10 Ways to Prepare Your Site for a Negative SEO Attack
The SEO community was shaken by reports that malicious companies were offering “negative SEO” packages for sale. Customers were able to purchase negative SEO and watch as their competitors sunk down in ratings. It didn’t always work, but it was enough to tank small businesses who didn’t know they were being attacked. Negative SEO attacks are considered black hat tactics and completely against the Webmaster Guidelines. If your site has ever dropped off in search engine results, it may have been directly related to a competitor who wanted to get above you and used negative SEO as a way to do it. However, you have a lot of options if you are ever threatened by negative SEO. To protect your business against these types of nefarious threats, you have to stay vigilant and employ some different tools to ensure that you are always are ahead of the game. Before getting into protecting against attacks, it’s essential to know what these attacks are.
What are Negative SEO Attacks
When someone attacks your site with negative SEO, they are employing unethical black hat strategies to manipulate your rankings and bring you down in search engine results. There are a number of ways this is done:
- Thousands of overtly spammy backlinks to your site
- Copying content from your site and posting it all over the web
- Creating social profiles and review sites that speak negatively of your business
- Removing your top backlinks
- Backlinking with irrelevant links like Viagra or online poker
Forums are one of the most notorious places where negative SEO exists. There are also SEO agencies that employ these tactics by spamming bad links in comments. If you want to stop these attacks from happening or recover from negative SEO, you can follow these tips.
1. Set Up Email Alerts in Google Webmaster Tools
Google has a variety of tools that can help you prevent negative SEO from tanking your site. One of them is through email alerts. Google can send you an email for each of the following:
- Pages are not indexed properly
- Server connectivity problems
- Manual penalties from Google
- Your website has been attacked by malware
You have to connect your site to Google Webmaster Tools.
2. Track Your Backlinks Profile
If you want to prevent spammers from succeeding in taking down your site, you have to use tracking tools. There are a few different ones that can monitor backlinks like Ahref or Open Site Explorer. However, these are more manual checks. If you want to get one that will always track your backlinks, you can go to MonitorBacklinks.com. This site sends email alerts whenever your site loses or adds new important backlinks.
3. Protect Your Best Backlinks
When sites of a high PageRank with authority link to your site, you want to keep them. Spammers often look for ways to get these links removed. They can contact the owner of the site where you are linked and even request that it be removed. To prevent this, you need to communicate from your site’s email address instead of using Yahoo or Gmail. You also should track your best backlinks. You can do this with any of the monitoring tools mentioned above.
4. Build a More Secure Site
Hackers and malware can destroy your site’s ranking. Security is an essential ingredient to a properly working site. You can install plugins on WordPress to protect your site such as the Google Authenticator Plugin or just simply create a very strong password that combines numbers and characters. You should always create a baackup of your site and files s well. Your hosting provider may also provide tools that you can install such as an antivirus.
5. Get Rid of Duplicate Content
Duplicate content can kill SEO faster than a mosquito bite in summer. It’s a typical technique of negative SEO practitioners. One tool that can help is Copyscape.com. You just add your site or look up your articles in Copyscape to see if your content is located anywhere else on the web. If it is, you can have it quickly removed by contacting the website owner or reporting it to Google.
6. Watch Website Speed
If your website doesn’t load very quickly but it used to load just fine, you might be getting thousands of requests per second by a spammer. If you don’t stop this, the spam can actually bring down your server and make your hosting company very upset with you. Pingdom offers a great tool to help you improve site performance. You can also use Google’s PageSpeed checker to figure out what’s going on with a slow loading site.
7. Monitor Your Online Reputation
Haters are going to hate. Spammers who want to negatively affect your SEO can make dozens of social profiles dedicated to spamming your content and bringing down your social signals. To find out who might be mentioning your site in a bad way, just use Mention.net. As soon as your site is mentioned anywhere, you’ll get an alert.
8. Practice What You Preach
You also have to be careful that you’re not doing anything to bring down your site’s ranking. Google penalizes sites swiftly for the following:
- Linking to penalized websites
- Buying links from blog networks
- Building backlinks to your site with money keywords
- Selling links on your website
- Publishing bad guest posts
- Guest posting with low quality content on other sites known to be “sponsored” blogs
9. Be Friendly
You should always be professional whenever you talk to marketers or fellow competitors. You don’t want to give people any reason. Spammers do what they do for a variety of reasons, but many of them just pick a reason for a reason or to outrank competition that they don’t like. While you don’t want to seek out friendships either with these negative SEOs, you also don’t want to invoke their wrath.
10. Disavow Tool
Finally, the greatest and most powerful tool is the disavow link tool. This allows you to have sites removed that you don’t want from search engine results. It’s a little risky if you don’t know what you’re doing, but it can definitely help you recover or prevent a bad negative SEO attack. Google’s disavow tool is the most popular and probably the one that you will want to use if you are ever attacked. You can read more about the disavow tool and how to use it by going to the Disavow Backlinks page on Google.
While negative SEO exists, businesses can protect themselves from these challenges by preparing in advance and keeping track of their best backlinks. With alerts and reporting tools, you can know exactly what’s going on with your site and who’s linking back to your site. If you are ever attacked maliciously, you have to act swiftly. Reporting and removing negative backlinks quickly is the best way to combat negative SEO tactics.
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