There are numerous ways in which hackers and black hat professionals attack websites. The sole motive behind any such negative SEO attack is to hurt your website ranking, affect your traffic and dent your online reputation. Fortunately, you can reduce the damage if you are prepared and alert against such attacks.
5 Negative SEO Methods and Ways to Combat Them:
1. Spammy Inbound Links:
Hackers may manipulate backlinks pointing to your website.
So, compare your existing links with the links that appears to be coming from a possible attack. Once the analysis is done, you will get the list of the links that’s probably the part of an attack.
If you notice massive influx of backlinks that’s beyond a natural link flow your website received in past, get a fact check. Your website is under negative SEO attack your inbound links matches the following patterns:
- A lot of links from low-quality blogs, scraper sites, bookmarking sites, wikis or directories
- A large number of new inbound links pop up at the same time
- A lot of your new links coming from the same IP address or countries
- New links using the same anchors over and over
Your competitors use spam software to create high number of links using the same anchors or pile up links from a single specific footprint.
It’s not easy to spot unusual backlink patterns. Try to find out if link influx is coming from adult and pharma anchor text phrases or unknown sources. These links may be the result of a negative SEO attack implemented by hackers or black hat SEOs using a spam tool, or possibly someone using a network of sites.
2. Comment Spam
Comment spam links are the most common negative SEO attack by spammers. It could be done both way, either manual or by using a spamming software. You may have noticed unusual influx of strange, irrelevant comments with anchor text on posts or pages. These comments are scheduled and triggered from automated software. To prevent comment spam, access server logs and isolate which IPs were used in the posting attempts. To stop these spam comment links from bothering you, you can turn off comments or add stronger CAPTCHAs and spam traps like Akismet.com.
The problem with Hotlinking is that it’s hard to notice until the maximum destruction has been done. This negative SEO trick directly impacts a website’s performance affect your site’s performance. In Hotlinking, attackers embed your images on their website by linking directly to them. Since it consumes your bandwidth, offenders easily discover your website traffic coming in via your analytics and data usage in your raw logs. The attackers then export the list of domain hosting your images.
4. Manipulated User Signals:
It’s ideally a hard nut to crack. You can’t easily distinguish between normal and manipulated user signals. Use your intellect to what’s purposely being done and what’s manipulated. Manipulated user signals can be seen in form of unrealistic spikes of spammy traffic on specific pages. If you find any such occurrence of such traffic, isolate, block and remove IPs the traffic is coming from.
5. Injected Content and Link:
Sometimes, attackers manage to inject content and link to attack your website. This is another kind of fatal negative SEO attack. If you notice changes in your existing site, access your server logs to determine which internet protocols (IPs) were used for the content or link injection. You should also capture IP information on the new URLs to find the attackers.
How to Combat Negative SEO?
I have listed these 5 common negative SEO attacks that could wreak havoc if they’re not addressed on time. Following are some curative and precautionary measures that can tighten up your website and prevent further attacks.
- Move to a dedicated host and choose a content delivery network for DDoS protection.
- Patch your host and content management system (CMS) with updated security.
- Upgrade your CMS to reduce the chance of duplicate content and injected.
- Ensure robots.txt is working.
- Turn off comments or keep the comments secured by CAPTCHA.
- Disable hotlinking of your images on your content delivery network (CDN) or WordPress.
- Run frequent malware checks.
There are multiple ways to unmask the people targeting you and your site with a negative SEO attack. These remedies depend on the type of attack your website is experiencing. The article covers some most notorious kind of negative SEO attacks and remedies to null and void the possible damage they can cause.