There’s been a lot of talk recently in SEO circles about the effects of Google’s recent crackdowns on ‘negative SEO.’ A fairly unknown term amongst white hat SEOs, the negative SEO world has grown immensely since the Penguin and Panda updates as websites saw themselves penalized for having too many low quality links.


Negative SEOs claim to be able to sink a company’s rankings by pointing low quality, often automated links at its domain on a truly massive scale. Given the focus of most recent Google updates, their claims seem plausible. With many SEOs paranoid about the possibility of a negative SEO attack, it’s worth considering if it’s really possible.


Many search engine columnists have discounted the likelihood of negative SEO as a promotional strategy, claiming that it’s simply impossible for Google to penalize its search results due to the vulnerability of the strategy. They seem right – after all, if negative SEO were that easy, wouldn’t we see it happening far more frequently?


On the other hand, given the amount of websites that disappeared in the last few major Google search updates, it seems possible that an offensive SEO strategy to ‘take out’ an opponent could work. After all, if automated links can sink your own website’s rankings, why couldn’t they do the same for an opponent or competitor?


The answer to this question is likely to remain a mystery, along with many of the top questions surrounding Google’s eternally secret search algorithm. As such, it’s best to keep negative SEO out of your mind as a search marketer. If it works, it’s not the type of tool that you should use. If it doesn’t, it simply isn’t worth worrying about.


The best strategy is the same today as it was last year, and the year before it: build a high quality website that ranks with or without your competitors fighting against its rankings. That is an SEO strategy that’s strong enough to last any weak attempt at a search penalty or ‘sandbox’ ranking removal.