After Google’s crackdown on spam and black hat, search industry went through a huge transformation. Marketers who relied heavily on a black hat, swiftly switched to other strategies to outrank the competition. However, Google continued to stringently punish marketers for their black hat methods.
Now, it’s hard to rank higher for competitive keywords in Google. It requires hard work, understanding of Google algorithms and use of tested White hat SEO methods. The entire process collectively consumes a lot of time and effort, thus, many marketers choose to go through unethical shortcuts. They run black hat campaigns to hurt their competitors ranking and traffic.
Negative SEO is one such black hat method that is used to sabotage a competitor’s ranking in search engines. The article is a quick guide to tell you everything about the negative SEO and many ways to tackle it.
What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO is a set of black hat practices that are used to attack competitor’s brand reputation. These unethical practices are put into the place to cripple competitor’s rankings in search engines.
Cons that deliberately practice Negative SEO can use the following activities to sabotage brand’s ranking and traffic:
- Buy hacking competitor’s website
- Producing bulk spammy backlinks pointing to competitors website
- Copying brand content and distributing it to the masses
- Creating fake social media profiles and running smearing campaigns
Negative SEO possesses clear and present danger. If experts are to be believed, it’s easier to prevent the attack than running pillar to post to fix it. There have been the case studies where brands successfully came out of the negative SEO influence.
How to Prevent Negative SEO Attack?
The article illustrates below effective steps to fix negative SEO attacks and bring back brand reputation.
1: Set up Google Alerts:
Google alerts are quite effective in tracking event occurrences related to your website. Once Google Alerts are set, you will get an instant notification:
- if your website meets a malware attack
- If website pages are not indexed
- If a website gets Google penalty
If you haven’t yet activated Google alerts, visit your Google Search Console account to do it right now.
2: Monitor Your Backlink Profile
Most of the negative SEO attacks happen on a website come in the form of backlinks. Therefore, watching your backlink profile closely may help you escape the threat at a larger extent. People performing negative SEO usually create hundreds and thousands of poisonous low quality backlinks pointing to your site. So, it’s important that you should be vigilant about those backlinks as soon they are built.
You may use various link monitoring tools to track if someone is creating redirects or links to your website. These tools alert you when your website gets new backlinks or loses a few.
3: Keep Your Website Safe from Hacking
Sometimes attackers hack websites and make changes to the important codes. They even inject malicious codes to force website function ambiguously. Such attempts are dreaded and have direct impact on ranking and traffic. To escape such attacks, it’s important to have your site protected with SSL and antivirus.
In addition, you can also do multiple things to secure your website. We recommend you to install an authenticator plugin on your WordPress website. As soon as you log in to your WP website, you will be asked to input a code generated by Google. Furthermore, create strong passwords and take regular backups of your website.
4: Go Through Duplicate Content:
Content plagiarism is another negative SEO method that spammers use to hurt your reputation. This is another most common negative SEO technique where spammers copy your entire website content and publish it randomly in multiple places. Such occurrences of duplicate content will invite the threat of Google Panda penalty. If your website comes under penalty, you may lose rankings.
To check if your website is in possession of duplicate, thin or spam content, you can use tools like Copyscape. When checked, the tool shows off if the whole content or its portion is already published somewhere else.
5: Keep Watching Your Social Media Mentions:
To abuse and manipulate your social media presence, spammers use to create fake accounts in your brand name on social media channels. Once created, they use these impersonating accounts to spread misleading messages to malign your brand image. If you manage to spot any such attempt, report them immediately to authorities and request them to remove the profile. You may use tools like ‘Mention’ to find if someone is using your brand name.
As soon as the tool detects that someone is impersonating you brand name to create fake profiles, it will send an alert notification so that you can decide the next course of action.
6: Monitor Your Website Speed:
Amused how website speed could be a signal to negative SEO attempt? Here is how. Spammers use bots to send hundreds and thousands of server requests per second. These frequent requests put high loads on the server, and if it goes untamed, it may crash your server. If your hosting server is getting an unusual number of requests, check if it’s normal or due to both attacks.
Use tools like ‘Wordfence’ to protect the website from the automated traffic request. The tool blocks any such traffic if the request exceeds a given limit, say 300 requests per minute.
Due to rampant increase in competition in the online world, the rate of negative SEO attacks is also growing at an alarming rate. Brands need to be more careful and active to track any such attack. All you need to do is to follow above steps to keep your brand reputation safe and intact.