Google’s Matt Cutts announced the release of the much-anticipated ‘disavow links’ tool that allows website owners to ask Google to reconsider devaluing their site as a result of bad backlinks. One of the fears that the search engine optimization trend has instilled in business owners is the possibility of anti-SEO, also called negative SEO.
Anti-SEO is the practice of snuffing out your competition by using techniques that manipulate search engine results. Skewed results could include targeting a specific site to hurt their search engine ranking, aiming to hurt the reputation of another by setting up sites, bad reviews, or generally negative press. Another more subtle way for a competitor or angry customer to achieve anti-SEO results will be to launch an attack by purchasing bad backlinks to set off the Google alarms on your page. Anti-SEO techniques could also be used in turn as a counter attack against these results.
Traditionally a website with an enormous amount of terrible backlinks would result in your website being banned, but with the addition of the disavow tool, it seems as though Google is becoming more democratic by allowing these websites a standing chance. Google will probably send you a notification and decrease your page rank, but you still have the opportunity to get it back given that you remove the bad links.
While there are many ways and reasons to engage in anti-SEO it will be interesting to see what the progress within this area will be after the disavow tool. If a competing business sets up a negative campaign against you by posting negative reviews on Yelp for instance, the disavow tool wont be much help to you. However, if a competitor created a site that identifies your business by using a link or purchases tons of bad backlinks for your website, then you will be able to have them cleared and regain your position once you identify and remove which ones they are.
Anti-SEO may still haunt the dreams of some high up on search engine rankings along with all the detriments that come along with it. Even still, the potential for removing these links and getting a second chance by Google is enough to yield peace of mind depending on your situation. It will still be a nightmare to locate and remove thousands of bad backlinks as long as the disavow tool does not help you identify which ones are the rotten eggs. Does the disavow tool eliminate the potential threat, deeming anti-SEO even more unworthy of time-spend making it irrelevant, or will anti-SEO evolve to a new way? Who is to say that Google’s disavow tool cannot be used as a weapon to aid anti-SEO efforts in the future?