Many companies practice white hat SEO approaches to optimize their websites for search engines. But sometimes, you still see fluctuations in your organic traffic despite playing by the book. These are often caused by algorithm updates.
However, if you still find your website’s organic search traffic decreasing, a possible cause would be negative SEO. While positive approaches aim to get your website to the top of the ranks of a Google search, negative SEO wants to bring your website down so other competitors can get ahead.
Businesses are encouraged to proactively monitor their website’s progress to avoid these negative SEO attacks and incur penalties from Google. Let’s break down negative SEO and how you can detect and protect yourself from this attack.
Negative SEO involves using "black hat techniques" to manipulate search engine ranking. These techniques sabotage the ranking of your website and allow your competitors to rank higher in search results. One of the effects is a decrease in your site's ranking and incoming traffic. This "black hat SEO" is unethical.
An efficient yet expensive on-page tactic, hacking a website to decrease its search engine visibility is considered a negative SEO attack. Without proper SEO black hat protection, a hacker can hack and alter your code without noticing its effects immediately unless you look at the backend of a certain webpage.
Some hackers would also edit your robots.txt file, which tells a search engine crawler how to interact with your website, including the pages to crawl and not to crawl and index. If they tell the crawler to ignore your site's most important pages or the entire site, it's game over.
Your competitor can also build unnatural or "spammy" backlinks from untrustworthy websites and send them to your site for Google to penalize it.
This is the practice of duplicating websites or content, hotlinking, and spreading these duplicates all over the web. Plagiarism is a strict violation of Google's SEO guidelines, which is why it will likely remove duplicate websites or choose one over the other.
Reviews can help your website become visible to your target audience, but too many negative reviews will bring the opposite effect and impact your business’ reputation. Competitors can do this tactic easily since it’s easy to manipulate.
Setting up a Google Webmaster Tool will help you monitor your site for malware attacks, pages that aren't indexed, and minor penalties from Google. At the same time, you can strengthen authentication methods by using multi-factor authentication, creating backup files, and setting stronger passwords.
Various tools on the internet help monitor duplicated sites. To leverage your website against possible plagiarism and content copying, revise your Terms of Service and indicate that republishing any content originally from your domain is not allowed.
Adding canonical tags to your well-performing content will also help prioritize ranking to your website instead of the duplicated ones. A canonical tag like <link rel="canonical" href="[URL]"> will inform Google of the original URL where the content was used.
Constantly interacting and responding to your audience’s queries and reviews will also help you detect negative reviews popping up about your website. You can easily report these fake negative reviews pretending to be a customer or associating themselves with your business on Google.
Many sites offer monitoring of backlink profiles, like SEODefend. If you discover backlinks that have been mysteriously added or removed, you can contact the webmaster and request their removal.
Google’s disavow list can also help you fix multiple bad links at once. This tool tells Google that these links shouldn’t be counted when ranking your site in the index.
Competitors trying to cheat with negative SEO practices pose a real problem that can seriously impact your business, and should never be taken lightly. Being proactive with your SEO approaches can help maintain and improve your site's ranking.
You should also employ quality protection against negative SEO from SEODefend. We have a wide range of negative SEO tools that monitor your site's overall health and keep it from incurring penalties. Just click here, and you're on your way to a free trial today.