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Negative SEO

Negative SEO - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

MATT CUTTS: Hey, everybody. I was looking over the 423+ questions that people had asked. And there were some questions about disavowing links, and there were some questions about negative SEOs. So I just wanted to tackle those head on rather than doing a whole bunch of individual questions, and sort of address those. We’ve made a longer nine and a half minute video about a new tool release called Disavow Links. But let me talk specifically about negative SEO. From the very beginning, we have to think about when we design an algorithm or when we take action on sites with the manual web spam team, we try to think about, OK, is there some way somebody could frame somebody else? Is there a way that person A could hurt competitor B or something like that? So we try really, really hard to design algorithms that are robust and that are resistant to that sort of thing. Any algorithm that we’ve done in recent years that the web spam team has worked on, we do try to walk through those cases and try to make sure that we’re resistant against that sort of thing. So, at the same time, as Google has gotten better at assessing the quality of backlinks and taken stronger action on a lot of link networks, especially both public and private link networks earlier this year, a lot more people are thinking about their backlinks, how do they clean up their backlinks. And some people are asking about, well, what if people try to do negative SEO, which is Google bowling, or they try to point links to a site to make that site rank lower? So, again, most people don’t need to worry about this. If you’re just a regular mom and pop, you’re a small business, this is not the sort of thing where you are likely in any way, shape, or form to run up against this. In my experience, there’s a lot of people who talk about negative SEO, but very few people who actually try it, and fewer still who actually succeed. For the people who are in maybe super competitive poker, casino, whatever kind of niches, and they’re worried about, OK, what if someone is trying to do some ill will towards my site, we’ve just released a new tool called Disavow Links. And what that does is it let’s you basically upload a list, a text file, to Google and say, I would like Google to ignore these links to my site. So if you’re in a reconsideration request type of situation or if for some reason you’re worried some porn site is linking a bunch of stuff to you, it’s very easy to say, OK, here’s a list of links. You can get it by sorting by recency, or you can download a CSV and go through it yourself and sort of decide which links you think shouldn’t count. But in any case, it’s relatively easy to upload a text file of links you think that you would like Google to ignore and tell us about that. In fact, you can say ignore all links from a domain. So if there’s one porn site that for some weird reason is linking to you, it’s very easy with one line to just say, OK, ignore all the links from this porn site to my domain. So, the main thing I would say is, I know that there’s been a lot of people stressed about this. Whenever we dig into what’s actually going on, there’s been a lot of discussion but very little in ways of actually people trying to do attacks. And so now, all those people who might still try to do attacks, there’s a very simple way to diffuse that. And that’s the Disavow Links. So I think, if you’re someone who’s thinking about trying to do negative SEO, it’s probably a much better use of your time to try to do something productive. Because either it’s not going to have any effect whatsoever. It could backfire. Maybe if you build a bunch of links to a site, it might actually help that site. Or if by some circumstance you find some loophole or some way to get through an algorithm or convince some manual web spam person to frame someone basically, then that person can then just disavow those links. So this is something where we saw that the community was worried about it. And it’s really good to listen to that outside feedback. And now we’ve got this tool where if you are at all concerned about someone pointing links, you have links showing up and you don’t know exactly where they came from, or much more likely, you think some competitor might be trying to spread some ill will your way, you can just use the Disavow Links tool and just basically say, OK, Google, I’d like you to ignore those links. So, we’ve always said from the beginning we try really hard to make sure that one person can’t hurt another person. And we do work really hard in all of our design of our algorithms. Whenever we’re looking at a case, we try to assess what are the odds that something like that might be happening. But if it is the case that you’re worried about that, you’re anxious or you’re nervous, there is now this power tool where you have Disavow Links at your disposal. And so if it’s something that you’re worried or nervous about, hopefully that will release the pressure a little bit and not be something to have to worry about. Again, I would just want to reiterate, I know a lot of people on various Black Hat forums are saying, oh, negative SEO is the way to attack people. And with Disavow Links, at worst, it’s an annoyance because, OK, maybe you have to go and figure out which links you’d like to prune or you’d like to tell Google to ignore. But again, if you’re an average mom and pop, if you’re just doing regular sorts of business, negative SEO is not something that you’re likely to encounter. And now, even if that’s something you’re worried about, you have a tool to help you take care of that, if it’s something you really want to look at your backlink profile. But most people, again, will not need to use this. Anyway, thanks very much. Good to get questions, and hope that helps people with any sort of context they want to get on negative SEO, and if you’re worried about it, the sorts of steps that you can take.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: