Are you being targeted by Negative SEO?
Every time you see a new back link, it can be an indication of new spam or a tactic of Negative SEO that may be planted to spoil your search engine ranking. You may be thinking why should you care? As per common SEO practice, backlinks are supposed to be good for your website and so having a new one should only add on to your website ranking. However, all backlinks are not good. Many web owners are harming their website without even knowing that they have become victims of Negative SEO.
Unfortunately, Negative SEO has become a bigger challenge for many businesses with good online presence. In this guide, you will learn all about Negative SEO– what it is, checking if you are trapped, and how to deal with it.
Let’s get started:
A) What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO is the technique of using unethical or black hat SEO techniques, purposely to sabotage a competitor’s ranking from the top ranking position on SERP. Negative SEO attacks can take a number of different forms:
- Hacking your website
- Building hundreds or thousands of spammy links to your website
- Copying your content and distributing it all over the internet
- Creating fake social profiles and ruining your reputation online
- Removing the best backlinks your website has
Spam backlinks are basically those bad links that redirect your web page to something trashy or an irrelevant website with some random, ill-fitted anchor text.
To be clear: Not all spam is Negative SEO.
In fact, most spams don’t fall under the umbrella of Negative SEO. They are simply termed as ‘Bad Links’ and can be the result of over optimized anchor text, bot articles, websites, foreign or irrelevant sites, etc.
Image Credit: Prowly Magazine
But if your site is getting linked to a sketchy website or in other words you are getting redirected to wrong/illegal content, this is the first sign that you may be under a Negative SEO attack.
“Don’t underestimate Negative SEO! It can destroy your entire ranking chart!”
Undoubtedly, Negative SEO is a real threat that can cause spam, and there are numerous websites today who are dealing with this kind of stuff. But you can take small steps in preventing it first and then finding a solution that doesn’t cause any damage to your web property.
If you are still confused, go and check on Fiverr for “Negative SEO experts” you will find over 15,000 people are willing to do the work for as little as $5. Also, black hat forums are full of stories from people who have succeeded with this technique.
However, Google announced the solution to cope with “Negative SEO ” in form of ‘Disavow Tool’ in 2012 but not many people use it. You should be extra cautious when selecting the path that works best for you.
B) Checklist to Identify If You Are Trapped by Negative SEO
Knowing you’ve been hit by a Negative SEO campaign is crucial to follow an escape plan. To diagnose your website from the impact of Negative SEO , first you have to know whether or not you’ve been trapped. As it is more important than dealing with it, you have to do it more strategically.
What do you need?
- A browser with access to Google and Bing to find content.
- Access to your raw weblogs to review content and user signals.
- Google Analytics to review content and user signals.
- Google Search Console to review content, links and user signals.
- Bing Webmaster Tools to review content, links and user signals.
- A link analysis tool to look at internal and inbound link data.
- A crawling and technical tool to review content and user signals.
- A plagiarism tool to review content.
How Google and Bing Can Help You Identify A Negative SEO Hit?
To begin with check how both major search engines are treating your website. Follow these steps:
- Go to Google.com and type site:website name. It will return a list of pages from your domain.
From the results, you have to figure out below things:
- Are pages missing that you expected to see due to their value?
- Are pages being demoted?
- Are there pages you don’t recognize?
- Perform some branded queries.
- Raw Weblogs
You can access Internet protocols (IPs) of each page visited on your website. It is applicable for all web pages including those you may not have the Google Analytics tracking code on. By examining your log, you can
- Find IPs
- Identify Scrappers
- Identify response issues
You can resolve many issues if you have identified and study all above terms.
- Google Analytics
It is also important to analyze your Google Analytics account. So focus on:
- Bounce Rate: Have you noticed a significant up or down for any o your webpage bounce rate?
- Session Duration: Similar to bounce rate checkout if the sessions are becoming short?
- All Traffic Channels and Traffic Referrals: Is any source sending or receiving significantly more or less traffic as compared to the time when ranking was better.
- Search Console and Landing Page: Similar to Analytics, check on Google Console in which pages you are getting higher traffic, change in bounce and session duration.
- Site Speed: Has the load time been increasing? Is it specifically increasing on Chrome? For specific pages?
- Link Analysis Tool
Using your favorite link analysis tool, check the points below to determine if unethical access or Negative SEO has trapped you:
- Organic Keywords
- New Backlinks and Domains
- Lost Backlinks and Lost Domains
- Broken Backlinks
- Outgoing Linked Domain and Outgoing Broken Link
- Crawling and Technical SEO Tool
Now use your favourite crawling and technical SEO tool to determine if you’ve been trapped by unethical or Negative SEO:
- Site Speed
- Index Status
- Crawl Mapping
- On-page Technical Factor
The above steps will help you determine whether or not Negative SEO has caught you. In fact, you can find issues quickly and in detail. Once, you are sure you are a victim, you should move towards prevention techniques of Negative SEO.
Now you know you are trapped under Negative SEO activities by some unknown competitor, you have to be extra careful to deal and break the Negative SEO . And believe me trick lies in your question only. One of the easiest ways to protect yourself or your business from Negative SEO attacks is to work towards improving your online reputation continuously. Follow these steps:
- Create Strong Social Media Presence on All Major Channels: Even if you are not interested to do regular social media activity, register your social media accounts from your business name to prevent others from doing the exact same thing. Do postings at regular interval to connect with your industry people and if someone else tries to utilize your name, your audience can differentiate who is real.
- Encourage Online Reviews: People trust other people’s inputs about online products, services or even a website. Therefore, the more positive reviews you get for your business, lesser the chance of a possible attack. Even if you become victim of Negative SEO, you can justify or reclaim your position in front of your audience and maintain the trust of your customers.
- Create Powerful Content Marketing Strategy: Make your content marketing strategy really powerful and strong. Work on your backlink profile regularly so that whenever a negative hit reached to your website, you can catch and pause or remove it permanently before it starts harming you.
Be extra careful and when you spot a negative link at any step (mentioned above in checklist part), try to remove that link permanently or report this issue to Google Webmaster.
To make your online presence stronger and error-free, we recommend taking expert opinion. An expert marketing consultant can help you detection and prevent Negative SEO and will work towards making a strong online presence further.
So if you are getting too many spammy backlinks, be alert and talk to us to tackle this matter for you. Make sure you take action well in advance before causing irrevocable damage.
If you need more information, give us a shout, we will scrutinize your site against all Negative SEO tactics and find out the root cause if you yourself are not able to do it. Our thorough SEO Analysis report will help you get a good vigilance of your site SEO work.