Negative SEO has been around for a while now, but it is rarely talked about on the major SEO sites. However, after the recent blog network deindexing and mass “unnatural links” emails sent out by Google, discussion about negative SEO has really been on the rise. In essence, negative SEO is the act of lowering the ranking of another person’s website, either done to hurt that person, or done to raise your own rankings.
There has always been debate about whether or not negative SEO is truly possible. In support of the theory that negative SEO works, Google has recently started sending out warnings regarding links that appear to be unnatural. Some people have viewed this as an indication that negative SEO does in fact exist. It is by no means conclusive evidence, but it does appear to support the negative SEO theory. Negative SEO has always been talked about, but one recent act in particular has sparked the conversation again. Two members of the website TrafficPlanet.com conducted a study of their own to see whether or not they could employ negative SEO tactics to harm the ranking of two specific websites.
Self-proclaimed “SEO Guru”, Dan Thies (seofaststart.com), and NegativeSEO.me were both the targets of the study by the two TrafficPlanet.com members. The study involved using so-called negative SEO tactics, namely a large ScrapeBox blast, to decrease the rankings of Dan Thies and NegativeSEO.me. Prior to this study, Dan Thies ranked highly for keywords such as “dan this”, “seo”, “seo service”, and “seo book”. NegativeSEO.me ranked number two and one for keywords “negative seo” and “destroy your competitors”, respectively. These are clearly two websites that should be hard to impact by negative SEO tactics, as these are quite competitive keywords.
An enormous ScrapeBox blast was carried out on each of these sites, and shortly after the Scrapebox blast had begun, Dan Thies tweeted that he had received an unnatural links message from Google. In addition to the unnatural links warning message, Dan Thies’s website experienced significant drops in rankings for numerous keywords. We are unsure if NegativeSEO.me received an unnatural link warning, but we do know that they also experienced significant drops for their keywords. For example, NegativeSEO.me previously ranked at position number two for the keyword “negative seo”, and is now down to number six.
Does this put an end to the debate about whether or not negative SEO works? Maybe, but some people, Dan Thies in particular, don’t believe so. The users who conducted the study have publicly stated that “negative SEO is possible”, and are calling for Google to sort things out and fix any problems. Mr. Thies, on the other hand, is blaming a recent theme change on his website for the drop in rankings. He says that he experienced a similar drop in ranking when he tested this theme back in January, so he is expecting it to be back to normal within a week.
To us, we believe that negative SEO is possible, and this is a pretty clear case of it being used. It seems that such a large quantity of low quality links in a short period of time can negatively impact the ranking of a website. If Mr. Thies is correct, and his drop is only due to a theme change, it still doesn’t explain why Google would send out an unnatural link warning. Clearly Google is watching links closely, and while we believe that negative SEO tactics do work, it will be interesting to see whether or not these rankings stay altered.