People sometimes use shady tactics to bring down a rival website by plunging its rankings. This can be achieved by a negative SEO attack.
There are many ways in which this attack is carried out. The ultimate result caused by this is that your website rankings go down. Or Google, as a search engine, scraps your website from the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
This, in the end, decreases the traffic to your website, making you suffer losses.
That’s why we decide to come out with a basic tutorial about negative SEO and tell you how to avoid negative SEO effectively.
1. What Is Negative SEO
Negative SEO is a series of practices to lower the ranking of your website in the search engine results done most probably by your competitors or someone that want you seeing financial or branding loses.
In most cases, negative SEO is achieved by creating bad links. But there are also many other techniques that may cause the downwards of your website ranking.
Negative SEO Attacks
- Hacking your website.
- Remove quality backlinks from your website.
- Point low quality links to your site with keywords, such as adult, poker and Viagra.
- Steal, copy and deliver your online content all around the Internet.
- Build the massive spam links to your website.
- Creating fake reviews about your business
If you search the Internet, you can find there are many bad guys who are willing to do a negative SEO attack for you in return for money. In these scenarios, the prevention is better than cure.
Instead of waiting for an attack to happen, it is better to already have a defense in place. This can drastically minimize any losses you might suffer in case your website has suffered a negative SEO attack.
2. How to Avoid Negative SEO
Here are some tactics that can help you avoid negative SEO and maintain a high ranking for your website.
2.1 Track the Backlinks
When it comes to the backlink profile, it allows you to monitor all the links that are created for directing to your website. If it shows an unnatural spike in the number of links then, it means that your website is being attacked.
But just to be safe, you must do a detailed analysis because this does not always mean that negative SEO is being done. Some of the tools that can help you track the links are NeilPatel.com (Free) Google Search Console (Free), SemRush (review and tutorial here), AHREFs, and Majestic SEO.
2.2 Protect Your Backlinks
Sometimes, a negative SEO attack can happen in the form of the removal of good links. A spammer can request to remove the link using your identity. To avoid this, you can use an email address created with your domain instead of the conventional Gmail or Yahoo.
In the example below, you see how such a request looks like:
You should keep a track of your backlinks using a tool called Monitor Backlinks. If you notice many lost links in a short period of time it may mean that somebody is actively contacting the websites linking to you and asking for removal.
2.3 Use Google Analytics to Search for Irrelevant Keywords
Run Google Analytics on your website and take note of the keywords that lead your visitors there. If you see any keywords that should not be there, then you must investigate this and find out how they have got there.
Check in the example below how someone did a negative SEO attack to our website, particularly focusing on this page by creating a bunch of low-quality backlinks with adult-related anchor texts:
2.4 Avoid Content Scrapping
Sometimes just writing intriguing content is not enough to gain viewership. You also have to check whether there is someone out there duplicating your content on another website. For this, there are many tools available online like copyscape.com.
2.5 Get a List of Referring Sites and Identify the New Ones
You need to get a list of the sites referring to your website one month ago and another list of these sites two months old. Compare the lists and see which of these sites on the one-month-old list are not found on the two-month-old one. These are the new referring sites. Look for anything that might seem odd about them.
2.6 Keep a Watch on the Site Loading Time
Negative SEO can also be done by a spider crawling your site and storing the contents in a database for so many times. This can increase the site loading time.
If you are experiencing a more than average site loading time, then you need to access your servers’ log and find out which program has been using the resources the most. You can then block that program. Also using services as CloudFlare will help to keep scrapping bots out of your website.
2.7 Have Someone Check Your Website
Find some volunteers and ask them to go through your website online. Ask them to search for your site on a search engine and see how easily they find the site or posts using the right keywords. Tell them to look for any delays in loading, the way it is viewed or how easy it is to browse through. Ask for their feedback. This can help you know whether your website is working properly.
2.8 Set Up Google Alerts to Track any Fake Reviews
Another way to do negative SEO is by posting fake negative reviews on your website. These reviews may discourage people from visiting your website and hence destroy the ranking. Some of these reviews might be genuine.
Note that if you suspect them to be fake, then run them on Google search and see if the same reviews are posted on any other websites. Another way to track such reviews is to set up Google Alerts with your website’s name as a keyword.
2.8 Use Google Search Console to Set up Email Alerts
With Google Search Console, you can set up alerts to be received by email if something wrong is happening on your website. For example, you can know whether there is malware attacking your site or whether there are some pages of your site that are not indexed.
2.9 Protect your Website from Malware Attacks and Hackers
Make sure that your website is safe and secure from hackers. You can install WordPress security plugins like Defender or WordFence to protect your website. We have created a special security page that contains a series of tips about website protection.
Negative SEO attacks are a real threat, they’re just not a common one. And even though you can disavow links or report them to Google, it might take some time before Google can conclude that you are innocent and not the one who’s behind the Black Hat practices.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Now that you know what is negative SEO, set aside some time every now and then to check for negative SEO, and if need be, resolve it using whichever technique is most appropriate. It is also a good idea to just be nice to others and avoid giving anyone any reason to attack you in the first place. After all, being nice is free.