Negative SEO – Basics, Risks, Types, Tips to Spot and Ways to Combat


Negative SEO has turned into a common issue. It is real and can damage a website if not destroy it through aggressive backlink spamming and malicious backlinks. It can turn into a legitimate danger resulting in the loss of revenue and visibility of organic search. Simply put, negative SEO is the utilization of black, unethical methods to harm the rankings of a site within the leading search results.

They are just everything that Google is against which means violating the policies of Google. Though negative SEO may take various forms some of the common ways through which a website can be attacked include-building bad links through irrelevant keywords, creating for your company social profiles that are fake and hacking the site for adding malicious code.

The Risk of Negative SEO

Every time it is not possible for Google to differentiate between a real spammer or a website that has fallen prey to negative SEO. So, no wonder keeping a track on the web traffic and links is essential. New sites and start-ups are not always the victim, but it is a big website which is often at risk. Google has begun to address this problem and offering solutions via two popular tools- the Disavow tool and Google Webmaster Tool. Here lies a key reason as to why one prevents taking this risk. SEO can be good or bad. Negative SEO is a way of spamming a site intentionally or optimizing it in excess to cut down its rankings or worst to worst get penalized via Google.

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Negative SEO- The Different Types

Negative SEO, unfortunately, works well and above all possess the potential of harming your website in ways untold. Take a look at its different types,

  • Bad Links- It is quite likely that your competitors may build in your site bad links by paying the banned websites, gambling sites or adult sites. An easy way of getting hit by a Google penalty is by making a link farm. It is made through a group of sites which hyperlink with one another for increasing the incoming links. When it is done aggressively through the competitor, there will be high chances of your site getting banned through Google. There are aggressive negative SEOs that will exclusively target a particular web page by building in the subpage some low-quality links.
  • Unusual Anchor Text- It is a link utilizing anchor text which does not have any relation to the web page where it is linked with or exists. This method of negative SEO is entirely conventional and can get your site penalized and also harm the ranking. So, make sure that every anchor text linking made on your site has keywords that are pertinent.
  • Domain Redirects- You must have come across a 301 redirect. It can pass 90-99% ranking power or link juice towards the redirected page. When utilized for negative SEO, your competitor through 301 redirects banned/unrelated domains to the site or redirect adult/pharma/SEO/gambling domains to the website.
  • Malware and Virus- When there is malware in a website it can cause intrusion. The moment any malicious code enters your site’s HTML source code through a hacker, your website will be delisted by Google right away. This way your site will be considered unreliable. The two commonly used tactics in negative SEO is SQL Injection and WordPress hacks.
  • Play Profile Games- Most black hatters make fake profiles for impacting the business of their competitors adversely. To run blog spammers with the link of competitors or spam people using the domain name of the competitor are common negative SEO types.
  • Maximizing Issues- There are more tactics which are used for attacking a site through negative SEO such as website linking to non-existent pages or making a lot of duplicate content that will right away grab the attention of Google.

Ways to Spot Whether Your Site Has Been Attacked by Negative SEO

To discover whether your site is the target of negative SEO or not is a challenge but below are some tips that can help,

  • Sudden Drop in Traffic- In case you notice that there has been a sudden significant drop in your web traffic you will fall prey to negative SEO. No wonder it is essential on your part to focus on your web traffic which you can do with the help of different tools such as SEMrush, Searchmetrics, Google Webmaster Tools, and Google Analytics amid others.
  • Conduct an Audit on Backlink- Your site has low-quality links created by spammers. So, conducting an audit on backlink is vital as this will help you to check whether your site has fallen prey to negative SEO. You can check whether your site contains spammy links by taking the help of tools such as Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs and Google Webmaster Tools. To know more get in touch with a renowned SEO NJ company.

Negative SEO – Ways to Combat It

If negative SEO has already hit your site and has caused you severe harm already, then it is a high time in running a rescue operation that is full-fledged. Take a look at some of the ways in which you can combat it.

  • Organizing the Data– First and foremost, organize every link data which you have gathered from the various tools such as Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO, Ahrefs and Google Webmaster Tools and copy the data present in every link and paste the same into the pertinent sheets. Visit Data Tab, select remove and delete all the duplicates present on the sheet to have just one URL link.
  • Detecting Bad Links- In the case of a massive list of backlinks, checking every link to identifying which are the bad links can be challenging. Relax, there are some tools that can make your task easy. With the help of Backlinks Monitor, cognitiveSEO and URL Profiler you can quickly identify unusual anchor text and bad links.  
  • Reject the Bad Links- Post identifying and making the link list that needs to be removed, put the data in the Disavow Tool. This tool will label the link along with a tag. Google algorithm will not credit this to a website either negatively or positively yet take into consideration there exists mixed reports on this tool’s efficacy. The Disavow tool can be used for the whole domain or disavowing individual links.
  • Get in Touch with the Webmaster- To disavow a link will not help you in coming out clean. Getting in touch with the domain webmaster and asking them in removing such links is required. Gathering the contact details concerning the bad links will need some time. It is here where Rmoov and URL Profiler will prove handy.

Negative SEO – Ways to Prevent It

We all know prevention at all times is better than a cure. Take a look at some measures that can help you in preventing SEO.

Email Alert

Email Alert must be your first step for fighting against negative SEO. When you set up an alert Google will send you an email if there is a malware attack on your site, there is an issue of server connectivity, and Google has sent you a manual penalty. Just log on to the account, press on the Webmaster Tools Preferences. Select to get alerts for every problem through email notifications.


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Monitor Social Media Mentions

The truth is spammers may adopt methods such as making your social media profile’s fake version. Immediately report it as spam. You can also utilize for discovering whether your brand name is being used on social media by someone else. This way you will get a notification right away the moment the name of your company is mentioned on social media by someone else.

Google Alerts

This tool will assist you in keeping a track regarding people’s view on your site. You will receive instant notification of any mention or review on Google about your site.

  • Enter your website’s URL
  • Click on the option Show for setting the filter
  • Select from that drop down All Results on How Many
  • Add your email id for creating the alert

Extortion emails these days are increasing in the industry, so it is vital to ensure that you take steps in being safe. Do not forget to make sure that your website is Google Webmaster Tools verified and regularly keep track of your links in the tools mentioned above. The moment you have doubts that your site has been hit by negative SEO right away practice the steps discussed above.

Always remember negative SEO is an issue that is extremely serious and must be looked after carefully. Be vigilant and stay protected. Google is smart no doubt, but it is not foolproof cent percent. It means you have to be extra cautious in safeguarding your site from any form of negative SEO attack. Although you cannot have any control over those that create to your site bad links at least you can have control regarding how authoritative the website is. If in doubt always consult an expert.  

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