Are You a Victim of a Negative SEO Campaign?
Most people think about how they can improve their own brands when they hear the phrase “search engine optimization”. We’ve spent copious amounts of time over the years talking about how the process can be used effectively to improve brand visibility and generate more traffic, sales, subscriptions and any other desired conversions for your website.
Yet just as much as SEO can be used positively, it can also be used negatively. Competitors may see your progress within a given niche and decide they can’t allow you to snag a share of their audience. In retaliation, they may choose to utilize negative SEO tactics against your brand.
If you are the victim of a negative SEO campaign or suspect you might be, then keep reading to learn what are the most common symptoms.
Big Changes in Search Traffic or Google Notifications
The most obvious change that can occur from a negative SEO campaign aimed at your website is a major shift in how much traffic you’re generating. If suddenly your website’s traffic drops by 10, 20 or even 50 percent without changes in Google’s algorithms being announced, then that is a key indicator that somebody is poisoning your digital well in a sense.
Another indicator is if you receive a notification from Google that you are in violation of their guidelines. If you haven’t changed the way in which you’re pinging links or creating content lately, then it’s very possible that somebody is manipulating the situation to generate penalties for your website.
Sudden Increase (or Decrease) in Backlinks
One of the easiest ways to create negative SEO effects is to generate a bunch of low-quality or questionable backlinks. This is easily done, as plenty of disreputable services still sell access to these services (though they’re generally not aimed at people seeking to conduct negative SEO). A big increase in backlinks that you don’t recognize can be cause for alarm, but…
…So can a sudden drop in backlinks. You may have spent weeks or months earning a variety of links from other websites and blogs, only to have them start disappearing. Shady competitors with negative SEO motivations will impersonate brands, asking that links be removed from people’s websites in order to destroy the valuable link juice they provide brands.
Duplicate Content Issues
If your content is suddenly appearing in new places – not through backlinks or quotes, but through what appears to be content scraping – then there is cause for concern. Those who are especially skilled at negative SEO can even cause your freshly-published content to be credited to others in terms of SEO potential, causing further penalties for you.
More so than just pinging links, duplicating content (or the appearance of, in this case) can quickly cause one or more of your pages to drop in search results, ultimately becoming effectively invisible. If this suddenly becomes a problem across multiple pages, then somebody is likely highly motivated to cause damage to your website.
Knowing that a negative SEO campaign is being directed at you is half the battle. These shady tactics are immoral, but quite effective in the right situations. By identifying the problem early, you can take additional measures to disavow links and reverse any additional damage done to your brand.