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Cutts Talks Negative SEO in New Video

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Cutts on Negative SEONegative SEO is nothing new. Blackhat creeps attack legit websites every single day, and the practice is almost as old as SEO itself. Google is highly aware of negative SEO’s existence, and contrary to popular belief, the company’s not just a bunch of engineers programming away in some ivory tower with earmuffs on (well, not all the time). In recent months, we’ve seen the search giant make a much more concentrated effort to assist webmasters, and the bulk of the help has come courtesy of Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team.

His Webmaster Help Videos on YouTube deal with frequently asked questions and concerns, and they also detail Google’s philosophy about building a Google-friendly website. Even better, Cutts’ videos all accomplish this using common sense-infused layman’s terms. It’s quite refreshing.

Cutts’ most recent video deals with negative SEO, and it’s an acknowledgement that Google’s fully aware of the entire gamut of shady blackhat techniques that spammers run these days. It’s also a reassurance to webmasters: stop worrying about these guys. It’s going to be okay.

Google Designs Algos with Webmasters in Mind

Cutts stresses multiple times in the video that when Google engineers set out to design an algorithm, they ensure there are no holes in the new code that people can exploit to hurt each other’s sites. He says Google strives to craft robust algos that resist those kinds of manipulative moves from the get-go.

That said, Cutts acknowledges that the system isn’t perfect, and although the search giant has dramatically improved in its ability to sniff out the bad guys, things do still fall through the cracks from time to time. For example, Google broke up well-known link and blog networks earlier this year, and it’s improved its ability to rate and classify backlink quality, but webmasters are still penalized for low-quality backlinks.

That’s why there’s a big push in the webmaster community to maintain squeaky-clean backlink profiles – and it’s also the reason we’re seeing a resurgence in negative SEO.

The Disavow Link Tool is Your Friend

Enter Google’s “disavow links” tool. Cutts announced its arrival in another Webmaster Help video posted a couple of months ago. He refers to the tool multiple times in his negative SEO video, and for good reason. The tool is the ultimate way to fight back against rouge SEOs looking to knock your site from the SERPs by sullying your good name.

Ever heard of Google bowling? It happens when sneaky web scoundrels maliciously attempt to lower your website’s search ranking by pointing gobs of links from “bad neighborhoods” (aka spammy, unrelated, or explicit sites) to your website.

If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry. Google has, and according to Cutts, the “disavow links” tool has made the practice a non-issue for webmasters.

Now, you can simply log in to your Google Webmaster Tools account, check out your links, and disavow those that you don’t trust. Simple as that. Once you do, they can’t hurt you anymore. According to Cutts, the worst consequence of a negative SEO attack for the average webmaster is now the headache of disavowing links once they’re discovered. It’s nothing more than a time suck – no damage to your website whatsoever.

Other Considerations

This all may sound incredibly reassuring, but what about other negative SEO attacks? There’s not just one way to do it, and although the “disavow links” tool stops many methods in their tracks, a determined blackhatter will find a way to sabotage your site.

This isn’t something you should fret about in most cases. Chances are, your website will never suffer more than a few stray links here and there. But if you’re the proud owner of a highly-ranking website in a cutthroat niche (think online colleges, insurance, or the make money online niche, for example) – then watch out. You could be the target of multiple attacks on a daily basis, so keep your guard up at all times.

Negative SEO can take the form of more subtle attacks not mentioned by Cutts in his video. Here’s an example: imagine another webmaster buys links to your site and then turns you in for the infraction. It’s rare, yes, but it can happen. Luckily, that’s where Google’s reconsideration requests come into play. Big G really does look out for its webmasters, and this is yet another example of the company protecting your site. If you are the victim of a negative SEO plot that can’t be remedied with the “disavow links” tool, then document, document, document. Make sure to turn in all your evidence and correspondence with your prompt reconsideration request, and Google should have enough to prove your innocence and reinstate your site in the SERPs.

To combat more common negative SEO attacks – the ones Cutts focuses on in his video – simply keep an eye on your backlink profile regularly. Make sure to check your Google Webmaster Tools account on a regular basis as well. If you find any messages from Big G, the more quickly you respond, the better. Google does want to help you safeguard your site – you just need to do your part by keeping your eyes open and being proactive.

  

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