Competitors could sabotage your Web site’s search-engine ranking

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the effort to get a Web site a higher ranking (more visibility) in search engines such as Google. But there’s a flip side: The same SEO professionals also know the tricks to pushing a competitor’s Web site down in the search-engine rankings. It’s called “negative SEO,” according to a recent article in Forbes magazine (“The Saboteurs Of Search,” 28 June 2007).

SEO expert/blogger Hamlet Batista isn’t amused. He says:

These so-called “SEO professionals” proudly proclaim their job to be damaging the hard-earned rankings of their clients’ competitors. I understand a lot of people would do anything for money, but it’s still unsettling to see such people trumpet their efforts with such gusto. A huge thumbs-down to all those mentioned in the article.

Earning high search-engine rankings is challenging enough. Now we need to work twice as hard to protect the rankings once we earn them.

The Forbes article lists seven ways to damage a competitor’s ranking. Batista’s post provides the countermeasures, i.e., “things you can do to detect, prevent and protect your rankings from these types of attacks.” One example from the post, 10 ways to protect your site from negative SEO:

Anti-Google bowling. This attack makes your link structure look spammy, potentially causing Google and other search engines to believe your rankings are undeserved. The way to protect your site from this is to monitor your incoming links and their anchor text. Google’s webmaster central provides all the information you need for this purpose. Any site-wide links you are not familiar with, links with strange anchor text (usually porn), etc., are a clear indication that your site is being attacked. Contact the site owners that host the links and politely request they take them down. A cease-and-desist letter should do the trick, too — but only as a last resort.

“Negative SEO” — Harming Your Competitors With SEO (Search Engine Land)
Negative SEO is Possible, Yet Difficult, Says Matt Cutts (Search Engine Roundtable)
Negative SEO (Black SEO) Tactics — Fighting Dirty (FantomNews)

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