With the importance of SEO rising on a daily basis, it’s only natural that the competition is going to fight you over those few top spots in the search engine rankings. And when it comes to SEO, not everyone is going to fight fairly. Some competitors might try to hurt your rankings, instead of boosting their own. Any malicious attempt that someone takes against your site in order to push you out of the rankings for a specific keyword is called negative SEO. With the loss of your organic search visibility, you’ll also be losing a lot of money and potentially have to shut down your business. Here’s our guide on how to detect negative SEO and successfully defend from it.
How To Detect an SEO Attack
The best way to prevent any irreparable damage to your site is to actually detect the attack in due time. You can achieve this by staying diligent and keeping an eye out on signs.
- Search Traffic Drop – Monitor your website visits. If there’s a sudden drop in your search traffic, it could be a sign of negative SEO.
- Individual Keyword Rankings Drop – If your search traffic is already down, there’s a good chance the reason for it is the drop in your rankings. Use a tool like Ahref’s Rank Tracker to monitor the movements of your most important keywords. If there’s a sudden drop, it could be a red flag.
- Manual Penalty Notification – If you get a message from Google telling you that your site is using techniques opposed to their guidelines, the penalty might have been triggered by an SEO attack.
Monitor Your Backlinks
When it comes to negative SEO, most of the time you’ll be a victim of spam attacks. By keeping a backup of all your existing and real backlinks, you’ll make sure that you can return to the pre-attack state. You can use the tools like Majestic or Site Explorer to look at the links to your site in Google Search Console (GSC). No one tool will show you all the backlinks, so make sure to use at least two or more. Now you’ll need to export all the links to a sheet because you’ll want to disavow the bad links.
Scraped Content Search
Content marketing has grown in importance over the past few years and is incredibly important. Unfortunately, not everyone’s creative about it, and people might want to take a shortcut and copy your content, claiming it as their own. This process of lifting your content is called scraping and can have serious consequences to your website. If the copied content by any chance gets indexed before yours, you might get penalized by Google and your page devalued. You can use a tool like Copyscape to figure out if someone has stolen your content, and report them to Google if they have.
Watch Out For Bad Reviews
Negative reviews are only normal and they will happen, making you learn from your mistakes and still grow your business. But what about an unrealistically huge number of bad reviews? Unless you’ve done something to deserve them, a huge number of bad reviews could be a red flag that someone is trying to ruin your business with fake reviews. It’s very important to monitor your Google My Businesses listing and report the fake reviews. This will ensure that you protect your online reputation.
With cyber-attacks on the rise year after year, it’s important that you keep your security tools up to date. If you’re storing sensitive customer data, consider moving your site to HTTPS, since its encryption offers much better security, but also because it’s a ranking signal which might improve your SEO. And remember, you’re not alone in this one. Sometimes it’s better to seek out help from a long-standing SEO company to protect you from these attacks, especially if you’re in over your head.
Negative SEO is not that common anymore, and Google is improving its methods in detecting it before it can affect your SERP (Search Engine Result Pages). But there will always be clever people finding ways to cheat the system, and that’s why you need to be ready to protect your assets. Be vigilant about anything that can negatively affect your website’s reputation, and if needed, always report it to Google. If you monitor your backlinks, traffic, and rankings on daily basis, chances are you’ll be able to detect an attack before it’s too late.