Negative SEO: How to Identify It & Protect Your Website

Competing businesses adopt different tactics to outperform others in their industry. Most companies stick to standard and acceptable strategies like SEO, clever marketing campaigns, engaging content, and more. But a few will adopt more hostile techniques. For instance, some businesses use their knowledge of SEO against their competitors instead of in their own favor. This strategy is known as negative SEO.

By its nature, negative SEO can be difficult to counter without professional help. But the first step toward improving your situation is determining the type of negative SEO that’s affecting you and taking steps to keep things from getting worse. Here is a brief overview of negative SEO to get you on the road to recovery.

Negative SEO is a form of SEO-based sabotage that a competitor might use against your website. If you suspect you’re a victim of negative SEO, click here to learn how to remedy the situation and keep things from getting worse in the future. #ITVibes… Click To Tweet

What is Negative SEO?

Negative SEO can take multiple forms. Sometimes poor rankings are the result of a mistake on your website’s part: poor loading times, non-optimized images, no attention to keywords, or other errors. But negative SEO usually refers to a malicious attack by an outside source. Desperate competitors might resort to any manner of tactics to bring your website down. Common examples could include:

  • Link farms: building links to spam websites with questionable anchor text to invite a ban from Google
  • Stealing and reposting content
  • Forced crawling and server overload
  • Hacking your website’s code
  • Redirecting your website URL to a malicious page
  • Adding a “disallow” rule to your web code, telling Google to ignore your website

Pro Tip: Before you assume your website is under attack by spammers or competitors, make sure your poor SEO results aren’t due to a mistake you’re making. It might be easier to solve than you think.

Prevent Negative SEO Attacks on Your Website

Unfortunately, there’s no exact method to prevent negative SEO attacks. There are no programs or website plugins to install to block people from adopting one or more of these methods against you. However, there are measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of you becoming a target and to reduce the damage if it does happen.

First of all, you can set up alerts through your website and Google to tell you if any links are leading to your website via questionable keywords. If you get an alert, all you have to do is find the page the link is directing to, remove it, disavow the link, and tighten your security so the hacker can’t repeat their attack. This allows you to respond quickly to any problems.

Second, if you identify a case of content theft or suspect one, confront the owner of the offending website and ask them to remove the content. If they refuse, report them to Google and escalate further if necessary. Don’t let them set a precedent of stealing from you.

Third, regularly run audits of your website to look for any suspicious activity, broken links, or altered code. Fix any identified problems as quickly as possible to get back to ranking on Google.

Finally, in addition to other commonsense measures, don’t go out of your way to make enemies online. Obviously, not every interaction you will have with someone else will be positive. However, it’s still important to keep your dealings with others professional and not give them any reason to retaliate.

How to Undo Negative SEO

If you’ve become the victim of a negative SEO attack, there are several things you should do right away:

  • Find and disavow any malevolent backlinks
  • Audit your website for altered code and fix anything you find
  • Contact websites that stole your content and tell them to take it down
  • Contact your hosting company for help with an overloaded server

Whatever tactic you choose to defend yourself, do it quickly! The longer negative SEO has to damage your website and rankings, the more damage will be done.

Don’t Let Competitors Undo Your Hard Work

You can’t always predict if a competitor will resort to negative SEO and sabotage to bring your website down. But don’t let their unscrupulous measures invalidate all the work you put into boosting your site. Use your own SEO skills and the help of SEO professionals to stop things from getting worse and prevent future attacks.

Connect with us to learn more about protecting your website.

Christina Belbas

Christina Belbas loves researching and writing on just about any topic, and has used her time in writing internships to hone her skills. With a Bachelor’s in creative writing and several published articles to her name, she has the experience to back up her education. She loves trying new recipes and petting cats in her spare time.