Over the past two years, the SEO industry went through a major transformation. Online marketers all around the world had to change their strategies. Nowadays, ranking high on Google for the top, competitive keywords is not as easy as it was three years ago. It’s now much harder to execute black hat SEO techniques than it used to be, and is much less likely to deliver results. Even Google have penalised themselves before for breaking their own rules.
From the culmination of new algorithm updates, “negative SEO” was born.
Hopefully this blog will help you to understand what negative SEO is and how you can protect your online business from it. For those that are serious about building their brand online and want to keep it safe, this will be worth a read.
What is Negative SEO?
This refers to the practice of implementing ‘black hat’ – unethical – techniques to ruin a competitor’s rankings in search engines. Negative SEO can be a number of different things:
- Hacking your website
- Building bad-quality, spammy links to your website
- Copying your content and spreading it throughout the internet
- Using keywords like Porn, Viagra, Sex Toys etc. in the links to point to your website
- Creating fake social profiles and ruining your reputation online
- Removing the best backlinks your website has
Prevent Negative SEO attacks preemptively
1. Set up Google Webmaster Tools Email Alerts
Webmaster Tools Email Alerts is a good tool as it can send you email notifications if you’re site is being attacked by malware; if Google hasn’t indexed your pages for whatever reason; if you’re having server connectivity problems or – last but not least – if your site has received a manual penalty.
2. Keep an eye on your Backlinks Profile
This is an important step to take to prevent spammers from ruining your site. It’s important to take a look at the links coming into your site at least once a week. If someone is creating links or redirects to your site, this is the only way of finding out – manual examination.
Tools like Ahrefs, MajesticSEO or Open Site Explorer are great if you want to be alerted when your website gains or loses important backlinks. MoniterBacklinks.com is also a fantastic tool as it sends you everything you need to know about your backlinks via email every morning.
3. Protect Your Best Backlinks
One common and effective tactic used by spammers is to remove your best backlinks. They do this by contacting the website owner of the link, and request that the link be removed. You can prevent this from happening with two methods:
- Always use an email address from your domain when contacting webmasters, instead of using one from say Gmail or Hotmail. If you do this, you will prove that you actually work for the website and that it’s not someone else. Generally speaking, such emails look like this: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Go back to step 2; keep track of your best backlinks!
4. Check the Web to see if anyone has duplicated your content
Another very common tactic used by spammers is to duplicate you content and propagate it throughout the internet. They simply copy your website content (e.g the first few paragraphs on your Home Page) and post it wherever they can. If Google sees that there are duplicates of the same content in multiple areas of the internet, chances are they’ll penalise your website and you’ll lose your much-cherished rankings.
Checking for duplicate content is easy and quick. Copyscape.com provides a free and easy-to-use tool to check if a certain body of text, or URL, has had it’s content copied, and will direct you to where it is.
Another method is to paste the body of text into Google. If it has been duplicated, Google will find it.
5. Monitor Your Social Media Mentions
A less-seen method used by spammers is to attack your social media presence. They’ll create fake accounts on Twitter, Facebook etc. using your company name and will directly sabotage relationships and create a bad reputation for your business.
Mention.net is a good tool to use as it notifies you whenever someone mentions your name on any social media.
6. Website speed suddenly slowed down?
If your website suddenly starts to suffer from a very high loading time, it might be because someone is sending thousands of requests to your server in a short space of time. To stop, you must act quickly as you could be in danger of having your server be put down.
Google has it’s own tool to check website load speeds, and is very simple to use. Another good tool to use is Pingdom.com.
7. Don’t Make Enemies Online!
There is absolutely no reason why you should create enemies online. Arguing with clients can end up being so detrimental as you never know who you’re dealing with and what they’re capable of. I believe spammers can be categorised into three reasons as to why they spam:
- For revenge
- To beat competitors in search engines
- For fun
We hope this will help you in your efforts to stop spammers from potentially ruining your site. You can read our blog about alternative Key Performance Indicators to help determine how well your website is doing in the vast ocean that is SEO.