When a competitor does something that affects the SEO factors of another website on purpose, in hopes to cause harm to that website, that is considered negative SEO. When negative SEO is talked about in the public, it’s mainly regarding backlink manipulation, where a website buys or creates links on a website they control directly or indirectly via monetary means.

Often there are services that will offer pbns to host said links on, and websites will just buy the links, the best way to combat this, is to be 100% you have found the bad links and disavow them. Be warned, using the disavow tool, can destroy your website, if you don’t know what you’re doing, be cautious whenever using it, and always double and triple check to make sure the urls you’re about to disavow are truly bad or spammy, as despite you thinking such, they can still be helping your website.

When Negative SEO Becomes Hacking

Often SEO agencies and SEO freelancers alike will feel pressured to ” cut corners ” and buy some sort of plugin or service to manipulate backlinks or even inject keywords, then the agency or freelancer is let go and is replaced. The problem with this often is, that plugin or service previous used by the SEO agency or SEO freelancer before, is now a security risk, and could be controlled by the SEO themselves, or a 3rd party.

This is why it’s not recommended to cut corners or use 3rd party services that are against Google’s guidelines, sooner or later this kind of access will come back to bite you. Also, when an SEO agency or SEO freelancer leave, do a ” off boarding ” and check 3rd party plugins or scripts used, as not taking inventory of such things, is often why forces a website into a costly redesign.