Should Local Businesses Worry About Negative SEO?

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Maine marketing firm, My Local Leads, explains what negative search engine optimization is and how it can hurt local businesses today.

While most business owners understand the importance of search engine optimization, many have failed to learn about the dangers of negative SEO. There is some debate about the exact definition of negative SEO and even more debate as to whether or not it exists. As local search marketing professionals, My Local Leads has seen the realities of negative SEO more than once. Some might consider negative SEO using ‘black hat’ techniques, specifically manipulative tricks to get around the search engine algorithms by Google, Bing, and other companies in an effort to get a site listed near the top of the results. However, it is more than that. There are some out there that will say negative SEO does not exist. They hold on to the notion that SEO either works for a site or it does not. However, if this were true, it is hard to explain why many high ranking sites will suddenly take a tumble in the rankings. There are most certainly things that a business can unwittingly do to hurt their business. In fact, there are things competitors can do to hurt a business. So, it is important to know these things not only so that a business owner does not make a mistake, but also so they can keep on top of things and make sure no one is going to sabotage them.

One of the first important items to take care of is to claim business listings. Sites like Google, Yelp, LinkedIn, and others may have pre-existing business listings for companies. By claiming these listings, business owners can control the information displayed, respond to reviews, and more. By not actively seeking out and claiming the business, people could easily provide false information that could harm a business, directing traffic to another website, or even posting a reviewing saying that the company is closed. This stuff does happen. Controlling those profiles also allows local businesses to direct traffic to their website and, at least partially, improve their business’s page ratings.

Another item that gets talked about a lot when dealing with SEO is link building. It does help to build links naturally, like through business profiles as mentioned above. The hope is, a business blog, special deals, etc. will also be linked across the internet. One of the ways this works against local businesses unintentionally is when the site is just starting out or has been around awhile without much traffic and something popular is suddenly shared and spreads like wildfire. The search engine algorithm might detect a high increase of traffic and ping it as being artificial. It could take time to stabilize. The other problem many new to link building might make is hiring cheap labor to increase backlinks. That jump in links to the site, especially low quality links from low quality or even high quality but unrelated links could easily harm the site’s ranking.

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Chris Moreno

Cameron Corniuk
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