In this post, we will discuss negative SEO – what it is, how destructive it may be, and what you can do to recognize and combat a potential negative SEO attack.
What exactly is Negative SEO?
First, let us define Negative SEO and what it entails.
Negative SEO refers to any harmful conduct intended at damaging a competitor’s website’s search rankings.
Because of its malicious character, this is sometimes referred to as “black hat SEO.”
Negative SEO Attacks and Their Types
There are several types of bad SEO.
In this essay, we will discuss the most frequent negative SEO methods.
1. Website Hacking
This might be the most effective, but also the most expensive, strategy.
As seen here, an attacker may impair a website’s SEO performance in any way they choose by hacking it.
If the hack results in a loss of search engine prominence, it is considered a negative SEO attack.
2. Creating Toxic Backlinks to the Website Using Spammy Anchor Text
For producing these sorts of poor connections, link farms, automated software, and PBNs (public blog networks) are commonly employed.
The number of linkages might range between a few hundred to thousands.
3. Scraping a Website’s Content and Making Duplicates
This method entails generating clones of websites or sections of their content, hotlinking them, and disseminating the forgeries around the internet.
4. Posting False Negative Website Reviews
This strategy may be effective in destroying a website’s (or brand’s) reputation, resulting in traffic decreases.
5. Removing Backlinks from a Website by Sending Fake Removal Requests to Webmasters
Attackers may attempt to undermine your SERP ranks by focusing on your backlink profile.
They may pose as you or an agency operating on your behalf and contact webmasters to urge them to delete links referring to your site.
Some bad SEO methods go even farther, such as issuing bogus DMCA takedown requests, although these are uncommon.
The negative SEO methods listed above are the most frequent.
Before we go any further, it’s crucial to note that the idea of negative SEO is contentious.
Let us investigate the causes behind this.
Why Are Negative SEO Attacks Difficult to Detect and Prove?
It is difficult to detect and prove a negative SEO campaign, especially if a website’s backlink profile already has a large number of poisonous connections and/or the site’s content is poor.
Frequently, webmasters who assume they are victims of bad SEO fail to consider other factors that might cause a reduction in ranks, such as:
A Google algorithm update/Core Algorithm Update.
Google’s artificial filtration has filtered you out.
These dips are sometimes misinterpreted as poor SEO.
Marie Haynes, SEO Consultant at MarieHaynes.com, commented on this:
We’ve had several clients who were convinced that their rankings were dropping because a rival developed artificial connections leading to their site.
We could discover a more logical cause for the ranking decreases in virtually every case.
This implies you shouldn’t make hasty assumptions about why your ranks have plummeted.
To prevent the impact of algorithm upgrades and algorithmic filtering, you should constantly verify the quality of your content meets Google’s requirements and that your backlink profile is in good shape.
Auditing your backlinks is critical since you may already have a backlink profile that Google’s filtering system considers spammy (containing unnatural links).
Some webmasters overlook these signs and immediately conclude that their website has been subjected to a bad SEO attack.
According to John Mueller:
Typically, the examples where I observe that negative SEO is occurring are the kinds of circumstances where, if you look at them, you would think, well, this seems like maybe someone has built these links up over time.
And it’s possible that it’s not the rival at all, but rather an SEO who has been working for the firm.
As a result, your website’s content should constantly be optimized, engaging, and user-friendly, and your backlink profile should be as trustworthy and clean as feasible.
Why is the Effectiveness of Negative SEO Disputed?
Google believes that negative SEO, particularly the purposeful creation of undesirable backlinks, is ineffective.
So, is it even feasible to launch a successful negative SEO campaign?
It depends, is the response.
Google is quite adept at telling the difference between backlinks you developed and poisonous links that come out of nowhere.
However, sabotaging a website that already has weak content and a badly maintained backlink profile may be easier because the attacker will just be adding gasoline to the fire.
At the same time, a high-quality website may be subjected to a negative SEO attack, but it may prove to be an expensive and time-consuming exercise for the attacker.
To be truly effective, an assault must be well planned and executed wisely.
Marie Haynes elaborates:
If a rival built a spammy link to your site, it would be incredibly costly and would have a higher likelihood of helping rather than damaging your results.
In all of my years of evaluating links and assisting websites that have seen traffic decreases, I can only recall one example when I honestly believed that links generated through negative SEO were to blame.
How to Spot and Stop a Negative SEO Attack
An attacker might combine various efforts to push your page down the SERPs.
Here are some preventive measures you may take to mitigate the repercussions of such an assault.
Preventing Hacking on a Website
It is doubtful that the hacker would completely take over your website for negative SEO to function in this scenario.
While an attacker may have placed several spammy signals that you may not see, you may still have full access to your website.
For example, tampering with robots.txt or sitemaps might harm your site without you recognizing any immediate consequences.
Set up notifications in Google Search Console to identify security breaches, and execute site audits regularly to address any technical concerns.
You may also use this easy tool, which offers a high-level summary and tells you if your website has hacked.
Finally, you may report a hacking incident via The FTC Complaint Assistant.
Although Google does not consider Negative SEO to be a major black hat SEO practice, according to John Mueller, utilizing the Disavow tool may be beneficial if you believe you have been the victim of a negative SEO campaign when someone is producing harmful links pointing to your site.
What Is the Process of Fake Link Building?
Here are two instances of negative SEO operations that rely on the creation of harmful backlinks.
A small business corporation experienced a dramatic increase in the number of backlinks pointing to their website during three months beginning in October 2018.
The number of backlinks increased dramatically from 275 to 341,824.
Google took a manual measure as a result of this abnormal surge.
The webmaster was then required to do a thorough backlink assessment and submit reconsideration requests to Google alongside the disavow files.
It required two reconsideration petitions for the penalty to be withdrawn – and it was gone by August 2019, over a year later.
The webmaster highlighted in the second request that this was a negative SEO effort, which may have helped to clarify things up and have the penalty removed.
The ranks are still being restored as of today.
Another potential negative SEO campaign that is still ongoing may be aimed at the Nummero.
Since November 2019, we’ve seen an increase in the number of bad backlinks created on identical websites.
An example of such a webpage shown below.
This strange action had no evident detrimental consequences, but it is constantly keeping us on our toes, looking for these unexpected backlinks.
The majority of these links point to a non-existent page.
How Can a Website Be Safe From Fake Backlinks?
Here is a list of steps to take:
Use the Backlink Audit tool regularly for your website, and keep an eye out for the Toxic Score metric to spot any unusual changes in your backlink profile.
Examine the worth and trends of your website’s Authority Score.
A decrease in your score may signal that something is amiss with your backlink profile.
If you receive fresh poisonous backlinks that you are unable to delete, update your disavow file regularly.
Detecting Scraped Content and Website Duplicates
Identical content not only causes cannibalization problems, it may also cause websites or individual pages to be blocked out of search results.
Attackers may copy your entire website or portions of it to ruin your search performance.
Audit the web regularly with tools like Copyscape or Siteliner to detect fraudulent activities connected to duplicating your content or the whole website.
If you come across a bogus website that seems similar to yours, examine the following:
Contact the hosting provider and explain why the phony website must be removed.
Use this Google Form to report it and demand that it removed.
To report the impersonator, use the FTC Complaint Assistant.
Identifying and Reporting False Negative Reviews About Your Website
Depending on the circumstances, the impact of writing phony reviews varies.
Fake reviews are unlikely to harm the reputation of a major retail company, but they may harm the reputation of a small business.
Reviews, according to Google, influence your SERP performance, and fraudulent reviews might hurt it.
Getting people to believe such comments takes effort and well-crafted “reviews.”
Spreading negativity may harm the website’s reputation and, as a result, its visitors.
To do this, an attacker must make a concerted attempt to harm a website’s reputation, and there is no assurance that this effort will be fruitful.
Nonetheless, you should keep an eye out for such activities by watching internet evaluations.
If you suspect a review is a forgery, notify the site’s management where the “review” was published.
More on this negative SEO tactic may found in the article on a false review attack.
When we examine all of the bad SEO techniques, we can find that producing spammy (toxic) backlinks, duplicating content, and publishing phony reviews all have a real connection to SEO.
In reality, all of the other approaches are more about hacking and scamming.
Overall, poor SEO may be detrimental.
The extent of aftermath is determined a number of preconditions.
The only way to defend against it is to take all required preparations
so that any assault just bounces off you.
Check your website using various tools on a regular basis
to be aware of any problems that may arise from time to time.
I hope you enjoyed it!
Tell us in the comments if you’ve ever been the victim of a bad SEO attack.