Negative SEO

Identifying and defending your site from negative SEO

Dishonest competitors may use negative SEO to damage your website’s rankings

Most of us may never have heard of the term “negative SEO” before. Some call it the inverse of SEO, comprising of practices that sink a website’s search engine rankings.

Yes, it’s illegitimate. Some businesses want to prosper at the expense of their competitors. They want to bring down their rival’s rankings or remove them altogether by making them look disagreeable in the eyes of Google.

So tell us more about negative SEO, does it really work as expected?

Negative SEO comes about when some malicious party attempts to worsen a website’s rankings in the search engines. They can adopt several ways of going about it, the most regular sort being the link-based negative SEO.

negative seo

Google’s (Penguin) algorithm can penalize a site if it believes that the site was taking on manipulative link building. It will then either put a manual unnatural links penalty in effect or cause a spontaneous relegation.

Although Google in part denies the existence of negative SEO, there have been a few transcriptions and records of Google representatives where they speak of negative SEO. Key points are quoted below:

  • Google puts itself out to make sure that your rivals cannot harm your website by pointing bad links towards it.
  • Google’s algorithms are smart enough to decipher whether the links are built by the website owner or otherwise.
  • A cluster of bad links pointing to your site will not cause a lot of harm; however keep safe by disavowing ‘spammy’ links.
  • Report to Google if you feel that the negative SEO is coming into effect so that the experts can improve the algorithms.
  • Google has entertained many reported cases that turned out to be a non-issue and entirely unrelated to negative SEO.

When is it NOT negative SEO?

Sometimes negative SEO is suspected, but it so turns out that it is not. It even comes with a well-substantiated reasoning.

  • Unusual and peculiar links may not be bad links: Some websites link out to several other websites on the Internet. Feel free to disavow.
  • Links that are present on every page of a website may not be bad links either.
  • Link-building packages purchased in the past may look like negative SEO: Even if you have cleaned those links, they keep replicating from time to time.
  • Sometimes your own well-wishers may be thinking that by building you links, they’re helping you.
  • An SEO company hired in the past may be giving you bad links.
  • Being hacked is not synonymous to negative SEO. Install Google Alerts to keep a tab on chances of being hacked.

But then, what is it that could be labeled as negative SEO?
Yes it is possible that you are being attacked with bad links. Here are a few examples:

  • Links from unfamiliar and distant forums
  • A flood of links from a particular website is unnatural and could be negative SEO
  • Links coming from baloney blog posts
  • Plenty of keyword-affixed links from diverse sources
  • An invasion of links objectionable websites

How worrisome is negative SEO?

Not all that. In fact not all sites carry the sort of material that demands an attack from negative SEO. A link-based SEO strike is more likely to be targeted at sites that:

  • Are competitive in nature and deal with the movement of extraordinary amount of cash round the clock, e.g. casinos. People running negative SEOs on these sites have huge budgets set aside for doing just that.
  • Do their own manipulative link-building themselves since sometimes Google is unable to tell the self-made link-building and the actual attack apart. You should monitor your back-links at least once every month.

How can we know that our site is under the effect of negative SEO?

When you have started to lose rankings due to negative SEO, you can perform one of the following on your website:

  • Monitor your back-links

Since negative SEO is done off-site, it is imperative that back-links are continuously monitored. Bad links increase with the negative SEO-attack.

  • Monitor which keywords get you traffic

In case you get your rankings from unrelated keywords, your site temporarily starts to get ranked for those keywords, making it easier from spammers to execute negative SEO using the extraneous keywords.
What are the ethical issues related to negative SEO? Did Google make negative SEO?

Effort and time spend on sabotaging other people’s rankings is better if replaced by marketing your own site. Whether negative SEO is permissible or not is based on plenty of viewpoints, one which says that if regulations are followed, you may just be allowed to make use of negative SEO.

  • Drop the rankings of your rivals but do so with their permission
  • Do follow Google’s guiding principles
  • Abstain from harming website content
  • Do not damage the website or server

As for whether Google made this menace or not, critics argue that Google inadvertently created it with its Penguin updates. Penguin defines the good and bad links. Before Penguin, any and all links helped your website, even those unconnected to your industry. Now, those discrete links are very likely to hurt you!

How can we protect ourselves from being sabotaged by the negative SEO?

Monitor your back-links if you are in an aggressive position or if you have a record of being penalized for doing link clear out. However, under a sharp attack where fresh unnatural links are making way every day, we recommend a clean-up weekly or fortnightly.

If you want to know how, bond with these tried and tested site-building practice with the main aim of maintaining your search rankings.

  1. Unique & unusual content

Search engines adore unique content, so do write your own. Keywords must not be used more than once or twice in an article. Again, do not copy and mutilate the content here and there to make it seem original. This could blacklist your entire article. Google is efficient at catching tricks and will make sure it slaps you for it.

  1. Natural back-links

Google detests back-links that look like spam. Although back-links say how trustworthy and sound a website is, it is equally important that the back-links be natural. Add them manually and do not lead your clickable text (in the hyperlink) to the same webpage so as to make it look “natural” to Google.

Back-links coming from an analogous website imparts authority to your website. Just keep it of high-quality.

  1. Purchasing an old domain

Google’s recent update steer clears of harming website owners who procure aged domains. This implies that the site owners have bought an expired site with the benefit of back-links.

The domain-age assists in rankings. But above all, the expired domain has some very good and natural back-links pointing to them. So go ahead and get creative and build your site and product around it.

In addition, other ways to safeguard your enterprise and your website are:

  1. Link alerts
  2. Mention alerts – as to when your product is mentioned online
    4. Link management – reviewing back-link profile
  1. Disavow tool – add bad links to a disavow file
  2. Build persuasive brand power
    1. Create a superior website
    2. Keep your focus on user experience and not search rankings
    3. Put up unique content
    4. Release a digital medium, e.g. podcast
    5. Build interactive profiles
    6. Support conversions

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