Have you ever considered that some of your SEO issues could be through malice or ill-intent? Do you know what negative SEO is? Understanding what is a negative SEO attack and what isn’t can mean the difference between success and failure.
Being able to act in a timely manner against this kind of action is a key way to keep your SEO rank intact in the long term. Learning how to protect your website from negative SEO operations is a surefire way to maintain your presence and strengthen your website’s defences. This article will help you identify a variety of ways bad actors can affect your site and what you can do to safeguard yourself from them!
What is Negative SEO?
Simply put, negative SEO is any malicious practice that is directly aimed at hindering your SEO rank, thereby pushing you further and further down the list in terms of reputation and optimization.
It is employed by malicious actors who know you don’t know how to protect your website from negative SEO attacks so that they can capitalize on your weakness. These people perform underhanded actions to hurt your business so that they can succeed.
What is a Negative SEO Attack?
There are many different vectors negative SEO attackers can take in order to damage your website. They range in strategy, but all focus on lowering your ranking as much as possible so that their site will always be rated higher. Some of these attacks are performed in the following ways:
Creating fake social media accounts that pretend to be your business
Using spam and incorrect keywords in anchor text to negatively target your website
Deleting backlinks that are already available on your site
The way these negatively affect your website is that Google will see these criteria and decide that your online presence is neither trustworthy nor hosting quality content. This means that massive ranking drops if not outright exclusion from the Google algorithm.
How Can I Identify an Attack?
With the proper tools and knowledge, it is possible to both identify an attack and defend against malicious practices against your business.
There are a variety of tools available for use to safeguard your business that you can gain access to immediately that will be indispensable in your battle to secure your online presence! Here are some descriptions of the many ways malicious actors can attack your website:
Make Sure to Check Your Backlinks
Backlinks are a great way to boost your SEO ranking, but they can also be used to damage your website.
Links from disreputable sites, sites with penalties, or from private blog networks (PBNs), among others, can have a disastrous effect on your overall rank. Not only that, bad links can come from profiles and forums, foreign sites, off-topic or spam links, and even links from hacked websites themselves can all have a negative effect.
By utilizing a tool like Ahrefs, you can check the backlink profile to see who exactly is linking you. If too many disreputable sites do so, your rating can suffer.
A good way to defend yourself against these attacks is to utilize Google’s Disavowal tool that will let you clean up the bad links pointing to your site. With this tool, Google will know that you do not agree with these links and will put an end to Google thinking they’re legitimate factors to consider.
Of all the many things Google doesn’t like when trying to place SEO rankings, over-optimized anchor text is one of the larger concerns. Any anchor text that’s loaded down with keywords signals to Google that it may not be genuine.
As a malicious actor, one can load a backlink’s anchor text with all the keywords you’re trying to rank for and negatively impact you that way. Once again, the Disavowal Tool is often the best way to approach links like these and have them taken off of your site’s profile.
Blatant Malware Attacks
Malware can come in a variety of forms, but each and every one is true to its name. Whether it’s a new app you’re hosting on your site, a new widget you’re working with, or something simple like a WordPress addon, you need to make sure that they are safe and from reputable sources before installing anything into your infrastructure.
Many attackers will simply infect your site with dangerous software in order to attack your placement in the rankings. b security and b passwords are key here and must be taken into consideration.
Sneaky GSC Tactics
If a competitor hacks into your Google Search Console, there are numerous ways they can disastrously affect your site. If a bad actor gets access to your GSC, they can do all kinds of things to make your site suffer, including location changes, incorrect URL parameters, or even removing the disavow file you just created!
Hacking the Robots.txt File
The Robots.txt file is one of the most important aspects of your website and needs to be safeguarded from malicious intent. There are many ways to turn your robots.txt file against you, but one prominent way is to add the following text:
This will make the Google crawler pass over your site completely, making it impossible for your site to even be indexed!
Meta Noindex Tag
Another website hack to keep in mind is the ability for your enemy to add a “non-index” tag all over your website. An example of this tag is:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>
and it, as above, will make it so your page will never be indexed by the Google bots. This is obviously a death blow to any fresh content you want to get out there and needs to be rectified immediately.
Hacks can be discreet, as they are above, but sometimes they can be more blatant. By filling your website with spam and other garbage, the Google algorithm will see that your site isn’t doing anything constructive and will downrank you accordingly.
Make sure to rectify this problem immediately by removing all the spammy content!
Check for Duplicates of your Content
Finally, the last method we will look into in this article is the practice of taking your content and duplicating it all over the internet. This is incredibly common and disastrous for the originator of the content found on the web.
Google doesn’t precisely know the difference between original and plagiarized content, so if someone steals your web pages and uses them for themselves, they will affect your ratings negatively.
Tools like Copyscape can help you make sure your content is only hosted by you!
How To Protect Yourself From Negative SEO
As we mentioned above, there are many ways you can help yourself against the menace ofnegative SEO. There are a variety of tools, both third-party and Google affiliated, that can aid you in your tasks.
With careful consideration and planning, many of the attacks that can be used against you will be rendered useless. Here are some other things to consider when thinking about ways to protect yourself from negative SEO.
Google Webmaster E-mail Alert
Google Webmaster is a potent tool for anyone running their own site. It will allow you to be notified whenever you have server connectivity issues, indexing issues, or even outright malware attacks.
By using things like two-step verification and Google Authenticator, you heighten the ability of your site to defend itself from negative SEO.
Having b passwords and other security measures will impede anyone trying to do you harm, allowing you to stay focused on what you need to do!
Some Tools to Consider
The best way to stay safe is to have a tool belt of useful software that will allow you to properly maintain and defend your site against anything that might come your way. Here are some things you should keep in mind:
Google Alerts is a free tool from Google that will send you an email any time another site mentions your site or brand. This can have obvious beneficial effects when you are trying to determine whether or not you’re being maliciously attacked!
Google Disavow Tool
As we mentioned above, the Google Disavow Tool is one of the most important tools you can utilize when trying to clean up your backlinks. It will give you a large amount of control over who can link to you and how they can do it.
Google Search Console
The Google Search Console will allow you to view a plethora of information about your site that will aid you in boosting traffic. More importantly, however, it will provide you with extensive information about the backlinks for your site.
A very potent tool for your arsenal!
You Can Defend Yourself from Negative SEO
No matter what is currently happening to your site, no matter what attack has been perpetrated against it, there is a solution that is within your grasp. Negative SEO can be disastrous to the proper operation of your website, but that doesn’t mean you have to stand by and allow it to happen!
By using some of the strategies found in this article, you will be able to rally your defences and reclaim your ranking on Google, saving your site and your sanity in the process!
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