What Is Negative SEO?

Updated October 6, 2023

If you’ve been a webmaster, Internet marketer, blogger or small business owner with a Web presence, chances are you’ve heard of-or possibly even experienced – negative SEO. Whether you’ve already been on the receiving end of negative SEO or you’ve just now heard about this term, you need to know how to deal with competing businesses or other entities that might be sabotaging your website using negative SEO tactics. Fortunately, a simple solution to negative SEO now exists. By using the “disavow links” tool available on Google, you can combat sabotaging SEO practices that target your website in an attempt to get it banned or de-ranked on Google.

First, Understand How “Negative SEO” Got Started

Essentially, this term refers to businesses and other entities that attempt to get your website penalized, de-ranked or banned on Google by creating less-than-ideal links to your site. In 2012, Google began attempting to penalize sites that optimized too much, especially when they were optimized using manipulative strategies that flooded the Internet with pages that had little to no real value to visitors. Google began to employ a tactic that lowered the ranking of sites that had backlinks to them from sites containing spammy content or keyword-stuffed articles, posts or other pages.

The Underhanded Tactics

Businesses, organizations, individuals or other entities that wanted to employ underhanded tactics to bring down competitors or other sites now had ammunition for Internet sabotage. If a company or individual wanted to get a site de-ranked or even banned on Google, they would create their own spammy, keyword-stuffed sites certain to get low rankings by the Internet giant. That company would then link to the targeted site from these “bad” sites, making it appear as if the targeted competing site had loads of “bad” or disreputable backlinks. Google’s algorithms would pick up on the backlinks and get fooled into concluding that the targeted competing site was also disreputable.

What Good Businesses Can Do about Bad Tactics

For a time, there was no solution for legitimate and reputable businesses to put an end to negative SEO tactics. Web marketers and others simply had to focus on creating enough positive material to combat the bad links or attempt to start over with a new site. Some individuals and businesses even began to adopt negative SEO tactics themselves because they felt forced into it. However, in October 2012, Google released a new tool called “disavow links,” which allows legitimate, reputable businesses to avoid having their reputations tarnished by bad links unrelated to them.

Using the “Disavow Links” Tool

If your website is suffering penalties or has been de-ranked because of links from spammy sites or sites with low-quality content, you can use the “disavow links” tool on Google to help your site recover. Essentially, this tool tells Google that your site has no affiliation with the linking site and that you believe the link is part of a negative SEO campaign against you. Google then ignores the linking site and its content when evaluating your site for ranking and penalties. You can find the disavow links tool under “webmaster tools,” available at www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

Author Bio:- Charles Dearing has worked extensively in managing SEO campaigns. He enjoys keeping companies on the straight and narrow when it comes to SEO. He shares his insights on various blogs. Visit SEO Works to learn about their SEO Packages and services.


  • Abhishek

    I also listen negative SEO for the first time. This tips can sure help blogger.

    • Bilal Ahmad

      Abhishek@ Negative SEO is a very old technique and recently got more attention because of the google recent algo changes.

  • about negative SEO i listen first time very nice tips and tools and improve my knowledge about SEO thanks for sharing,,

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