Sunday, December 27, 2015

Organic Website Optimization & Negative SEO: The Battle Between Good and Bad

A recent article from The Dallas Morning News reveals the most complex challenge facing SEO firms today: perception. Despite the increasing knowledge of experts and laymen, SEO continues to be characterized in a negative light.

The Morning News' characterization of SEO is laughably biased--and false. The article focuses on the extortionist practices of William Stanley (or William Laurence, William Davis or William Harris--the man goes by many names), who had been charged with extorting a Dallas firm--referred to as "GE"--who had hired him to "improve its online reputation."

Of course, Mr. Stanley himself, working under the guise of SEO, reveals a terrible view of SEO. He was hired by the Dallas firm (and others) under the pretense of performing website optimization. In reality, instead of optimization, he performed a form of "negative SEO,"--as Stanley admits in his plea, "illegitimate SEO."

In his plea, Stanley admits to threatening his clients by "posting fraudulent comments and creating negative reviews online if the victim did not pay him a certain amount of money."

Negative SEO--the practice of harming another site's search engine rankings--is as old as SEO itself, yet this form of Negative SEO, however, is relatively innocuous. Worse is the creation of websites whose sole purpose is to damage another website's reputation. Stanley practiced this form of negative SEO, too: "he created websites," he stated in his plea "that had the ability to damage GE’s reputation by associating GE with a scam."

Stanley is likely referring to the creation of "bad links," one of the earliest weapons in the arsenal of so-called Black Hat SEOs.

Like Darth Vader, Black Hat SEOs represent the "dark side" of SEO
In early incarnations, Google's algorithm used incoming links as an indicator of website success. Black Hat SEOs manipulated these early algorithms by creating link-building schemes, such as building subsidiary websites to send links to a primary website. With an abundance of incoming links, the prime website outranked many reputable sites.

The Penguin Algorithm was created to eliminate this type of abuse. Google clarified its definition of a "bad" link: “Any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme.”

With Penguin, it wasn't the quantity of links that improved your site but the quality. As we wrote in a previous post, "Bad Links? Bad News!":

"Many SEO specialists lamented the change. Some even wondered: "Is link-building dead?" At the time, however, The Organic SEO Blog (and its sponsor, Stepmans PC) rejoiced! After all, the purpose of the new algorithm, to punish those websites and SEO specialists that built bad or artificial links, could only advance the work of the SEO specialists who had played by the rules  and built links based on relationships, integrity, and quality content."

Penguin was good at eliminating link-building schemes that profited websites, yet the problem of Negative SEO, is seemingly trickier to handle. Despite Google's best efforts, this practice of harming other websites has become easier in recent years. With its Penguin 2.1 update, in 2013, Google's began penalizing companies for bad incoming links, creating a new way for Black Hat SEOs to perform Negative SEO.

Of course, Negative SEO hardly deserves the to be called SEO at all. After all, building bad links is not at all "optimization." 

The trouble with The Dallas Morning News article is how it associates this form of trickery with a reputable practice, endorsed by Google, and performed by millions of ethical SEOs across the world: organic website optimization. 

When describing SEO, the author of the article, Robert Wilonsky, seems to take his cue from Mr. Stanley:

"Stanley was in the search engine optimization business, meaning he was paid by companies to make their websites more popular by any means necessary."

Nonsense. Organic SEO, when performed with integrity, does not use "any means necessary" to optimize websites.  In fact, the best SEOs view their work as a partnership with Google--an attempt to make websites that work best for the people who use Google.

In short, the Morning News rightly points out the extortionist practices of Stanley, but it does not offer a balanced view of SEO.


Any website can be harmed by incoming links. You might be surprised by the links spammers have created to your site. More then ever, now is the time to contact a reputable link removal service or quality SEO specialist, like Stepmans PC.

Now is also a great time to take advantage of Stepman PC's FREE Website Audit.

If your website is under-performing, Stepmans PC’s Organic Website Optimization Audit will clarify the exact elements of your website that require improvement--including bad incoming links!

As apart of the audit, Stepmans PC will provide a detailed report showing you the quality and quantity of your links. To take advantage of this limited time offer, call Stepmans PC now: 215-900-9398 or complete the form on Stepmans PC's website.