With the introduction of the Penguin algorithm update a couple of years ago, Google took away the incentives for link-farming overnight. Whereas having thousands of junk links pointed at your website was once a way to ensure your website would be more visible to searchers and customers, all at once it became a practice that was actively punished.

That should have been the end of link spamming. But, unethical marketers being the people they are, it was soon discovered that all of those link farms still had a purpose – namely, they could be directed at a competitor who could then suffer the penalties in your place. In just a few weeks, the practice of “negative SEO” was born.

The irony of negative SEO was that, naturally, the worst marketers were the best at it. Because they had experience trying to game the system, they were perfectly-positioned to harm legitimate companies who hadn’t used underhanded tools. The better a business was doing at marketing their products and services with high-quality content, the closer they had to look for thousands of sudden and unwanted links that would appear out of nowhere.

Thankfully, that’s come to a quick end. To understand why, here is what you have to know…

Google’s Penguin Algorithm Has Changed

Just this month, Google updated Penguin. Instead of penalizing for poor inbound links, it now ignores them almost completely. So, if your competitors have been making a concerted effort to sink you online, they’ll have to find a new way to do it.

Unethical Marketers Still Get an Advantage

Previously, websites with poor link profiles were de-emphasized in Google’s search algorithm by Penguin. Now, businesses that embraced shady tactics to get a leg up have basically been given a pass on the issues that were holding them back. So, while your competitors might not be able to harm you directly, you could see them begin to appear in the search listings again.

Nothing Has Really Changed

Even though negative SEO is no longer a risk, the basics of good organic search engine optimization are unchanged. High-quality content still attracts visits, and links from trusted industry websites with high page ranks are still valuable – and in fact may be more valuable than ever – even if junk links are being ignored.

The bottom line is that marketers should be adding search-friendly content to their websites and looking for ways to attract new customers via social media and online advertising. The threat of negative SEO might be gone, but there is bound to be another fad or shortcut around the corner. Once there is, you’ll have to decide whether you want to stay on the path towards sustainable business growth or take a chance on a tactic that’s likely to leave you trying to undo the damage later.

If you’re looking for a web design and internet marketing team with the skills and experience to help your business grow, and keep you away from trouble on Google, why not contact our team today to schedule a free consultation?