Every website owner knows how important it is to optimize for search engines. Unless you have a good SEO strategy, you are never going to reach the front page of search results. It takes time, hard work, and plenty of industry knowledge.
Recently, however, there has been talk of unethical companies using a different way to get ahead in rankings. Negative SEO is a relatively new threat, and it basically involves building “bad” links pointing towards a competitor’s website. The links have two characteristics:
• They are from disreputable, low quality sources.
• The keywords used are very different from what you actually want to rank for, and are usually related to unsavory things like adult content or gambling.
The attacker’s goal is to get the target website penalized by Google’s algorithm, crippling their rankings and traffic. It’s an incredibly unethical thing to do, but does it actually work?
Google claims that true negative SEO attacks rarely happen, and that they do everything possible to ensure that such unfair practices never become a viable tactic. Nevertheless, it is still a possibility, especially in highly competitive niches like payday loans and insurance.
Handling a Potential Negative SEO Attack
Denver SEO experts agree that while these attacks are rare, it is still important to be prepared for them. It’s even more important if you have been penalized in the past; a history of unnatural linking can make it easier to be penalized for links you are not responsible for. How do you detect a potential negative SEO attack and what should you do to stop it?
1. Audit regularly – The first step is to start doing regular link profile audits. This is a good practice in general, since seeing where your good links are coming from is useful data as well. Finding and cleaning up unnatural links early will greatly mitigate the damage.
2. Disavow links – Once you find spammy links, it’s important to reach out to the webmasters first and ask them to take these down. Keep a record of your attempts to contact them. For any links that cannot be removed, use the disavow tool.
3. Improve security – Some cases of negative SEO attacks involve hacking into the victim’s website, such as through an outdated plug-in. They then create “hidden” pages with a huge number of links, utilizing the site’s authority for their own ends. This is very time consuming and difficult to fix, so it’s important to be on high alert for any vulnerabilities.
Remember, as reliable as Google’s algorithm is, it isn’t foolproof. Be prepared to protect your website from any malicious attacks from unethical competitors.