Well, a lot has been spoken about SEO and its benefits. However, do you realize that the moment we speak about the successful optimization of a website, negative SEO comes into the scenario? Are we aware that as many benefits SEO can reap, the negative form of SEO has the ability to cause havoc to a website’s performance?
Negative SEO attacks can upset your website ranking even when you have done wonderful SEO on your content. While some of these attacks can be minimal with less to no effect on your website performance, there are some that can just destroy your hard-earned search engine rankings and online visibility.
Thus, we have dedicated this article to the negative aspects of SEO and how we can handle it.
What is Negative SEO?
Also known as the black hat SEO technique, negative SEO works just the opposite of SEO. While SEO builds up your website ranking, negative SEO is meant to harm your website’s performance in search engines. This technique is typically employed by your competitors to deliberately destroy your website and thus your business.
Negative SEO attacks may involve something as simple as bombarding your website with unwanted or questionable ads, or something more complex or high-tech. In any case, this technique is considered immoral and, in some cases, it is illegal too. It can be both off-page and on-page SEO techniques.
To combat the negative SEO tactics, we need to first understand the various types of this technique.
Types of Negative SEO
Spammy link building and link farming
Spammy link building has become the most common and ill-favored SEO practice to create spammy and low-quality backlinks. One single spammy link may not have a negative impact but if there is a group of low-quality links, it is surely going to hit your website performance. Such shady links when in bulk always cause harm to the website’s image rather than building it.
There are two ways spammy links can harm your website and both these approaches aim to get your website penalized.
- Volume – By targeting thousands of low-quality links to your website.
- Anchor text – Create links with the exact same anchor text as your website to show any unusual anchor text ratio.
Content scraping is the process of unauthorized copying of content from a high-ranking website to another. Often content scrapers use scraped content to penalize your site. They copy content from your site and repost it on other sites. This form of negative SEO attack can get you penalized by Google for detecting duplicate content.
Though Google uses strong algorithms to detect scraped content from the original one, there are high chances of your original content being marked as scraped content. In that case, your content will get penalized instead of the actual scraped content. That way the attacker benefits in both ways, by getting free content and bringing down your site rankings.
It is not that only negative forms of SEO attacks can be carried out on your website. It can also be done on other websites as well. In such a tactic, you may find that fake and negative reviews are posted about your business on other third-party sites. These reviews are intentionally written to tarnish your business reputation and are a strong black hat technique.
This means that you have to be careful of what your potential customer is reading, i.e., on social media and Google. Negative reviews can affect your local SEO to a huge extent and thus adversely affect your sales.
Hacking and malware attacks
Not always the signs of malware attacks or hacking are prominent to a website. Typically, you would receive some kind of alert on your website of any such attacks. However, sophisticated and expert hackers have their own way of attacking your website with negative SEO without you even noticing it.
Such attackers often target long-running and high-performing content. They make some changes to the content that are almost unnoticeable, yet can cause great harm to the content’s search engine rankings.
To achieve this, they can adopt certain methods like:
- Adding unnatural links
- Adding low-quality content
- Adding disturbing content
- Changing your HTML content
- Removing or replacing images
- Removing or replacing links
False URL parameters
URL parameters are responsible for indexing issues when not configured properly. There are possibilities where one page can get indexed multiple times with slight variations in the content. In cases when multiple parameters are used, it can cause various issues for SEO. This is where negative SEO attackers take advantage. They can use fake parameters to link your site and make Google follow these links.
DDoS or Distributed Denial-of-Service is a tactic used by negative SEO attackers to send large volumes of traffic to your website. This will cause your website server to crash and make your site inaccessible. The significant increase in load on your server causes the website to slow down to such an extent that it becomes unusable.
DDoS attacks aim to shut down your website completely by preventing legitimate requests and traffic to your website and overwhelming your server with unwanted traffic. Your users may find it difficult to operate your website, causing great harm to the user experience of your UI. Most importantly, such attacks make your website undiscoverable by Google Spiders.
This technique is for negative SEO attackers desperate to bring down your website. All the above techniques mentioned require some amount of time and expertise. However, heavy crawling can instantly cause adverse effects.
Such hackers may use automated tools to forcefully barge into your site and slow down your site with the heavy server load. This eventually can cause your site to crash down. It is a malicious and unsophisticated form of SEO attack and very easy to execute, but is very powerful and can disrupt your business in a few seconds.
Tips on How to Stay Safe or Recover From It
Google’s assurance to prevent negative SEO attacks may not be enough for your business when you want it to shine through the clouds. So, for organizations like yours where you would not like to take any chances with your business, here are some tips to follow.
Enable email alerts
You can enable your email notifications from Google Search Console. This will make Google send you email alerts in case there is a malware attack, pages are not indexed properly, your website gets a manual penalty from Google, and the site faces server connectivity issues.
Keep an eye on your backlinks
By performing backlink audits regularly, you will safeguard your website from the most common negative SEO attacks, i.e., spammy backlinks. You can detect any new suspicious links by monitoring your website’s backlink profile on a regular basis.
A credible link-building tool will help you to perform backlink audits. Once done, you can use the Disavow Tool to disassociate your website from other malicious or spammy links pointing to your site.
Block hackers and malware
You can secure your website and keep spammers and hackers away by following these simple and cost-effective ways:
- Use strong admin passwords.
- Install security plugins.
- Take regular backups of your data.
- Keep an updated website.
- Employ two-factor authentication whenever possible.
Keep an eye for content scrapers
This you can do with the help of tools that detect duplicate content. These tools find other copies of your content and show them to you. You can take the help of these tools from time to time to keep a look for duplicate pages and thus content scrapers.
Monitor your social media interactions
Certain social listing tools can help you receive alerts whenever your brand name is mentioned on social media platforms. This will help you to monitor all the comments a reviews you receive on social media and keep bad publicity away.
Check on your site speed regularly
Since site speed is a crucial ranking factor, you need to monitor your site speed at least once a week. This will assure you that whenever your website loading time is considerably high you are able to take prompt action before spammers crash your server.
In a nutshell, SEO is a coin with two sides. Negative SEO can be quite malicious and is capable of harming your entire site. Typically, competitors with negative intent can use it to destroy your business. However, there are certain ways you can prevent it. Thus, it can be said that you must opt for credible SEO services like that of Dignitas Digital to safeguard your business.
Dignitas engages with various SEO techniques to build your website and brand image. From initial website audit, keyword strategy development, on-page technical optimizations, and content marketing, to regular monthly reports and analysis, Dignitas provides all under one umbrella without the fear of negative SEO attacks.