Sep 05 2019

When it comes to SEO rankings, some people are willing to play dirty to outrank their competitors on Google. This includes relying on negative SEO to discredit the competition. Negative SEO is something that can affect any business and is detrimental to the search rankings and the business’s reputation.

In this article, we break it down for you and explain in simple terms what it is and what to do if you ever find yourself targeted by it. We will also share some signs to look for to how to protect yourself from this unethical practice.

What is negative SEO?

Negative SEO refers to the practice of using unethical or “black hat” techniques to optimise your website. It is no secret that Google penalises you for using these tactics in 2019. That is why some businesses are using this to discredit their competition. The main goal is to get Google to flag the target’s website as low quality and lower its trust score.

Good SEO takes time, patience and can be pricey and that is why negative SEO is becoming a cheaper alternative and more effective strategy to bring down a competitor’s website.

When it comes to improving your SEO, there are several tactics you can utilise to help boost your ranking. However, there is a fine line between ethical and unethical practices. To ruin your rankings, a competitor can turn to dirty black hat SEO practices to sabotage your website and ranking. This is known as negative SEO and comes in many shapes and sizes. Some examples of  these tactics include:

  • Hacking your website
  • Duplicating your content and distributing it throughout the internet
  • Backlinking your website using “bad” keywords as anchor text

By targeting you with black hat SEO tricks, your competitor can knock you off your ranking and consequently, take your spot. This can also result in you being penalised by Google if they identify these practices as ones from your website.

Once you are penalised, not only does this make it harder for you to rank, but it also makes it harder for you to gain Google’s trust in the future. With the development of Google over time, black hat SEO techniques are becoming harder to recover from. However, it is still possible.

Ways to identify negative SEO

Worried you might be the target of negative SEO? It is a good idea to know what to identify in case you are one day targeted so you can get on top of it and save your website before it is too late! Below are four signs that could indicate that you are a victim of negative SEO.

  1. A big sign that your website may be under attack is if you find it has been hacked. If you are unable to log in to your CMS or hosting dashboard, you should sort help and change your logins quickly. If your page has been hijacked and you find it contains other content than what it is supposed to have, grab the phone and call someone who can fix it fast!
  2. Social media and review platforms can also be used to discredit you with Google. A good reputation is key to spreading and boosting your business, so of course, negative reviews and tarnishing comments will not only drive customers away but will also lower your ratings. If you find a sudden mass of fake profiles and random users spreading negative reviews and comments, then it is a high possibility that this is a negative SEO attack. Websites out there exist whose sole purpose is to negatively review competitors.
  3. A common negative SEO tactic is to spam your website with low-quality backlinks. When we say low-quality, we mean links to dodgy and inappropriate websites such as gambling and R-rated content. If you detect such links, you will want to get on top of it, ASAP!
  4. Another giveaway is your organic search ranking. By monitoring how your website is ranking, you will be able to see whether you are a victim of negative SEO. Not only will you dramatically free fall in rankings, but you might find you have keywords that just suddenly drop off.

How to protect yourself

If you want to protect yourself or bounce back from negative SEO, here are a few things you can do.

Firstly, it is highly recommended that you consult with an SEO specialist who will be able to confirm if you have been attacked. At FX Web Studio, we have handled several clients who have been the victim of negative SEO and helped them get back on their feet and visible on page one.

Prevention is always going to be the most effective protection against negative SEO. By hiring a professional to monitor and take care of your website, you know your website is in safe hands. Here are five things you can do to prevent such a devastating SEO attack.

  1. To decrease your chances of a cyber-attack, upgrading your security is highly recommended. This way you can rest easy knowing your website is harder to access and you aren’t completely vulnerable. Ensure that your hosting provider has various security measures in place, some of the cheaper providers leave these features off so double check.
  2. A way you can make sure your links are up to scratch is by performing regular link audits. Not only will this allow you to spot any unusual links but can also help you disavow anything  that shouldn’t be there. You can do this by signing up to Google Console.
  3. To reduce any slandering online or through reviews, start by searching your company on such platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and review sites. Not only will this show you where you have been mentioned publicly, but it will also allow you to report inappropriate or fake comments. Report bad reviews where possible as it may be easier than you think to get these removed, especially if they are considered defamation or abusive.
  4. If you do find yourself in an online social media crisis that is getting out of hand, you can always set the record straight with a post from your verified account. This post could directly call out or caution fake reports going around as well as explaining situations or statements.
  5. The easiest method is to drown out the noise! By creating lots of great and relevant content, you will be able to outrank the bad.

Are you in need of protection against negative SEO? Do you suspect that you have been victim and need help recovering from bad SEO? Then you’ve come to the right place! With professional knowledge in SEO, we can help guide your website to page one of Google while combating any negative SEO on the way.

Give us a call on 1300 090 401 to book an appointment today!

 

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