Last Updated on August 1, 2020
Defending Your Website
Following Google’s quality guidelines is not enough… you also have to watch out for Negative SEO. In this post I’ll explain what it is and what you need to do in order to protect your website and make sure you have a healthy link profile.
Why Negative SEO is so Evil
Negative SEO is basically Black Hat SEO. It uses techniques to sabotage a competitor’s website. Black Hatters use tactics like creating poor quality links to a website’s content (e.g., from link farms) or stealing content before it gets indexed.
As you probably know, Google specifically targets spammy links. Penquin — a piece of the super secret search algorithm — looks for irrelevant and toxic links from questionable sources.
In essence, if you’re a victim of Negative SEO, it can cripple your website’s online visibility in organic search. And the really scary implication is that unless you’re actively looking for it, you might be unaware of its dampening effect on your online marketing.
Might have heard of Grey Hat SEO (sometimes also called Black Hat SEO). If not, I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version. Basically it’s cheating.
It’s cheating for the purposes of trying to get your website to rank higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). It can take on many forms, including:
- Commissioning a firm to build lots of links, usually from link farms (websites whose sole purpose to amass links rather than offer valuable content) using tactics like referral spam.
- Over-optimizing content through techniques like keyword stuffing
- Leaving comment spam (you know those fabulous comments that use poor English, are off topic and add zero value)
- Posting links in online forums
- Publishing duplicate content
- Purchasing social media followers
How to Protect Your Business
The first step in protecting your website from Negative SEO is to do an in-depth link analysis. You’ve got to know the quality and number of your inbound links (those pointing to your website). When we conduct a link analysis, we categorize links into: toxic, suspicious, and safe, making it clear what is helping your SEO and what is hindering it.
Next, you need to sort the links by domain (the website root that created the link). For example, we did an analysis for a client and they had nearly 50,000 links, 97% of them toxic! So understanding how many domains are represented in your link profile will indicate the size of a clean-up project.
Where do you find your link profile? In Webmaster Tools. That’s why we highly recommend setting up Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools so you have the data needed to determine if Negative SEO has hit your site or not.
Negative SEO is pretty scary. How healthy is your website’s link profile?