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Negative SEO – What It Is And How To Avoid It

05th Sep, 2023
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    Negative SEO – What It Is And How To Avoid It

    You’ve done your research. And despite repeated pronouncements by some experts that SEO is dead, the information that you have collected says otherwise.

    You’ve allocated ample resources toward SEO and you have made the effort to find a reputable digital agency to help promote your company and its offerings online.

    Initially, you found great success, with your website steadily climbing up the ranks in search engine results pages. However, while checking your website’s rank, you notice a steep dive. Something’s amiss.

    What could have gone wrong?

    A process of elimination

    There are several possible reasons why a website’s ranking takes a nosedive.

    One reason why your website is tanking could be because you are not using (or your agency is not using) internal linking. It is possible that your new website design has adversely affected the time it takes your website to load. Since 2010, Google has factored in website speed when determining rankings. Or maybe it has been ages since you added new content to your web pages. Or perhaps your website is not mobile-friendly.

    There are plenty of other possible reasons. If you are working with a reputable agency, it is highly likely that these issues have been addressed. If you are not sure, check your digital marketing agency’s work and look for shortcomings. You may even want to switch to a different agency if you feel shortchanged.

    Watching out for negative SEO

    • If you and your agency have ruled out possible shortcomings from your end, one reason for your website’s steep dive that you might want to consider looking into is negative SEO.
    • Negative SEO is an umbrella term that refers to unethical techniques that are used to make a competitor’s ranking go down. In simple terms, someone is working to undermine your SEO efforts.
    • If the goal of SEO is to increase or improve a website’s ranking on search engines, negative SEO works the opposite way by pulling the same website’s ranking down.
    • Among the practices that fall under negative SEO are hacking, removing good backlinks from your website, copying and distributing your website content, linking your website to shady keywords, spammy links to your website, and even the outright smearing of your company’s online reputation.
    • But who would do such a nefarious thing? It is possible that someone has attacked your website just for kicks with no real intention of getting something from you.
    • It is also possible that the one who has done negative SEO work on your website is out for revenge. A disgruntled former employee, perhaps? Or even your former digital agency who is out to do damage to your company after losing your business.
    • If your business belongs to a competitive industry, it may be possible that a competitor has paid a company or individual to pull down your ranking so that the competing company will emerge with a higher position.

    Protecting your website

    • As with most things in life, prevention is always better than the cure. The same thing applies to your website.
    • Negative SEO can undermine your efforts and lead to the loss of the precious resources you have invested into the site. And the longer your website ranking languishes, the more potential customers you lose.
    • Negative SEO is quite uncommon. However, if your business has lots of competition, you must consider the threat of negative SEO very carefully.
    • What can you do to protect your website against threats of negative SEO?

    Make sure that you receive email alerts

    Make sure that your website is connected to Google Webmaster Tools. Google will send email alerts if there is something amiss with your website and those emails are one of the first things that you need to look at regularly.

    Monitor your backlinks profile regularly

    There are a few tools that you can use to keep track of your website’s backlink profile. Specifically, you should check whether there is someone creating dubious links to your website.

    You can also use these tools to monitor and protect your best backlinks. Apart from monitoring these links, make sure that you communicate with other website owners and administrators using your company email instead of a Yahoo or Gmail account.

    Invest in security

    Keep hackers and bots at bay by adhering to security best practices. Consider using a 2-step verification password. Back up files regularly. Install a formidable antivirus program.

    Scan for duplicate content

    There are a few tools that you can use to scan the Web for duplicate content. One of the most popular is Copyscape.

    Create alerts for social mentions

    Hackers and spammers can create fake profiles mimicking your social media accounts. You can prevent potential problems by using online tools that alert you when your company is mentioned online.

    Evaluate your SEO strategies

    Whether you are doing SEO in-house or outsourcing the associated tasks, make sure that your website follows best practices.

    You’ve worked hard to get good rankings online. Don’t let your efforts go to waste because of negative SEO.


    Philip Mazloumian

    Blog Author

    With a BSc (Honors) in Psychology, Philip Mazloumian understands that creativity heavily depends on human insight, and as such, his knowledge forms an invaluable part of what React Digital does. With over 10 years of leadership in the field of strategic brand development and marketing communication, he has positioned himself as a leading executive for organizations that require effective and timely achievement of their brand and marketing objectives.

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