How Your Competition Could Use Google Penguin to Harm Your Website
The Google Penguin update penalizes websites that misuse SEO. Examples of these so-called black hat SEO techniques are using unnatural links and stuffing web pages with keywords. These are both techniques that were designed to mislead Google and to boast website ranking in an unnatural way.
While at first glance Google Penguin seems like the perfect update for promoting white hat SEO by encouraging website owners to stick to the rules, these updates have an unexpected downside. SEO experts are calling this downside negative SEO. Negative SEO is the application of black hat SEO to affect the website ranking of a competitor's website!
Unnatural Links and Black Hat SEO
Unnatural links are an extremely useful commodity for the application of negative SEO. Whereas with black hat SEO website owners had to buy links for their own website, now they can buy links for competitors' sites. Doing this will increase the chance that a competitor's website will be penalized by Google. If you don't believe that this could possible work, just do a quick search engine search on the term “negative SEO”, and you will see many stories of websites and companies that have been attacked in this way.
Before you start thinking that this is great idea to get rid of your own competition, think again! If you are found out, your company's reputation will be in ruins. Just remember that if your website is the only one in your sector that hasn't received a Google penalty, it won't take your competition long to figure out who is behind the attack.
Another element of the Google Penguin update is that it punishes websites that contain duplicate content without using the rel=canonical attribute. Again, at first this idea seems great if you can constantly come up with fresh content, but it also means that your competition can steal your new content and publish it before it has been indexed by Google. If Google crawls their website before yours, Google might think that your competition is the original creator of the content.
Protecting Yourself Against Negative SEO
There are a number of measures that you can take to protect your website and your company against these negative SEO techniques. To avoid getting a Google penalty for the use of unnatural links you need to build up a strong linking profile yourself. The more natural and quality links your website has, the less the chance that Google will penalize you for paid links with a much lower authority. When it comes to duplicate content you need to make sure that crawlers can find your fresh content quickly, so the content can be indexed pretty much straight away. You can help this process along by making a dynamic sitemap and by making your website text as SEO friendly as possible.
When all else fails you can still contact Google. In some cases Google can be persuaded to reverse their decision provided that you can offer them a clear explanation of what happened and you have taken some measures to have paid links removed.