Have you ever heard about negative SEO? Negative SEO is the worst nightmare for your site. So, how to avoid negative SEO attacks?
I’m not an SEO expert but I like to learn more about SEO and sharing with you my experience which I got from various resources. SEO is stuff that is really hard to understand – and it’ll be so overwhelming as a new blogger. I have a basic SEO guide for you and more SEO stuff on my blog.
Black Hat SEO
So, I discovered black hat SEO months ago prior to learning SEO in depth.
What is black hat SEO? It is a shortcut (practices) that go against search engine rulebooks to improve your rankings in search engines. In other words, if you practice black hat SEO, that means you attempt to cheat the systems and gain more visibility through bad practices. Black hat techniques can hurt your long-term SEO more than you think.
If you ever heard of white SEO, this technique follows the search engine rulebook to boost rankings. However, some people choose to use black hat SEO over white hat SEO, simply because they want to improve their search visibility faster.
Google tries to reduce the effectiveness of black hat SEO and it makes the use of black hat SEO decreasing in popularity. However, at the same time, using negative SEO tactics to attack other sites is increasing.
You may be confused what the difference is between black hat SEO and negative SEO?
Well both of them are definitely bad for your site. Black hat SEO is tactics that YOU perform, while negative SEO is tactics that SOMEONE performs to harm your rankings and organic traffic (let’s say that your competitor wants to ruin your site!).
Shortly, a negative SEO happens when your competitors actively try to get you penalized by doing SEO for your website (making it look like you’re doing black hat SEO).
When it comes to defining negative SEO, there are so many different tactics employed by black hat scammers.
As I understand, the first thing you’re going to notice is that you’re starting to get a bunch of spammy new sites linking to you (without you asking them to do so) or a sudden drop in rankings – can also be an indicator.
However, if you understand the basics of white hat SEO, then you should be able to figure out how people can use these strategies to attack others.
5 negative SEO attack you need to avoid
One of the most common negative SEO attacks is a bunch of low-quality, spammy links that lead to your website. This is also a clear example of black hat professionals using Google’s guidelines to intentionally harm other websites.
You log into your backlink tracker and see that you just got a bunch of links from spammy websites. These websites are usually part of a link farm created solely for the purpose of selling backlinks. The intent behind this type of attack is to get you penalized by Google.
From the Google search crawler’s perspective, it looks like your website is trying to develop a link-building campaign by doing it very poorly. The spammers make the links seem poor and unnatural, so your website will get flagged for penalties and drop your rankings.
A negative SEO is a severe threat to your website and can decimate years of search efforts within a few days. That could be your worst nightmare if this happens.
The Solution? Perform Link Audit Regularly and Disavow Files
It’s best to catch negative backlinks before it spreads and destroys your website. Without proper audit or monitoring, it might take weeks before you realize the drop in traffic and rankings was caused by suspicious backlinks harming your SEO. The longer these spammers have to build their campaigns, the more damage they can do to your pages.
You must keep an eye out for this type of attack. I use a Semrush backlink audit to analyze my backlink profile. It allows you to review the backlinks pointing to your site so you can see if they have a low authority and are likely to be a spammy site.
This report is really helpful to monitor your backlink profile. If you do find those spammy backlinks, submit a disavow file listing the attacking domains. It means you tell Google to ignore those links that come from bad domains, so they won’t affect your rankings.
This is not gonna solve the problem because you’re gonna do it over and over (not a one-time fix). So you need to perform a link audit regularly.
Prevention is key when it comes to someone trying to point bad links to your site, so you need to keep an eye on your backlink profile and disavow spammy links as they keep appearing continuously.
Hacked and Malware Attacks
This is something that I am afraid the most.
When you think about someone breaking into your website, what images come to mind? That person will gain full access to your website to change your on-page SEO or worse – shut it down. Your competitors may gain access to your website via a security breach or a disgruntled employee.
Once they are in – everything that you do in terms of SEO – they will undo everything to make it look like you were using black hat tactics! If their goal is to implement negative SEO, then you wouldn’t even notice if their target is your old blog posts (posts that are rarely accessed). That’s good to update your old blog posts to keep them fresh!
The Solution? Regular Blog Audits and Admin Monitoring
Have a regular schedule to audit the performance of your website – I do it weekly. When having this on your blogging schedule, it’s possible to keep track of noticeable changes on your site.
Semrush’s SEO Audit helps you keep an eye on your site. It reviews technical issues and offers easy steps you can take to correct them to get back on track. This is not really a difficult task because those issues can be fixed faster, sometimes it only needs little edit then you will be good.
Fake Negative Reviews
While hacking your website requires some level of technical expertise, there are negative SEO attacks that just anyone can anyone do. These tactics don’t just target your website; they also go after other pages on the web.
One of those attacks is posting a fake negative review about your product or service on different websites or social media. If you’re a business owner, you may notice a flood of bad reviews from Google or other accounts. This attack not only used to discredit your business but also can have a direct impact on your local SEO and sales.
Because of these low ratings, I have seen some businesses lose their sales whenever they lose a star in online reviews. What makes it worse is when paired with a drop in organic traffic because of lower SEO.
The Solution? Check the Reviews and Flag Fake Reviews
The first step is you need to know whether negative SEO is to blame for your sudden drop in ratings by checking the reviews. Business owners should be able to check what other reviews they leave.
If you see series one or two-word reviews, like “bad” or “hate”, that is likely a sign of a negative SEO attack. These reviews also typically have one star and don’t leave reviews for other companies (I used to buy a lot of products from online stores so I’ve seen many of fake reviews).
Another solution is that you can flag fake reviews. Well, it’s not that business owners should remove bad reviews – instead they need to respond to the valid negative reviews politely. However, there’s no point in being polite to fake reviewers. When you flag the fake reviews, Google can identify spammers and stop them from damaging you or other brands.
Duplicate Content Across the Web
I’m sure it takes hours or even days to write quality SEO content for your site. After that, you have to promote your content many times so the world knows your blog does exist. What if you find out content scrapers take your content and publish it as their own? Who will be the one getting punished by Google?
Negative SEO attacks take advantage of Google who hates bad links and causes you to get penalized through the Penguin updates and Panda updates. It’s possible that your website will be punished instead of the spammers.
This type of negative SEO attack can be SO disheartening for content creators who see their work immediately discredited and used against them.
The Solution? Google’s Copyright Infringement Report
The first thing you need to do when discovering duplicate content is to reach out to the webmaster. Informing them about the stolen content could prevent that website from getting penalized for duplicate content.
If you find that content was stolen maliciously, and the webmaster refuses to believe your content is the original, then turn to Google’s Online Copyright Infringement form. You can report scraped content to make sure Google acknowledges you as the true publisher.
Asking Sites To Remove Links on Your Behalf
Sometimes competitors can send emails to websites that link to you asking them to take down said links – they can pose as you. You can detect this only if you notice your backlink profile shrinking and a lot of websites removing links to you.
The Solution? Inform the Websites to ignore those emails
It is a good idea to reach out to websites that you have built relationships with and ask them to ignore any emails coming from email addresses other than yours.
Monitor, Monitor, and Monitor
Negative SEO attacks are a serious threat and will continue to happen as more people use black hat tactics to attack others instead of using white hat SEO to promote themselves.
While there is no absolute way to protect your website from negative SEO attacks, you can monitor and regularly audit your website so you will be able to immediately stop an attack when it begins.
By using the right tools, you can quickly prevent the damage caused by negative SEO attacks without seeing a major drop in traffic, sales, and audience engagement.
PIN FOR LATER