How to Keep an Eye on Negative SEO
Whether you operate an online store-front, a personal blog or a website aimed at a particular niche, increasing your visibility and traffic are important. With so many ways to drive people to your website, discovering which methods work best for your exact audience requires some trial and error. However, for virtually all brands, SEO can play a huge role in drumming up new visitors.
While many think about the positives and benefits that SEO can apply, it’s important to remember that the competition is almost always stiff. In many niches, your competitors will do everything in their power to undermine your performance and claim those benefits for themselves. One of the easiest ways for them to do this is to utilize negative SEO.
Today, we’ll discuss what negative SEO entails and what you can do to keep an eye out for it.
Watch for Inbound Links
Arguably the easiest way to competitors and brands to target you with negative SEO is to create inbound links to your website from dubious sources. From the traditional link farms to purposefully and personally-crafted black hat websites, the effects that inbound links can have on your brand is immense.
Arguably one of the most common criticisms with search engines’ current link policies, brands shouldn’t have to face the wrath of random websites linking to them and destroying their credibility in the process. Nevertheless, it is very easy, quick and affordable for competitors to engage in this kind of activity. Thankfully, disavowing tools exist that can allow you to eliminate any impact these tactics will have – but you must keep an eye on any inbound links pinging your website on a regular basis.
Watch for Content Scraping
Another problem for brands that have stiff competition is content scraping or duplicate content issues. Particularly an issue with competitors who have more of a presence in a niche than you, this entails brands stealing your website content as soon as it is published and passing it off as their own. Because their rankings and standings may be better than yours (and also because their websites may be indexed more frequently), this tactic can result in you being penalized for “duplicating” content you originally wrote!
Ultimately, this negative SEO tactic is harder to keep track of than inbound links, but there are tools available that monitor the internet for any instances of plagiarism, helping you to avoid the very worst situations with these type of attack. Additionally, if you believe you’re a victim of this strategy, take manual steps to ensure that your content is being indexed as quickly as possible after publication.
Particularly potent if your brand provides products or services online, the fake review tactic is a powerful example of just how much negative SEO can hurt. All it takes are a few accounts created to leave nasty or negative reviews on platforms such as Google and Yelp: once these start pinging your website or brand as a bad place to visit, the effects are almost immediate.
Search engines will begin downgrading your visibility, and even without this effect, customers who peruse reviews before buying (many do) will get a bad first impression of your brand. Thankfully, just like with inbound links, there are ways to dispute this – but the burden of proof that they are in fact negative is much higher.
It’s a shame that people will stoop so low to hurt their competitors, but this is the reality of today’s cut-throat online world. Even though you can’t stop others from attacking you, you can be on the lookout for the most common types of negative SEO and position yourself to act in response.