Protecting your business or online presence from negative SEO should be an important part of your overall online marketing strategy. Unfortunately it is a malicious practice that is becoming more common as the web continues to expand and can have a huge negative impact on your SEO efforts. In some cases, it’s difficult to prevent negative SEO entirely, but there are still ways to pro-actively combat it.
What Exactly is Negative SEO?
In a nutshell, negative SEO involves the use of blackhat techniques with the sole purpose of sabotaging a website’s search engine rankings; most commonly against a competitor. Some of the techniques involved include:
- Populating negative reviews to influence search engine ratings
- Link farms
- Content scraping
- Spam link building
There are also a number of on-site negative SEO practices linked to hacking, such as infecting your site with bad keywords in large quantities, quite commonly focused around pharmaceuticals – not too different from those spammy emails we all receive!
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 about the price of a Starbucks Vanilla Latte.
As you can probably see, most of these negative SEO tactics revolve around mass backlinks from unscrupulous websites, so it is important that you know how to check your backlinks and filter out those that are ‘spammy’.
Your first port of call should be Google Search Console, which provides free backlink data. This can give you a general idea of the types of inbound links to your website, but unfortunately doesn’t go too deep into their properties. You will also have to export this data if you want to make much use of it – still, it’s entirely free to use.
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.
Whatever your tool of choice, the plan of action will generally be the same. 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.
Have you been hit by a negative SEO attack?
Whether you’re sure you’ve been targeted, or if you’re interested to know what your backlink demographic looks like, we’d be happy to take a look for you.