Developing a working SEO strategy takes time. Ranking top search engines has become tougher with many online marketers embracing the new algorithms.
Gone are the days when one would use black hat SEO to much effect. Instead, a new type of SEO called negative SEO has come up.
This guide has everything you need to understand about negative SEO and how to protect your site from becoming a victim.
What is negative SEO?
Negative SEO is all about sabotaging a competitor’s search ranking. It is the opposite of search engine optimization such that instead of looking to rank highly, it drives the rankings lower.
Messing up the competitor’s SEO strategy is possible through various ways such as; hacking the website, altering the backlinks on the pages, building thousands of spammy backlinks to the website, and removing the best backlinks from the site. It can also involve creating fake social media and online profiles for running the reputation and pointing links to the website from banned or vulgar terms.
That is to say, negative SEO is the unethical means to bring down a well-ranking site based on Google rankings. If the competition feels they cannot match such results, they would rather bring down the site altogether.
Negative SEO remains a threat to your website. Already, various sites have had to deal with it from time to time. This has led to Google coming up with various ways to safeguard the search engines from the effects of negative SEO. Still, detecting and deflecting the negative SEO aimed at your site remains your sole responsibility.
Tips to detect negative SEO attack
Some of the signs that your site is under negative SEO attack include;
● A sudden decrease in traffic
A sudden decrease in normal traffic without you tweaking anything on the website or introducing a new technique can be due to negative SEO. Use the various analytics tools to understand behind the slowing traffic then look for a solution.
● An acute increase in the number of backlinks
An increase in backlinks is mostly a welcome addition for most sites. It in most cases can mean an article has gone viral or an outreach campaign has worked successfully. However, it is a negative SEO attack when the backlinks are of low quality. It can mean they are devised to devalue your website.
● Scraped content
You can detect that your content is scraped when it is copied and published on other sites. Even though in most cases Google can understand you are the source of the content, it becomes unsure when it is posted on an authority site.
Preventing negative SEO attacks
Given the impact negative SEO attacks have on your website, you need to protect your site at all times. Some of the ways to prevent negative SEO attacks include;
● Set email alerts from the Google Webmaster tool
Google can send you a notification when your website is attacked by malware, the pages are not indexed, when you have a server connectivity problem or when you get a manual penalty from Google. You only have to open the “Webmaster tool preference” then enable all notifications on any issue.
● Track your backlinks
Given most negative SEO attacks depend on low quality, stay updated on the status of your backlinks. Use the tools that notify you whenever your site gets a backlink then determine if it’s worthwhile. One of such tools to use is monitorbacklinks.com to manually check your backlinks. You should also work with the best agency for quality manual link building to help you understand the most crucial ones for your site.
● Protect your best backlinks
Negative SEO tactics can remove your quality backlinks which will lead to lower rankings. This happens when the competition contacts the website owner that links to your site requesting the backlink removal.
To avoid this from happening, contact the webmaster using an email bearing your domain. You can also use the Monitor Backlinks tool to observe if anyone muses, redirects, or removes your backlinks.
● Protect the website from malware
You have to secure your website from any form of attack or hacking. This prevents the possibility of someone spamming your website without you realizing it. Ensure proper security by using two-step authentication to access the website. You should also create strong passwords, crypt the code, and install an antivirus to protect from any malware.
● Check for copy scraping
Duplicate content is one of the most common techniques spammers use. When your content gets published on multiple sites, it becomes plagiarized hence affecting your search engine ranking. Use copyspace.com to establish if your content is duplicated in other sites.
Recovering from a negative SEO
As a new phenomenon, most site owners are unaware of the negative SEO. They are thus vulnerable to attacks. Still, that should mean the end of your SEO strategy. The first step to recovering is to establish if you have been attacked. Use tools like semrush.com or ahrefs.com for understanding any unnatural backlinks swings.
The next step is to disavow backlinks from illegitimate sources. You however must stay vigilant when using the Disavow tool. Any disavowed page can never be recovered hence you might need to consult an SEO professional before disavowing the page.
Lastly, create incredible content fast enough. Creating competitive and high-quality content makes your site trustworthy even in the face of competition.
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