Every online marketer must master the strategies of SEO in order to perform well in Google’s rankings and maintain high domain authority. Anyone who is involved in online marketing and SEO must have definitely come across the term ‘Negative SEO’.
It is sure that you have hardly heard about Negative SEO, so let us explore more about it together. We will try to explain it as briefly as we can. It’s a technique used to lower a site’s rankings in search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing, and there are many methods to do so. The most popular way of improving a website’s ranking is via backlinks.
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Negative or Reverse SEO is defined as the practice of using unethical techniques to harm a competitor’s search engine standings. It is a process to downgrade the SERP ranking of any site/page by implementing tactics that violate the guidelines of Google’s Webmaster and to trigger negative ranking signals/ factors for any site/page to be affected by search engine algorithmic updates. The negative SEO attacks can happen in different ways, such as:
These methodologies have somehow proven to work, as many experts have already seen their negative effects. Although Google is already finding solutions to combat this practice, such as the launch of the “Disavow links feature” for Google Webmaster Tools. There are also many ways to protect your website from negative SEO and to recover from this attack if in case your search engine ranking has been already affected.
Long story short: Yes, it really truly can.
Google has a lengthy statement regarding Negative SEO, but Moz succinctly summarized all those pointers and come up with a brief overview –
In all probability, bad links do not harm you as much as you may think because Google constantly works hard to ensure that other people cannot tank your website ranking via bad links. However, much like everything else, the internet giant accepts that even its filtering methods aren’t foolproof, which means that your competitors may get away with destroying your ranking.
So, what do you do? Here are some key elements of modern SEO techniques you need to keep in mind –
If you wish to hire an SEO expert, you need to know that there are many out there who sell link-building packages (the ones where you pay $100 and you get a whole bunch of directory listings). But what you need to know is that they keep using the same links to improve the rankings of other websites as well. This means that the older links i.e. your backlinks are automatically rejected by Google.
So that’s $100 gone down the drain, which is why you need to stay away from such packages.
Here are a few other points you need to keep in mind –
That’s because making enemies can cost you heavily. They can deploy various Negative SEO tactics to ensure your page doesn’t get a good ranking, and you don’t want that, do you? Disgruntled customers, angry competitors – be nice to everybody and do your best to not give others a reason to take revenge on you.
Of course, there are always people who spam just for the sake of it, and there’s no reasoning with such people. In such situations, you just need to have better defenses against such Negative SEO attacks. Better yet, hire SEO consultants who can implement the necessary elements of the latest SEO to improve your page’s rank.
In today’s world, security is of primary importance because vulnerable websites are more prone to spam, malware, phishing, or hack attacks. In all probability, your website is built on WordPress, so make sure you use the Google authenticator plugin for WordPress. This plugin generates a code that is sent to you on your smartphone, which you then use to log onto your WordPress website.
You need to have a strong password and you also have to make a habit of maintaining regular backups of important data.
One of the most important key elements for modern SEO techniques is to always maintain unique content. So if there’s even 1% of duplicate content on your website (or your content is copied by someone else) then there’s a big possibility that your website will be penalized and lose rankings.
Spammers can also duplicate the content present on your site to lower its ranking. They can copy your content and post it everywhere else. If your website content is duplicated, there’s a possibility that your website will be penalized by Google.
Use Copyscape.com to find out about duplicate content. Their charges are extremely nominal and professionals all across the globe rely on them for their sheer accuracy. Here’s where you can clear your doubts regarding Copyscape. Of course, you can opt for free plagiarism tools but they’re nowhere close to how good their paid counterparts are.
To take care of Google’s disavow tool, you should hire an SEO expert for better results. It tells the company not to consider poor-quality links when its spiders crawl across your website. First-timers have to download a list of links to your site via the Google Search Console.
Then follow these steps –
For those intrigued, go through this start-to-finish guide to using Google’s Disavow Tool. It’s extremely helpful.
Monitoring your backlinks profile is quite an important step to prevent spammers from succeeding. Quite often spammer performs negative SEO by building redirects or low-quality links; therefore, it is essential to know when someone is creating links or redirects to your site. For performing this task, you can use tools Ahrefs.com (Subscriber account) and MonitorBacklinks.com as mentioned above.
Make use of free trial version services like Ahrefs or Google Search Console to get your work done, and always ensure you monitor your backlinks via a highly streamlined schedule.
If you’re able to discover a nascent negative SEO campaign and defend against it, good for you! If you can’t, then it’s high time you consider the fact that you may have to appoint SEO experts to do your job for you.
There’s no scarcity of people (mostly competitors) creating fake social media accounts in your brand’s name and using those accounts to propagate hatred or false information about your company. The best thing for you to do is to nip the problem in the bud, i.e. report such profiles as spam before they accumulating a sizeable fan following.
Obviously, since you cannot manually scour various social media channels to find out fake profiles in your name, use tools like Mention that help you find out who’s using your name and for what purposes.
At times, you might encounter a strange problem with your eCommerce website. There could be thousands of hits but those bounce off immediately. And it will affect the rankings. But, why does it happen? The problem occurs mainly due to one (or some) of your competitors programming a bot targeting your keywords.
The bot lands on your website and then bounces back creating a false Search Engine Results Page (SERP) bounce rate. Because of the problem and to prevent your eCommerce websites from such attacks, you should monitor the CTR of your keywords regularly.
Monitoring the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) ranking of your eCommerce website regularly is one of the most effective ways of protecting it from Negative SEO attacks. If you notice a sudden drop in the ranking, you could infer that as due to malicious attacks, and take corrective action.
It is needless to say that online reputation is vital for all businesses, and you cannot be an exception to that. But, you cannot escape getting negative reviews as spammers as well as people to create fake negative reviews. To protect your brand reputation, you should flag the fake reviews using Google My Business and fill out the report form.
It is always a good idea to connect your website to Google Webmaster Tools. If you haven’t already connected your website to it, go through the following steps:
a. Log in to your account and click “Webmaster Tools Preferences.”
b. Enable email notifications and choose to receive alerts for all types of issues. Click “Save.”
Now, Google will send you email alerts in the following cases:
Security is quite important if you want to save your website from Negative SEO. There are many things you can do to secure your site:
If you are a WordPress user, you can install Google Authenticator Plugin. After it, create a 2-step verification password. Whenever you log in to your website, you will be required to add a code generated by Google Authenticator plugin on your smartphone (available on Android and iOS smartphones).
In addition to this, you should create a strong password with numbers and special characters. You should also create backups of your database on a regular basis. If your website lets users upload data, then ask your hosting to install an antivirus to prevent malware.
The first indication of Negative SEO will be a drop in ranks or removal from SERPs; therefore, it is better to watch the ranking of your site. If you see that your website ranking is falling, you can use various tools to determine if your website is being attacked through manipulative link building and spam. My personal favorite tools are:
I will recommend you to start with Ahrefs.com, and search the linking behaviors to the entire domain of your website:
It offers many useful products such as site explorer & backlink checker, content explorer, crawl report, and backlinks report. You can use these products to know better about your site.
2. Majestic SEO
After this, you can use the tool Majestic SEO to extract and download the list of all the links directed to one of your pages.
This tool can also be used to see the historical link graph of your website (or any web page being spammed externally) using their fresh index, where you can see which month links have exploded to your website in an unnatural way.
MonitorBacklinks.com is also quite a popular and easiest tool that can send you email alerts when your website gains or losses important backlinks. Instead of checking backlinks manually, you can use this tool which sends everything you need to know to your inbox.
After knowing the backlinks, you can ask for the bad links to be removed. For this, you can go directly to the source and ask for any spammy backlinks to be removed. In case, you cannot find the contact page of the source you can use Whois.com/whois to find a contact email address. In this, you can add the root domain of the site you are trying to contact and look for the “Registrant email.”
You should also keep a record of your correspondence, as it is good to have evidence to show you have done everything possible to solve the situation cordially before contacting Google directly for the intervention.
You can also ask Google not to take low-quality links into account when it crawls your website by using Google’s disavow tool. You should do this when you have performed all the possible work for removing the spammy links and still you are unable to make further progress. For this, first, download a list of all links to your website. You can do this with the help of Webmaster Tools, under Search Traffic -> Links to Your Site.
After this create a file containing only those links that you want to disavow then upload this to Google. It is recommended to use this tool with great caution because if used incorrectly you may end up doing more harm than good.
The thing is, Google’s smart, but even this internet giant isn’t 100% foolproof – which means you need to take matter into your own hands to protect your website against any and every Negative SEO attack. You can’t control people building bad links to your site, but you can control how authoritative your site is.
And of course, those of you who aren’t aware of modern SEO techniques, it’s best approach to hire team of experts to save a lot of time, money and effort. Good luck!