Defining negative SEO
Negative SEO describes the act of intentionally jeopardizing a page’s or site ranking on Google. It includes spamming tactics on a website or over optimizing it with the aim of lowering its rank on Search Engines or in very severe cases, having it penalized. There are numerous other ways in which negative SEO can be achieved. The results are often tragic to the affected page or site and it could take a while to recover or they may sometimes never recover. So now that you know what negative SEO is, does it really occur?
Does negative SEO work?
It is basic knowledge that a site will be penalized or limited by Google algorithms if it is involved in scheming link building. The consequence is often a manual un-natural links penalty or relegation at the mercy of the Penguin algorithm that comes with no warning. Without needing to ask, if links that you make can hurt you, so could the links made by someone else.
A software engineer at Google, Matt Cutts, admits that it isn’t impossible to reduce the rank of a site by piling links to it but again notes that it is extremely difficult. So this just confirms that the possibility of establishing bad SEO through link building exists. He however goes ahead to make it clear that Google has put measures in place to ensure that malicious competitors cannot harm your site by directing bad links to it. Google have built special features into the algorithms that help them confirm if links are self made or not. The next time you notice a cluster of bad links that point to your site, know that they are most likely going to affect your ranking.
How do you identify and handle negative SEO?
You may not quickly notice that you are being attcked by negative SEO, but when you don it is important that you seek immediate remedy.
Successful negative SEO directed to your site will mostly cause a sudden drop in search traffic on your site. It is important that you monitor the traffic coming to your site in order to notice such changes. If you have acted in accordance to the Google Webmaster guidelines and you experience this issue, you may be a victim of bad SEO. To be in track of your traffic, you can use tools such as Google Analytics, Searchmetrics, Google Webmaster tools and the SEMrush.
Getting links from strange forums and sites with TLDs of .cn,.cz, .bg, .pl, .ro,.ru, .biz, .com and.ar could also be an indication of negative SEO. So take caution once you experience an increase of links from foreign sites. This is because a site and target audience located in a specific country should not have foreign IPs or TLDs pointing to it. There is need o get worried and suspicious if you are receiving multiple links from a single IP regardless of the domain. Numerous links from totally nonsense blog posts and bad neighbors such as gambling, payday loan and porn sites could be reason for you to worry too.
Conduct a back link audit on your site in order to see whether you could be a victim. A back link audit helps you identify spammers that could be building spam links to your website or page. Google Webmaster, Ahrefs and Open Site Explorer are handy tools for carrying out the task.
In case you get to feel that the negative SEO directed at your site seems to be having an effect, Google requests that you report it either on the webmaster platforms or by reaching out to John Mueller and mesaures will be put in place to see to it that their algorithms are improved. You can also start by identifying the bad links and then disavow them using the Disavow tool that marks the links with a tag so that Google algorithm does not credit them in any way to your site.
Things often seen as negative SEO but are not
The end result of negative SEO has drastic effects on businesses and for this reason one may be quick to conclude that every strange activity on their site is an attack.
Some websites link to almost all sites on the web. This then means that not every weird link you get will be a bad link. Sometimes it could just be a previous SEO company you worked with that is building the unnatural links. SEO companies may go against their code of ethics and outsource the link building to a cheaper company which creates the spam links that you unknowingly pay for.
Having your site hacked does have the ability to negatively affect your SEO but not all events of hacking are directed at negative SEO.
Who is more prone to negative SEO?
Nearly all sites are at risk of facing negative SEO. However, sites and pages that operate in a highly competitive market are more prone to the attack. This includes sites dealing with high-money areas like casinos, insurance, pharmacy sales and payday loans. Those driving negative SEO in such areas are well informed on high-end methods that are likely to work. They are consistently working to beat Google’s algorithm for them to bring down their competitor. They also have the financial means that they can afford to risk in intensive Negative SEO work that can at times fail. For the small and average businesses, employing regular SEO methods is much more convenient as they spend less.
Sites with a previous record of doing their own scheming linking are also likely victims of the negative attack. Having a record of a manual link penalty or a negative Penguin algorithm feedback exposes you to additional unnatural links. Be warned of such links that point to your site.
Though highly damaging to a business, negative SEO can still be controlled. Website owners need to be updated on the current SEO trends so as to learn how to protect their sites better.