Negative SEO

What is Negative SEO?

Negative SEO involves the unethical act of intentionally harming a competitor's search engine rankings. The goal of Negative SEO is to manipulate search engine algorithms to penalize the targeted website. These practices are frequently referred to as "black hat SEO."

Negative SEO is in any form that is against Google's spam policies. Google Search Central stated that:

Unlike SEOLeverage, many SEO agencies offer negative SEO to businesses. This troubling trend has raised concerns within the digital marketing industry.

Types of Negative SEO

There are unethical tactics often employed in the realm of SEO, commonly known as Black Hat SEO. These practices can have detrimental effects on websites and users.

Here are forms of these unethical strategies:

  • Cloaking. This involves presenting different content to Google and users to manipulate search rankings and mislead users.
  • Doorways. Doorways are created to rank for specific search queries but often lead users to less useful intermediate pages instead of the desired destination.
  • Hacked Content. Hackers can compromise websites, inject malicious code, add spammy pages, manipulate existing content, or implement redirects to harm users and search results.
  • Hidden Text and Links. This involves placing content on a page solely to manipulate Google. They use techniques like hiding text behind images, using CSS to position text off-screen, or setting font size to zero.
  • Keyword Stuffing. Keyword stuffing is the practice of excessively filling a page with keywords or numbers to manipulate search rankings.
  • Link Spam. Manipulating links to a website, including buying or selling unnatural links, excessive link exchanges, link farms, or creating low-quality links, can be considered spammy links.
  • Machine-Generated Traffic. Automated actions like sending queries to Google or scraping results for rank-checking without permission violate spam policies.
  • Malware and Malicious Behaviors. Websites hosting malware or unwanted software that negatively impact users' experiences violate Google's policies.
  • Scraped Content. Websites based on scraped content from other sources may not provide added value to users and can lead to copyright issues. Publishing fake or negative reviews is considered a Black hat.
  • Thin Affiliate Pages. Pages with affiliate links and copied product descriptions without additional value can be seen as thin affiliate pages.

It’s best to avoid these practices to maintain a positive online presence and comply with Google's policies.

The Dangers of Negative SEO

The consequences of falling victim to Black Hat SEO can be severe and far-reaching.

Here are some of the dangers associated with it:

Ranking Drops

One of the immediate and most noticeable consequences of Negative SEO is a drop in a website's search engine rankings. This can lead to low organic traffic, making it uneasy for users to find the site.

Loss of trust and credibility

When a website is targeted by Negative SEO tactics, it can suffer damage to its reputation and credibility. Users may view the site as untrustworthy if it contains spammy or harmful content.

Financial loss

Dealing with the aftermath of Negative SEO attacks can be costly. Website owners may need to invest in security measures, content cleanup, and professional assistance to recover lost rankings and reputation.

Security risks

Hacking and malware injection, common Negative SEO tactics, can compromise the security of a website. This can lead to data breaches and security threat issues.

To steer clear of negative SEO practices, it's advisable to seek out a reputable SEO agency like SEOLeverage. This experienced team can assist you with optimizing your website ethically. They ensure that your online presence adheres to search engine guidelines.

Helpful Ways to Protect Your Website

Some best practices are:

Regularly monitor backlinks.

One of the most common tactics used in negative SEO is the creation of toxic backlinks pointing to your website.

To counter this, regularly monitor your backlink profile using tools like Google Search Console, Google's Disavow tool, or the SEOLeverage App. Identify and disavow any harmful or bad links to prevent them from negatively impacting your website's rankings.

Strengthen your website's security.

Website security is not only crucial for protecting against hacking but also for preventing negative SEO attacks. 

Some things to consider include:

  • Using strong and unique passwords.
  • Implementing two-factor authentication.
  • Keeping all software plugins up to date.

Regular security audits help identify threats and address them promptly.

Monitor your website's speed.

A negative SEO attack can target your website's performance, causing it to slow down or become unreliable.

Regularly monitor your website's speed and performance using tools. Optimize images and minimize HTTP requests. You can also leverage browser caching to maintain a fast-loading website.

Check for duplicate content.

A negative SEO campaign that includes illegally duplicating your website's content on multiple sites might lead to duplicate content problems. Take urgent action to ask for its removal. You can also notify search engines if you discover a content duplication.

Keep up with algorithm updates.

The algorithms of Google are continuously updated to enhance user experience. Malicious SEO attacks can use these modifications to lower your website's rankings.

Utilize reputable SEO news sources to be informed about algorithm updates. To maintain and raise the ranks of your website, modify your SEO approach accordingly.


Negative SEO tactics can have severe consequences. However, armed with knowledge about the various forms of negative SEO and the proactive measures to counter them, you can protect your website.

If you want to stay ahead of SEO trends and avoid using a black hat, we can help. Contact us today!