Negative SEO – a threat to your website?

4 August 2014

What is Negative SEO?

Negative SEO is the practice of attacking other websites by using methods that will result in SEO penalties. Rather than practicing positive SEO on one’s own website, the sabotaging competitor will try to get another’s website penalised by Google or drop down the search results page from it’s current ranking.

This underhand tactic that was once a minor concern is now set to move into the mainstream.

Negative SEO Techniques

Practitioners of negative SEO will use different techniques to attack another’s website, whether it is for personal, financial, competitive or political reasons.

Some of the things that they could do include;

  • Google Bowling – This technique aims to displace a website from its search engine ranking page, therefore making it appear ‘spammy’ to Google. This can be achieved by adding links to the site from bad websites or by URL manipulation which involves the attacker changing a dynamic URL slightly but with the same content.
  • Virus – A site with a virus is flagged in the search engine results pages as being dangerous for the visitor. Attackers may opt to infect another’s site with the intention of deterring visitors having it removed from the SERPs altogether.
  • Black Social Bookmarking – This method is used on social networking sites, the attacker creates lots of fake accounts with the intention of creating spam links with inappropriate phrases. This method takes advantage of  Google’s real time searching of social networks.
  • Duplicated Content – this is done by the attacker creating a website with the same content as their targeted website, with the intention of getting the fake website crawled before. This method is particularly hard to defend against .
  • Click Fraud – If an attacker realises that their victim has adwords running for their site, they can click on their adverts to consume their budget and as a result affect the number of genuine visitors.

How to Avoid Negative SEO?

The negative SEO practices are not necessarily new, but they do pose a very new threat to SEO now, therefore there are no specific guidelines as to how to combat it.

If you receive an ‘over optimisation penalty’, which could be the result of negative SEO, you can appeal as you cannot physically remove the bad links that somebody else has created in a position that is unknown to you.

  • Check your webmaster tools
  • If you have been hit by a virus get back online ASAP
  • Remove any potentially damaging material from your website or social media accounts and remember to fix any pages that could have bad links on them, for example Facebook comments from fake accounts.
  • BING webmaster tools have a feature where you can report any backlinks from spam sources, watch out for Googles version of this!
  • Try to identify the source – if you prove that someone is attacking your site , you have good grounds to sue.

Who is Really at Risk?

There are others that are more at risk from negative SEO compared to others. These are generally smaller websites, as bigger sites have far too much authority that make them immune to negative SEO tactics.

If you have any questions about negative SEO or other search engine optimisation concerns, then get in touch with us today.