Every website owner is prone to negative SEO attacks especially from competitors. These negative attacks can come in a few forms. In a general sense, negative SEO are those tactics employed by some website owners who buy links from link farms and point them at a competitor’s website in an effort and desire to drag the competitor’s rankings down or have it totally disappeared in search engine results page ranking. Other negative SEO attacks may also include tactics such as hacking a website to cause malicious damage on a website, or by simply reporting another website’s “black hat” SEO tactics to Google, and do review bombing where a large number of 5-star reviews at a business making it look like the website paid for them.
A website owner, therefore, has to be vigilant and watch out for obvious and not so obvious signs that a competitor is doing negative SEO on your website. Some of the effective ways to check this include:
- Monitor Your Backlink Profile and Check for Paid Linking. This is one tactic commonly used by competitors to attack a website by having thousands of links pointing to the website even if there is no relevance to the website. Tools like SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO, and Google Webmaster Tools may be used to check the backlink profile.
- Check if Your Content is Duplicated. Competitors will attempt to copy a site’s content to make it look like they own the content and being copied by the original site. This can be prevented by using an absolute rel=canonical tag on pages to help establish that your site is the owner of such content. Make a Google search containing a sentence from your webpage within quotes and you will see which websites contain the same content as yours.
- Fake reviews. Adding fake reviews to a business listing is one tactic done by competitors to make it look like that the business is creating the review for their site. This could get Google to remove the reviews from the business listing. This can be checked by monitoring reviews relevant to your site or business and use the “report a problem” link to notify Google of the suspected negative SEO attack.
- Site Speed. There are ways to prevent malicious crawlers from accessing your site but it has to be done carefully so as not to block legitimate search engine crawlers from navigating your site. A method to check for malicious crawlers is using the IP addresses of Google and Bing to detect and stop bad crawlers.
- Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) removal requests. This is the most effective negative SEO done by competitors. What competitors do is to send email notifying the Webmaster that the page containing a link to your site is considered a copyright infringement and should be removed immediately. This can be monitored by keeping an eye on new referral traffic in analytics, which help identify new links worth thanking. By establishing a relationship with the site that provided the link through a thank-you email can help keep that link permanent.
While competitors can launch such negative SEO attacks on your website, your best defense is making sure that your website has solid white hat search engine optimization strategies and constantly monitoring important ranking metrics for foul play. It will also help to maintain an open and honest relationship with Google in order to keep long standing rankings.
Establishing standards in doing pure white label search engine optimization tactics is easy if you have it in-house. But, if you outsource your Internet marketing campaign, particularly SEO, you have to ask your online marketing provider to present reports that they do white hat search engine optimization tactics. You could also ask your internet marketing service provider to look out for the possibility of negative SEO tactics being done by industry competitors.
Ranking in search engine results page could really be achieved by businesses that adhere to the guidelines of major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Once ranking is achieved, industry competitors who do not know how to do friendly competition will surely do what they do best, their dirty game of pulling your business down. To prevent your website from being penalized and pulled down, proper precautions and constant monitoring must be done to land on higher SERP ranking or to sustain the achieved SERP ranking.