Can you do negative SEO on your competitors to gain the #1 spot?


For my target keyword I am ranking as #1. Lately I've started seeing strange backlinks (lots of them) in Google Webmaster Tools.

I suspect one of my competitors is doing it to potentially screw up our rankings. It's a lot of work going through each link manually and using Google's disavow tool.

Realistically, could a competitor screw up our rankings by buying a few thousand spammy links?

Competition Google SEO Spam Backlinks

asked Jun 19 '14 at 01:42
Kevin Kinder
11 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

2 Answers


Theoretically, yes. Google claims it's not an issue, but they also encourage use of the disavow tool.

If you're having an issue with needing to disavow a lot of links, I'd recommend finding a tool that can help automate the process. Some quick Googling turns up as something that can help, but I'd look to see what other options there are. An hour from a virtual assistant every week could be another way to go.

answered Jun 24 '14 at 18:11
Jay Neely
6,050 points
  • Even with these types of services or a VA, it would be tough to clean up backlinks. There are lots of $5 gigs on Fiverr offering thousands of comment spam and profile links. The sad part is these tactics don't matter at all to established sites as even thousands of low quality links won't move their needle (tons of existing authority links). – Patricia Wright 9 years ago
  • I'd guess that just trying to clean up your backlinks with the disavow tool could be seen as a positive signal from Google's point of view, though. In a worst case scenario, it greatly strengthens your position if you're asking for a review of a penalty that's been applied. – Jay Neely 9 years ago


Yes, it is indeed possible to do negative SEO on your competition. Even though Google states otherwise.

The problem is that for larger sites with a vast amount of established authoritative backlinks, it's tough for a competitor to screw up their rankings.

For the little guys though, all it takes is a $5 gig on Fiverr to have an effect on your competitor's bottom line. Which is both scary and sad at the same time.

The only recourse is disavowing back links in Google Webmaster Tools, but I have seen sites that don't completely recover in traffic even after disavowing "bad" backlinks.

answered Jun 25 '14 at 05:20
Patricia Wright
663 points

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Competition Google SEO Spam Backlinks