In a tell-all article called “The Saboteurs Of Search” with Forbes magazine, Brendon Scott reveals about a little something called Negative SEO which some SEO professionals indulge in. The purpose: to make rival websites disappear.

“I understand the rules of search. And once you understand the rules, you can use them not just constructively, but also destructively.” says Brendon Scott.

The 7 ways/ tactics of Negative SEO practitioners are:

Google Bowling:

Google and Yahoo! rank Web sites based in part on how many other sites link to that page. But they’re wary of sites that create links simply for the purpose of artificially inflating their ranking, and search engines punish sites that appear to be cheating by pushing them deep in search results. Some saboteurs claim they can use that policy to “frame” competing Web sites, creating thousands of spam-links to a site in order to convince Google or Yahoo! to drop its ranking. The technique is sometimes called “Google bowling.”


Some sites buy links from more established sites to improve their Google ranking or hide links on their site intended to improve their placement in search results. Google frowns on such tactics and has asked for Web users to report these and other shady practices. One easy way to drop a competitor’s ranking is to catch him in the act and report him to the authorities.

Google Insulation:

Rather than directly attack a competitor, search marketers can simply create more content and float it to the top of Google results, pushing competing sites lower in search rankings. The technique is also sometimes used for online public relations: Reputation Defender, a Louisville, Ky.-based company, creates what its founder calls “Google insulation”: flattering blog entries and other benign content that floats to the top of search results, hiding online criticism that affects the company’s clients.

Copyright Takedown Notices:

Search engines can legally link to sites that steal copyrighted content–unless they’ve been notified of the site’s copyright infringement. If a copyright holder (or someone claiming to be a copyright holder) files a complaint, a search engine must remove the page from its index for 10 days while the copyright holder decides whether to sue for infringement. So by filing a copyright complaint against a competitor, a site can sometimes have it temporarily erased from search engine results–though a fraudulent takedown notice is often grounds for a lawsuit.

Copied Content:

Search engines don’t like duplicate content. If the same text appears on two different Web pages, one will be penalized in search results to avoid offering users a worthless entry. So sites that are older and more search-engine friendly than their competitors can sometimes rip off and republish a competitor’s content, thereby hijacking its place in search results.

Denial of Service:

When moderate methods fail, there’s always all-out cyberwarfare. One method is a “denial of service” attack, which floods a competitor’s Web server with requests for information, overwhelming it with so many simultaneous queries that it crashes. Denial of service attacks are usually performed using a “botnet,” a herd of thousands of computers unwittingly hijacked with hidden software.

Unlike some of the subtler tactics in this list, denial of service attacks are very clearly illegal.

Click Fraud:

Aside from general search results, Google and Yahoo! also drive traffic around the Web with pay-per-click ads. But competitors who want to sabotage their competitor’s ad traffic can enlist clicking software to simulate thousands of potential customers clicking on online ads. Since some search advertising programs ask their clients to set an upper limit on their budget for a certain period of time, fraudulent clicks can easily empty an advertiser’s coffers, causing their ad to disappear from search results and their traffic to plummet.”

In the words of Jason Duke, British Negative SEO practitioner, “SEO can always be seen as good or bad, depending on which side of the fence you’re sitting on. That’s the reality of search. For every winner, there’s also a loser.”


Navneet Kaushal is the Editor-in-Chief of PageTraffic Buzz. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet is also the CEO of SEO Services company PageTraffic which is one of the leading search marketing company in Asia.