What is Negative SEO?

Negative SEO is the practice of using discredited or black hat techniques against your website by a competitor or other rival. Since the Google Penguin update of 2012, the focus of huge linking campaigns has shifted from promoting a website to causing harm to competitor sites through a very underhand but still common practice of creating hundreds of irrelevant links so Google penalises the attacked website and drops it’s ranking in the Search Engines.

Run a Backlink Audit and Disavow bad links

A regular audit should now be a part of any SEO campaign. Backlinks can be simply downloaded from your Google Webmaster account, then analysed for suspicious and outdated links. The owner of the originating site can be contacted to remove the link and/or the Google Disavow Link Tool can be utilised to disavow and negate the effect of poor quality links.

Look out for links from:

  • Sites that are not indexed in Google
  • Link or article directories (but not all are bad)
  • Sites which are virus infected or have malware
  • Paid links, those with a high PR ranking can be paid links and are ones to watch
  • Site’s with irrelevant titles, if the title and subject don’t match it could be a sign of a problem

Find out more on uncovering a back link attack at Search Engine Watch

Do be a little careful though as Google warns us to use Disavow Links with “caution” as it “can potentially harm you site’s performance in Google’s search results” it may also take some time as your site is re crawled and re indexed by Google and your ranking set back to where it should be if you have been affected. If you are disavowing poor links and contacting webmasters one by one you may find the process a little frustrating too.

If you are not currently working with SEO specialists now may be the time to employ a good SEO consultant as SEO techniques and challenges have changed dramatically in the past 18 months, and you may need that extra advice from an expert firm.

Can I protect my website?

Actually yes and no, no because there is no method in place for preventing negative backlink attacks and controversially Google’s only aid so far is the Disavow Links Tool, which has been reported not to work and can take some time. It also does not protect against repeat attacks so a regular Backlink audit must be essential.

However yes you can protect your website by ensuring that the SEO consultant, firm or techniques you use are current and reputable methods and you have an overall goal of providing natural, quality content. If you have a well optimised site with a healthy backlink profile and good domain authority you should survive all but the most insistent of attackers.

Attributed to Cayenne Red.  Cayenne Red is a Digital Marketing Agency specialising in Bespoke Web Design, SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing Management & Social Media Marketing.