Negative SEO – Should You Worry?
Usually, whenever you read about SEO, it’s about how to make sure your website is identified as high-value content by search engines’ algorithms, and as something that’s relevant for users interested in a certain niche. However, there’s an unethical, black-hat counterpart to SEO which consists of using that knowledge to sabotage the pagerank of competing websites – essentially pulling your website up by pushing others down.
Why Is Negative SEO A Thing?
Black hat SEO techniques have always been a thing, and engines have been doing a very good job at rendering them ineffective. In fact, they’ve protected themselves so well, that ill-intentioned individuals have started getting creative and plotting to degrade their competitors’ websites instead.
While relatively uncommon, negative SEO is a serious threat to any website, and savvy internet entrepreneurs should do all that’s in their power to prevent it from happening to them. It’s important to keep in mind that reversing the effects of negative SEO can be very, very hard, while preventing it tends to be a lot easier.
How Does It Work?
There are many things an unethical competitor could do to threaten your websites search rank score. The most obvious one would be hacking your website and simply deleting it, but there are many other lesser ways that can have a significant impact, as well.
Negative SEO attackers will often build fake, spammy links to a competitor’s website – hundreds, even thousands of them, damaging their backlinks -, make fake websites that display copies of their competitor’s content, or even creating a bunch of social media profiles to ruin their online reputation with fake reviews.
How Can I Protect Myself?
When a Negative SEO attack succeeds, it’s usually because the owner of the website had no idea that was a thing, or simply wasn’t prepared to deal with it. Fortunately, once you’re aware of this danger and how to counteract it, doing so becomes trivial. All you need to do is constantly monitor your online presence.
First and foremost, set up some Google Webmaster Tools Email Alerts for yourself. You can ask Google to send you an e-mail if your pages aren’t indexed, if your website is suspected of malware infection, if you get a penalty from Google or if you’re having server connectivity trouble. Usually, it’s best to enable notification for all types of issues, just in case.
Another important action you should take to protect yourself from Negative SEO is keeping track of your backlinks. In order to do that, you can use Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs or a similar tool from time to time, or simply use MonitorBacklinks.com, which will notify you whenever something about your website’s backlinks changes.
Last but not least, you should always protect your identity online. If a competitor gets access to an e-mail of yours, your Facebook page, or literally any other mean of identification, they could easily perform damaging activities such as contacting websites that link to you and asking to remove the link. Make sure to stay on top of your online relationships with other websites and influencers, too, as otherwise they could very easily impersonate you with a fake e-mail and achieve the same result.