Earning high search rankings is not easy, but perhaps much more difficult is to retain the ranks. Some competitors could implement some sinister plans to harm your website so that it hurts your search rankings. The approach known as negative SEO thrives on harming other sites instead of trying to earn better ranks for themselves. Negative SEO can affect your website performance in Google search rankings. Stay alert by knowing the signs of a negative SEO attack so that you can try to recover from it quickly. Although you might be following the best practices for SEO, yet your site might suffer from unnatural anchor text, spammy links and you might also experience scraped content from your website that all bear evidence of negative SEO attack.
Avoiding negative SEO attack might be difficult but accepting the reality, you must learn the ways of protecting your website as well as recovering from such attacks. The purpose of negative SEO is to mislead Google to make it understand that your site engages in black hat practices and violates the policies when you are not doing it. It is a way of misrepresenting your online credibility that amounts to defamation and can manifest in different ways.
You have to understand the various forms of negative SEO so that you can quickly identify it with the guidance of the experts of Vision Smash York SEO Company.
How Negative SEO Happens
- If you observe some unnatural activity on your website which could be due to hacking that blocks Google and modifies your robot.txt files or forcefully sends spammy links and content to your site, it means that you are a victim of negative SEO.
- When a massive quantity of poor-quality links keeps coming to your website, it is the handiwork of some competitor that can pull down search rankings. Unnatural anchor text unrelated to the page where it exists is part of negative SEO as also domain redirects that lead to illegal or banned sites with the purpose of damaging website credibility.
- If some people report your site to Google about its poor quality, it will make Google suspect your involvement in clandestine activities like unnatural link building or that your site is irrelevant.
- Implanting malware to hack websites is also a known negative SEO technique. When someone enters a malicious code into the HTML source code, and Google takes notice, your site faces the threat of delisting by Google.
Anyone or all of these incidents can be very harmful to SEO because your search rankings take a hit.
The Risks Of Negative SEO
It is not possible for Google to figure out whether you are genuinely a spammer or that someone is making you appear like a black hat practitioner. However, any negative signal that reaches Google can be detrimental to SEO. Keeping a close watch on the traffic and website’s links could help to detect negative SEO attacks early. Although more prominent websites are mostly victims of negative SEO attacks, smaller and new sites are not safe either.
However, Google has taken action to address the issue and solutions are now available through the Disavow tool and Google Webmaster tools. Intentional spamming to hurt other websites is the only objective of negative SEO and it can immensely harm your SEO prospects.
Signs That Your Website Is A Victim Of Negative SEO
Traffic and backlinks are the most prominent indicators to know if your site has been under negative SEO attack.
- Abrupt fall in search traffic – Despite following Google guidelines religiously, if you find a sudden and sharp decline to search traffic it could be due to negative SEO attack. Therefore, carefully monitoring the traffic that comes to your website is extremely important. You can use any of the tools like Google Webmaster tools, Google Analytics SEM rush, Searchmetrics, etc.
- Undertake a backlink audit – Since backlinks are the most vulnerable element that acts like gateways for negative SEO, you must pay careful attention to the quality of backlinks that you have. Since someone might forcefully send poor quality links to your website that quietly sits in your inventory without your knowledge, you must conduct a backlink audit periodically to weed out such harmful links. Use Google Webmaster tools or Ahrefs to detect if spammy links are infiltrating into your website and remove it immediately.
- Check for duplicate content – Use a tool like Copyscape to identify if someone has duplicated your content on some other website.
- Identify unnatural IPs – If your business operates within some specific country, you should not have foreign IPs linking to your website. Check for foreign IPs and whether multiple links arise from it.
Recovering From Negative SEO
Here are some ways of recovering from negative SEO.
Identifying bad links
Regular surveillance on the backlink inventory by using some tools like Cognitive SEO, URL Profiler and Backlinks Monitor helps to identify unnatural anchor text and backlinks that you must get rid of.
Disavow the bad links
To get rid of unwanted backlinks that you have identified make a list of links that you want to remove and submit it into the Disavow tool. The tool will attach a tag to the link that tells Google not to consider it when crawling the pages. You can either disavow a particular link/s or choose to deny the entire domain.
Contact the Webmasters
Although you must disavow links, your work is not complete until you can remove the link from your inventory. Contact the webmasters and request them to remove the links.
The data generated by the Google Webmaster tool or Ahrefs have to be organized for copying or pasting the data from each link source into the sheets that are relevant. Remove all duplicates from the sheet with the help of Remove Duplicates tab so that only one URL link remains.
To address the problem at the roots for preventing negative SEO attacks, set up email alerts on the Google Webmaster tool so that you know what others are telling about your website.