BrightHaus Digital Marketing Agency

Negative SEO: What It Is & Will the Real Time Penguin Algorithm Help or Hurt?

November 21, 2016

Negative SEO has been a popular topic in the SEO world over the past couple of years especially after the introduction of the Penguin algorithm. While not a common occurrence, many experts have reported incidents of a negative SEO attack on their website, specifically in highly competitive spaces. Personally I haven’t seen it with any of BrightHaus’s clients. For many small business owners this is an issue they will likely never have to deal with but having a fundamental understanding of what it is, how it typically works and what changes are purportedly coming to the Penguin algorithm that will affect it can be the difference between staying in business or going under if your site does happen to fall victim to a negative SEO attack.

When people refer to Negative SEO, they are almost always referring to a calculated plan by an individual/group/competitor to build lots of low quality links to your website that can trigger a penalty from the Penguin algorithm. Since the penguin algorithm was designed to penalize websites that have large quantities of unnatural & spammy links pointing to a webpage, this type of effort can trigger Penguin and result in substantial decreases in search engine traffic. Think about it. You can’t control who or what sites link to your website. Any person with an advanced understanding of SEO and a little time could build a large number of links pointing to your site from all kinds of unsavory places all over the web. Once that is done, Google crawls these links and categorizes them as spammy and assumes they have been done in an attempt to game their search algorithms and WHAM, traffic tanks.. This is traditionally how negative SEO has been done in the past. While you can’t control who links to your website, Google has given us the Disavow Tool which we can use to tell the search engines to not give any consideration to those spammy/unnatural links. Here is a great guide to using this tool: Guide To Google’s Disavow Tool. By periodically monitoring your site’s backlink profile and disavowing unnatural links, we can prevent these kinds of links from affecting your site’s traffic.

The Real Time Penguin Algorithm

Word on the street is that Google will be rolling out an update to Penguin sometime in the not too distant future. The latest estimates are that it will arrive in the beginning of 2016 but please take that with a grain of salt as the only folks that really know are Google themselves. This is expected to be a real time algorithm that will evaluate a website’s backlink profile in real time and made adjustments to how a site ranks accordingly. If what Google is telling us is true, websites should be able to recover from an algorithmic penguin penalty very quickly (or fall into its crosshairs very quickly) as the algorithm will make a judgement about your site’s links in real time. So how will this update affect the traditional way that negative SEO has been performed on websites in the past?

If what Google is telling us is true, a real time penguin algorithm could damage a website much in the same way it has in the past. However, a real time algorithm would allow a website to recover from Penguin much quicker than it has in the past (Considering the bad links are taken down/disavowed). In theory, this update should allow webmasters to identify bad links affecting their site traffic quicker (For example: Site traffic dips significantly at the same time a significant number new of low quality links are acquired.) and if the appropriate measures are taken to clean up the bad links, return to normal traffic levels much quicker. Of course, at this point it is all educated conjecture but it’s still fun right?