Should You Really Worry About Negative SEO?
Negative SEO refers to the practice of black hat SEO techniques to sabotage competitor website rankings in search engines.
Your competitors may do negative SEO on your website to harm your rankings. Therefore to maintain ranking in Google SERP it is very important to preventing negative SEO.
This guide will help you understand what is negative SEO and how to protect your website from negative SEO.
What is Negative SEO
Negative SEO is a high risk, low reward activity.
Negative SEO refers to black hat SEO that competitors can use to damage website rankings in search engines.
Nowadays there are link farms, private blog networks, thousands of bot scraping sites and all kinds of things that make links.
Unfortunately, your competitors may use these unethical techniques to reduce your site’s ranking.
Which Kind of Activities Comes Under Negative SEO
Negative SEO activities can be done on a website in many ways. Here is the most common negative SEO:
- Creating spammy backlinks on your website.
- Copying your content and redistributing it.
- Using link farms (creating thousands of backlinks using tools) and private blog networks.
- Spammer tries to removing the high quality backlinks to your website.
- Reducing your reputation by creating fake social profiles.
- Pointing your website link with unrelated keywords.
- Your competitor may give negative reviews with a 1-star rating.
- Hacking your website (can add wrong Robots.txt files to de-index your site).
How To Protect Your Website Against Negative SEO
1. Setup Google Search Console
Google always keeps you updated about the website and gives faster information if there is any issue on your website.
Google sends you email alerts if:
- Your pages are not indexed
- Your website is being attacked by malware
- You get a manual penalty from Google
- And many more
But first, you have to set up Google Search Console for your site. With Google Search Console tool, you can get Valuable Insights like Crawl errors, Ranking Keyword, impressions and more.
If you haven’t yet, connect your website to Google Webmaster Tools.
First, you need to create an account. After that, click on ‘Add Property‘.
Next, enter your domain name. Then click on the Continue button.
Now, you have to verify your website that you own it. This will give you 5 methods to verify ownership. But here I will verify with HTML tag.
Just copy the code and paste it into the <head> section of your site.
Now enable the email notification option so that you receive alerts for all types of issues.
2. Keep Eyes on Your Backlinks Profile
This is the most important action to avoid negative SEO. Spammers or your competitors create low-quality links for your website.
But the question is how to check backlinks.
Well, there are hundreds of different free and premium tools that allow you to check your backlink profile.
Ahrefs – This is a very popular tool that allows tracking your backlinks and keywords.
Serpstat – Comes with a powerful tool sets: Backlinks Analysis, Rank Tracking, Keyword Research, Competitor Analysis and Site Audit.
Moz’s Link Explorer – Gives a good overview of your link profile.
Openlinkprofiler – Just enter your domain, it will analyze links.
LinkResearchTools – This tool identifies toxic links from your backlink profile and allows to disavow links and manage your disavow file.
Monitor Backlinks – Checks good and bad backlinks of any website.
Backlink Watch – Analyze the backlink profile of any website.
Using Google Search Console Tool – Click on Link >> Top linking sites >> More. Here you will see such sites which are linked to your site and giving you backlinks.
You can use any of these tools from time to time. After getting low-quality / spammy backlinks, remove them.
3. Protect Your Best Backlinks
There are many website competitors who try to remove the best backlinks from your website.
Usually, they contact the website owner of the link using your name and request to remove your backlink.
To avoid it, you can do: When you communicate with webmasters, always use an email address from your domain, instead of using Gmail or Yahoo. Your email should look like this: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Check for Duplicate Content
Copying content is very easy for anyone and can be published on another website in a few minutes.
There are many spammers who copy content and distribute it across the Internet.
As such, if most of your content gets duplicated, there is a high probability that your website may be penalized and will lose ranking.
You can use Copyscape.com to check if your website has duplicate pages on the Internet. Copyscape is a free plagiarism checker tool that finds out who has copied your content.
5. Check Your Website Speed
Speed is one of the most important Google Ranking Factors. Faster loading gives better ranking and better user experience to visitors.
If your website loading speed suddenly slow, it may happen that someone is sending thousands of requests per second to your server. They do this to down your server.
6. Secure Your Website
Google gives more priority to Security. There are many spammers who install suspicious code in the site and redirect website traffic to malicious URLs or steal user data. It has negative SEO effect on your website.
Also, to de-index your site they can hack your website and add the wrong Robots.txt files.
If you are using WordPress there are some articles that can help you:
- How to Scan WordPress Site for Malware
- How to Disable PHP Execution in WordPress for Maximum Security
- 18 WordPress Security Tips
- 13 Best Security Plugins for WordPress
- All In One WP Security & Firewall Plugin Settings
7. Report to Fake Accounts on Social Media Using Your Website Name
If someone creates an account using your website name, report immediately. Because they can harm your brand reputation.
To find out who is using your brand name, you can use the Mention tool.
8. Don’t Victim to Negative SEO Due to Your Own Strategies
Keyword Stuffing – Filling your content with keywords is called keyword stuffing. This creates a bad experience for users.
In the old days, this technique was very effective and was used to achieve a high rank in search results. But now, Keyword stuffing has a negative effect on your website SEO.
Create rich content and place keywords appropriately. Keep keyword density 1.5% – 2% in your content. Also, use synonyms (different words with similar meanings).
Paid Links – Don’t buy links. Search engine (Google) does not like sites that buy and sell links. Google says,
Spam Comment – Means Automated comment. If anyone submits spam comments on your site, then delete them. If you are a WordPress user then Akismet Anti-Spam is the best plugin that automatically filters spam comments.
Article Spinning – It is a process of re-writing an article to create new copies. Negative effects of article spinning:
- It produces low-quality content and sometimes unreadable.
- Create a bad experience on readers.
- Make you unprofessional.
- This type of article does not hold a viewer’s attention very long.
Invisible Text & Link – Placing white text. These texts are not visible to visitors but the search engine crawler can easily view and index them. This is most commonly used by hackers to hide links.
Link Exchange – Link Exchange Works for a short time! But there are risks. If you add bad links and unrelated links, it is a signal of negative SEO.
Paid Traffic – These traffic increase your site’s bounce rate. People only visit your homepage and exit. Higher bounce rate is not good for the website.
Bonus Point: How to Prevent Negative SEO Attacks Against Website
What you can do if you notice that someone has started negative SEO activities (create low-quality links) against your website:
Create a List with Bad Backlinks
Here I will use three tools to find bad backlinks:
- Google Search Console Tool
- Moz Explorer
Using Google Search Console Tool
It is a manual and time consuming process.
Log in to Google Search Console, click on the Link >> Top linking sites >> More. You will see such sites which are linked to your site and giving you backlinks.
Then click on the Download button to download list.
Now you have to check it yourself whether it has any spam link or not. If you find spam, unrelated or unnatural links in this list, write in notepad.
Using Moz Explorer
Visit Moz Link Explorer site and sign up or sign in.
- Add the URL address of the site and click on the search icon.
- Now click on Spam Score in the left side.
Now, you will be able to see the list of spam backlinks. Free account will show few links. You must upgrade it to see all the links.
Now, click on Export CSV to download the result.
- Visit SEMrush Backlink Audit.
- Add the URL of your site. It will check your site backlink.
- Next click on “Audit”.
- It will show Toxic backlinks with Score (60-100 – domain is Toxic, 45-59 – domain is Potentially Toxic). Just select the toxic backlink.
Now navigate to Disavow tab and click on Export to TXT.
Your disavow file will start downloading.
Now we have a list of spammy backlinks, so let’s start to remove them…
Now Disavow Bad Links from Website
Go to the Google Disavow tool page and select your domain from the drop-down, then click on Disavow Links.
Next page, again click on the Disavow links.
Just upload your spam link’s text file and click on Submit button.
Now you will see a message “You successfully uploaded a disavow links file” like this.
After uploading the file, wait 1-2 weeks to see its effect, because Google will reindex and crawl those pages again.
Preventing negative SEO is very important for website growth. Here is a summary you can do to prevent negative SEO:
- Setup Google Search Console
- Keep Eyes on Your Backlinks Profile
- Protect Your Best Backlinks
- Check for Duplicate Content
- Check Your Website Speed
- Secure Your Website
- Report to Fake Accounts on Social Media Using Your Website Name
- Don’t Victim to Negative SEO Due to Your Own Strategies
What other methods are you using to prevent negative SEO against the website? Have you experienced such attacks? Let me know your opinion in the comment box!
Hope you found this post useful and comprehensive!