1) What is Negative SEO
Negative SEO, as the name suggests, is a form of search engine optimization strategy used by your competitors to cause varying levels of damages to your site’s online presence and your brand’s online reputation. The techniques are used for convincing search engines to penalize a particular website for using black hat SEO. The strategy is increasingly used to affect the search engine rankings of competitor sites.
2) Sign of Negative SEO
It is difficult to know if your site is a victim of negative SEO. Most of the time you will realize an attack only when you have already been penalized by Google. If you notice a significant slip in your SERPs or if there is a Google penalty, it is a sign that someone is working hard to lower your search engine rankings and online reputation.
If here is a sudden increase in the number of links of webpages (when you are not the one working on creating backlinks), it is again a sign of negative SEO. If you notice that your content starts showing up all over the web, it is again a sign that someone is duplicating your content to affect your SEO.
3) Does it really work?
Yes, negative SEO does work and thousands of websites have suffered from it. A simple search will bring you across tens of thousands of people who can do the job for you for a few dollars. A glance at the leading black hat forums will also show you stories of people who are regularly using these techniques effectively.
Even Google has acknowledged it and has offered the Disavow Tool as one of the strategies for helping webmasters address one issue associated with negative SEO – spammy backlinks.
4) How to protect yourself from negative SEO attack?
There are a number of strategies that can help you keep track of your online presence so that you will learn about a negative SEO attack before Google detects it.
- Set up Email Alerts through Google Webmaster – Google Webmaster has tools that alerts you when your site is under malware attack, when you pages don’t get indexed, or when there is manual penalty.
- Track Backlinks Profile – This is a crucial step to detect and prevent negative SEO. Spammers build poor quality and irrelevant backlinks and redirects to your pages. Keep a track over your backlinks profile will help take curative measures by knowing about it immediately.
- Protect your High-value Backlinks – Your competitors may approach website owners and ask to remove your best backlinks. Take special measures to ensure that those webmasters know your email well.
- Protect your site against Malware – Secure your website using a powerful security system to protecting against malware attacks.
- Regularly check for Content Duplication – Content duplication is the most commonly used negative SEO technique. Check your web content regularly using CopyScape.com.
- Monitor your Social Media Presence – Anyone can create a fake account on social sites using your business name. You will have to manually check for such accounts and report them as spam.
5) How to do backlink audit?
Perform regular backlink audit to detect any negative SEO efforts. Use the following strategies:
- Gather backlinks from different tools
- Analyze the data
- Categorize links
Especially look at links to your webpages that were created recently. Determine the poor quality/irrelevant links and get them removed. One strategy is to add tags to the poor links. Evaluate the manually and determine the ones which are affecting your search rankings.
A. Links we could keep
You should keep the following types of links:
- Thematic Links – These are relevant links, which are related to what your site offers. It can also include authoritative links from .gov and .edu sites.
- Same Geo-graphic location – These are links from the same geographic location where your target audience is located.
B. Links that need to be removed
You should however have the following types of links removed:
- Links coming from Same C class IPS
- Links from low quality website
- Links from off topic website
- Links from irrelevant geo-graphic
C. Data collection & send removal request to webmaster
Once you have identified the backlinks to be removed, contact the webmasters of those sites and ask them to remove your links. Whois.com is a valuable site in helping you find the email address of a site’s webmaster. If you don’t get any response from them or fail to get the link removed, you could also contact the site’s web host. Most web hosting service providers are ready to help remove such links.
D. Further divide the list according to the situation and take action
Use the Google Disavow Tool and create a list of all the links that you want removed. Add comments against the links and submit the file to Google. This is a powerful tool which is unmatched in its service. If you notice any signs of negative SEO, this tool will allow you to tell Google about the backlinks you have nothing to do with.
Adam is an experienced online marketer in the Calgary Web Design market, having serviced hundreds of clients. He likes to share his knowledge with his customers by regularly writing and posting new information online. He claims that with the growing mobile market, mobile marketing is one of the most powerful promotional medium.