Negative SEO is a daunting threat because unfortunately it’s easy for your competition to ruin your ranking today. Understanding how this is defined will help you gain a better understanding of how your competition can hurt you. Essentially this is a set of off-page activities that will lower your rankings in the SERPs. Sometimes hacking your site is also involved but this is a rare exception. Regardless of how it happens, your SERPs will suddenly drop. This is why it’s so important to understand the 6 main ways this can happen.
A few spammy links won’t hurt your site’s rankings but links from a lot of link farms using the same anchor text or niche keyword will hurt you because it looks like you’re manipulating your site’s profile. It’s important to spot this early on by regularly monitoring how your link profile is growing. Fortunately, there are tools like SEO SpyGlass that can help you here. Tools like this will help you identify any spammy links and how much damage they can cause so you can take steps to rectify this issue.
Your competition can also ruin your ranking in the SERPs by scraping your content and copying it to other sites. Google will find this and only rank the original piece – unless they find the “stolen” version first. This is why Copyscape plays a major role in combatting this negative SEO “technique.” If you find that someone has copied your content you should ask them to remove it and if they don’t, make sure you fill out Google’s copyright infringement report.
Some desperate website owners will engage in a form of negative SEO whereby they forcefully crawl your site. This causes such a heavy server load that Googlebot won’t be able to access your site for a few times, which means you’ll be de-ranked. So, if you notice that your site is slow or unavailable you should contact your host or webmaster right away so they can see where the load is coming from.
Modifying Your Content
Although you think you’d notice if someone changed your website’s content, when it’s done really subtly or using the “display:none” HTML attribute it’s difficult to spot. Sometimes this isn’t as subtle, and an attacker will modify your page so it redirects to theirs. This is mainly done on sites that enjoy high authority and link popularity. It isn’t a temporary inconvenience for you though, especially not if Google finds out. To avoid this type of negative SEO you need to conduct an audit on a regular basis.
Getting Your Site De-Indexed
Adding a disallow rule in your robots.txt may cause Google to ignore you, which can wreak havoc on your entire SEO strategy. Check your ranking on a regular basis – either daily or weekly. If you notice a sudden drop in the SERPs across a large number of keywords you know you’ve either been penalized or de-indexed, which is something you’ll need to correct immediately.
Hacking Your Site
Even if the hacker isn’t after negative SEO it can still hurt your SEO because Google is adamant about protecting its users. If they suspect a website was hacked they’ll either say so or de-rank it and people won’t click on it then. This is just another reason why your website’s security should be a high priority.
When you need help with negative SEO reach out to us at ISEOU. We have years of experience helping brands like yours overcome these things. The key here is that they can overcome them but you need to reach out and let us start this process today.