Your job as a business operating online is to make yourself as visible as possible. When competitors attempt to attack your SEO efforts, however, it can cause severe problems for your company. Negative SEO is when a company links lots of spammy websites to a competitor. This brings down the wrath of Google on their competitor, which automatically means Google is going to come in and penalise them.
Think of the Consequences
The consequences can be huge. Think about a restaurant that has targeted the keywords restaurants in London or London restaurants. At the same time, someone is using these same keywords on spam-based websites to link back to your site.
Negative SEO has occurred, which means your position in the rankings are falling. Customers cant find you and youre blaming the marketing company. Youre essentially spinning your wheels for no good reason. Despite the fact youre doing things by the book, a third-party is besmirching your good name with your targeted keywords by making hundreds of spammy links target your website.
How to Determine if Youre a Target
Look for any suspicious anchor texts in backlinks. If you notice any suspicious backlink text linking to your website, this is going to notify Google. You obviously didnt do it, so it means that someone else is trying to get you in trouble with Google.
Look at your link structure and the IP addresses within. If youre noticing IP addresses and URLs from places youve never heard of, this could be a sign someone has targeted you.
Google Webmaster Tools is a fantastic way of helping to improve your websites ranking. If youve received a manual penalty through Google Webmaster Tools, it means youve received a demotion as a result of negative SEO.
Do Something About It
You can do something about Negative SEO. Blogger Filip Szyler from GetResponse has given a number of useful tips on how to deal with negative SEO:
- Always analyse your backlinks: There are a range of tools for managing every backlink you have in your arsenal. You can make sure every backlink pointing to your website is clean. Most of these databases have some restrictions and disadvantages, but they do come in useful for finding the most obvious offending backlinks.
- Confront the sites: If you find a site that has linked to your site without your permission, confront them directly. Obviously, you only need to do this if the site is of poor quality and has said something that isnt true about you. Google the domain and see if the person harassing you has also targeted other companies. Contact these individuals and notify them about whats going on.
You can notify Google if a domain has specifically targeted you. But you can also contact the domains host if theyre breaking the law. Theyll usually remove the domain immediately if theres a threat of legal action occurring.
- Shut down the offending backlinks by looking into tools like Rmoov, RRemoveem, and Disavow. These tools are three of many that give companies the ability to remove back linking websites that are trying to smear your good name.
Does Google Bow to Pressure?
The goal of notifying Google isnt always to have them stamp down on the offending websites immediately. Its about you making it clear that you have nothing to do with these spammy sites. Youre trying to disconnect yourself from these con artists. If Google see you have made a conscious effort to distance yourself, theyre less likely to penalise you.
Even a temporary penalty can cause serious problems for your site. And this is what the people targeting you want to happen.
Whilst you can stamp out the websites, its unlikely that you will be able to find the true culprit. This is why you have to continually check the status of your backlinks. Always remain vigilant.