Did you know it’s easier than ever for competitors to sabotage your search engine rankings? Their tactics are known as Negative SEO and are often noticed only after the damage is done.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prepare for the worst and ensure damage is minimal.

What is Negative SEO?

Negative SEO is the practice of intentionally creating malicious links to a website with the sole purpose of damaging its credibility in the eyes of search engines.

The most common method of inflicting intentional damage is buying hundreds or thousands of links and pointing them all to a single domain. The intent is to make it appear like a blackhat scheme to game search engines and to tank the site’s rankings.

Negative SEO was first brought to light in 2012, after Google’s Penguin update was implemented to combat blackhat techniques like buying links. Many industry professionals argue that, while Penguin is great for promoting ethical SEO practices, it has inadvertently given spammers ammunition to use the update against those who are playing by the rules.

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Things to know:
– Google has gotten better about notifying site owners when an apparent attack has been initiated.

– Sites with a higher domain authority are less susceptible to attacks.

– Google has created tools for recouping after an attack (more on this later in the article).

– Google customer support should always be contacted the moment an attack happens.

How To Prevent Negative SEO

Unfortunately, attacks from spammers or hackers are only noticed after their job is done. For this reason, preventative measures are limited. However, there are a number of things you can do to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity, and catch it the moment it happens.

Google Analytics
It’s important to constantly monitor your site traffic in order to spot abnormal patterns that are clear signs of alarm. Let’s say on average your website gets 1,000 visitors per day. One day you log into Analytics and notice 5,000 visits. Unless your website or brand has gone viral overnight, this should be a clear sign that something is awry.

Google Webmaster Tools
Monitoring GWT is a great way to keep track of daily clicks and impressions, as well as links pointing to your domain. It’s a good practice to keep track of trends and site averages, in conjunction with any activity that may cause fluctuations in your data.

Google’s Disavow Links Tool
If you are confident that your site has experienced a link attack, you may use Google’s Disavow Links Tool to make a request for the links to be ignored by Google when considering your site’s authority.

Google Customer Support
You should always contact Google’s support team when you feel your site has been compromised or attacked. They are typically very helpful, and understand the urgent need to come to a resolution.

In Conclusion

The competitive nature of online business has unfortunately led some people to employ insidious tactics to get ahead. Negative SEO attacks can’t be planned for and they are very real. However, with some forethought and continual monitoring of your site analytics, you can be prepared to take immediate action in the case of an emergency.

by Fuze April 4, 2014