SEO campaigning is designed to enhance traffic and convert visits to sales. A negative campaign will fail in effectiveness and may not be a result of a webmaster’s campaign. Negative SEO tactics can be taken by a competitor and a webmaster must identify site weaknesses and correct the damage that has occurred.
There are defenses every webmaster should be armed with, with one of their best defenses being a site with a strong SEO focused foundation, which is crucial in SEO campaigning as it allows continual monitoring of crucial ranking metrics to ensure there are no negatives at play. Staying in good standing with Google is also essential, as a solid relationship will help to ensure long standing rankings.
With the launch of penguin algorithm update and the latest Google Webmaster Tools message warning sites of inorganic links, Google created a new degree of concern for webmasters simply because it is more difficult for a webmaster to determine if a penalty results due to a serious issue or whether there is foul play at work or if the site owner is negligent in compiling with Google guidelines.
Google is likely aware of the impact of the launch, and may be combating with stronger customer support, a larger webspam team, more information on identifying link manipulation patterns and preparing for a backlash from webmasters.
Different Forms of Negative SEO
Negative SEO can be a result of a vicious attach from a competitor, such as a competitor purchasing links and linking them to the competition’s website in hopes to lower their rankings. Websites can also be a victim of foul play, inflicting damage to a site, such as paying for positive reviews and reporting the webmaster practicing “Black Hat” SEO tactics.
Negative SEO directed at the competition is a means for a competitor to enhance their search rankings by damaging their competitor’s.
There are measures webmasters can take to protect themselves from foul play. Consider the following:
- As a general rule, sites with a strong domain authority have less threat of being hit with negative SEO tactics.
- Negative SEO campaigning is risky, and not a means for a legitimate business to succeed.
- Google takes measures to help protect sites from foul play, with system reviews intact to help speed recovery should a site be hit with foul play.
- It is essential for webmasters to keep an eye on SEO factors that can be influenced by competitors like false reviews and inorganic backlinks.
Negative SEO Tactics
While there is no list of negative SEO tactics, following are a few examples of successful negative SEO campaigning.
Inorganic Links: Just as your radar will alarm if suddenly you have a large number of links directed to your website, so will Google’s. It is essential to stay in good standing with Google. You’ll need to remove the bad links to stay within Google guidelines and submit a request for reconsideration with information on links you do not able to remove.
Content Theft Prior to the Content Being Indexed: Content theft prior to the content being indexed is a deliberate attempt to steal the content and make it appear as though the table is reversed and the copied content is actually the original. As a defense, webmasters should maintain a sitemap which they resubmit when content is updated or published. Help to protect yourself as the authority site with an absolute rel=canonical tag on pages. One quick means to check to see if your content is being scrapped and copied is to perform a Google search using a strip of content from your page placed in quotes.
False Reviews: Reviews are an easy means for a competitor to target your site with the intention of damaging your rankings. Fake reviews are considered “Black Hat” tactics and a violation of Google guidelines and a webmaster must report the problem to Google as a problem link as soon as it is brought to their attention and fix the situation.
Site Speed: Site speed can turn away a visitor faster than anything. Webmasters can protect themselves from malicious crawlers that slow site speed due to excessive crawling, however the action must be performed with extreme caution so search engines and users are not blocked from site navigation. If using IP detection, having Google and Bing’s IP addresses will help to identify and stop malicious crawlers.
DMCA Removal Requests: Of negative SEO tactics, DMCA removal requests are a more powerful and damaging form of negative SEO tactics as the competitor targets the most important backlinks of the site. The process includes a webmaster receiving an email that contains a message stating a link to the site is an infringement of copyrights and must be removed. One means avoid this from happening is to build a relationship, no matter how simple, with the site owner. Something as simple as a thanking the webmaster of the site for the link through a simple email could mean the difference of the link being permanent. Always looking for new opportunities in analytics is a means to locate new links that may be valuable and a means that will yield results quicker than the time it takes for a link to be indexed.