It’s quite a task to gain traffic and rankings for your website. But what if your nearest rivals make nefarious attempts to tank down rankings by using several notorious negative SEO tricks? Negative SEO isn’t a newly coined term. It’s been haunting marketers since the very inception of search engines and their optimization best practices. If you’re in SEO space, negative SEO is a topic that you should be aware of. This article is a quick walkthrough to let you know how Negative SEO attacks your website and how to stay safe against any such attempt.
What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO comprises a set of black hat SEO activities that your competitors launch against you to tarnish your online reputation and bring down your search rankings. These black hat activities may include creating tons of unnatural / spammy links indicating to your site, content scraping, hacking the site. Following are the list of Negative SEO activities you should take note of.
Types of Negative SEO?
1. Link Farms:
Technically, in link farms, websites are interconnected and linked with each other to increase the link popularity pages of each sites interconnected. PBNs or Private Blog Networks are an example of link farms. They are a network of sites created solely for creating tons of spammy links and typically owned by one individual or a team. Most of the domains in the blog network are expired. Which means by the time they include in a PBN they have accumulated some backlinks and authority.
To recall, Google’s Penguin update in 2012 was aimed at destroying PBNs. If Google finds backlinks coming from a link farm, it justly concludes that the website is involved in a link scheme. It eventually compels Google to impose a Google penalty against the website. That’s how the competitors use link farms to destroy your website’s credibility.
To recall, Google’s Penguin update in 2012 was aimed at destroying PBNs. If Google finds the backlinks coming from a link farm, it justly concludes that the website is involved in a link scheme. It eventually compels Google to impose a Google penalty against the website. That’s how the competitors use link farms to destroy your website’s credibility.
How to Stay Safe?
It’s not easy to prevent negative SEO attacks, but constant monitoring and spotting the attempt early enough is what you can really do. Have a constant eye on link profile growth to track both the number of links in your profile, and the number of referring domains.
2. Content Scraping:
Content scraping is another devastating negative SEO technique where attackers scrap your site's content and copy it to other websites multiple sites. The act eventually violates Google’s Panda guidelines. If Google spots the stolen version of the content it may de-rank your site.
When Google finds the instances of the duplicated content across the multiple websites, Google picks only the original version of the content to rank. To dodge Google, scrapers often automatically copy new content and report it right away. This is to ensure that scrapped content is getting indexed and ranked before the original.
How to Stay Safe:
There are a few great tools designed to help you stay safe from scrapers. Copyscape is one of them. All you need to do is enter the URL of your content to find out if there are any duplicates of it online.
3. Fake Reviews:
For local businesses where reviews matter a lot, competitors manage to bring fake and negative reviews for your local business. It’s equally disastrous for both your rankings and business.
How to stay safe?
To prevent negative and manipulated reviews from appearing on your list, keep an eye on your Google My Business listing. Look through the new reviews your company gets and check if they are violating Google’s review posting guidelines. Whenever you spot a fake or dubious review, flag it for removal.
4. Increased Crawling:
Your competitors may stoop even lower to drag you down. They may forcefully crawl your website to surge the server load abruptly. This may cause a website to slow down or in the worst case, may crash it altogether. If the situation continues and your site is down, search engines won’t be able to access your site. This could result in site de-indexing and eventually, ranking drop.
How to stay safe?
If you notice that your site is getting slower or on the verge of crashing for heavy server load, contact your hosting provider or server administrator. Ask them from where the load is coming from and request them to resolve the issue Asap.
5. Click Fraud:
It’s yet to establish that clicks are directly related to search ranking, though, there have been multiple signals indicating high click rate on a certain search result can boost its rankings; while a low CTR will get a site de-ranked.
So how do clicks could be used as negative SEO attack?
It’s simple. Attackers design a CTR bot to search for their main keywords and branded terms. The bots automatically click on the client's listing and quickly bounce back to the SERP. Excessive bounce rate leads to ranking drop in the SERP.
How to stay safe?
To stay safe, monitor your main keywords' CTR in Google Search Console on a regular basis. This is the place where you can find both your site's overall CTR across all keywords, and the click rates for individual keywords.