In the recent aftermath of the Google Penguin Update, the search engine’s all new spam-punishing algorithm, it appears that a common concern among many is an apparent “negative SEO” threat.
Of course, negative SEO had been something of a hot topic before the update, however this seems to have exacerbated things, with many believing that there is now a greater potential for an individual to harm a competitor by pointing bad links at their site.
But are there grounds for these concerns, or has the perceived threat of SEO sabotage been blown out of all proportion?
It seems as though the basis of such fears are a number of unreliable assumptions. It is true that Google has recently targeted some linking schemes and as a result a number of bodies suffered a loss of traffic. The search engine also issued warnings pertaining to sites with artificial or unnatural links. As a result, many have jumped the conclusion that an environment ripe for negative SEO is being created. These fears were not allayed by the Penguin update. More people were punished for link spam and their search positions were hit.
Still, it is important to remember that negative SEO fears are not a new phenomenon, and have never fully materialised.
Google maintains that it is difficult for an agent to deliberately hurt a site. This would appear to be the case. Pointing bad links at a good site with many other good SEO practices will not have the negative effect that many believe.
The positives will outweigh the negatives.