In this modern technological era, a road to successful business inevitably leads over the internet. Thus, it is of utter importance to make your brand visible online by creating a safe and high-quality website that will achieve favorable search engine rankings. While SEO techniques can help considerably in reaching this goal, there are those among your competitors who would do anything to create numerous obstacles on your way to the top. Here we come to negative SEO. What does the term refer to? Is it a serious threat or not? We can help you understand. Here is all you need to know about negative SEO.
What does negative SEO refer to?
Negative SEO refers to using an unethical group of activities for the purpose of sabotaging and lowering a competitor’s search engine rankings. It can take various forms to impede the functioning of your website, and finally harm your business. Concerning the importance of SEO for small business growth and for reputable corporations as well, exploring the ways to protect from negative SEO is compulsory. However, the real problem is that prevention from these techniques is beyond your control. Also, you cannot detect them until you take conscious steps to analyze your rankings and incoming traffic.
Types of negative SEO
Generally, there are two major distinctive groups of these black hat activities. Each of them can take different forms. Understandably, depending on the type, we use various methods to handle these attacks and provide security to both our website and our business.
Negative off-page SEO
This group includes those activities that affect your website, but yet don’t internally interfere with it. The problem with them is that they are very difficult to discover and almost impossible to prevent. The negative off-page SEO includes:
- Linking farms – This is the situation when spammers use a group of interconnected sites to build an immense number of links to your website. A Google update, the Penguin, recognizes these manipulative links so you might get penalized.
- Copying your content to other websites – In this case, when Google update the Panda recognizes content duplication, it may take punitive actions against your website. Most often, it will identify the source, but sometimes it can also mistake a stolen version for the original and that means trouble.
- Crawling – Crawling is when your competitors decide to crawl your website for the purpose of crashing it and causing serious server load. The first signs of this activity are slow loading time or even unavailability of your website.
- Fake reviews –Since reviews are very important in doing business, receiving a lot of negative ones can have harsh consequences not only for your website but for your whole business as well.
- Creating fake profiles on social networks under your name – The aim of this negative SEO is clear – spammers want to ruin your reputation online.
Negative on-page SEO
This group of activities aims at hacking into your website and making some changes with the data. Luckily, they are highly difficult to conduct and yet they are easy to fix with the assistance of an experienced professional team. The negative on-page SEO includes:
- Modifying the content on your website – Spammers can hack your website and make some changes in your content. Moreover, they do this in the best possible way to stay unnoticed until you finally decide to explore and check your site and then you find the problem. Spammers usually add links which cannot be seen until the moment you decide to analyze the code.
- Modifying your page to redirect to a spammer’s page – Most likely, hackers will use this method to attack websites with high reputation and link popularity. Their primary aim when doing this is to try and improve their own rankings. This type of negative SEO can cause serious damage to your website.
- Getting your website de-indexed –For this type of negative SEO all a hacker has to do is make some slight changes in robots.txt. Consequently, your SEO strategy will turn into a complete mess.
- Hacking the site – Once Google finds out your website has been hacked, they will want to protect their users. Hence, they will add the notification “this website may be hacked” to your search listings.
How to protect your website from negative SEO attacks?
In the spirit of the saying that every problem has its solution, we must admit that there are some conscious steps you can take to protect your reputation and the safety of your website. Here are a few successful strategies:
- Constant vigilance and revision of your SEO properties.
- Constantly keep track of backlinks published on your website. This way you will notice instantly if someone creates a link or redirects to your website. More importantly, you will be able to repair damage at short notice.
- Provide proper protection for your best backlinks, since they will be the main goal your online attackers will want to reach. Thus, when you communicate with webmasters, never use Gmail or Yahoo email address. Instead, use the address from your domain to prove your identity.
- If you use Word Press, the best you can do is install Google Authenticator Plugin to create a more complex, verification password in two steps. If not, a strong password is what you need by all means. Use a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters.
- Run regular checks for duplicate content. The smartest and yet the simplest choice is to use Copyscape.com. Enter the name of your website or a part of the content you want to verify and wait for results.
- Check the speed of your website on a regular basis – A very low loading speed is most often a sign of spammers who are messing up your server.
- Finally, make sure your SEO strategies are appropriate. Always strive to choose the best anchor text strategy for SEO. On the other hand, you shouldn’t publish guest posts of low quality on your website or sell links on your website if you don’t use the “nofollow” attribute. Also, buying links for SEO is out of the question.
Is negative SEO a serious threat?
The answer is, unfortunately, affirmative. However, Google is trying its best to protect the users and detect and penalize all those who practice negative SEO. What we can do is use strong security systems and always install updates. In the meantime, your business and improving its visibility online shouldn’t stop. Continue your development, explore the elements of a successful outreach strategy and keep your eyes peeled for malicious websites and hackers.