Negative SEO

By | August 9, 2019

MATT CUTTS: Hey, everybody. I was looking over the
423+ questions that people had asked. And there were some questions
about disavowing links, and there were some questions
about negative SEOs. So I just wanted to tackle
those head on rather than doing a whole bunch of
individual questions, and sort of address those. We’ve made a longer nine and a
half minute video about a new tool release called
Disavow Links. But let me talk specifically
about negative SEO. From the very beginning, we have
to think about when we design an algorithm or when we
take action on sites with the manual web spam team, we try to
think about, OK, is there some way somebody could
frame somebody else? Is there a way that person A
could hurt competitor B or something like that? So we try really, really hard to
design algorithms that are robust and that are resistant
to that sort of thing. Any algorithm that we’ve done
in recent years that the web spam team has worked on, we do
try to walk through those cases and try to make sure that
we’re resistant against that sort of thing. So, at the same time, as Google
has gotten better at assessing the quality of
backlinks and taken stronger action on a lot of link
networks, especially both public and private link networks
earlier this year, a lot more people are thinking
about their backlinks, how do they clean up their backlinks. And some people are asking
about, well, what if people try to do negative SEO, which is
Google bowling, or they try to point links to a site to
make that site rank lower? So, again, most people don’t
need to worry about this. If you’re just a regular mom
and pop, you’re a small business, this is not the sort
of thing where you are likely in any way, shape, or form
to run up against this. In my experience, there’s a lot
of people who talk about negative SEO, but very few
people who actually try it, and fewer still who
actually succeed. For the people who are in maybe
super competitive poker, casino, whatever kind of niches,
and they’re worried about, OK, what if someone is
trying to do some ill will towards my site, we’ve just
released a new tool called Disavow Links. And what that does is it let’s
you basically upload a list, a text file, to Google and say, I
would like Google to ignore these links to my site. So if you’re in a
reconsideration request type of situation or if for some
reason you’re worried some porn site is linking a bunch
of stuff to you, it’s very easy to say, OK, here’s
a list of links. You can get it by sorting by
recency, or you can download a CSV and go through it yourself
and sort of decide which links you think shouldn’t count. But in any case, it’s relatively
easy to upload a text file of links you think
that you would like Google to ignore and tell us about that. In fact, you can say ignore
all links from a domain. So if there’s one porn site that
for some weird reason is linking to you, it’s very easy
with one line to just say, OK, ignore all the links from this
porn site to my domain. So, the main thing I would say
is, I know that there’s been a lot of people stressed
about this. Whenever we dig into what’s
actually going on, there’s been a lot of discussion but
very little in ways of actually people trying
to do attacks. And so now, all those people
who might still try to do attacks, there’s a very simple
way to diffuse that. And that’s the Disavow Links. So I think, if you’re someone
who’s thinking about trying to do negative SEO, it’s probably a
much better use of your time to try to do something
productive. Because either it’s not going to
have any effect whatsoever. It could backfire. Maybe if you build a bunch of
links to a site, it might actually help that site. Or if by some circumstance you
find some loophole or some way to get through an algorithm or
convince some manual web spam person to frame someone
basically, then that person can then just disavow
those links. So this is something where we
saw that the community was worried about it. And it’s really good to listen
to that outside feedback. And now we’ve got this tool
where if you are at all concerned about someone pointing
links, you have links showing up and you don’t know
exactly where they came from, or much more likely, you think
some competitor might be trying to spread some ill will
your way, you can just use the Disavow Links tool and just
basically say, OK, Google, I’d like you to ignore
those links. So, we’ve always said from the
beginning we try really hard to make sure that one person
can’t hurt another person. And we do work really hard in
all of our design of our algorithms. Whenever we’re looking at a
case, we try to assess what are the odds that something like
that might be happening. But if it is the case that
you’re worried about that, you’re anxious or you’re
nervous, there is now this power tool where you
have Disavow Links at your disposal. And so if it’s something that
you’re worried or nervous about, hopefully that will
release the pressure a little bit and not be something
to have to worry about. Again, I would just want to
reiterate, I know a lot of people on various Black Hat
forums are saying, oh, negative SEO is the way
to attack people. And with Disavow Links, at
worst, it’s an annoyance because, OK, maybe you have to
go and figure out which links you’d like to prune or you’d
like to tell Google to ignore. But again, if you’re an average
mom and pop, if you’re just doing regular sorts of
business, negative SEO is not something that you’re
likely to encounter. And now, even if that’s
something you’re worried about, you have a tool to help
you take care of that, if it’s something you really want to
look at your backlink profile. But most people, again, will
not need to use this. Anyway, thanks very much. Good to get questions, and hope
that helps people with any sort of context they want to
get on negative SEO, and if you’re worried about it,
the sorts of steps that you can take.

100 thoughts on “Negative SEO

  1. fishandcrap Post author

    people need to stop worrying about doing seo themselves so much, and just worry about getting quality content on their sites. i recommend trying out envison force and letting them do all the seo for you. They will set up a unique plan for your site to get it ranked. Also, the link that i posted on my channel will get you a free 1 month trial with them

  2. Trevor Bandura Post author

    If I have questions about something, where do I ask them for the possibility for them to be made in a video like this?

    I have a few questions that I would like to know some answers to.

  3. Andrew Curtis Post author

    If I have a business website that I am passionate about, which is a source of revenue, rather than put the onus on others [Google] I would make sure I took on the responsibility of protecting it and would check it daily.

  4. Nostradamia Post author

    This is another "move on, there's nothing to see there". I have a very regular website that happens to have been successful and I got spammed with links. And, I was thrown in the sandbox forever. BS: Google's future is not the Web.

  5. Chris von Nieda Post author

    Thanks Claire, how did you know? How long did it take?

  6. Chris von Nieda Post author

    Hey Bryan, although I could start Googling and testing tools how bout sharing a tool out there that has backlink monitoring?

  7. Ty Whalin Post author

    The main point about using the disavow tool is knowing when to use it. Matt does a good job of explaining how it should be used, when it should be used and why it should be used. Negative SEO like Matt said, is not something most need to worry about; but is done by some. I recently have had someone try negative SEO on the main site. I found by utilizing webmaster tools and paying close attention to bad links a lot of it can be done by submitting links to be removed and adding it to a robots.txt.

  8. Ketaki Dave Post author

    Hi Matt. Please tell us how can we know which links are pointing to our site? It will be great help. Thanks.

  9. Brent Csutoras Post author

    Could you comment on whether sites that show up in the disavow tool files will be viewed negatively by Google? I am seeing some people threatening putting people into the disavow tool in an effort to hurt them by signalling Google that the site is low quality or spammy.

  10. Adult Dating Post author

    Been waiting along time for the Disavow feature, so I'm grateful it's finally arrived. 🙂

  11. Krish Purnawarman Post author

    Hi Matt, how would one know whether the disavowed links listed on their file had already been considered by Google? I am still seeing the list of disavowed links on Google webmaster. Its over 2 months now, does that mean Googlebot had not seen my list of links or Google will still be showing those disavowed links on our Google webmaster incoming links?

  12. WOMcommunications Post author

    Hi Matt,

    Can you please give a link to this tool? Also, is there anything can be done to prevent unwanted "Likes" on Facebook, or it's a totaly "facebook" thing?

  13. IT Rockstars Post author

    I got hit by 900 same keywords links from a competitor – so where can i get a list of my backlinks apart from 3rd party tools?

  14. James Mathew Post author

    So apart from writing good content you know have to look through all those all those spammy links to stay safe?

  15. deplumenorm Post author

    Of course, if someone hits your site with an automated tool, you get the joy of trying to identify the potentially hundreds of thousands of unique domains, of which the Google Webmaster interface only shows a tiny portion. Big 'G' opened a nasty pandora's box when they stopped the practice of devaluing spam links, and started the practice of penalizing for them. The disavow tool is a silly band-aid, assuming that big G even bothers doing anything with the data you put into it.

  16. deplumenorm Post author

    How about google devalues/ignores spammy links instead of penalizing for them? That's what they used to do. There's no way to assign a penalty for a spammy link and not open up a negative SEO window.

  17. Ed Dost Post author

    about 95% of all sites on the web have got a poor backlink profile and can be neg seo'd in a matter of seconds…last couple of updates seem to be nothing but shit at best.

  18. Ben James Post author

    Chris, I have had a positive experience with 2 clients that I have used this tool for, The majority of the link building was private blog networks where the owners were non responsive, with anchor text targeting the keywords affected, i managed to successfully recover 2 websites out of the 2 clients, i downloaded the entire of my clients links and deleted the trusted ones out of excel, exported to .txt and submitted, 6 weeks later after manually submitting for a review and SUCCESS. Very happy!

  19. Chris von Nieda Post author

    Great to hear Ben! Thanks for the feedback. And no reconsideration request correct? Just the disavow submission?

  20. Mohsin Patel Post author

    Hi Matt,

    Can you explain why feeds,trackbacks and other replytocom links are showing in omitted Google results even though i had blocked those via robots.txt perfectly(100% sure and tested ) and removed those unwanted URLs from webmaster remove URL tool as well.

    I have been heavily get penalty due to those duplicate content issue matter,

    Please please create one video to cover all those 3 factors and how to overcome instantly.


  21. Troy Curfman Post author

    Matt We just had another firm, do a wiki blast and negative backlinks on our clients website. I caught it because we got the 404 error and they blasted over 4,000 negative backinlinks talking about Elvis. yea, we just started the positive backlinks and this destroyed what we were doing. how can you help. We also got the same from another competitor too.I believe the bought a social media blast from Fiver to hurt our rankings.
    What can we do? I hope you can handle mass submission's like this?

  22. Troy Curfman Post author

    Means they haven't gotten to it yet. I wish they did it instantly. would be such a huge help.

  23. Troy Curfman Post author

    type in your url in Google and youll see all your links there are plenty of sites that will show all the backlinks too.

  24. Troy Curfman Post author

    That's allot of work if they do a blast from Fiver on you for a lousy $5. =4,000 negative backlinks.

  25. Troy Curfman Post author

    Exactly We had the same thing happen, are you using tags? we had 450 tags and I think they considered duplicate content. still trying to figure that one out. In one year our reach had dwindled to a louse less that 100 visitors a day from 400-600 a day.

  26. Troy Curfman Post author

    & in the mean time your losing money.. in that position right now!

  27. Brad Dalton Post author

    You can easily no index tag archives but i think the algorithm is totally biased towards high DA sites.

    You could also delete all the tags easily as well.

    I followed Matts advice and disavowed all the low qaulity links but my PR went from 5 to 3 in 48 hours

  28. Ty Whalin Post author

    Yes, it would be. I stay on top of it though. That is another reason constant monitoring of a website is necessary as well. To many problem causers and not enough problem solvers.

  29. Palaecro Post author

    It's so easy, if someone builds spam links then NEUTRALIZE the value of the links, Problem Solved! Don't PENALIZE the website! It's insane truly. They could end all this BS tomorrow if they focused on neutralizing instead of penalizing but they've made up their mind to influence the SERPs dramatically to force "Mom and Pop" to use Adwords while ALSO having to do this stupid shit.

    Google needs to admit when they make a mistake and stop all this control nonsense.

  30. Marcus Keiper Post author

    Do you know the one thing that has caused a lot of marketers to fail in marketing? It's the inability to full utilize the power of wordpress. I want to help all those marketers, and that's why I developed a training course that will teach you how to create stunning and profitable marketing websites. You can watch a sneak peek from this course on my channel.

  31. David Quaid Post author

    How would Google know if the webmaster bought links or someone else bought them?

    Does anyone buy this?

    Lots of spammy SEO companies who used to buy links don't have to change their tactics, just the AHREF Target. Buy spending $100 on Fiverr and some of the better sites, they could buy "SEO" links and spam other competitors out ! C'mon Google!

  32. NedTheDread Post author

    Wow you are really bitter about this… They're just giving you more control over your back links, which is a good thing, otherwise you would have to suffer whatever negative SEO comes your way…
    Chill out dude!

  33. NedTheDread Post author

    I don't think you understand how this works… If someone spends $100 on whatever SEO company/campaign to create bad, spammy back links to your site, you can now use this "disavow" tool to tell Google you don't want those links to effect your ranking. You tell Google this by using your webmaster tools account, it has nothing to do with the target property of anchor tags… People on other websites have no influence over anything related to this tool, only with webmaster tools can you use it.

  34. NedTheDread Post author

    STOP SPAMMING, you don't even have a picture, no one will watch your stupid spam video.

  35. Mike Shotton Post author

    A question for you Matt.

    Why is the poor site owner penalised, for a bad SEO company ?


  36. DangerousMarketing Post author

    1:59 introduces "disavow links"
    So idiots can stop emailing me and asking for me to remove the spam they put on my site

  37. wadexyz Post author

    There's a lot of mafia that take their living seriously too.

  38. mucjka Post author

    Here he said two things:
    1) Negative SEO doesn`t exists
    2) You can prevent something that they claim doesn`t exists with the tool they`ve provided


  39. Rudy Garcia Post author

    So according to Matt the disavow tool is now the save all from negative SEO? However If someone is spamming links and wants to clean their link profile they have to do work getting links removed before using the disavow tool. This doesn't make sense because even if I spam links to my website get penalized then I could just claim that someone else did it and use the disavow tool. If that is NOT the case then someone could easily negative SEO my website and force me to lose time fixing it.

  40. Scott McKirahan Post author

    hmmm … you can only disavow links that exist to your website. If someone threatens to use the disavow tool to remove a link you have placed to their website, remove the link to their website. You have complete control over that!

  41. David Smith Post author

    hey did anyone tried this:

  42. shoopdogg Post author

    Matt appears not to like MLM and Internet Marketers imho and for very good reason. If you make your living online hopefully you don't promote those types of scams and the black hat SEO that they offer.

  43. James Hobson Post author

    I'm beginning to think that reporting sites can actually harm your own site. We use backlink checker tools and sometimes use them to look at our competition's backlinks. When we find a lot of spam sites we may report these in bulk. Invariably, shortly thereafter, our site falls to the lower part of the first page and then works it way back to the top rankings. Not to sound paranoid but it seems like we're getting temporarily dinged as if we're doing negative SEO work. Anyone have ideas?

  44. Jonny Hendrickson Post author

    You're the Man Matt watching all your videos learning so much.

  45. Don Dikaio Post author

    Matt by publishing this information you give webmasters that have no problem doing this to there competitors the opportunity to not just do it but now you've confirmed that it works. I've submitted numerous webspam reports that are absolutely 100% accurate e.g. hundreds of adult links on church websites, law enforcement websites, etc are positioned off screen via css and have watched results for each domain and there has been no change in status. I understand you guys deal with a lot…

  46. Don Dikaio Post author

    webspam reports and from my understanding you use the reports to improve the webspam algorithm but for people that take the time to make sure that they're only reporting 100% accurate webspam as I mentioned above it would be nice to have some type of indication that it's been addressed whether that's an accepted or rejected webspam report.

    I'm left to contacting the individual site owners and letting them know about the links on their site … it's frustrating. ):

  47. Karoshio Post author

    disavow is all well and good but doesn't really help with bulk links. Around a year ago one of my sites was hit with hundreds of thousands of blog comments and it completely wrecked my rankings. It was only a small site that I didn't care for that much as it didn't generate revenue but SEO was consistent and rankings were stable and improving for many months and although you can use tools to find your backlinks it would take forever getting all of those into a list for disavow.

  48. Suresh Khanal Post author

    It would be really impossible to run a website if the competitors can run negative SEO to harm the ranking. Thanks for the tool but again it appears a huge effort to create those list. I wish Google is smart enough to make sure that competitors can't harm each other.

  49. Aurelien Morillon Post author

    If competitors can harm each other, they will more more tempted to buy clicks on adwords… The richer person in a war is the one who sells the weapons.

  50. Aurelien Morillon Post author

    Disavow tool is abeginning but Google may alert us when it detects bad links and tell us EXACTLY what and where they are.
    Disavow tool is useless if we can't detect efficiently bad links !

  51. Rankbest Post author

    how should I know which backlinks are "bad"? does gwt show me which backlinks harm my site?

  52. lightclassics Post author

    The whole concept of holding webmasters responsible for ALL the backlinks pointing to their website is inherently EVIL, orweillian. This is exactly like holding a person responsible for what ANYONE, ANYWHERE in the world says about him. If you can't justify yourself to the Big Judge you loose your good name and your job. Spend life monitoring what EVERYONE says about you. Report it to the Judge using his special tool. Help him stay the best, the biggest, the richest judge forever. Pure EVIL.

  53. YESK Post author

    Hi guys, I just have a question about I have a news website, and its indexed by for a long time normally. Last October "threw out" it, but the reason is still unclear. The problem is, my sites articles are newer shown in clusters, but bot is indexing it, because by URL I can find it in news search bar, but the title of the same URL's article is never shown. Please, help. I wrote numerous letters to google support, but no result.

  54. trotinette freestyle Post author

    Nseo is dangerous for your customer, but it's a weapon

  55. Annie Asounga Post author

    Thank you for your video that is good news,the people destroy other people web totally
    And they feeling good ,I don't Understand that negative people +++ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  56. Igor Bubis Post author

    Nowadays (it seems) Google algorithms can be easily manipulated by NEGATIVE SEO.
    It happens more and more often to good optimized sites.
    It's time Google either provide a good set of tools to fight this or fix the algorithms.


  57. Igor Bubis Post author

    It's much more cost effective to use NSEO than good optimization practices.
    And It would be nice if Google could provide the back-link history in 24 hour delay instead of a 10 day delay?
    It would be also nice to have more sophisticated DISAVOW features besides just an upload file page.

  58. Igor Bubis Post author

    @Laxman Kafle > Have you seen any improvements after submitting to DISAVOW tool? And have you seen any more NSEO links a week, two week after that?

  59. Evergreen Florists - Galway Flower Shop - Flower Deliveries Post author

    I think he started this when he was younger himself. As we know, young people think of everyone older than their own general age group as Moms and Pops. I expect that it is just habit with him now. But, he clearly means "non tech savvy" people when he uses that term. At least that is what I have always understood from it. Am I wrong?

  60. EverSpark Interactive Post author

    The disavow tool can be useful. However, the website owner must have a means for them to be aware of the negative links before they can use the tool. Negative SEO would require a significant amount of effort and not too many businesses would undertake such a task.

  61. beau bequette Post author

    What if google has already flagged my site for some bad links I did not know where there, will I be able to get my ranking back. I haven't been able to so far and I have been trying for 2 years. I talked to my seo guy and he said it will never rank well again. If this is true google needs to take some steps to contact someone and let them know because that cost me around 2 million dollars a year. I have the first, oldest and most trusted site in my niche and now a junk site.

  62. Victor Zeng Post author

    ☯☯☯ NO effects from NSEO????? 🙂 ☯☯☯
    Just try to blast site with 100 000's links and you will see where your website will be 😉
    Google "animals" will LOVE your blast :))))

  63. D.C. Douglas Post author

    Google is so lost at the moment… Perfect time for Bing to surge forward.

  64. Spook SEO Post author

    The disavow tool is a very good solution when it comes to combating negative SEO. It's sad to say but there are really others who would go as far as doing negative SEO to get the upper hand against their competition. Without the disavow tool, all the honest and hardworking SEOs would have been sitting ducks to the unethical people who'd go as far as framing someone else.

  65. laxman kafle Post author

    Hello Matt, in This 2 week , i got like 25,000 New -links linked to my Site , Still i am Hit by n-seo , Spammers , my website is socialfansgeek dot c o m , also i noticed today that my site loosed rankings , it Dropped to 100th , i was top 10 on all my keywords , the only way i make money is from website , now i am in bad situation , can anyone help me ?

  66. Shaul Meor Jai Post author

    Used the amazing disavow link more than a month before Penguin 2.1, lucky me!! Disavowed all the more than 20K malignant links created NOT BY ME. My site is attacked by negative SEO, not by competitors, but becuase my site alerts against a financial fraud.
    Actually got a Manual Spam Alert in August, and my reconsideration request was accepted!! The alert was revoked, yeah!!! Go Team Google!!
    So WHY THE HECK DID THIS UPDATE KILL MY CLEAN, INFORMATIVE SITE?!! Matt, protect us from negative seo!

  67. Marco Varela Post author

    Según Matt la mayoría de la gente no debiera preocuparse por el SEO negativo….

  68. Sunnyvale SEO Post author

    I know it is an old video, but I did not know about the disavow link feature. Thanks Matt.

  69. Mike Rogers Post author

    Well, I'm finally dealing with some negative SEO. I've spent the past 5 months working full-time on my newest venture (and yes, I'm attracting traffic through other sources like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) but recently have started getting bombarded with thousands of spammy links. Someone doesn't like what I'm doing.

    So, what should I do now? I feel that ignoring the problem won't make anything better, but Google's solution is for me to sift through thousands of links everyday and disavow the spammy ones?


  70. ADEL SEO Post author

    Interesting to know if disavow links still effective in these days?

  71. LA SEO GUYS Post author

    This solution really will help to delete the junk links!

  72. Samuel T. Steiner Post author

    What do I do if people are pointing 20k links to my site every year? No tool will even let me export that amount 🙁

  73. Manuel SEO Post author

    If Negative SEO doesn't exist then how do people Negative SEO them selves?   They run automated tools to get automated links… and it screws up their own site.   So to do it to somebody else you simply change the keywords and URL and over optimize and link spam who ever you want.

    Negative SEO Exists. It's real.

  74. James Desouza Post author

    "How about google devalues/ignores spammy links instead of penalizing for them? That's what they used to do. There's no way to assign a penalty for a spammy link and not open up a negative SEO window."

    ^ My thoughts exactly. That definitely is the most efficient way to go. 

    I mean Matt Cutts acts as if there is no problem now that they have this "Disavow Links" tool, but Negative SEO is still a HUGE inconviennce. 

    Time monitor and disavow the links, downtime of the website after penalty (kissmetrics says it usually takes 2-4 weeks to Recover) 

  75. CloutSoft Technologies Post author

    Thanks for giving NegAtive seo info because i learn something from you video, and i request for giving New info regarding to increase PR

  76. StackDeveloper Post author

    diawov links not a way to escape from the negative seo. There re zero day wordpress exploits and easy to inject compatitor links with a dirty keyword and Just some hours that your site complately banned from index. the only way is find all those links and send to disawov. How its possible to find it? webmaster tools ? yes but after some days or weeks. But attackers knows this and they changes URLs in periodic times that google cant catch it as a backlink. wait a minute ! than if no url indexed as a backlink but why google banned? couse attacker make his job so quickly He inject your link in 1300 different wordpress stuff domains and than ping google spider like a backlink ping and after that remove links and after sometimes again same steps.

  77. 4Nanook Post author

    I miss the early days of link networks. I enjoy anime and manga and following the links used to provide hours of entertainment. Now they are pretty much all gone.

  78. Daisy Nicolas Post author

    The SEO company, Itriedand terminated kept giving me broken links. Literally, I am a solo small biz who is striving for sales and traffic and they keep sabotaging my website. What can I do to stop them without paying hundreds of dollars to stop them?

  79. Yasmani Aguiar Post author

    this is like the second or third video where he mentions porn hahaha

  80. Nitin Agarwal Post author

    Link to your site doesn't show any links there, sometime it shows and sometime it doesn't

  81. Meki Post author

    I have 2 important questions ,first How can I know which links need to be disavowed ? or how can i know the source of spam links to disavow ?.
    if my site is free blogger or an article ,in this case i cant disavow links because the free blog cant be imported into google webmaster ,Am i right ?

  82. Simon White Post author

    What about cross domain rel=canonical negative SEO? We have a case…

  83. SiteCozy website scanner Post author

    After 15 years of webmastering, I have never witnessed negative SEO from inbound links except with 301 redirects, when for example, all the URLs pointed to a 3rd party homepage or when there were 4 domains that redirected all their URLs to another domain. In this case, there were like a penalty on the new domain.

  84. Victor Vulpescu Post author

    If my website has hundreds of spammy backlinks do I have to disavow them or they have no influence if they have "no follow" attribute?

  85. Richard Andersson Post author

    One of my sites are under negative SEO attack and sadly they are successful and has been so for 6 months now. Is it possible to somehow contact Google and ask for some help in this case? Disavow links does not really work when you launch a massive attack and continuously keep attacking and creating new links. @googlewebmasters

  86. Jan Bludau Post author

    i like to fight against this negative seo method of paid links…


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