So you have set up your website and are proud of the work done to make it look good. You followed all the rules set by the search engine companies to be ranked high. Usually, this is done through proper SEO or Search Engine Optimization, usage. But not too long down the road you noticed the website is just not getting the attention it used to. It starts dropping in search rankings. Something smells fishy, so you get a team of IT people to take a look at things. They do their investigation and come back with some bad news. And that would be the website is victim to negative SEO attacks.
Negative SEO, what in the World is that?
Negative SEO, in a nutshell, is when someone with malicious intent uses techniques to degrade a websites search engine rankings. It uses a technique called “Black Hat SEO”, which is a large field on its own, too big for the scope of this article. Therefore, let’s just stick with the Negative SEO part of Black Hat. Negative SEO is done with one specific goal in mind. To hurt a competitor’s rankings whenever a search is done online. A common way this is done is by attaching a large amount spam links to a website. When this is done to the website it will affect the link profile, which in turn affects rankings. In worst case scenarios, the website itself will be hacked to mess with the content, which will of course mess with rankings.
Fighting the Pirates
So, what can one do to counter negative SEO? Fortunately, there are ways to handle these problems. The following are a few examples.
Auditing is Not Only for the Taxman
Link audits are generally a good habit to get into, regardless what the reason is. But in the context of negative SEO, it can mean the difference between night and day. There are graphs that can be used to keep an eye on the link profile growth or fall. The great thing about graphs is that it gives you a visual reference, as opposed to just some random numbers, that makes it very clear on what’s happening. The way you can tell something is not right is when the graph shows a sudden rise or fall as it travels along the X-axis, especially when you haven’t done any tweaks or changes to the site. This is a sure sign that begs for close attention.
The Need for Speed
One of the early indicators that something is amiss is website speed. If you notice a change in speed that is, a slower speed, then it is time to look under the hood. In extreme cases, it will slow to a crawl and even crash before it takes off. When this happens its time to contact the hosting company.
Lifting and Scraping
Content marketing is the new go-to technique for digital marketing. Some will use a technique called “Scrapping” which is the practice of lifting content straight from another person's website and then putting on their own site. The best way to counter this is to check for plagiarism and then report it to Google.
Fake Reviews can be Devastating
After you have put up your website, business starts to pick up. After some time, you notice there is a lot of negative reviews. If it seems unusually large then you can tackle it by using google maps and flagging the reviews and reporting it to Google.