The anatomy of a negative SEO attack

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The anatomy of a negative SEO attack

30 second summary:

  • SEO can destroy the ranking of websites as easily as it can build it up.
  • Newer websites or startups with smaller backlink profiles are the most vulnerable to negative SEO attacks.
  • Webmasters need to regularly monitor their backlink profile to ensure that their website does not have any questionable web properties.
  • Negative search engine optimization can be fixed by contacting them manually or using Google’s disavow tool. However, high quality link building campaigns are the best way to minimize the impact of low quality links.

In the early days of search engine optimization, SEOs were able to dominate the first page of searches thanks to a variety of black hat techniques. Cloaking, keyword stuffing, backlink spam, and other strategies could catapult websites to first page. But those days are long gone. Google’s algorithms are extremely powerful and can easily lead to a negative SEO attack. Black hat strategies not only stop working, they also destroy your website’s rankings and even prevent your domain from ranking permanently.

For those on the internet who aren’t interested in your domain going up on the first page, Black Hat SEO is an easy way to do harm to your website. Many new website owners try so hard to get backlinks that they allow low quality links to fill their profile without ever thinking about where those links came from or why these other website owners linked to them in the first place.

Negative SEO attacks are real. I’ve helped many clients recover from them. They can come from competitors, hackers, or seemingly out of nowhere, but without a quick response, a website’s reputation on search engines can be permanently damaged.

Although Google algorithm updates or technical problems with your website could affect your keyword rankings. An unexpected drop can be a sign of negative search engine optimization. The good news is that the anatomy of a negative SEO attack is clear to see. Acting quickly can keep your website safe and minimize the damage.

The websites that are most vulnerable to SEO

The reality is that every time your site moves up one place in the SERPs, you knock down another site. It’s no fun to imagine other people using negative SEO to hurt your efforts. However, if you offer great service or a product that could take someone else’s business or traffic away, your website is at risk.

Every website can experience one negative SEO attackHowever, local businesses and startups with fewer than 300 referring domains are the most vulnerable. The smaller your backlink profile, the more effective inferior or unnatural links are. If 50% of your links are spam and you are a brand new website, Google crawlers will check your backlink profile and assume that your website is trying to scam your way up.

It is especially important for new webmasters to pay close attention to each backlink that is acquired. This is true even if you are paying for the services of a link building company. Some website owners are reluctant to continue link building as they have had negative experiences in the past with SEOs looking into these spam techniques that resulted in their website being demolished instead of building it.

As your backlink profile grows, spam links have less of an impact on your domain authority or ranking. Even so, it’s good to keep an eye on the referring domains and Anchor text variety Your backlink profile.

How to Identify a Negative SEO Attack

There are a variety of common negative SEO techniques that people can use to harm your website. After covering negative SEO attacks with my own clients, these are the most common types I have come across and I encourage webmasters to keep an eye out for them.

1. Toxic backlinks

Backlinks from low quality websites that have low domain eligibility, low relevance to your industry, or very low site traffic should always be suspect. If you are getting a large influx of these low quality links, they may have come from a link farm that has the infrastructure to build large numbers of links quickly. If you’re a new website with a high percentage of toxic links, then Google is probably assuming that you participated in the Black Hat manipulation.

2. Comment out spam links

One way SEOs were manipulating their website authority was to leave backlinks in the Comment section of blogs or forum pages. If you suddenly get backlinks in the comments section of older blogs with no relevance or traffic, someone may have maliciously placed them there. If it’s an SEO agency that placed the link and you’ve paid for it, fire them right away. Google will index these links in the comments section and will not look good on your website if you have a lot of these unnatural backlinks.

Spam comments can cause a negative SEO attack

3. Exact match or unnatural anchor text

Natural anchor text mostly includes your brand name, the services or products your company offers, or more general phrases like “click here”. If all of your anchor text includes the exact keyword you want to rank for, it will show up as a tampering to Google. If the anchor text is irrelevant, then Google bots will get confused about the content of your website. It is important to pay attention to the most common ways that other websites link to your sites. If new links don’t show at least some similarity, you can investigate them accordingly.

4. False negative reviews

Although negative ratings won’t have as drastic an impact on your website authority as your backlink profile, Google crawls and renders these websites when it comes to rating web pages. In particular, local and small businesses with poor ratings will not be rated. As a result, website owners should not only check their backlink profile regularly, but also monitor the major review sites in their industry. Most major review sites allow you to report reviews if you have reason to believe they are fake.

There are other types of negative search engine optimization that I haven’t listed here, such as: B. scraping of content, links hidden in images and much more. However, the above methods are very easy to identify Google Search Console or some kind of Backlink analyzer. By familiarizing yourself with the many ways others may try to link to your website in a malicious way, you can identify these problematic links as soon as they appear on your backlink profile.

How to do a negative SEO fix

Getting out of a negative SEO attack is never fun, but it can be done. If you are a responsible webmaster and Monitoring your backlink profile Regularly, you should have a solid understanding of what a healthy backlink profile looks like for your website, and therefore be able to spot the moment when something is wrong.

If you think the link influx was indeed due to shameful intent, there are a few things you can do to fix the damage, and hopefully before Google punishes your site. Some of these options are more expensive than others, but unless you are a seasoned webmaster, it is probably best to seek advice from an SEO expert. If you remove the wrong links, you can inadvertently do negative SEO on your own website.

1. Request removal

The first step with a link is to contact the webmaster and ask if they want to remove the link. Granted, this is not always successful. However, before moving on to option 2, make sure you have made all your efforts to remove the link before asking Google to participate. If the link was the result of comment spam, the blog owner may be willing to moderate or delete the comment. There have been webmasters who have charged my clients a link removal fee. Depending on the price you are willing to pay, you can choose this or move on to other options.

2. Do not display the file

In 2012, Google added the Disavow tool to the Google Search Console to give webmasters more freedom of choice in their external SEO. The reality is that no one has complete control over the websites that link to theirs in a malicious way. Hence, it is not really fair for search engines to penalize your website as a result. Google recognized this and created the Disavow tool. Still, they recommend website owners to use it sparingly.

ONE Reject file This is essentially a list of links that should be invalidated on your domain or that Google should not consider when evaluating the quality of your website. There are detailed instructions too how to submit a disavow file in Google Search Console Help. Note, however, that these links will not be removed. Google will not consider them the next time it crawls and indexes. If you’re using SEO software that measures the quality of your backlink profile, you’ll likely need to submit the disavow file there as well if you want its metrics to accurately reflect how Google understands your website.

3. Link building campaigns

High quality, contextual link building differs from black hat SEO in that it uses original content to get links to relevant, industry-specific publications. Become the best SEO agencies Increase site authority in the right wayusing techniques that are Google-compliant and do not affect your rankings in the long term. If you’re not actively trying to get high quality links for your website, you’re not only missing out on the opportunity to improve your overall keyword rankings, but you’re also making your website more vulnerable. If you are aiming for consistent link acquisition and building a healthy backlink profile before a negative SEO attack occurs, you will be better positioned to avoid a Google penalty.

It is certainly frustrating and unfair when negative SEO occurs, but there is really nothing a webmaster can do to prevent it from happening. In the case of negative search engine optimization, preparation is the best medicine. Once you know what to look for, you will be better prepared to take immediate action and minimize the harm.

Manick Bhan is the founder and CTO of LinkGraph, an award-winning digital marketing and SEO agency that provides SEO, paid media and content marketing services. He is also the founder and CEO of SearchAtlas, a software suite of free SEO tools. You can find Manick on Twitter @ Madmanick.