So you’re working on improving your online traffic through search engine optimisation, but keep coming across the term negative SEO. In this article we answer a question frequently asked by businesses new to digital marketing: is negative SEO illegal?
You may have seen our article on black hat SEO tactics and how can negatively impact your business, and others’ businesses if you engage in them. This article takes that a little further by discussing negative SEO, how to avoid negative SEO and discuss the answer to is negative SEO illegal.
What is negative SEO?
In previous articles, we have briefly touched upon the impact of negative SEO through black hat tactics, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll give you a quick rundown on what negative SEO is before answering the question: is negative SEO illegal?
Negative SEO is search engine optimisation that detracts from your business rather than improves it. Common practices of negative SEO and black hat tactics may be:
- Including irrelevant keywords that detract or act as content fillers
- Including too many backlinks
- Fake reviews
- Negative gearing towards other businesses, using phrases like “Unlike [company name], [our company] is reputable”, or associating certain companies will less than favourable search terms
Is negative SEO illegal?
Is negative SEO illegal can be a slightly difficult question to answer. Negative gearing, spamming and online harassment certainly fall under the category of illegal practices, particularly if such practices begin to severely effect your business, either financially – through loss of customers – or personally – the strain on your reputation begins to affect your mental health, which in turn affects your ability to effectively run your business.
But, whether negative SEO specifically is illegal is still a bit of a grey area. It’s certainly an unethical practice and not one that professional companies like Rise SEO will ever engage in for the sake of improving someone else’s business – even our own.
As a business, how do I avoid negative SEO?
If you need to ask yourself “is negative SEO illegal”, you may be accidentally engaging in the practice yourself.
When writing content – or hiring someone like us to write content – for your business, avoid practices that seem a little off.
In writing your content, avoid either directly or indirectly disparaging a competitor. You may not like them or agree with their business model, but that doesn’t mean you need to be obvious about it. Always be professional and show rather than tell your customers why they’d be better off choosing you over another business.
What should I do if I’m a victim of negative SEO?
While you can’t report negative SEO specifically, you can report spam and bad links to Google through the developers and reporting tool. However, you should only use this function if reaching out to the people behind the negative SEO has not solved the issue as it may simply be a misunderstanding. Be certain of your facts before you do this.
Hire a Reputable SEO Company – Like Rise SEO
If you’re still uncertain of your answer to the question “is negative SEO illegal” or “am I a victim of negative SEO”, it might be a good idea to contact the SEO experts.
To discuss your SEO requirements with Rise SEO, contact us.