Matt Cutts explained that negative SEO is rare, but can be combated with Google's disavow link tools.

Matt Cutts, Google’s distinguished search engineer, answered questions about negative SEO in a video on the Google Webmasters YouTube page, providing content marketers and SEO experts with some perspective on those who try to leverage SEO against competitors. Cutts’ insights reveal that content marketers should continue to focus on generating quality, custom content rather than battling negative SEO or turning to black hat practices to evade Google’s algorithms.

Negative SEO doesn’t happen often

According to Cutts, professionals talk a lot about negative SEO, the process of unfairly linking and using SEO tactics to cheaply decrease traffic to competitive sites, but this isn’t happening very often. Cutts explained that this type of practice is very unlikely to happen to small enterprises, but could plausibly happen to larger ones.

Thankfully, Google recently released a tool for disavowing links, which allows brands to manage what sites they don’t want linking to them. Cutts gave the example of a porn site that links to a brand’s page over and over again. By uploading a document to Google’s disavowing link tools, brands can occasionally prevent the establishment of ties they’d rather not have. A simple list alerts Google’s spam team to prevent links from coming in from certain shady sources.

Disavowing tools cut off threats

Cutts also offered some advice to those who are looking to try out negative SEO for themselves. Because Google has a disavow tool that simply and effortlessly allows sites to prevent others from linking, negative efforts will likely be in vain. Cutts explained that experts who attempt to use SEO best practices will be far more likely to see success than those who go for black hat, negative SEO tactics.

Google works to improve its SERPs

Google is constantly working to improve the quality of its search engine and may have recently released a new algorithm update, as Brafton recently reported. Although it’s unlikely that these new updates are linked to Panda or Penguin, some saw significant differences in SERP results on December 13, 2012, when the algorithm may have been unveiled. Content marketers and digital experts looking to do well as Google rolls out further updates should {make sure they deploy effective SEO tactics and publish quality, custom content to their websites. These practices generate significant ROI and puts brands in front of new and existing customers on the web.

Emma Siemasko is a former member of Brafton's editorial team. Emma has experience with blogging, travel writing, industry news, SEO and content marketing. She used to live in South Korea, where she mastered the art of using metal chopsticks.