What is Negative SEO?
What is Negative SEO? This refers to the common practice of using black hat and unethical techniques solely to sabotage a competitor’s rankings in search engines. Also, negative SEO attacks can take many different forms. As a result, you’re basically building hundreds or thousands of spammy links to your competitor’s website. The use of this tactic can and will be penalized by Google’s ranking system. Through this method, you are going out of your way to destroy your competitor’s rankings in search engines. Some say it is not possible, however, we all remember the time where JC Penny was suspected of being scammed this way. It has even gained itself the nickname, “Google Bombing”.
Does Negative SEO Really Work?
Well, it is well known that a site will be penalized or can be suppressed by Google algorithms if they have engaged in negative SEO. Although, even Google knows that proper, effective negative SEO is extremely rare to come across. However, Google has admitted that negative SEO via linkbuilding is a very possible threat.
When Google released the Penguin update to their ranking algorithm in October 2012, they made it possible to detect negative SEO. This sparked an idea in a guy named Matt Cutts because he created a tool. Better known as the Disavow Tool, this allows the site owner to ask Google to not count links that they felt would cause harm to their site. Also, Cutts stated how the vast majority of sites would not have to use his tool as Google is extremely capable of figuring it out for themselves. However, when her released the statement”For the people who are in maybe super competitive poker, casino, whatever kind of niches and they’re worried about, ‘OK, what if someone is trying to do some ill will towards my site?’ we’ve just released a new tool called disavow links”, he was stating that it would be very useful to companies in high money, competitive niches.
Is Negative SEO A Real Threat?
Yes, 100%. Negative SEO is real, and there are numerous websites that have to deal with this problem. However, Preventing it is much easier than fixing it. So, now that you have answered the question “What is negative SEO?” and understand that it is a real threat, you are ready to learn how to prevent it from happening.
5 Warning Signs You Have Been Hit By A Negative SEO Attack
- Change of on-site appearance – By far the easiest warning sign, if you noticed a shift in overall design, content placement, or navigation bar settings, you might’ve been attacked.
- Unable to sign into your CMS and/or Web Hosting – If you are having trouble signing into your CMS dashboard or web hosting dashboard, then you might have been hacked. Trick negative SEO scammers will hack into either of those to damage you.
- Zero pages indexed in Google – If the number of pages you have on your website do not match the number of pages Google currently has indexed, then it could be a warning sign of a recent attack on your site.
- Spammy links throughout your backlinks profile – If your backlinks are filled with links to irrelevant sites like gambling or viagra websites, then you have a pretty decent sign that you have received an attack recently. It is very easy to detect if you monitor your backlinks frequently.
- Declining organic search visibility – A decline in organic search visibility is another detectable sign of a recent attack. It is a good idea to periodically monitor your search visibility to detect when the decline, or attack, has begun.
How To Prevent Negative SEO Attacks
Set up Email Alerts on Google Webmaster Tools
Google will send you alerts when:
- Your website is being attacked by malware
- Your pages are not indexed
- You have server connectivity problems
- You get a manual penalty from Google
If you havent already, go connect your website to Google Webmaster Tools. Once logged into your account, click “Webmaster Tools Preferences” an enable email notifications.
Track Your Backlinks Profile
This is the most important step to take to prevent spammers from succeeding. Also, they will often perform negative SEO attacks against your website simply by building low quality links or redirects. This is why it is important to know when someone is creating links or redirects to your website.
Using the tool Ahrefs from time to time to manually check if someone is building links to your website. However, one of the best tool available is from MonitorBacklinks.com. Also, it is one of the easiest tools that can send you email alerts when your website gains or loses important backlinks. So, instead of having to manually check your backlinks every morning, Monitor Backlinks will send you everything you need to know straight to your inbox.
Protect Your Best Backlinks
When asking “What is negative SEO?” you also must understand that often spammers will try to get your best backlinks removed. This is usually due to them contacting the website owner of the link, pretending to be you, and requesting the webmaster to remove your backlink. So, they slowly try to burn away your best backlinks through dirty tactics. To prevent this from happening, there are two things you can do:
- When communicating with your webmaster, make sure you always use your domains email address, rather than using Gmail or Yahoo. As a result, you will prove that you work for the website and will instill to your webmaster how they shouldn’t acknowledge and email regarding your website unless it comes from your domain. Your email should look like this: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Keep track of your best backlinks. So, you would want to use Monitor Backlinks again for this. They allow you to go to your list of backlinks and sort them by Page Rank or social activity.
Secure Your Website From Hackers And Malware
So, you’ve answered “What id negative SEO?” and understands the potential threat it possesses. Now you must understand how to secure your website. Security is extremely important. The absolute last thing you want is spam throughout your website without you even knowing it. Here are a few techniques to use:
- If you are using WordPress, install the plugin Google Authenticator. It allows you to set us a two step login process. Each time you log in, you also must submit the code it generates and sends you on your smart phone (this is only available if you use iOD or Android).
- Create extremely strong passwords with numbers and special characters that are not relevant to you or your website/business.
- Create backups of all your files and database on a regular basis.
Check For Duplicate Content
One of the most common things spammers do is duplicate content. They copy your website’s content so they can post it everywhere. There is a big possibility that you will be penalized and lose rankings if your content is duplicated everywhere. Through using the tool copyscape.com, you can check when your content is duplicated. So, you just add your website, or the content you want to verify, and it will show you all the places your content is being duplicated, without receiving your permission.