Negative SEO isn’t Google penalties. It’s not all the bad stuff you or a bad SEO can carelessly do to make Google hate you.
Negative SEO is much more sinister in nature. And you could be totally unaware that it’s happened to you. Not knowing and addressing it can cost you millions in lost traffic and revenues.
But the good news is that it’s not too difficult to spot and it can be fixed with these 10 SEO solutions.
1. Know What It Is
Negative SEO is an active sabotage by one of your competitors. It’s dirty, yes. But some people will go to any lengths to steal your top spots in searches.
With negative SEO, a competitor uses their knowledge of Google’s algorithm against you.
Google doesn’t like duplicate content. Bingo. They’ll create some for you.
Google penalizes link farm backlinks. Ah Ha. They’ll build you a bunch of spammy links.
And the list goes on.
If you’ve seen a sudden drop in your rankings, you need to be aware that a competitor may be ensuring your failure. You may never know who did it. But you’ll need SEO solutions to make it right.
2. Detect Negative SEO
You need tools in place to detect potential negative SEO activities. As we go through this list of 10 SEO solutions for negative SEO, it will become very clear the tools you need in your SEO solutions arsenal.
- Link monitoring
- Review/reputation monitoring
- Duplicate content monitoring
Without effective tools in place, it is humanly impossible to track the many ways that a person could sabotage your website. But with the right tools, you’ll know quickly. You can then apply SEO solutions before too much damage is done.
3. Undo Spammy Links
Every site that has any kind of traffic is going to have a spammy link or more. Google knows this. Sometimes a site that Google considers spammy links to you for a legitimate reason.
Google will, therefore, overlook it up to a certain point. The thing is, since no one knows the exact algorithm except Google, you must be on the lookout for these links and put SEO solutions in place to irradicate as many as you can.
A link farm is a network of interconnected websites. People create a massive number of websites just for the purpose of linking to each other and out to other websites.
By doing so, in theory, they send a bunch of link juice to a real website. Google uses the number of links linking to a site to help determine how high to rank that site.
While this was once a common link-building process, Google caught on to it. They began better identifying link farms. They penalized the sites that were using this technique to appear more important than they are.
SEO solutions that were once very accepted by everyone but Google became a brick around the ankle of many sites.
In 2012, Google released the Penguin update which detected these link farms more easily.
Sites that are inter-linking, spammy and have no regard for customer experience may be link farm websites. You’ve likely run across them accidentally browsing the web. It may have left you scratching your head. But that’s the point.
They aren’t for visitors. They’re for link juice.
If you have one of these link farms linking to your site, you could be penalized.
The SEO solutions you need to fix this include monitoring your link profile. If the number of links suddenly jumps, check them out. If these websites seem suspicious, you can disavow the links on both Google and Bing.
You can do this by visiting Google Search Console for Google and Bing Webmasters for Bing.
Once disavowed, they will no longer harm you.
3. Know Exact Match Isn’t a Good Thing
Wow, great! A bunch of people linked to a webpage using the keyword phrase you were targeting on that page. That’s a good thing, right?
No. Too many cases of linked text that exactly matches the keywords on your page looks suspicious to Google. It looks “over-optimized”.
While a few instances of this shouldn’t hurt you, be on the lookout for a large number of links that are an exact match.
You can see this easily in search console.
Among your SEO solutions, take a closer look at any page linking to you with an exact match. Does it look legit? If so, it may be okay. If there are many of these, it’s undoubtedly a Negative SEO attack.
Disavow the links with, at a minimum, Google and Bing.
4. Eliminate Duplicate Content
You know better than to put the same content on multiple sites. When Google sees this duplicate content, it will only index one page. Most of the time, this will be the page that was indexed first.
But your competitor is fast, they can scrape your latest blog and publish it on many different sites before your new blog can be indexed.
Google can’t tell who the original publisher was and your beautiful blog never sees the light of day. Sad Face.
There are actually tools on the market that will allow a competitor to monitor your site and instantly scrape your content.
These SEO solutions are multi-fold. First, whenever you add a new page to your website, request that it be indexed immediately. This way, you’re less likely to have scraped content appear in searches instead of your original content.
Google may not index it immediately. But at least you can show that you were in line for indexing first.
Use tools like Copyscape to identify duplicate content. When you find it,
- Contact the webmaster. Nicely ask them to remove it. If no response…
- Submit a copyright infringement report to Google.
5. Manage Your Reputation
What does reputation have to do with SEO?
Bad reviews may be the first thing that people see when they look up your website. Those reviews may not even be real. But they will hurt you.
There are many tools on the market that allow you to keep informed about new reviews and your star rating with different sites. Use them.
If you must, do it manually. But do it. Check your new reviews. Look at 1, 2 and 3-star reviews. Do they look legitimate? Does anything suggest that they were created at the same time or by one person on several accounts?
These are red flags.
If you see something suspicious, report it to the review site.
For Google My Business,
- Go to Google Maps.
- Search for your business by name
- Select your business
- On the left, scroll to Review summary.
- See average rating and click on the (number)
- Scroll down to the review. Flag it.
- Fill out the report form
Now those are actionable SEO solutions you can start applying right now.
6. Prevent Crawlers
Some crawlers are good. They search your site to figure out what it’s all about. Search engines use them all the time.
But your competitors can also use them against you. Your website may not be on its own server or it may have a server that can handle normal — but not excess — traffic.
The competitor can use a tool that utilizes 1000’s of bots to crawl around your site, mimicking real traffic. The result is slow load time and even a crashed website.
Again, there are multiple SEO solutions for this one.
First, notify Google and Bing about when your peak traffic normally is. You can do this, again, through their respective webmaster sites. When you do this, they will limit their crawls to low traffic times whenever possible.
Second, monitor your site’s speed throughout the day. If it suddenly slows down or crashes, you may be under attack. A savvy webmaster or SEO will be able to figure out where that traffic is coming from to block it.
7. Address That Bounce
Google looks for certain indicators to help it understand whether your website deserves a top spot.
They look at things like whether the site under you in searches gets clicked instead of you. Maybe that’s a better site, it reasons.
It looks at the percentage of times you appear in a search and don’t get clicked, as well as how quickly people leave your page after clicking or whether they click on another page on your site.
A competitor can use all of these micro-ranking factors to create a big mess for your website.
They can use bots once again to mimic human behavior, pulling you up again and again in searches:
- Without clicking on your site
- Clicking on the site under your site
- Clicking on your site and then leaving right after the page loads
Together, these send signals to Google that you’re not a good site.
You need some serious SEO solutions for this one. It’s not easy to spot or fix. Watch your bounce rate in Google Analytics. And keep an eye on click-through rates on organic listings in Search Console.
If the numbers change suddenly, monitor the activity and then report to Google with as much info as you can provide.
8. Watch Your Content
You may feel that the one thing a negative SEO attack can’t do is actually change your website. But think again!
Hackers paid by the competition can gain access to your website and make small changes that harm your site.
These are often so subtle that they get missed.
They could create spammy links back to a site that linked to you. This is called a reciprocal link. Google has confirmed that these cancel each other out in terms of the link juice you received from that website.
They could create a bunch of spammy outbound links on your page.
They could modify your H1 header or make all text H1. By doing this, search engines and people would have trouble telling what important on your web page. and
Invest in tools that check for irregularities like these. Look for a sudden jump in outbound links or modified H1 text. Undo the changes and up the security on your website.
9. Stop Redirects
As you are well aware, there are reasons to create re-directs. You might use link-shorteners. You may have a page that is no longer relevant. Redirects hurt customer experience.
But redirects can also be used against you. A competitor could hire someone to hack your site and redirect its traffic to themselves or somewhere else.
Check your re-direct rules periodically or use a tool to monitor them. If the number of re-directs suddenly increases or you see re-directs away from your site, someone is likely attacking your website.
Keep your ears and eyes open. Listen to customers who are reporting redirects and other website challenges to you.
Remove the redirects and up your security measures.
10. Know Who You’re Working with
An SEO company knows how to help you rank. They also know how to destroy you. As scary as the thought is, the person that sabotages you could not even be a competitor. It could be an unscrupulous SEO company.
Such a story appeared on Google Forums. After a company fired an SEO company, the SEO went into their accounts and unlisted their website by adding a “Disallow: /” rule.
This is one of the fastest and most devastating things a person could do to a website. It made their website disappear from search engine results completely.
Know who you’re working with. Only hire reputable companies. Also, make sure you’re tracking your ranking and traffic constantly. Even if you’re in between SEO companies, you need to know what’s going on with your website.
Comprehensive SEO Solutions Start Here
Earning and retaining your ranking is a top priority. You’ve taken important steps to SEO your website. But if you’re not vigilant, a competitor can use negative SEO to sabotage it.
We can help you develop comprehensive SEO solutions to both optimize your website and address negative SEO attacks quickly.
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