Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become a booming industry in the past few years. Initially, it was designed to ensure that a website is found on the search engine. Recently during the last couple of years, the industry has reformed their practice that has led the online vendors to alter their tactics. It was an easy task to obtain high ranking in major search engines like Google 3 years before but not anymore.
Over the years, black hat SEO and unethical techniques have made use of aggressive tactics that do not strictly follow the search engine guidelines, and fail to deliver the required results, giving rise to “negative SEO”.
The following review sheds some light on negative SEO, and also provides some precautionary measures to help you avoid it, if you have long term branding investment in mind.
Negative SEO: How it works?
Negative SEO makes use of unethical practices and tactics that are able to incapacitate a valid ranking, done using white hat optimization techniques, and take over the search engine. These sabotage techniques can be applied in various forms that range from hacking, creating spamming links, imitating content and spreading it all over cyberspace, constructing false pointers that redirect to your website for e.g. “poker”, eliminating the backlinks associated with your website or perhaps even making use of fake profiles on the social network with the intention of defaming your website.
Negative SEO: False Alarm or Genuine Concern?
Initially, marketers never thought of it. But now, it has become a serious concern millions of websites are dealing with. People are available to work at cheap prices for negative SEO. Success stories of these black hat strategies are flooded over cyberspace. Google launched a “Disavow” tool to combat this issue. However, this tool should be utilized only as a last resort, when your website shuts down for a long period of time to carry out analysis, and then this tool provides preventive measures to avoid further attacks.
Safety Measures to Negative SEO
1. Email Alerts
Whenever you login to your Google account, simply click on “Webmaster Tools preferences” and check if your “email notifications” is enabled and make sure you check for all alerts. This helps in alerting in various circumstances for e.g. a malware attack, server connectivity issues, non-indexed pages, etc.
2. Backlinks Profile Monitoring
The best preventive measure from spammers is monitoring your backlinks profile. Spammers usually apply black hat strategies by redirecting false links to your website. So, whenever a link has been created for your website, it’s important for you to know.
Periodically, you can make use of tools that display all the links associated with your website. MonitorBackLinks.com is one such convenient tool for this task. It can even alert you via email in the event of loss/gain of backlinks. Manual tools like Open Site Explorer are also available.
3. Secure your Vital Backlinks
Spammers succeed in removing your best backlinks by contacting the owner, using your fake identity and sending them a removal request. In order to avoid this, always contact your webmaster using your own domain email address, rather than Google, Hotmail, etc. This helps validate your identity. Secondly, once you identify your best backlinks, it’s vital to monitor them periodically, or use the tools mentioned above.
4. Malware Protection
To avoid spam, security is the key. There are authenticator plugins available for double security protection for your website. Google Authenticator Plugin works for most of the websites. Strong alphanumeric passwords are a crucial step. Regular backup of your website data is important. If your website allows external files to be uploaded, make sure you ensure malware protection.
5. Redundancy Alert
If you find your website content available all over cyberspace, it means the spammers have copied your web content in order to lose rankings. An easy tool to help you monitor redundant data is Copyscape.com. It finds plagiarism once you copy your web content on it. It will display all those links where your data has been copied.
6. Social Media Alert
Our websites usually gain popularity on social forums and networks. Spammers take advantage of this, and may use false data under the banner of your company. It’s best to identify such spammers before they gain followers. Mention.net is one such tool that identifies all those spammers using your brand for their popularity.
7. Monitor Web Traffic
In the event of a catalyzed traffic response on your website, start immediate monitoring as this could be a spam for your server to be sabotaged. Pingdom.com is an excellent tool to combat this issue. It monitors your server’s uptime as well as the loading time.
8. Understand and know the difference
Sometimes it’s you yourself, due to your lack of knowledge that you happen to penalize your own website. You may be unaware that you are not following the SEO white hat practices. Some things that you should watch out for include not linking to penalized websites, avoid publishing guest posts which are of low quality, avoid creating money-related backlinks, and avoid purchasing network links of blogs.
The Cure – Negative SEO
But if at all, you are attacked by negative SEO, take immediate action as follows:
1. Chalk out a list of removable backlinks
Track all those recently created links associated to your website and identify the removable ones. Tag them if needed. Make a manual check to ensure if they are affecting your rankings and remove them.
2. Eliminate the backlinks
Spammed links are not an easy removal task. Sometimes the page cannot be found. Whois.com is a good tool to identify whose page belongs to whom, and their contacts are available. Despite this, if you fail to remove these links, its best to eventually contact hosting companies that host your website, and they will definitely help you in removing these sabotaging links. In case you don’t know who is hosting your website, again a tool has been devised for it. WhoIsHostingThis.com is your saviour!
3. The Last Resort
Google Disavow Tool can be utilized in case a manual penalty has been received.
Negative SEO persists on the cyberspace, but preventive measures are readily available to tackle such issues. Be safe, be alert!
- 14 Aug, 2015