Negative SEO is a potentially serious threat that can devastate your search rankings. While Google attempts to stay one step ahead to protect websites against spam, unscrupulous tactics have emerged, particularly for competitive industries.
Taking preventative measures such as keeping a watchful eye on your link profile as well as making your website secure can help to protect your business and brand reputation.
What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO (search engine optimisation) is the process of using unethical techniques in an attempt to demote a competitor’s website or webpage or have them completely removed from search engine results pages (SERPs). Some of the more common Negative SEO attacks can include:
- Hacking your website and injecting malware
- Duplicating your content and distributing all over the Internet
- Building spam links in an attempt to ruin your brand reputation
- Removing your best backlinks
- Creating fake profiles and reporting fake reviews
5 Ways to Protect Your Website
Set up email alerts in Google Webmaster tools
Make sure you connect your website to Google Webmaster tools and enable email notifications and choose to receive alerts for all types of issues. Remember to click save.
Monitor and Protect Your Backlinks
Keeping track of your backlinks profile is the most important thing you can do to prevent spammers from succeeding. It is essential to know when someone is creating links or redirects to your website. Tools such as Open Site Explore OR Monitor Backlinks, for example can help you keep track of this. You can also use the latter to help you keep track of your best backlinks.
Spammers can try to remove your best backlinks by contacting the website owner of a link, using your name and asking the webmaster to remove your backlinks. So it’s important that you add tags to the backlinks you value the most so that you easily see if any get removed. If you notice any change to your list, contact the webmaster immediately and find out why.
Secure Your Website
It is important to secure your website from malware and hackers, so that you don’t have spam on your website. Remember to create backups of your files and database and update them regularly. If your site permits the upload of files, have a chat to your hosting company about installing antivirus so you don’t fall victim to malware.
Monitor Your Social Media Content and Mentions
It’s not uncommon for spammers to create fake accounts on social media claiming to be your company or website, in an attempt to present your brand in a negative light. Responding when this happens is essential and you MUST report them as spam. Google Alerts is a user friendly tool that lets you set up notifications and have them emailed to you.
Build Strong Brand Authority
Remember to practice good SEO strategies at all times. Don’t affect your own website rankings as a result of techniques that Google finds unacceptable. Refer to Google’s Search Engine Optimisation Guide if you’re unsure about SEO.
It is definitely worth taking time to know what Negative SEO is and how you can protect your business website from being at risk. For more information, you can also check out this video from Matt Cutts who leads the Webspam team at Google.