When it comes to creating a quality website, one of the primary elements is the application of strong search engine optimization (SEO). This coupled with entertaining content is what enables your website to climb in the search engine rankings. Each time you refine the content on the site and zero in on more targeted search engine keywords, the better results you can achieve in search engine ranking. But just as there are proven methods to build a site’s search engine ranking, there also exists a number of underhanded ways to tear it back down.
What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO is the destructive element of search engine optimization where a website is under attack by a competitor, hacker or disenfranchised “Black Hat SEO.” Their goal is to drop another’s website from organically ranking.
Individual tactics span from the use of malware (viruses), content injections, spam, poor backlinks, DNS hacks and server overloading to maliciously lower your website ranking in the search engines. Negative SEO works quickly and can swiftly destroy the credibility of a site.
Content Injections: With the injection of low-quality information and the application of spam to webpages through a targeted assault on existing information you can unknowingly find your website falling out of SERPs with no real evidence as to why.
Internal Link injection: The links used in negative SEO point to spam-related sites for things like pharmaceuticals (think “Viagra”) or bootleg items that degrade the quality of your site.
External Links: Another “Black Hat SEO” method is for a hacker to participate in forums where they enter bad links into new comments on old forum threads or embed a sneaky series of backlinks to your site. The worst case scenario for negative SEO, and probably the most unlikely, can result in a manual penalty of your site by Google. Check out this Moz blog with Rand Fishkin for a more thorough explanation of the realities and myths of negative SEO.
Penguin and Panda Help Negative SEO!
In an effort to promote high-quality content and combat the increasing problem of poor quality sites ranking well, Google released the Penguin Algorithm, a search algorithm designed to catch people who spam the Google search results. Unfortunately, this algorithm update was only expected to impact about three percent of search queries that take place in the U.S., but leaves a lot of websites vulnerable to a possible negative SEO attack should their site get poor content injections.
The chances of being affected by negative SEO can also be higher if you currently buy or in the past have purchased listings or cheap links on link networks because manipulative linking has already taken place on a site, leaving it vulnerable to a more precise attack. If a competitor wanted to expand on your link profile with these types of links it could trip the Panda algorithm to demote the site for particular keyword rankings.
How Do I Protect My Site?
To protect your website, it’s important that you frequently check both Google and Bing webmaster tools for any messages or warning signs. If you feel like you may be under attack, contact a search engine optimization agency for an immediate audit.
Taking frequent and active steps to combat negative SEO is a good idea in more competitive industries.
Here are three steps to take:
- Make sure your plugins and CMS are up to date with the newest version
- Monitor in-bound links at least once a month, check for new incoming links, unique domains, branded and keyword-rich anchor text vs. spam
- Monitor Webmaster tools keywords and investigate anything that looks like it’s not part of your industry
Although there is no guarantee of completely avoiding an unwanted negative SEO attack, you can lessen your risk with a clean backlink profile, providing an optimized user experience with quality content that builds strong third-party brand mentions. If you’re concerned about the possibility of Negative SEO on your website, talk to the search engine specialists at Rank Fuse Interactive about creating a custom plan to combat Negative SEO.