Imagine opening Google Analytics report one day and you see a big drop in visits. You research for algorithm updates – none of them have happened recently, you have not done any link schemes and you know your code is perfect. What might be the case of this? No, you would not call for Sherlock Holmes, but you might want to think about what your competitors are doing because you may have actually been hit by negative SEO.
Here we are going to explain what it is, what types there are, and how to protect your website from its bad impacts.
What is negative SEO?
In the online world, negative SEO is what everybody often whispers about. You know it happens, but you are not sure who does it. This is certainly not an open question, just like black-hat techniques. In fact, some even consider it a kind of black-hat SEO due to the fact that it has got a lot to do with banned actions and procedures.
As opposed to ‘positive SEO’ on the one side, negative SEO, on the other, emerged as a tactic which helps to destroy the positions of competition’s websites by ruining their rankings and backlink profile. For example, if you notice a huge leap in the visits, the first thing you should check is your backlink profile. Sites can have thousands of bad links, which Google considers as spam and gives them penalty due to their nature.
Types of negative SEO
1. Spammy links
Spammy links are all those links that do not come naturally, but rather in great numbers and oftentimes unrelated to your website’s niche. Spammy links usually come from link farms – groups of different sites whose sole purpose is to be home to thousands and thousands of links. Link farms can also be PBNs (private blog networks), sites that already have authority and some backlinks until they become a part of a link farm. However, you need to know that not all sites are link farms. For example, sites such as the recently departed DMOZ are linking to all the websites in the world, so no worries about that one.
How to fight back: Even though there is no safe way of knowing when your competition is going to attack your website until it has happened, what you can do is to see the attack when it is happening and react. For example, when you see a spike and then a big leap in the visits, this may be an indication of an attack. An obvious solution for this would be to disavow them spammy links.
2. Content scraping
Scraped content is a negative SEO technique which consists of blatant copying of chunks of text from other websites on the web and pasting it onto your website without giving reference. Sure, one can copy a quote and assign its author or even link to the website where it was originally published, but if one wants to give a website a quick boost and rank based on other people’s hard work and content, this is the way to go. In some cases, Google can see both pages with the same content and choose to penalize yours for duplicate content. And you really would not want that.
How to fight back: Unless you search for a term or sentences from your website, there is really no alert or notification you can get to your inbox when someone steals your content. However, you can use online tools such as Copyscape and find who scraped your words from time to time. If you discover such instances of negative SEO, make sure to kindly ask the person to remove it or simply – report it to Google.
3. Hacking your website
Hacking your website does not always mean that it is down. Hacking your website can also mean that someone has hacked through your security lines and altered content a bit, or even worse – added chunks of code or spammy links that can negatively impact your website’s ranking. When Google suspects a website has been hacked, they can even add a line in the SERP saying “this site may be hacked” to warn visitors so they decide not to click on it.
How to fight back: The best cure for hacking is prevention. Make sure to keep your website security in top levels and always learn new things about anti-hacking protection. The newest thing that Google will use to show your visitors that your website is safe is SSL, so you can start thinking about implementing it on your website.
And lastly, maybe the biggest piece of advice would be not to make enemies. Your competition need not necessarily be your foe. You should build healthy relationships and prevent these things from happening in the first place.
Of course, this is not an extensive list of negative SEO techniques. There are other things that happen, too. If you know of them and would like to share with us, feel free to write them in the comments below.
Have you noticed a decline in visits and your ranking recently? Maybe you need an SEO specialist to check your website. Contact PopArt Studio, an SEO agency which gives free consultations.