While there are some rather spammy techniques out there (known as 'black hat SEO'), it is generally a legitimate and logical way to get your site to the top of the SERPs and to help gain exposure for your business.
Negative SEO however is something entirely different and not nearly so respectable a way of gaining success for your business.
While it is not a technique that webmasters should use however, it is nevertheless one they should be aware of and understand in case it should ever be used against them. Here we will look at what precisely negative SEO encompasses.
To understand negative SEO it is necessary to a degree to understand something about SEO in general. As mentioned, and as you are no doubt aware, the main idea behind SEO is to generate content for Google to index, and inbound links to help Google find your site (and to demonstrate that other sites value your content).
However while this is a good system for both Google and webmasters, it is of course open to abuse – and if someone were to generate huge amounts of low quality content and get hundreds of inbound links from completely unrelated sites, then they would be able to theoretically get ahead of genuinely useful sites that didn't know how to use those strategies or didn't have the time.
As such then, Google has systems in place to prevent this happening, and will penalize sites that it believes to be trying to 'work the system'.
If your site has too many in bound links from unrelated niches for instance, or if it suddenly generates hundreds of inbound links from content farms and other dubious sources, then Google will penalize the site by sending it down the SERPs or even de-indexing it entirely.
So How Does Negative SEO Work?
So basically then, negative SEO aims to trick Google into thinking that another website is using spam techniques. For instance then it might involve creating hundreds of links to another site from irrelevant and low quality sources.
At first this would benefit that site and see it climb the rankings, but once Google caught wind of it it would assume that the webmaster was spamming the search engines and so penalize the site accordingly.
This then allows malicious site owners a strategic way to 'take down' the competition and thus see their own position rise.
This isn't all that negative SEO encompasses. For instance a malicious webmaster might also use negative SEO by immediately copying the content of another site – thereby hoping to rank higher and make it look like the original site was the one who copied the content (as long as they get indexed first this is possible).
Meanwhile a site can also 'tell' on another website, by looking out for any slight breach that they might conduct and then reporting it to Google.
Webmasters then must be aware of these kinds of strategies and be on the look out for them being used against them. Make sure to keep an eye on all inbound links, and just know that not everyone online is interested in playing fair.
Dennis Middleton is a web copy writer and internet markter; he recently found out about the amazing Kumon Franchise system and is setting up one himself.