How To Protect Yourself Against Negative SEO
When done right, SEO uses algorithm-based approaches to ensure your company’s website appears when potential customers perform digital searches on computers or smart devices. This practice includes keywords, structuring elements, image naming techniques, and linking to reputable sources to build credibility.
Properly executed, SEO helps your written content rank higher in a topic’s search results.
There are less-honest methods of boosting your website’s position in search results, too. These “black hat” tactics focus on search engines but not the humans who use them, using invisible keyword-heavy text, adding unrelated keywords, page swapping, and keyword dumping to trick search engine algorithms. For what it’s worth, search engines are wise to black hat techniques, and it’s becoming more difficult for companies to beat the SEO system.
Negative SEO is a different beast entirely, involving nefarious means to undermine competitors and spoil their search engine rankings. This quick guide will help you understand and protect against negative SEO.
What Gets Included in Negative SEO?
Working to torch a competitor’s rankings is not the most upstanding approach to SEO. There are plenty of techniques that fall in this less-than-reputable arsenal, including:
- Adding a “this site may be hacked” line to search result listings, thereby decreasing credibility.
- Crawling a competitor’s site to cause heavy server loads and prevent proper functioning.
- Creating spam links with or without negative, inappropriate words to target its website.
- Hacking a competitor’s website to alter the code or modify its content.
- Implementing a disallowing rule that excludes a competitor’s website from search results.
- Setting up link farms that only build links between related websites.
- Stealing and copying a competitor’s content, then reusing it on multiple other sites.
Any of these tactics will decrease the likelihood that a customer will trust your brand, and result in chaos while you work to find and remove them. It may dissuade a few buyers in the short term, but the long-term impacts of negative SEO can be catastrophic.
It could even cause a business to shut its doors for good.
How to Protect Against Negative SEO
A few easy steps can help your company ensure it is never impacted by negative SEO, or that the practices leveraged are minimized and removed. Here are a few tips for preventing negative SEO:
Monitor social media
Bad actors use social media to create fake profiles, spread defamatory information, and impact perceptions of your company. Report such profiles as you find them.
Run searches for duplicate text
Programs exist to “scrape” the internet for duplicate text, alerting you of fraudulent copy and pasting and allowing you to report improper usage.
Set up email alerts
Google Webmaster can send you an email when your website sees server connection issues, pages are not being indexed, malware has been launched, or a Google penalty is leveraged for black hat SEO practices you did not employ.
Tap into good security
Prevent hacking, malware attacks, and other cybersecurity threats with a proactive solution, protecting your content and making it difficult for bad actors to do their worst.
Use tools to track your backlinks
Companies that link to your content boost your credibility as a source. The wrong companies linking to your content can completely undo that growth. Track which pages are linking to yours and report those that don’t fit the credibility profile.
Most importantly, use good SEO tactics! Build your own audience and links over time, be mindful of the websites to which you link, publish quality content, use keywords appropriately, and avoid any of the “get rich quick-style” tactics involved in buying links, follows, and more. The best results come from those who treat SEO with respect. Let the competition do what it needs to do, and focus on your own SEO instead.
Work with a Marketing Team You Trust
Are you concerned about your company’s SEO efforts, or worried that negative SEO tactics may have been implemented against your website? Contact a time-tested, tried-and-true marketing partner to audit your current setup and help you determine the next steps.