The field of Search Engine Optimization has undergone a major transformation in the past few years. Search engine algorithms have become more sophisticated. Getting your website ranked satisfactorily has become more difficult now than it used to be. For example, finding centurylink packages online is a simple Google search away. However, the amount of effort put into getting it ranked on the results page is greater than before. It is also becoming harder and harder to implement black hat SEO techniques (not legitimate SEO). This is giving rise to a new type of SEO called “negative SEO” which is causing problems for websites and businesses everywhere.
What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO is the culmination of black hat and unethical techniques to lower or destroy a competitors search engine rankings. This can be done through a number of different forms, which include:
- Website hacking
- Thousands of spam links to websites
- Content duplication
- Creating fake social media accounts of a business
- Removing backlinks
- Adding links that are associated with inappropriate keywords like Viagra etc
Negative SEO is a very real threat faced by websites globally. You can easily find a freelancer to do negative SEO for you online. Fringe forums known for black hat techniques are full of people who have succeeded in destroying websites with negative SEO. As the old saying goes, prevention is better than the cure.
How to Combat Negative SEO against Your Website?
To combat negative SEO you first need to be aware that your website is being targeted. People attack websites because of three main reasons:
- To outrank competition
You can take several preventive measures at this stage that include tools to detect attacks by malware, connectivity problems and penalties from google. You need to be monitoring your backlinks profile to make sure some haven’t been removed or added without authorization. You will also need to protect your best back links as they are among the first targets of negative SEO. Another important measure is to secure your website against malware, viruses and hacking attacks. Consistently checking for content duplication is another preventive measure that cannot be understated. Monitor social media mentions because spammers have been known to create fake pages to target a website’s credibility and reputation. Watching your website speed is also important otherwise, massive requests to your server from spammers can cause it to crash. All these measures go a long way to identify if you are a target of negative SEO.
Once you have established that, you can combat it in the following ways:
1. Create a List of Backlinks that Need Removal
Create a list of all new back links, especially those that feel like spam or those you are not aware of. You will need to manually check these links and tag for removal those that are hurting your rankings.
2. Attempt to Remove Tagged Backlinks
After you have identified bad links, you should contact the webmaster of the websites that contain those links and ask them to remove them. In case you don’t get any response to that, you can always contact the company that is hosting that website and ask them to remove the spam links. Whois.com and WhoIsHostingThis.com are two very helpful tools in case you are having trouble locating the webmaster or hosting company.
3. Use Google Disavow Tool
This is primarily to be used when you have received a manual penalty from Google. Google Disavow Tool lets you create a disavow list for links that weren’t removed as per the first two steps. You can submit this list to Google Webmaster Tools and get those links disavowed or removed from your website.
Negative SEO is a real threat that you can combat with the right tools. Google Webmaster Tools is a good example that sends you email alerts for a number of activities so you can spot suspicious activity easily. You can monitor your back links with MonitorBacklinks.com, which also sends email alerts when new links are added or removed. Copyscape.com is a great tool for identifying if any of your content is being duplicated elsewhere. You can find similar tools as easily as searching for the latest Centurylink promotions online. It will also be helpful to research negative SEO, and learn how to safeguard your website against it.