As the name suggests, negative SEO has the exact opposite effect as search engine optimization. The intent of negative SEO is to ‘bury’ search rankings of a site instead of increasing visibility via the popular search engines, such as Google. There are many forms of negative SEO – some more malicious than others. Hacking into a website to inflict malicious damage, review damaging (purposefully pointing out top rankings in a bid to make them seem bought or ‘planted’), reporting black hat tactics to Google, and other such spiteful methods to undermine the popularity of a website.
While competitors and ‘haters’ could easily improve their own search rankings by tactics to negatively impact other websites, the good news is that companies can put in place strategies to prevent negative SEO. Sites with strong domain authority are less vulnerable to negative SEO and it would be a good idea for companies to understand this factor while creating their websites. The fact is that most companies do not engage in negative SEO tactics since it is risky and could easily backfire – bringing ill repute and possibly permanent blacklisting from Google. It is vital however, to consistently keep a check on SEO factors that are more vulnerable to manipulation – factors such as backlinks, reviews, and others.
The truth about negative SEO is that there is no set list or pattern that ‘malefactors’ follow – all they do is identify website weakness and then exploit and invade them. A website with a solid SEO focus and consistent monitoring are possibly the best defences against negative SEO. A company can sign up for alerts from Google in the event the website be attacked by malicious software, the pages on the website are not properly indexed, problems with server connectivity, and other such ‘events’.
Another method to guard against negative SEO is protecting the websites best backlinks. Hackers try to remove backlinks by contacting the ‘owner’ as you with a ‘request’ to remove the backlinks or hyperlinks. By constant monitoring and using an email address that is connected to the domain name of your website, you can ensure that the backlink owner would know when it is actually you contacting them.
‘Phishing’ and online security threats are increasing significantly. Save your website from hackers and malware by using security tactics such as a 2 step verification password – so each time you login to your website made through WordPress, a code generated by Google would be required. This code would be sent to your mobile phone and only by punching in this code would it be possible to make changes to the site. Content duplication is another malicious method by spammers and hackers to undermine the popularity of a website and have it penalized by Google through low rankings. Companies can use sites like Copyscape.com to ensure that their website or even some pages are being duplicated over the internet in any form. This also enables one to know whether some parts of the website are being duplicated, albeit by permission from the website owner.
Hackers are resilient and another method of undermining a company’s online efforts would be to create fake social media pages. There are tools to find duplicate sites – they can then be reported as spam before they take away following from your actual pages. It is the onus also of website owners to avoid using SEO strategies that are ‘frowned upon’ by Google. Techniques such as backlinks with ‘blacklisted websites’, buying links for SEO purposes, publishing low quality guest content, and other such ranking damaging tactics. It is also best for a company to remain neutral with all – it is never a good idea to land up with online enemies who could make it their mission to pull your website and its rankings down, sometimes irreversibly.
A company’s website is its face – and hence security of the website and top search engine rankings are extremely vital for a company and its offerings to succeed. Negative SEO is a matter of concern, and it would behove a company to take the requisite measures to prevent its website from any maleficent activities.