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What Is Negative SEO and How Can You Protect Your Website From It?

Make no mistake, a negative SEO attack is most certainly done by an adversary or a competitor to destabilize your online marketing efforts by attacking your “home base” i.e. your website. Devious negative SEO tactics could be of many different types. The most common is sending spammy links to your website. You would suddenly see a spike in the number of backlinks to your site and on closer inspection, it will be revealed to be spam sites.

It is well known that Google’s search engine algorithm penalizes websites for stuffing their websites with too many or irrelevant links. So, it is likely that your website would be penalized and may get pushed down in the rankings. However, culprits of negative SEO attacks most often remain at bay as it is impossible to track down the source of the attacks.

However, there is no need to panic. Although, lower site rank may lead to lost revenue, you can always recover from a negative SEO attack. Moreover, if your website has high domain authority and quality backlinks, it is almost impossible to negatively impact its ranking through link spamming. But, you will definitely need to be vigilant and circumspect about the external links that you get.

Types of negative SEO attacks

1. An unscrupulous competitor may get in contact with authority websites from which your website has managed to get quality backlinks. This competitor may steal your identity and ask the site concerned to remove their links from your website. What is the motive? To hit you where it hurts; they will try to reduce your search engine ranking because their efforts to improve the rankings of their websites have failed.

2. They may make DDOS attacks and try to crash your server. They will send the server thousands of requests to process per second and unable to handle the huge load, the server may crash and so will your website. Make sure not to use a shared host. Also, see their defense apparatus before selecting a host.

3. Sometimes competitors will try to malign and vilify your reputation if you are very popular either on social media pages or on popular public forums. They will spread rumors and half-truths; all they need to do is activate the grapevine. The rest will happen on its own.

4. The other is, of course, the link spamming technique. Many unscrupulous businesses also use the services of link farms. These are a series of web pages created with sole purpose of linking to a target site. If Google spots multiple links from the same spammy site, your site would be penalized.

5. Sometimes, they also tend to copy and spread your content under different domains. This would be interpreted as an attempt to gain multiple rankings for the same website and Google will penalize your website for this perceived Black Hat technique.

How to protect yourself from the negative SEO menace?

1. Report the suspected links

Google and Microsoft’s Bing have both introduced software which allows you to report or disavow links of questionable origin and the search engines will eliminate these links while crawling your site.

2. Monitor your Google webmaster tools

Try to constantly check the incoming link section of your Google webmaster account and see the nature of links that are coming in. If you find unusually high activity, dubious nature of linked websites, suspicious domain names that link to different pages of your website in a random manner even if the links are irrelevant to the content of the page, you will have to immediately take action. Also monitor your robot.txt file and other important codes in your website.

3. Build a website based on robust SEO foundation

Try to get more referrals, social mentions, genuinely high quality backlinks, positive press releases and a strong internally linked network structure to ward off the evil negative SEO attacks. These will act as amulets and not let the thousands of spammy links affect your reputation or ranking. Continue to build a strong positive reputation and continue to identify and neutralize the spammy links at the same time.

Negative SEO may not affect you much if you take proper precautions. But, if you are not careful and have too many weaknesses in the basic structure and functioning of your website and content distribution, someone may identify the problems and exploit the gaps. Don’t allow that to happen. 

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