What is Negative SEO?

Ever since the release of the Penguin algorithm by Google in 2012, searches on the phrase negative SEO have increased markedly. Unfortunately, negative SEO is very much real, and affects the ranking of websites. This is why, even after the release of penguin, Google has gone on to release the disavow tools, and now allows webmasters to report negative attacks. Even with the amount of talent and the constant upgrades of Google algorithms, the risk of websites falling prey to negative SEO still remains. With that in mind, perhaps the first thing one learns about negative SEO is the types of attacks that one’s website can be hit with.

negative seo

  • Spammy backlinks: Spammy backlinks are one of the most common types of negative SEO attacks. This is when competitors pay malicious websites to link back to one’s domain. Another related type of negative SEO attack is the unnatural anchor text attack, using irrelevant keywords and over spamming one’s website.
  • Spam Report: The second type of negative SEO attack is the spam report, where individuals report one’s site to Google if they think the site uses irrelevant content. Websites get reported for such reasons as disclosing private information, attempting to get private information or failing to comply with Google’s guidelines. Another similar type of negative SEO attacks happens when one content is copied and distributed widely across various other websites.
  • Malware: Another type of negative SEO attack happens when one’s robot.txt file is modified or when malware is injected into their website. Technically, this is a hacking attempt rather than strictly an attack. The hacker then tries to inject spammy content into one’s website or block the website from being accessed by Google.
  • Reputation: Further, a fourth type of negative SEO attack targets one’s reputation, creating fake social profiles and posting fake negative reviews about them. Such negative online reviews and sentiments can potentially harm one’s ranking. Research shows that after reading negative comments, only 5 percent of consumers tend to convert.
  • Redirections: The fifth type of negative SEO attack happens through 301 redirect, where unrelated domains are redirected to one’s site. Most of the time, the redirected sites are banned, pornographic or gambling related sites.
  • Copying Content: Google considers duplicate content as a big NO. Another type of negative SEO attack can be websites copying your content and publishing it as their own on their websites.
  • Spam Bots: Sending thousands of fake bots to the website can considerably decrease the speed of the website and can also cause the server to crash leading into a decrease in your websites ranking.

How to Prevent Negative SEO?

To deal with the most common types of negative SEO, the following steps should be followed.

  • Remove Backlinks: First, choose one of the numerous backlink checking tools available to compile a list of the website’s backlinks. Filter out the irrelevant, over-optimized and spammy backlinks, then prepare a list of names and addresses of these webmasters. If their emails are not listed, there are online tools that can help in extraction. After finding their details, look for a letterhead from a law firm and draft a letter to the webmaster requesting removal. Instead of sending the typical generic emails, letterheads have been found to work much faster. Get permission from a law firm and with their logo, send an email requesting removal of these spammy backlinks. If the requests are ignored, do not lose hope. The last resort can be Google’s disavow tool, which allows webmasters to submit links to Google, requesting them not to be used when assessing one’s website.
  • Security Plugins: Increasing the security of your website will help you prevent spam bot attacks. You can also increase the security by adding powerful firewalls on the server.
  • Check duplicate content: Get into the habbit of regularily checking for duplicate content. Protect your content using tools like CopyScape.
  • Lookout for Social Media attacks: Search for mentions of your brand name on social media. If you find any, report them to get them removed.

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