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[Infographic] Negative SEO and Why Google Should Never Be Trusted

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I have a love/hate relationship with Google.

The tools that Google creates are absolutely top notch. They are useful, well designed, user friendly and they are free. What more can you ask for?

Plus many tools, like Google Analytics, are pretty much the industry standard. So you’re more or less stuck with them. Might as well love them :).

But I also hate Google…because they can’t really be trusted. And that’s a shame because so many people rely on Google to drive their business.

By the way, relying on Google (or any single source) for driving your business is not a great idea. If you are having trouble coming up with an effective, well-rounded marketing plan, feel free to contact me so we can discuss your unique situation. 

It seems that every time Google changes its algorithm, they come out with a statement saying that only a fraction of a percent of all websites will be affected. When in reality, it seems that the percentages are much higher.

Of course, I can’t really prove this. And it may just be a matter of affected people being more outspoken than those who weren’t. But here’s an example that I can substantiate….

The “Penguin Update” was an algorithm change to improve search engine rankings by eliminating “spammy” websites.

Essentially, what the algorithm change did was punish websites that were practicing questionable SEO by just accumulating large amount of backlinks. So if you had a lot of “spammy” backlinks pointing at your website, Google didn’t look too favorably at you any more.

Unless you’re a major corporation, of course…then all is forgiven. :)

Of course, Google didn’t say this was a “punishment.” Rather, it was simply an algorithm change. But let’s set semantics aside…it was a punishment for bad SEO practices.

And that’s fair enough. But…

This raised some concerns about the possibility of “negative SEO.” In other words, if bad backlinking was now “punishable,” why couldn’t you just bombard your competitors with bad backlinks and sabotage their search rankings?

Google denied this was a possibility.

But were they telling the whole truth?

Apparently not, because they recently released the “link disavow tool” to help you communicate to Google which links pointing to your site you don’t want taken into account.

Why would they need to release this tool if “negative SEO” wasn’t really a possibility? Hmm…

But that’s still conjecture.

So here’s an infographic Tasty Placement providing experimental evidence that Google was just a tad bit…shall we say…dishonest :).

Negative SEO

 So what do you think about Google’s updates? Are they effective? Does Google lie about what it says?



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8 Responses to [Infographic] Negative SEO and Why Google Should Never Be Trusted

  1. Sharon Hurley Hall says:

    My example is a bit different, Eugene. I’ve been getting consistent traffic to Get Paid to Write Online over several years. As you know the site has quality content. But I saw something about Google penalizing ‘keyword name sites’, for want of a better phrase and I think this blunt instrument has affected my site. I notice that it no longer appears at the top of search listings for the keyword and traffic has fallen – makes me wonder if it’s being penalized somehow. I’m not going to lose a lot of sleep over it for now, but I’m monitoring it.

    • Eugene Farber says:

      Google did make a change to punish “low quality” exact match domain sites. The reasoning was that a lot of low-quality niche sites were ranking extremely well just due to the exact match domain URL.

      Unfortunately, as I stated in the blog post, their algorithm changes effect way more sites than they let on.

      I think if you keep publishing good content you will be OK in the long run. You might do the “Google dance” for a while and return to good rankings, for example. Although, who knows at this point :).

  2. Yomar from Social Prize says:

    I’ve been doing SEO before it even became recognized as an industry or formal practice and, for those in the same boat, the drastic and constant changes can be daunting.

    My advice to new SEO and Inbound Marketing professionals is this: don’t obsess about the technical details.

    Sure, you can keep up with Google patents, attend workshops/seminars, and view all the Matt Cutts viddos but it’s all really simple: Google rewards remarkable brands and unique content. They want to know you are important, trusted, and relevant to searches.

    The holistoc approach is make SEO part of overall Social Media and Content Marketing efforts. Organic traffic is great and it’s more sustainable than paid sources, but what we really should strive for is validation (trust), engagement (conversions), and persistence (recency and frequency).

    Create great content. Be remarkable. Develop allies. Nurture leads.

    What we’re seeing now is that social signals are becoming more important than links. These assets all count as votes. They validate your brand and create trust. Thus, the weight of these votes depends on the engagement and authority on the other end of the “tunnel”.

    What that shows is that, as much as SEO has changed, the underlying rules remain the same: authority/importance and relevance can be inherited. Focus on quality over quantity. Paid placement will always have some impact but the engagement and context is what determines how worthwhile the investment of time and money really is.

    Give people something worth talking about. It’s all about value up-front. There’s no cutting corners on engagement and building relationships/connections.

  3. Izzy says:

    I really can’t see how in one breath Google can say sites with “spammy” backlink profiles will be “adjusted” in the SERPS and in the very next breath deny that negative SEO is a possibility. A colleague of mine ran a similar test but with just a hell of a lot of forum profile links and low and behold the target site tanked after a few weeks.

  4. Anurag says:

    Really it is tough to justify the statement. But some how it is true that spammy backlink has created a good rank to so many website compared to good website. The webmaster who work hard to produce genuine backlink, write unique content, devote to give their subscriber something out of box will definitely be rewarded with a better rank from Google now. Hope, Google help to resolve the misconception arises in the mind of blogger.

  5. Eddie says:

    I think that it is imposible for Google to organize all information correctly. There is a huge lack of human touch.

    In my opinion, in the past Google was much more effective, I only used Google without question. Now I start using other search engines.

    Now I concentrate in content and I also try creating backlinks (I do not know if they are spammy for Google) in websites with related content. If Google punishes me, I do not care, at least I get visits from my links.

    • Eugene Farber says:

      Honestly I’ve made the mistake of relying on Google too much in the past. That was a painful lesson to learn.

      I think they’re genuinely trying to improve their results. I’m not sure if its working or not. I used to use Google exclusively now I switch off between Bing and Google.

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