The state of Negative SEO in 2020

How does Negative SEO works and why you shouldn’t use it?


Using negative SEO technics, you can take down any page from any website. Taking down the whole site will be very difficult, though. Especially if it’s a robust website. But any page on some keywords, it’s possible.

For example, let’s say you want to enter an SEO contest, and your (lame) “strategy” will be to take the concurrence down.

You can identify the pages that had the following optimization:

Title = URL = H1

So you extract the title tag and do some spammy, automated links with that anchor text (the title tag). Boom, website out. It won’t recover before seven or eight months.

Over-optimization on page + over-optimization on the backlinks, there is no chance. 

And that was way before Penguin. That was when the sandbox existed, and that was about backlinks.

Duplicate Content

To give an example of some gentle negative SEO, you have the demonstration we’ve done, with the french team DarkSEOTeam, on Matt Cutts’ website, which was about duplicate content.

This day, my friend Paul Sanches took down the whole page on Matt Cutts’ website, by duplicating the page.

When you searched for Matt Cutts, the home page of was gone. 

To do that, you need a compelling page, with a better page rank than the target page and then you duplicate it non stop. It’s just a question mark and random characters. With the question mark, you can repeat any page. So if you keep on doing this, with a little script, the website is out.

In terms of negative SEO, duplicate content is more potent than bad links.

The problem with negative SEO is that Karma is a real thing. 

When you do something like that, you may also improve the ranking of the target page instead of taking it down, especially with links.

Anyway, that’s not good. Anything you’re going to do will come back to you.

In Karma points, you have to do many more good things to counterbalance the bad you’ve done, and it’s just not worth it. Better do good right away.

Can you damage an IP number?

When you do that, creating all those pages, presumably over a large sort of proxy IP numbers, do you think that reduces the influence of all those IP numbers? Do you think you can damage an IP number or not?

Because I never thought about it. I don’t believe that the key is the number of pages because you have to index and put some page rank on all those duplicate pages. But I never thought about this IP thing, really, and I believe that in theory, it could be, yes.

The tool Majestic has a bad domain checker, a neighborhood checker, and all it does is to look at the number of domains on the same IP number, and you see all the list of all the domains on the IP.

And if you start seeing that black hat ascents, because you see a whole load of crappy websites, like a thousand different websites on the same IP as yours, it’s probably going to do two things:

1. It’s going to restrict the bandwidth to the crawl. So what does happen anyway, regardless of black hat or white hat is that if your site is co-hosted with a lot of others on the same IP number and the other sites have millions of pages, compared to your ten, what share of crawl budget you’re going to get? Given that Google is trying not to take down the server when it crawls.

2. If 90% of those websites are bad domains or dodgy domains… If I were Google, I’d sit there and say « well it’s just easy for us to block that IP number while it’s all going on ». It’s just mathematically easier to do, so why shouldn’t the IP number be a ranking factor?

Unfortunately, sometimes, Google doesn’t know so instead of taking a wrong decision, it will just throw everything away.


I do find Black Hat or Negative SEO is a short term approach. Because all you’re doing is to try to bring down somebody else, you’re not making yourself better; you’re making the other person look worse.

Dixon Jones about Black Hat SEO

“And that can only work surely for short term and crap.

I can see how it can work when you’re doing the SEO contests. 

When I saw the SEO contests, what tended to happen was the winner came in about 24 hours before the end of the competition, and suddenly everyone said « where does that guy come from » and he will just negative SEO all that and that was done, he won.

So I think that’s not necessarily the proof that a person is a good long-term SEO for a brand. Trying to be there or trying to be resilient, it’s a different thing. 

And these competitions were around, but that didn’t mean anything, so there’s nothing there before.” Dixon Jones

I agree with Dixon, but when I talk about negative SEO, the thing I used a lot was redirects. It’s not exactly a flaw; it’s an algorithm weakness. Google has a hard time to understand redirects. Do not try this at home, but it was a matter of seconds before the page was out. 

The last time I tried negative SEO was maybe in 2013. It was for an SEO talk in Paris. I was again with my friend Paul Sanches, and we challenged ourselves.

So at this time, a client of mine was on a super competitive keyword, and there was a competitive network of website I witnessed appear a couple of weeks before. 

So we went on Black Hat World and bought a blast. The key is to buy a blast over the blast, so you have a link to the link, you’ve got to push the backlink. So those are automated links, but we didn’t expect the results. It worked so well that the owner of the websites freaked out and deleted all his sites. He removed everything because he saw an attack.

But, if you do negative SEO and you’ve got smart people in front of you, they’re going to figure out that it’s you. Because it always benefits someone.

With a little bit of social engineering, talking and the SERP results, you will always be found. So be careful.

And do not forget that the Karma thing is a real thing. There are better things to do in life than doing negative SEO against somebody. Trying to make the world a better place is better than trying to make it worse. 

It’s one thing to experiment in a contest or understand it to know how to protect yourself against it. But using it in real life, it’s another thing. 

I know very well how it works and how you do it. But do wonder why a man like me that knows all the tips and tricks about Black Hat SEO, do no use it… 

We don’t know where the law stands there but for example, if you’re copying content and playing it back to somebody, then you’re ripping off the content for a start. So that content is now taken and copied and used against somebody. So there are ways in which you may be breaking the law when you do negative SEO. 

And you’re only one step away to the illegal thing. 

This podcast is for educational purposes only. 

If you want to go a little further, you can Google the Dark SEO Team, and you’ll see that Matt Cutts himself appreciated it. For April fools, 2007, Matt Cutts took down his website and made a fake hacking statement by the Dark SEO Team.

To finish, I’ll say that a good website is the best way to protect you against negative SEO.

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