Negative SEO Tactics and Countermeasures

Many in the industry hear about Negative SEO but do not have a clear sense of what it really means. Negative search engine optimization is related to any action implemented outside of the organic or natural optimization techniques. To be more specific, it is associated with buying links that point to the competitor’s website. This practice is done by some websites in an attempt to scupper their competitors’ rankings. Some other Negative SEO practices include:

  • Hacking a website to malign the contents of the website
  • Bombarding of 5-star reviews at a business to create an impression of paid reviews
  • Reporting black hat SEO of another website to Google or other search engines.

Negative SEO Tactics and Countermeasures

Website owners then run the risk of being hit by this unscrupulous practice since they do not have control of who links to them. Business competition may put a website at risk of being targeted for negative SEO. Some of the known tactics used include:

  • BUYING LINKS. Google is quite particular with links that any unusual activity on the website such as having a thousand links pointing to your website. This is enough for Google to notice and render your website questionable.

Countermeasure: Work with Google and change your website to make it more Google-compliant. Submit a request for reconsideration when innumerable links point to your website. Make a list with details on the links which you don’t have any control over.

  • CONTENT STEALING BEFORE IT IS INDEXED. This is copying a site’s content to make it look like the original is a copycat.

Countermeasure: By regularly updating your sitemap and re-submitting it when new content is published, will make it difficult for Negative SEO masters to keep up. Using of rel=canonical tag on pages will help establish that your site is the authority if the content is scraped off and duplicated by third party.

  • FAKE OR FALSIFIED REVIEWS. Any competitor can easily manipulate your web pages by adding fake reviews that will make a negative impression of paying for such reviews.

Countermeasure: Constant monitoring of reviews is needed to make sure that no suspicious reviews build up on your site. Use the feature “report a problem” link to notify Google on the presence of fake reviews.

  • EXCESSIVE CRAWLING OF SITE. There could be malicious crawlers accessing your site, and this can cause invisibility issues for other users browsing your site.

Countermeasure: Know Google and Bing’s IP addresses when using IP detection tool to identify and stop bad crawlers from gaining access to your website.

  • DMCA TAKEDOWN REQUEST. For many website owners, this is the most effective and scary negative SEO tactic. This is when a competitor sends email to Google to notify that your website violated copyright policies with respect to the site’s most valuable backlinks and as such should be removed immediately.

Countermeasure: You should establish a good relationship with the linking site is the first step to prevent such request from happening. An email saying “Thank you for the link” can help keep the link on a permanent basis. It is important to monitor new referral traffic to identify which links are worth sending a thank you note.

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