Matt Cutts on Negative SEO

negative seo matt cutts

Within the past year, Google has unleashed a myriad of algorithmic updates targeting sites including:

It is clear that Google means business, they want quality.

Most of us realize that these updates are far from over, and will continue to roll out as Google engineers adjust universal search algorithms based on practices still being engaged in by blackhatters.

That being said, if you stop by any SEO or internet marketing blog or forum right now, you can pretty much guarantee that there will be an active discussion about “negative SEO.”  To keep things really simple, negative SEO is the process of using links that violate Google Webmaster guidelines in order to demote a site (usually of a competitor or sworn enemy).  While this practice is strongly negated by Mr Cutts in the video below, along with many of the larger sized internet marketing firm (on the record), there are quite a few agencies as well as individuals that wholeheartedly believe in this theory.  I’m not going to enter the dark-side and start linking to case studies that have been done, but they are out there and are very controversial.  This subject tends to get people very emotional, it is something that everyone hopes (regardless of which side you take), does not happen to them.

The Great Contradiction

If you haven’t wondered this by now, then you will now:

A: Google clearly states that if you build link spam, your site will be penalized.

B. On the other hand, Google clearly states that it is not possible for people to demote or penalyze a site in ther SERPs by using link spam?

Yet, Google has been heavily promoting this new “disavow” tool in order to confess your link sins to them.

Something is just. not. right.

I have my theories and I’m sure so do you.

Today we are not going to walk down the conspiracy theory road, but rather an ethical path.

business ethics

Even Billy Madison Knows Business Ethics

We as internet marketers work in a wold without a standards board, we have no ISO to define us, there is no certification board, and other than Google, it is up to us to have quality control.  Negative SEO is just wrong, no matter how you look at it.  It is not fair and it is definitely not “doing the next right thing.”

Negative SEO is the digital equivalent to sneaking into someones business at night, smashing the windows of their business, and burning the place down.  It’s like stealing a fleet of moving trucks from a moving company.  You are attempting to remove them from the competition, without getting caught.  It’s sneaky and it’s wrong.  Negative SEO’s do what they do with complete and total anonymity, and without consequence.

There is an unwritten rule amongst SEOs that you do not partake in Negative SEO.  Even most black hat SEOs look down upon those that sabotage another persons business. 

Conversations on blogs and forums need to move away from the “if and how” of negative SEO and more toward the ethical complications of considering it, and outing those who partake in it.

For those that wish to see, here is Google’s official statement regarding negative SEO:


Patrick Coombe
Patrick Coombe is the founder and CEO of Elite Strategies Llc. Patrick takes a hands on approach to managing Elite Strategies and loves to get involved with technical projects relating to clients inbound marketing needs.
Patrick Coombe
Patrick Coombe
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