Negative SEO: What’s that?


If you have a website chances are, you are aware of the benefits of Search Engine Optimisation, SEO which can boost your website’s ranking.  Simply put, your website comes up on the first pages when a person searches for a keyword relating to your website on a search engine.

However, are you familiar with Negative SEO, which is capable of doing the complete opposite?  Lowering your website ranking. Meaning your website will fall to the bottom of the pile, where potential customers may never find you.

In recent times, there have been talks of negative SEO. However, many persons are not sure if this is a myth or a real thing. How badly can it affect your ranking? Is negative SEO a myth, if not how does it work? How do you protect your website?

Regardless of what you have heard and what your questions are, you have come to the right place for a detailed explanation into negative SEO.


What exactly is Negative SEO?

Negative SEO is an intentional act of sabotaging a website in an attempt to harm or lower its ranking in search engine results or to get it penalised by Google. Another goal of negative SEO is to decrease the effectiveness of a website’s SEO properties by disabling or altering them.

This can be the result of competitors in the same niche trying to outrank you or an individual with a personal vendetta against you.


How does negative SEO work?

Negative SEO uses different tactics to attack a website, some of which include:

  • Linking and sending misleading backlinks to your website to decrease its ranking
  • knowingly creating and linking spams to your website
  • Hacking your website
  • Copying and sharing your content all over the internet
  • Creating fake social profiles to ruin your online reputation
  • Removing the best backlinks from your website

These actions cause your website to look spammy and disingenuous which normally results in penalisation from Google.


Types Of Negative SEO Attack

Negative SEO operates much like normal SEO and has both an on-page as well as an off-page aspect to it.  Simply put, it can affect your site by directly interfering with it or indirectly manipulating contents and links externally.

Negative Off-Page SEO

Negative off-page SEO works, by attacking your site without interfering with anything internally.  It manipulates and uses your website’s backlinks, or duplicates its content externally.   Negative off page SEO can come in different forms, which include:

1. Link Farms Attack

Link farm is a series of interconnected web pages created to link other pages on the internet.

Originally, these sites were used to increase the popularity of each site’s page. You could purchase these links from websites to increase your own site’s ranking.

However, individuals carrying out a negative SEO uses this same method to send out tons of spammy links using your backlink.  Google interprets this as you falsely trying to increase traffic to your page. The result is penalisation and low page ranking.

2. Malicious Copyright claims

Intellectual property is sacred. Therefore, it is no surprise that persons accused of copyright infringement are dealt with severely.

Individuals with malicious intent know this too well and can make a claim that you have posted material that belongs to them. This may result in your website being completely removed for several days while investigations into the validity of the claim takes place.

3. Falsify duplicate content

This happens when someone copies and pastes your web page all over the internet, numerous times.

Negative On-Page SEO

This kind of attack takes place on your page, usually in the form of hacking. In a few short minutes, a hacker can easily mess up your coding, introduce viruses, and can completely ruin your website.

Some of the most dangerous covert threats using on-page SEO include the following:

  • Negatively altering SEO properties: Most basic SEO techniques are set and left undisturbed. And truth be told you really hardly notice simple changes. This leaves you vulnerable to on-page negative SEO strategies and Malicious persons wishing to launch an attack uses this as an in to make changes which can wreak havoc for your website.
  • Changing the Robots.txt: This file is incredibly important and is the SEO directory of your website. It directs and controls the interaction between search engines and your website.  If an attacker gains access to your robots.txt, they can easily modify instructions to Google telling it to ignore even your website itself.


Can you protect your website against negative SEO

Unfortunately, you cannot really prevent a negative SEO attack.  However, you can be vigilant with constant monitoring  so that you can spot the attempt early enough to revert it.

Use Google Analytics to set up your website to detect early signs of an attack.  Early signs can be a sudden drop in your website’s organic traffic.

Google Webmaster Tools Email Alert is also helpful in notifying you of abnormal page activities.


Recovering from a negative SEO attack

 Negative SEO can cause serious problems and can damage your online reputation but there is hope.  You can recover from an attack, by following these steps:

1. Identify harmful links by doing a backlink audit

Start by identifying the links that are harming your website by conducting a backlink audit into whether your website is a victim of negative SEO.  Google Webmaster Tool can help you to identify if someone is building and linking spammy links to your site. If you are really under attack, there may be hundreds of links

2. Use Google’s disavow tool to remove bad links

If you are indeed a victim of a negative SEO attack, Google has released a Disavow tool to help you resolve this issue.

Essentially, you send a list of all the disingenuous links to your site requesting that they remove them.  This process of telling Google to disassociate your website from low quality, spammy links, helps to protect your ranking and reputation.

3. Build a good reputation

Work hard at building a good reputation for your brand through your website.  This way Google will alert you when something is amiss.

Final Thoughts

The truth is that anyone can become a victim of negative SEO attacks, but the main takeaway is to do regular website monitoring so you can site abnormal activities early.  Pay close attention to your ranking, organic traffic, rankings, and backlinks and use a trusted hosting website.