In this competitive world, ranking your website at the top of search results is a mighty feeling. The world of SEO is evolving every day, and the ease of ranking a keyword on top has also gone up. With the challenge of having your website on top, many marketers practice negative SEO to bring down other websites using malicious strategies.
But what is negative SEO? And do I protect my website from negative SEO?
We’ll take you through each phase of understanding negative SEO to understand and protect your website.
What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO is also known as “Black hat SEO.”
Negative SEO is the practice of using malicious, Black Hat, and unethical practices to bring down competitors’ rankings on search engine result pages (SERP). In earlier times, the most common example of negative SEO was hacking someone’s website. But with time, Black Hat SEO has become more silent and sophisticated.
The different types of negative SEO attacks that now take place include building spammy links pointing to your website, hacking and changing your website’s content resulting in a drop in important keyword ranking, and scraping and reposting your content.
Previously, spammy link building might not have resulted in difficulties. But after Google’s Penguin update, it is confirmed that Google will take strong note of websites building spammy links and even can penalize the website doing that.
With Google’s updated algorithms, they can detect spammy and low-quality links, but if you think you will be penalized for having unnatural links to your website, which is going against the Google quality guideline, you can disavow the links.
To disavow links, you have to make a list of links to disavow in a text file and upload it to Google.
But what are the different negative SEO tactics we should look for? Let’s talk about them now.
5 Negative SEO Tactics
It is ideal not to have any spammy links pointing to your website, but one or two spammy links usually won’t hurt your SEO rankings. Because one or two spammy links can’t hurt your website ranking much, negative SEO hackers create a group of interconnected sites to increase the link popularity by increasing the number of incoming links. The group of interconnected websites is known as link farms. A link farm website might look like a normal website, but most of the content will consist of hyperlinks, mostly irrelevant to the linked website. In some cases, link farm websites categorize links too.
The concept of link farms originated against Google’s PageRank algorithm. According to the PageRank algorithm, links are counted as a “vote”; the more of these votes you have to your website, the better.
To make a website look valuable, link farms were created to increase a website’s rank higher.
But recently, Google has updated its algorithms and considered link farms negative SEO. It is considered a “Black Hat SEO technique” because links from link farms are often unrelated to the content and anchor text. And the links are low-quality, developed by dubious services or programs.
Related Reads: What is a link farm- Ultimate Guide
Google’s Panda core update focuses heavily on plagiarism and duplicate content. The update enables Google to identify and penalize websites that simply copy content from other sites and post it as their own. This practice can be detrimental to your site’s reputation and ranking. Unfortunately, Black Hat marketers use this for their gain.
Scraping is one of the negative SEO methods where new content from a website is copied to many other websites to make it unusable. Since the content is copied to other websites, it is flagged as plagiarized or duplicated content. The tricky part is that if the original website is not indexed before the others, it is treated as a duplicate. Black hat marketers use this technique to get websites penalized and to bring down site rankings.
Since the copied content is very new, Google will rank the scraper’s website if it is indexed before yours. Also, your website may be penalized too.
You should understand that people are trying to bring your website down by any means possible. One such means is by posting fake reviews. Your competitor or any other Black Hat marketer might post fake or falsified reviews on your site or any other forum to ruin your reputation and bring down your site ranking and traffic. Such reviews, though seen in small numbers, can influence a significant majority of your customers.
Fake reviews can be of any kind. They can be derogatory comments about your product or service or even a fake post stating dissatisfaction regarding your company. Such reviews hit hard when it comes to users seeing such things.
This is one of the competitors’ most intensive and desperate Black Hat methods. While crawling a site is a good practice (crawling is the process of search engine bots visiting your website and crawling data), heavy crawling causes server crashes and an overall slowdown in a website. Black Hat marketers use this to crash your site forcefully.
Since site reputation is based on how smoothly it performs, such frequent crashes will adversely affect your ranking and reputation in the market. In the long run, it may cause your site to lose heavy ranking positions. To prevent such occurrences, always monitor your site to understand the source of the crash and to analyze the best step to prevent it from happening.
Hacking is a very well-known Black Hat technique that is used by the majority of dishonest site owners. It involves illegally entering a site and placing malware and other harmful applications that compromise the security and integrity of the website.
Hacking also involves the placement of low-quality content that can bring down a site’s ranking and name in the market. This involves duplicate content and irrelevant content. Such marketers replace links or redirect them as well.
Your site ranking is directly affected if your site has malware and unnecessary content. This will cause your users to avoid your site completely.
How to Protect from Negative SEO
While there are many types of negative SEO methods that are aimed at websites, such malpractices can be held at bay if you follow certain steps to protect your site:
- Always monitor and conduct site audits at regular intervals.
- Use HTTPS to secure your site better.
- Keep regular contact with your hosting company to get updates on your site’s health.
- Conduct regular link checks on your site to fix broken or hacked links.
- Use review and comment filters to remove fake reviews from your site.
- Use scraping prevention tools to keep your site safe from scrapers.
- Report fake reviews whenever possible.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Though many other methods Black Hat marketers use to bring down a site, the above-mentioned ones affect SEO directly. While you can prevent hacking and other software-related attacks by using firewalls and such, SEO-related attacks are difficult to detect and prove. The best way to prevent such attacks is to conduct regular site audits and maintain your ranking in the market.
Unscrupulous marketers are found everywhere, and you have the right to use fair methods to improve your site ranking and reputation.
Ethical methods provide steady and long-standing results compared to black and grey hat techniques.
In case you wish to get started on ethical link building, LinkDoctor can help you do so.