Competition in a lot of businesses has always been fierce, but now it’s getting downright dirty. That’s evidenced by the fact that businesses all over the country are seeing a rise in negative SEO and fake online reviews. In each case, the idea is to get more customers by ruining a competitor.
How worried should you be about these tactics? And more importantly, what can you do to protect against them? Here are a few quick answers…
Know the Signs of Negative Competitor Tactics
In the case of negative SEO, the tell-tale sign is a sudden influx of low-quality links pointing at your website. The point is to make it look like you are using spammy tactics so Google will punish you as a result. A regular search engine optimization audit makes finding and removing these links a breeze.
Falsified negative online reviews are harder to detect. Still, they usually have a few distinguishing points, mainly that they aren’t attributed to a real person and lack specifics about your business and its products or services. If you can prove a review is fraudulent (or just inaccurate), then you can likely get it removed by the owner of the review website.
Make the Competition Irrelevant
Negative SEO and fake online reviews really only affect companies with marginal Internet marketing. That is, they can’t make a dent when the business in question already has a strong search engine position or a sterling online reputation.
In that way, the best way to protect yourself against these kinds of dirty tricks – beyond having a good web design and Internet marketing partner who can monitor things for you – is to simply be on the offensive. Always improve your search engine visibility, and encourage positive reviews. Once your profile is good enough, none of your competitors will be able to damage it.
Don’t Stoop to Their Level
It can be tempting, of course, to fight fire with fire and use negative Internet marketing strategies against your competitors, especially if they’ve done the same to you. Unfortunately, even though it might be satisfying in the short term, it’s not going to help you over the long run.
Engaging in these sorts of activities can get you banned from search engines, removed from online review sites, and even make you subject to legal action. None of these consequences is worth the risk, especially when you consider that negative tactics have a low success rate to start with.
It’s unfortunate (but maybe not surprising) that desperate companies are resorting to underhanded tactics to try to compete on the web. Smart businesses know this, and make themselves immune by using best practices, getting great help, and keeping an eye on their web analytics.
In other words, when you’re doing enough things right, your competitors can only hurt themselves by taking the low road.
Edward Kundahl, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Ed can be reached at (or visit his websites)