How Competitors Attack You with Negative SEO
Most online brands spend their waking hours worrying about how to build positive SEO clout for themselves. It can take months or years to build a steady and reliable SEO strategy that delivers results. This hard and persistent work truly pays off sooner or later, but it is not the only form of SEO that brands use. Negative SEO is just as potent – and in some cases, can damage you more quickly than positive SEO can help. Your competitors have every reason to elevate themselves and hurt you, so it helps to know when negative tactics are afoot. Today, we’ll review some of the more common negative SEO attack styles and how they can hurt your brand.
Perhaps the most popular form of negative SEO, how people perceive your brand is first determined by what Google and other search engines say about you. If somebody wants to do damage to a brand, then they may enlist the help of a few people to chronically search for terms associated with your brand that paint it in a bad light. For instance, including your brand name followed by the words “fake” or “scam” can immediately trigger that sentiment in others who search and see that in AutoComplete. Ultimately, you can detect this abuse by watching your search terms via analytics very carefully: if suddenly awkward or weird terms are pinging servers that resemble this pattern, then you’ll know what is happening.
Earning backlinks is one of several main components of SEO, but damage can just as easily be done by other, petty brands. If you suddenly see a bunch of your backlinks disappearing – but there has been no preceding change in your rankings – then you may have fallen victim to an impersonator. Some people will email the various brands who have linked to you, pretend to be you and then ask for those links to be removed. The brands – not knowing that it isn’t you – will usually comply. This can jeopardize your standings in search and help the competition gain an advantage over you in various SERPs.
Search engines carefully monitor websites for 404 errors: this often means that a website has went offline or has otherwise ceased to be useful. In many cases, Google and others will quickly drop your rankings and remove you from search results if this is the case. What would-be competitors like to do is create plenty of faulty links that point to your website (but that don’t really exist). Once these links start pinging servers, search engines will see that they’re broken or invalid. This can result in a false trigger that results in these search engines purging you from results. This can be reserved but the damage is often done quickly and with great effect.
Fortunately, these attacks are rare but some can be permanent and hard to fix. Ultimately, people pinging fake links to other websites that are broken, spamming AutoCorrect with false terms and removing your backlinks are the biggest threats of negative SEO that you’ll face. Have you had any problems with people attacking you before? If so, tell us about your experience.