Keeping on Top of Negative SEO

Keeping on Top of Negative SEO

How to combat incoming spam links, scraping content and affiliate hijacking to ensure you keep your organic SEO efforts intact and your rankings positive.

In some cases, getting to the top is far easier than maintaining the position, and often times this is applicable to SEO. Ranking highly, especially for very competitive search terms, can paint a target on your website, because it’s exactly where your competitors want to be – in first place.

Some competitors may even resort to negative SEO in an effort to try and take your website out of the top positions so they can snatch a better ranking for themselves. In a nutshell, negative SEO is the act of attempting to entice a penalty or reduce authority of a competitor’s website using off-page methods.

The most shocking part about negative SEO is how mainstream and available it has become. Certain freelance sites even include adverts selling negative SEO services claiming to be able to sabotage your competitors’ rankings for very small fees.

Inbound Spam Links

The most common and usually easiest form of negative SEO. This is generally achieved by sourcing unscrupulous sites and adding links back to the “target” website. Link farm sites are some of the worst sources of spammy links in this case, and a high volume of links can be achieved with little effort, whilst the results can be devastating. Even just a few high-spam links can have a huge negative impact on the performance of a website.

To combat this, be sure to audit your inbound links regularly using any of the great SEO tools out there, such as AHREFS. If you see an incoming link that looks suspicious, be sure to disavow them with immediate effect. When you have identified the culprits, you will be able to export this list as a .txt file and submit it to Google’s disavow tool. Google will then ‘ignore’ these links moving forward, but they also suggest you don’t simply rely on the disavow tool entirely. We recommend you enable Google Search Console Notifications in order to receive email notifications regarding broken and spammy links.

If you want to get serious about backlinks, though, you can invest in a premium tool that will offer much more insight. SEMrush is an excellent choice as it not only allows you to monitor backlinks effectively but is also a great tool for keyword research, competitor analysis and much, much more. In fact, it’s a tool we can’t live without here at Soar Online and you can always try it out for a 30 day free trial to see if it’s your cup of tea.

Scraping / Duplicate Content

This can be a little more difficult to monitor than inbound links, but it is still something you should be keeping an eye out for. Often times, competitors will just lift content from your website and use it on their own, thus causing duplicate content issues. Tools such as CopySentry (by CopyScape) can monitor for plagiarism for a small cost.

Affiliate Hijacking

A more complicated negative SEO tactic that involves a series of fast JavaScript redirects with affiliate tracking parameters that trigger when a search result is clicked..

An example of an affiliate tracking URL would be:$ja=tsid:35426|kw:je6NUbpObpQ|cgn:je6NUbpObpQ&siteID=je6NUbpObpQ-KYZsvI723uwNs5eT26NFUg

This usually results in the affiliate ID gaining credit for any purchases made through users clicking on the organic search listing. Let’s say this credits the affiliate with £1 per transaction made, and your online store attracts 10,000 visitors per month. This could result in thousands of pounds of illegitimate affiliate fees racking up.

Be sure to monitor your Google Analytics and affiliate tracking very closely. In most cases, you wouldn’t have affiliate links coming from organic search.