What is negative SEO?

OK, so we all know what SEO is. It’s about helping people find you on the internet by matching up what people search with what you put on your website, roughly speaking. But a lot of people have no idea about negative SEO.

As the name might suggest, it’s a way to discourage people from finding you online. However, for obvious reasons, negative SEO isn’t carried out by the website owner. It is often the work of rivals using incredibly underhand tactics to boost their own positions in the rankings by pushing down websites they perceive to be a threat.


So how does this work? Generally, the most common form of negative SEO sees competitors building links for you. But wait! Surely that’s a good thing? Why would they help us out with lots of lovely new links? Well, of course, there’s a catch. All these links go onto spam websites, and once Google finds them, they assume that your site is part of the same link network and penalises you as a result.

Obviously, this isn’t a nice thought, but unfortunately it’s a very real problem. However, there are ways to protect yourself. Google’s Disavow Links tool is put in place to combat this, and can be used to tell Google that links acquired using negative SEO are not legitimate and should be removed before Google gets to them first and penalises you. Emailing the webmaster of a site won’t always mean the link is removed, so this is a way to make sure the wheels are in motion.

This is why it’s so important that you perform backlink audits regularly to keep on top of any suspicious links appearing. It protects your website by avoiding building up a giant link of hundreds or even thousands of spammy links. Downloading your backlinks from Google’s Webmaster tools gives you the chance to make sure everything seems OK with your links, so you spot the bad links before you’re hit with a penalty from Google.

It can take some time to disavow each backlink individually, but the good news is that Artemis offer lots of services relating to reversing the damage. Our Google penalty recovery service helps us figure out why your site might have taken a recent hit in the rankings, and this may well lead to a disavowing project to remove the dodgy links. We can spot a bad link a mile off, so get in touch if you’re concerned about a recent downturn in your position in the search results.