A study conducted by a London SEO firm found that nearly 80% of online businesses would sabotage their competitor’s website. The firm asked 100 business owners whether or not they would be willing to launch a negative SEO campaign against their top three online competitors, clearing those competitors from Google search results. Of the 100 business owners contacted, 48 said yes without batting an eye and another 31, “were very keen and asked for further information.”
That means that 79% of the people who were contacted would entertain the idea of sabotaging their competitor’s website, and nearly half of the people asked would do so at the drop of a hat. This is troubling.
Even if you assume that this study was conducted in the shadiest of business districts, that number is still extremely high. People often make the comparison between the Internet and the Wild West, but this study adds some statistical evidence to that claim. People are ready to don bandanas and rob stagecoaches to get ahead in SEO.
Maybe the issue is that people don’t think of the Internet as being, or representing, anything that’s real. Some people still view the Internet as nothing more than a collection of signals. Sabotaging your competitor’s website isn’t like holding a business at gunpoint and telling them to empty their pockets, right? That would be stealing.
In a sense, sabotaging your competitor’s website through negative SEO could be called stealing. If you were to remove your competitors from Google, their traffic and conversions would suffer, while you would benefit from increased exposure. You’re effectually stealing clicks out of their pockets and putting them into your bag with a dollar sign on it.
The fact is that people work hard at SEO to be successful. Whether you put in the hours to increase your page rank, or you pay someone to do that for you, you’re investing in your business. Negative SEO really is like telling everybody to reach for the sky. It’s stealing, and it’s wrong.