SEO is one of the most vital digital marketing tactics that can open gates for a large volume of traffic on your website thereby increasing the revenue multifold. Since everyone out there wishes to target the customers with their custom gimmicks and approaches, sometimes the competition is expected to get dirty. In this blog post, we will share a few tips on detecting and deflecting negative SEO attacks.
Ranking for a particular keyword on the very first page of the SERPs can be the best thing that happens to you though everyone wants a piece of that. The world has surprisingly become meaner with the increase in competition, thereby giving rise to the so-called “negative SEO”
Since the black hat SEO is almost impossible to integrate into your optimization techniques, negative SEO has already taken over the world. To understand if your website’s sudden decrease in rankings is the downside of the negative SEO, one must first understand what exactly it is.
Detecting and Deflecting Negative SEO Attacks
What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO can be defined as a set of steps effectively taken to bring down a competitor’s rankings by negatively affecting their optimization tactics. One can easily understand it as the opposite of the positive SEO which aims at demoting the competitor’s website rather than promoting it for better.
Sabotaging a competitor’s search engine rankings can be made possible in multiple effective ways such as hacking their website, adding millions of spam links to their content, altering the backlinks they have, redirecting their links towards inappropriate and unethical pages, creating fake social media handles and alter their brand image, writing fake reviews, content scraping and more. There are many additional ways as well to negatively impact the SEO of a competitor’s website.
Simply put, negative SEO is one of the unethical means of destroying the brand image of a competitor that is doing good in the search engine results. If one cannot improve their rankings, negative SEO can help them bring down the competitor’s as well.
Google has promised a safety net that safeguards their search engine result pages and URLs against the negative SEO measures though, detecting and deflecting negative SEO attacks is always the responsibility of the owner itself. Anything that doesn’t come under Google’s negative SEO protocols can easily sabotage the competitor’s rankings for the worst.
The first step to detecting and deflecting negative SEO attacks is to accept the fact that it has already happened with your website/product and it is not the end of the world, to be concise.
Identifying a Negative SEO Attack
1. The sudden decrease in traffic
If your website has witnessed a sudden decrease in the normal traffic per day, and you have not opted for any unique technique or even tweaked anything on the website, it can be a side effect of a negative SEO attack, specially customized for your website. One must always make sure to check the analytics every day to understand the root cause of the problems affecting the rankings and work towards resolving them.
2. Receiving an alert from Google about unnatural links on your website
If your Google Search Console features a message from Google, talking about the penalty and how you have unnatural links or spammy content in your website, it is rather simpler to understand that someone is trying to negatively impact your SEO. If your website is hacked, Google makes sure to tell you the same by sending an alert.
3. Drop in the particular keyword rankings
One can easily identify a negative SEO attack if they are witnessing a sudden drop in the rankings for a few keywords they rank for, while others are relatively doing fine. A good SEO and keywords tracking and maintenance tool can help you figure out the negative SEO attacks in just a gist.
4. Surprising increase in the number of backlinks
One must always keep in mind to check their backlinks and their quality regularly. If there is a sudden increase in your number of backlinks or their quality is being affected, it can be a negative SEO attack, devised for your website. A reliable backlink monitoring tool can help you offer a quick insight into detecting and deflecting negative SEO attacks.
5. Scraped content
One can easily understand that their website or content has been attacked with negative SEO with the entire website content showcasing over multiple other sites on the web. The attacker can easily scrape the content of your website and publish it onto other websites thereby making you look less unique and adding to the plagiarism.
Preventing Negative SEO Attacks
1. Set Email Alerts from Google Webmaster Tool
Google is responsible for emailing you alerts whenever your website has been penalised, if there was an attempt to hack your website, if there are several pages not indexed and more. One can easily connect their website to Google webmaster tool for easy analysis and to keep a track of the alerts. All you have to do is open the “Webmaster Tools Preferences” and enable email notifications or alerts involving all the issues.
2. Track your Backlinks
One of the easiest ways to recognise and prevent the negative SEO attacks is to keep a track of your backlinks. Normally, the ones trying to affect your website with negative SEO will link it with low-quality backlinks that will ultimately get your website to rank down from the place it already is. One of the most sought after tools that can help you monitor your backlinks without manually checking them every day is Monitorbacklinks.com. All you have to do is sign up on the website, add your domain name and connect the tool with your Google Analytics account. The tool will send you a notification on your email whenever there are new backlinks linked to your website.
3. Protecting the Backlinks
One of the worst things a high ranking website can endure is losing the best backlinks they have. This can happen with the negative SEO attacks that one can carry out for affecting your rankings. The person can find the best backlinks you have, take up your identity with a fake email address and ask the webmaster offering you the backlink to remove it.
To prevent this, make sure you always get in contact with the webmaster of other websites offering backlinks with an email id that has your domain name. This can further prevent everyone from taking up your identity with another email account.
Apart from this, you can always use the Monitor Backlinks tool to add tags to your best backlinks and monitor them closely to see if someone is misusing them, redirecting them or removing them. All you have to do is choose your best backlinks from the list of backlinks, edit them with a tag you can recognise and closely monitor them daily to recognise any mishap. If you witness a decrease in the backlinks, you can formally write an email to the webmaster explaining the situation and requesting for the backlink again. It is one of the most sought after ways of detecting and deflecting negative SEO attacks.
4. Protect the Website from Malware
To prevent your websites from being attacked maliciously, you must keep in mind to implement major safety measures. The website must be password protected with a two-step verification process that cannot be hacked by anyone. Apart from this, you must create strong passwords that are not easy to contact, crypt the code, have an antivirus in place as well as always have a backup on hand.
5. Check for Copy Scraping
You can use multiple tools on the web to determine if someone is using the same content as your website. If multiple websites are using the same word to word content that your website has, you have been probably attacked with a negative SEO technique. Multiple websites using the same content can be penalised by Google for plagiarism thereby affecting the rankings.
Apart from these, you must always make sure that your website’s loading time is not affected recently and is not getting better whatever you do. This can mean someone is sending multiple requests to your servers thereby trying to make it crash. Furthermore, one must also keep a check of the duplicate social media accounts with their name that can harm their brand image for worse. All these measures can help you determine if your website is being attacked with negative SEO and can help prevent the things from getting out of hand real soon.