Negative SEO can be a severe problem. SEO can cause you to lose organic search visibility and even revenue. Negative SEO can be prevented.
Negative SEO is a real possibility. Malicious backlinks and aggressive spamming can cause severe damage to a website.
Negative SEO can lead to lost revenue and visibility in organic search. It is possible to protect against negative SEO.
What is negative SEO?
Negative SEO refers to using black hat SEO techniques on a site. A disgruntled competitor or their minions will launch an SEO attack to lower a site’s ranking.
Many SEOs will be happy to follow the rules. We publish our content, promote ourselves on social media and take the consequences of any Google algorithm updates.
Sometimes, but not always, you can find yourself on the wrong side with someone who doesn’t share your skepticism. They are often ruthless. They may try to hack your website by flooding Yelp with fake reviews or putting hundreds of spammy links on your site.
You can often catch malicious SEO attacks if you are diligent.
These seven steps can help protect your website from negative SEO, whether you are a victim or think you might be one.
1. Do regular link audits
While regular link audits are a good idea for all businesses, they can also save you from being victims of a lousy SEO attack. Monitoring your link profile growth will be the best way to detect suspicious activity before it spirals uncontrollably.
Websites will love graphs that look like this:
If you notice an abrupt spike or drop in your link-building efforts, it is a sign that you need to be cautious.
The founder of WP Bacon (a WordPress podcast website), Robert Neu, experienced this. He was the victim to link farm spam in 2014. It gave him thousands upon thousands of links with the anchor phrase “porn movie.” This cost him hundreds of visitors and 50 spots in his ranking for one key keyword.
Neu quickly recovered traffic and rankings lost due to the attack. Despite the constant spam bombardment, he was able to submit a disavow document listing the domains being attacked.
If you have been hacked, your links may also be affected. You might have your content altered to contain spammy links or your links modified to redirect to theirs. These types of attacks can be subtle and difficult to spot. Regular website audits are the best way to protect your website.
You must monitor the growth of your backlink profile carefully to prevent any potential attacks. You can use link auditing software or a manual audit to check your backlink health. Google should be notified if you have been a victim to link farm spamming and remove the links immediately.
2. Keep an eye on your site-speed
Website speed is an important ranking factor. You should consider crawling software if your website is slowing down.
Forceful crawling is when you cannot find the problem and can’t find it again. Forcing crawling can cause a lot of server load, leading to slowing down or even crashing your site.
You should contact your webmaster or hosting company if you suspect you are the victim of a crawling attack. You can also attempt to track down the perpetrators if you are tech-savvy.
3. Look for scraped content
While content marketing is the rage these days, not all people are equally creative when it involves creating content. Scraping is a growing trend.
The act of copying content from your website to be used on other websites is called scraping. To increase their range, an attacker will usually claim it as theirs. However, they may combine it with a link farming attack to spam your website.
There are severe consequences to scraping. Your site could be penalized if copied content is indexed before yours, and you might lose rank.
Copyscape is a tool that will support you in determining if someone has plagiarized your content. Ask the webmaster to delete your content if they have. Report them if they refuse to remove your content (or don’t respond) by filling in the Google Copyright Removing form.
4. Google My Business Monitor
Your brand reputation is built and maintained by hard work. Customers love you. Negative reviews are not good, but they can be used as learning opportunities to improve. What about negative thoughts that are a tsunami?
If you haven’t made any public PR blunders recently, a slew of negative reviews could indicate that some-one is trying to flood your site with fake feedback. These can cause severe damage to your reputation if you don’t act quickly.
It would support if you kept an eye on Google My Business listings and your online reputation with social media listening software.
Here are some ways to report and flag fake reviews
5. Monitor Your Keywords’ Click-Thru Rate
Bartosz Goralewicz noticed something odd in late 2014. A client’s website received thousands of hits but then would bounce immediately. This started to affect their rankings. User experience is a prominent signal, and this didn’t look good UX.
The truth was that a bot was programmed to target keywords, land on competitor websites, bounce, and create a false SERP bounce.
This insidious attack can be challenging to spot if you don’t monitor your keywords’ CTR. Log in to the Google Search Console, click Search traffic > Search analytics, then look at the CTR for all keywords. Contact Google if you see a significant spike in traffic for no apparent reason and ask them to disavow the links.