It is something that has become a bit more common over the last year… someone burns a website and gets it penalized in Google. And instead of cleaning it up, they try and wield it for negative SEO by 301 redirecting it to a competitor they feel is doing better than them in the search results.
Now, logically, webmasters know that if they get a website banned, and theoretically when creating a new website to take its place that they shouldn’t 301 redirect the old penalized website to the new one, because you can risk the penalty being transferred to the new domain. But what about when that penalized site is forwarded to a competitor instead, is it a valid method for negative SEO?
This question was raised in a recent Google Webmaster Central Office Hours, from the point of view of a website discovering that a banned site has been 301 redirected to it. And it sounds as though penalties aren’t automatically redirected, and that Google is smart enough to detect it as a negative SEO attempt.
This is something we tend to recognize fairly well in that we tend to kind of ignore in our systems fairly well. So if you have a normal website and some random person is redirecting a banned website to your website then that is not something that’s going to be skewing our algorithms in any way.
So that’s not something we’d see as a site move, that’s not something where we’d say these signals need to be forwarded to your site as well. Our algorithms are generally pretty good about being robust against that kind of manipulation.
So if you are on the receiving end of someone 301 redirecting a banned website to you – or you are considering doing it to someone else as a negative SEO attempt, it sounds as though Google should be able to catch most instances of this.
That said, it can be harder for Google to catch when the content is very similar – or as @CygnusSEO points out – when 301 redirected to an internal section of a site.
@jenstar they don't do nearly as good a job as they purport, especially if the 301 is somewhat relevant and sent to an internal section.
— Cygnus SEO (@CygnusSEO) November 10, 2014
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