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