Preventing Negative SEO
Negative SEO is real. It is possible to damage, if not destroy, a site through the use of malicious backlinks and aggressive backlink spamming. Negative SEO is a legitimate danger that can ruin a site’s revenue and cripple a business.
But it is also possible to defend against it. If you are a victim of negative SEO, suspect negative SEO on your site, or simply want to protect against a potential attack, this article is for you.
Preventing Negative SEO
USE SOFTWARE FOR WEBSITE SECURITY
A company’s biggest threat of negative SEO is hacking and bot infiltration. It can cause irreversible damage to a website and reputation. If a site is hacked, it’s both expensive and time consuming to restore it to its original state. In many cases, it’s impossible to reverse the destruction. And, it’s certainly too late to repair the SEO damage with Google.
Companies like Distil Networks have designed and built software that will protect a website from 99.9 percent of all bots and hacks. It’s more secure and powerful than any browser firewall, and is designed with negative SEO in mind. By creating a database of bad bots, it can quickly identify malicious intruders. It also monitors typical and natural user behavior on a site. If it senses strange behavior, it will instantly protect the site using techniques like bot throttling.
SET UP GOOGLE WEBMASTER ALERTS
First, turn on Google Webmaster Tools email notifications. This may not signal the start of a spam attack, but it will at least keep your GWT information top of mind as you maintain a defensive posture against SEO bullies.
Go to Webmaster Tools → preferences, and turn on notifications for all issues.
As mentioned, negative SEO techniques include sending spammy backlinks to a site. If a company can keep track of all its current backlinks, it will be easier to spot malicious offenders. A quick Google search for backlink monitors will bring up plenty of tools and software to visualize a site’s linking structure. On many services, site owners can even set up email notifications when someone links to their site. My personal recommendation is to use Majestic Site Explorer to monitor links and link growth.
SPEAK TO THE ENEMY
If you know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the individual or organization responsible for the negative SEO, then you may want to confront them.
It sounds a bit old-fashioned or ornery but you never know. Some people can be reasoned with. Maybe an email will do the trick — “Hey, do you mind not doing this?”
If that doesn’t work, then ramp it up a notch. If the enemy doesn’t speak to you, then speak to the world. Express your concern on social media. If you can create enough buzz about someone who is intentionally damaging your site, it might create the defense you need.
CHECK FOR DUPLICATE CONTENT
Google is very tough on duplicate content and plagiarism. If it spots content on another website without permission, it will penalize the original poster anyway. With that in mind, Web professionals should keep an eye out for content appearing on other websites. One simple method is using a tool that most editors and content websites use to check plagiarism, called Copyscape. This tool will scan the Internet for traces of duplicate content. Users can input a website address, or paste the body content into the box.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO HUNT FOR VICIOUS ACTIVITY
Social media is great for discovering negative SEO. Professionals can quite quickly find accounts and spammers that are purposely trying to harm their site. Rivals will use these accounts to spread spammy links to the site, and encourage sharing. It will slowly lead to a wider and natural looking negative linking strategy. They’ll also use these accounts to spread duplicated content, and simply to damage a company’s online reputation. Site owners should use the search functions of Twitter and Facebook, and report negative-SEO links as spam before they grow.
A PREVIOUS SEO MADE THESE LINKS
Some people are shocked when they find out that their SEO company has been building them unnatural links. I have seen many cases where an SEO company promised they were going to give a site “White hat links” or links that were within the Google guidelines, but in reality it looks like they outsourced the job to a cheap linkbuilding company that created spammy bookmarks, blog comments and forum signatures. If you’ve got unnatural links and you’ve ever hired an SEO company, there is a good chance that those bad links were actually made on purpose and that YOU paid for them! Remember, prior to April of 2012, these links used to work well to rank pages and very few websites would get penalized for using them.
One thing to remember, when hiring an SEO Company always ask them to give you a list of high traffic, medium traffic, and low traffic keywords related to your business. I hear everyday from potential clients that an SEO Company contacted them and mentioned they can get on the first page of Google within two weeks. That’s either Negative SEO, which you get penalized for, or a low traffic keyword, which won’t get you the results that you are looking for.
Make sure to also ask for a list of long tail keywords as well, or in phrases. Most people will search on Google starting with a word and eventually expand on it if they are not finding what they are looking for.
For example a t-shirt design and printing company: Custom shirts Omaha, shirt design printing Omaha. Now for others like a landscaping company or a company selling a certain product, then they are looking for a high traffic keyword like landscaping company, diatomaceous earth, natural stone, lolita wine glasses, warehousing, shipping, bar and grill or lawn care. Make sure to always localize it with the city you are in.
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