Two questions that I often get asked: "Is there anything a competitor can do to harm me?" and "Is there anything I can do to harm my competitors?"
So let's pretend we are going to be evil SEO's for a while and try and figure out what ways we could do harm to a website. If we can work out the ways to mess with other websites we can work out ways to protect ourselves.
Buying links to a competitor isn't a new idea but it can be costly and the results may go the opposite way. You may improve their rankings for them and the fear of that should be enough for you not to try it. In fact fear is your greatest weapon if used correctly, so here is my idea
1) Collect your competitors back links and categorise them into sections,
Links that can't be removed, competitor owned sites or sites that are too large to be scared like the BBC, CNN etc
Links that have no equity PR0, banned domains, scraper sites, MFA etc
Links that could be removed, bloggers, directory sites, article sites, review sites
Links that have been purchased
2) Buy a few links on sites that clearly say PAID advertisers
Now to add fear into the mix, start off by thinking outside the box and create some emails:
Just a heads up I noticed that you are linking to "competitor website" and so was I until my site got banned in Google.
When "competitor website" approached me they told me that they were acting within the Google guidelines and felt that my site would compliment theirs but that appears to be just lies I've now found these sites that clearly shows that they are just buying links to increase their Google Pagerank (list the sites that you bought links on) and feel totally disappointed in "competitor website"
So I'm emailing you in fact I'm emailing everyone that links to "competitor website" that could be banned or have been banned in Google to let them know about my current plight so it will not happen to more innocent website owners.
To rectify this terrible position I have found myself in, I'm going to create a list of all sites that link to "competitor website" and mark the ones I believe that they have paid for just to increase their Google Pagerank , I will be sending this list to Google so that they can add my site back into Google and take the appropriate action against the people that are buying and selling links.
I hope you take this email in the good faith and will act accordingly, I will be creating the final list later this week to send to Google
So how do you protect yourself?
a) If you have purchased links get a money back clause in the contract it won't stop the attack but it will give you a heads up if you see the links disappear, at least you have a reason to contact them
b) If you have gained free links from editorials reach out to the writers, make them your friends so if an attack does happen you can get the inside story they will know that you didn't buy that link and you may just get a copy of the email and the headers
c) Create some of your own web properties that link back to your site make the contact details easy to find, register whois under a friend or family member, if you get the email play along and play the detective