Can You Really Penalize Your Competitors Using SEO

SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) is now an established method to enhance online sales and increase awareness for your products and /or services. By using SEO techniques such as keyword optimization, link building etc, a website acquires a high ranking in the search engine results page, leading to increased traffic resulting in increased conversions.

The Use of SEO Techniques

Search engines have certain rules about the SEO techniques you can use. Certain techniques called ‘black hat SEO’ are not approved by search engine. Any website using black hat SEO may be penalized by Google and removed from the SERP for a while or indefinitely depending on the severity of the offence and whether it is a first time offence etc. So black hat SEO is a definite NO when it comes to your website, in spite of the short term high rankings it may offer. But…..

Here is a Thought

How about using black hat SEO for your top competitor’s website? Google rules are the same for everyone and the competitor will likely be penalized. And with the competitor website out of the way, you will get all the extra traffic. (Well the customers have to go somewhere, isn’t it?)

So How Do You Penalize a Competitor with SEO

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the methods are numerous, limited perhaps only by your creativity.

You could use the keywords for which your competitor is ranked high and post negative reviews about their products/services on popular review sites. While this may not get the competitor penalized by Google as such, it may definitely affect their product sales and popularity. In fact in such cases, you probably want the review sites to be ranked high so that more people can read ‘your’ negative reviews.
One way to get a competitor’s website penalized by Google is by spamming their comments section with hundreds of meaningless links. This will get Google to think that the competitor is buying links from a link farm and penalize the website by lowering the rank.
So you are in the clear. But the question is are you!

Is it Worth the Effort?

While healthy competitor review and follow up is essential for business, it is necessary to draw the line somewhere thanks to a concept called business ethics. (Not heard of it? Loads of information online)

If you find that your negative SEO strategy has been successful in pushing your competitor from say spot 2 to spot 3 in the first page of the results, you will be tempted to further your efforts and to move the website further south. Also the temptation will arise to try this on other competitors. As a result, you may be spending more time on downgrading your competition rather than focusing on your business. No point going through all the trouble getting more traffic to your site, if you can’t cater to them because you lost your focus.

It may be a better idea to invest time and energy on your products and service and your own SEO strategy to attain a top ranking. At least that will ensure a good night’s sleep.