Most companies choose to focus on how to improve their SEO Placement and Social Media Strategies rather than how to hurt the competition. However, there are those in the SEO community who attempt to use negative SEO strategies to cause harm to the nearest competitions website. This type of strategy is the other side of Black Hat SEO that is rarely talked about. After the launch of Google Penguin the idea arose that one could purchase links for the competitions website instead of buying links for their own site. This would in turn cause the competition to incur a penalty from Penguin and fall off in the rankings. The term Google Bowling was born from this idea. Google quickly came to the rescue saying that they were aware of the idea behind bowling and actively working to adjust their algorithm.
No further details were provided as to the “fix” that was made to Penguin but I am sure this didn’t stop people from trying to use this tactic. More recently a question has been posed about redirecting a penalized site to another website with the purpose of placing a penalty on your competition. The idea is that you own a website that has a Penguin penalty and then you use a 301 redirect to pass the penalty on to the site that you redirect too. This idea also seems like it may have some ground to stand on. Overstock.com encountered a Penguin penalty for purchasing/keyword stuffing links back to their site. Their first line of action was to move the entire site to o.co to avoid the penalty, instead of removing all the poor links. Unfortunately when they placed a 301 redirect from overstock.com to o.co, all of the purchased links followed them. It is a case such as this that make it seem possible to flow a penalty onto someone else’s site.
Fortunately for the White Hat world of SEO, Google came to the rescue again noting that they understand the issue involved in this black hat tactic and are making changes to help combat that as well. In a recent Google Hang out, John Mueller of Google noted that you could disavow all the links from that site but it is more likely that Google will catch this and not flow page rank / penalties from those links to your site.
It should be noted that it is not likely to remove a link penalty from your site by merely changing names. In most cases, you will want to 301 redirects from your old URL to your new URL. This will in turn flow all of those links to your new URL. this means that if you had a penalty on your old site, it is most likely it will follow it to your new site. However, using this tactic of flowing URLs to a competitions site will not provide the same outcome. In most cases Google will recognize the old sites content and the new sites content and understand the black hat tactics at work.
By Matthew Wilkos