We are about to show you how to detect and suppress a negative SEO attack but first, we need to clarify what it is. Negative SEO is any kind of malicious practice aiming to sabotage the search rankings of a competitor’s website (in this case it is you). Because this practice has a malevolent nature it is considered to be “black hat SEO”. It can happen to just about anybody. People tend to be competitive. When they have no way to be better than you – they will try to ruin the competition this way. But, now when you know about this there is plenty you can do to fight.
Detect and suppress a negative SEO attack – get familiar with the types of these attacks
First of all, it’s important to find a place (or a website to be exact) where you can learn everything there is to know about this topic, such as the Link Department. The more you know the easier it will be to detect and suppress those attacks. Now let’s learn all types of attacks :
- Hacking a website – this is the most efficient way but it is the most expensive so it is not as common as other (cheaper ones). When hacking a website an attacker can undermine a site’s SEO performance. They can do it however they wish and they will probably do with it something that will hurt your reputation or make you invisible in Google’s search engine.
- Toxic Backlinks – creating toxic backlinks with some kind of spammy anchor text or texts pointing to your website. Link farms, automated software, and PBN’s are often used for generating these types of bad links and that is the reason why Google dislikes PBN’s. PBN’s are public blog networks.
- Creating duplicates of the website – they do it by scraping content and making almost the same website but with a few differences that can be harmful to your website.
- Posting fake negative reviews (about your website)
- Sending out fake removal requests to webmasters – they do it in order to remove a website’s backlinks. The only reason why they do it is to harm your SERP positions.
This is the most common type of negative SEO attack. You need to know everything there is about toxic backlinks and ways to get rid of them. The reason why it’s so common (just like posting fake reviews) is that it’s easy, cheap, and efficient. Don’t worry, you can get rid of toxic backlinks on your own. Or if you have an SEO expert they can do it for you.
Difficult to spot or prove
Being able to detect and suppress a negative SEO attack is hard because being able to spot and prove a negative attack is hard. Sometimes webmasters think that they are being attacked (because of the drop in rankings) but there are other factors to consider and reasons why the ranking is dropping. An update in Google’s algorithms/Core algorithm update is the most common reason. You can also be getting filtered out by Google’s algorithmic filtering. Those things will result in (potentially a huge) drop in ratings and they are in no way an attack.
What you can do about it?
First of all, don’t panic and don’t jump to conclusions. There are things you can do like – you should always ensure the quality of your content is up to Google’s guidelines and you are looking after your backlink profile. Also, you should be auditing your backlinks carefully.
The efficiency of negative SEO attacks
Google doubts that negative SEO, especially the intentional generation of bad backlinks, is an efficient practice but it depends. Google is actually pretty good at making a difference between backlinks that you created and toxic links that appeared out of a sudden. But website with thin content is not so hard to sabotage.
Preventing a website from being hacked
In reality, it is unlikely the hacker will hijack your website entirely. Chances are you will still have full access to your website while an attacker is present and has installed some spammy signals that you might not be able to detect. Here is what you can do to prevent this from happening :
- set up notifications in Google Search Console and often run site audits to fix any kinds of technical issues
- you can also use this pretty easy to use tool that provides a top-level overview that tells you if there are any signs that point to your website being hacked
- use the FTC Complaint Assistant to report a hacking or an attempt of hacking
Ways to protect your website from fake backlinks
The first thing that you can (and should do often) is use the Backlink Audit tool for your website. Do it often and watch out for the Toxic Score metric. They will be able to detect any suspicious changes in your backlink profile. Also, if you notice a drop in your website’s Authority Score that might be an indication that there is something wrong with your backlink profile. Finally – make sure that you regularly update your disavow file. Doing all the above mentioned will be of big help. Backlinks are very important to your SEO but fake backlinks can be very bad.
Attackers may be able to duplicate your whole website or just some parts of it. Of course, the angle is to sabotage your search performance. If you want to be able to detect malicious behavior of this sort you should audit the web regularly using tools like Copyscape or Siteliner. If you find a fake website make sure to report it to Google and demand that it be taken down as soon as possible. You can also use the FTC Complaint Assistant to report the imposter and also demand taking down the fake website. Bottom line is that you have to check things regularly if you want to detect and suppress a negative SEO attack on time.