Negative SEO – Methods to Save Your Website from Bad Competitors’ Practice
April 25, 2014 Sarvesh Bagla
Anything which is at a present state, will change its state with time. The rate and speed of change might be dynamic. Also it can go for a positive transformation, or a negative transformation one can’t predict, whether its going to transform for good or bad.
Since the inception of SEO, it has undergone a lot of transformation, wherein it mutates itself, or rather adapted to the technological environment in order to survive. But it is not merely surviving, its flourishing with time. As a result, many online marketers have dramatically changed their strategies.
Ranking high in Google for competitive keywords is not as easy as it was three years ago. But with advancement, things have a tendencies to grow from trial-and-error to Logical and systematic planning which comes from transformation.
White Hat filtering techniques have made sure that it is screened from time to time. Hence according to Klyntz Salazar, “Whenever SEO faces a problem it takes out the vaccine from the infected system itself and transforms it into an antidote for the SEO. To become immune.”
White hat techniques not only make things easier by helping users to get relevant and useful results instead of broken, spammy links which provided no help, but also by staying at a high rank in the search engines by using unethical techniques, hampering the business and ranking of genuine and dedicated websites.
Many businesses face troubles with the search engines by purchasing cheap links (Which have nothing, but many keywords stuffed together.) Or simply a broken link, for nowhere to go.)
We can deduce the reason why these Black-Hatters tend to con the consumers like this. Most companies want to believe they’re getting a great deal and saving money. In order to cut costs, many of the black-hatters use lies like their backlinks are “penguin proof” whereas in reality they are forced use poor and low-quality content in order to create their backlinks. Then they use those links to up sell their backlink services offer cheap prices. They also have slick advertising and sales pages where they show proof and talk about the great success of their techniques.
Achieving and holding one of the three top ranks in Google for competitive keywords is not as easy as it was a few years ago. Because black hat SEO is now harder and harder to execute, and less and less likely to deliver results, moreover it has officially been branded as non-ethical too, a new type of SEO has emerged called “negative SEO.”
There are some guidelines that will help you understand how you can protect your business from becoming a victim. If you are serious about taking your brand online and keeping it safe and obtaining higher reach, there are things that you should keep in mind. But first, let’s get acquainted with the term “Negative SEO”
What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO is a term used to denote the unethical practice of using black hat and other unethical techniques to vandalize someone’s rankings on search engines. There are many techniques and activities that can be categorized in the list of Negative SEO:
- Hacking one’s website to de-optimize/ vandalize them.
- Creating fake social profiles and ruining one’s reputation online by posting wrong/unethical/obscene/false information on public profiles, and at your homepage.
- Keyword stuffing and creating thousand of Broken or spammy back- links to one’s website which might result in ones website getting blacklisted (those links might have dodgy and suspicious anchor text)
- Copying one’s original content and posting it as a spam all over the internet.
- Removing your best backlinks and keywords your website has.
- Pointing clichéd spammy links to your website using keywords like poker online, Viagra, “make money just by sitting at home” et cetera.
Should I Be Concerned About Negative SEO/ Can It Affect Me?
Well, the fact is that there are very few cases of negative SEO that have been reported, as compared to Black Hat, but one should be aware and try to be cautious about it.
First and foremost, negative SEO isn’t very common and startups are generally not the targets. The risk increases with the extent of the expansion of your business. Practicing negative SEO is a big risk to take and can easily turn against the one attempting it, so most people wouldn’t risk it unless they were targeting a major competitor.
Second, Google has acknowledged and addressed this problem and has provided Disavow Links tool.
Check out Matt Cutts’s answer to negative SEO:
But herein lies the problem. It generally takes 2-4 weeks for the tool to recover your reputation. Can a company afford to have their website penalized for 1 month, especially if it is a large business? Definitely not! Moreover, Google has released the Disavow Tool to help webmasters deal with this problem, but the tool should be used with caution and only as a last resort.
Here are some hacks that can be helpful to cope up with Negative SEO’s
If you search for “negative SEO,” on Fiverr, you will be astonished to see that more than 15,000 people willing to do the work for only $5 per assignment. These henchmen would go to any extent and do whatever harm you want to inflict on one’s competitor’s website.
Also, black hat forums are full of stories from people who have succeeded with this technique.
It usually takes 2-4 weeks for the tool to work. Can you afford to have your website penalized for 1 month? No one can! I will show you how you can prevent these attacks and keep your business safe.
How to Prevent Negative SEO Attacks
1. Set up Google Webmaster Tools Email Alerts
Google can send you email alerts when:
- Your website is being attacked by malware
- Your pages are not indexed
- You have server connectivity problems
- You get a manual penalty from Google
If you haven’t already, connect your website to Google Webmaster Tools.
Log in to your account and click “Webmaster Tools Preferences.”
Enable email notifications and choose to receive alerts for all types of issues. Click “Save.”
2. Monitor Your Social Media Mentions
Sometimes, these vandals create fake profiles on social media platforms using your company’s or website’s name. Report them as spam before they start to liquefy your reputation.
To find out who is using your brand name, you can use tools like mention.com.
As soon as someone mentions your name on any social media or website, the website will inform you. Then you can decide the way you want to take it further.
3. Keep a Track of Your Backlinks
This is the most vital and effective way to take preventive measures from spammers. Often, they will use negative SEO against your website by building low quality or broken links or redirects. It is crucial to keep a track of your website and monitor them
There are tools like Ahrefs and Open Site Explorer, for a manual-check, to see if someone is building bad links. I suggest people to used MonitorBacklinks.com. It’s one of the handiest and user friendly tools that can send you quick alerts when your website gains or loses important backlinks. So instead of having to manually check your backlinks every morning, Monitor backlinks sends everything you need to know to your inbox.
4. Check for Plagiarized Content
The most common and frequent trick that spammers use, is content duplication. They copy one’s website content and post it at random places. If a large amount of one’s content is duplicated, there is a high probability that your website will be penalized and end up losing rankings.
You can keep a track of the content of your website by Copyscape.com. Just add your website, or the body of your blog you want to verify, and it will scan and match your content for the ones available on the internet, without your permission.
I hope by these tips you might be able to save and monitor websites and articles from getting vandalized. What are your thoughts, regarding this article? Please Leave a comment below to help us to give you the best information.
I have one case study on Negative SEO, which we had received.
One of our clients had been penalized after the Penguin update, due to Negative SEO. Because of the competition between our client and their rival company, the rival created spammy backlinks on anchor text to our client’s sites.
Within two months, client’s backlinks had risen upto 48000 and most of the links were built collectively from auto generated sites, low quality directories, bookmarking sites, spammy do-follow commenting etc.
There were some other factors which resulted in the penalty. We had found this while analyzing the website.
The website had indexed 1, 15,000 pages in Google and had been generating in various automated urls. When we filtered the numbers of URLs, approx 2000 pages were auto generated and created duplicate content in the website.
Now, we had a list of challenges that we needed to resolve:
- Content caching issue in Google, the website was using AJAX technology.
- Later we came to know, the website had various sub-domains which weren’t blocked in robots.txt. They were built for testing purposes and later, had become the cause of lots of duplicate pages.
- The most amazing thing was 90% of backlinks built on fewer most competitive Anchors text. Client had built excess amount of backlinks on few anchors text to rank in good position.
- Total backlinks 60,000, poor quality – 90% backlinks built on poor quality sites, upto 55K.
- One more thing that had been notified to us was that, maximum backlinks built against homepage and most competitive keywords (given above) had also targeted to homepage specifically. Maximum traffic that was pulled was just confined to the homepage.
The steps that we had taken to ensure the resolution.
- Content issues had been resolved.
- Client had removed content section which was built in AJAX.
- We had figured the duplicate sub-domains, and blocked in Robots.txt
- Anchor’s text distribution by removing few anchors text and had focused on promotion only at high relevant sites that have been mentioned in Google’s guidelines.
- We had identified the bad links and contact the bad domain’s webmasters and requested to remove the backlinks. After preparing the final list, we had a made our Disavow file and uploaded in Google GWT.
- We had tried to promote inner pages in a legitimate manner.
Few most vital keywords music ranked to
|Keywords||Before Penalty||After Penalty||Penalty Removal – (after 2 and a half months)|
|Songs online music||7||>100||15|
Thus we can see by the above example, how a website can almost be reduced to nothing, by negative SEO and the malicious intentions of the competitors. But with correct plan of action and implementation we can still recover it.