Insidious Negative SEO Methods That Can Harm Your Brand
Most people discuss the concept of SEO in a neutral or positive light: namely, how direct actions taken by a brand, blog or business can provide truly positive benefits. However, for as long as SEO has existed, would-be Machiavellis have sought to use the tenets of the art in ways that can actually harm their competitors.
Some blatant forms of negative SEO – such as the creation of damaging backlinks – are well-known. However, there are other forms of negative SEO that can be just as damaging in many respects. In many cases, they are also harder to detect.
As such, let’s take a peek at some insidious negative SEO tactics that you should know about today.
Manipulating NAP and Other Data
The information available about your brand online can be a major component of any SEO strategy. Not only that, but it’s an essential aspect for brands who have physical locations, phone numbers or drive lots of traffic directly to their websites. Some negative SEO “enthusiasts” have found that they can easily suggest changes to various elements of NAP data – along with other details – on one or more search engines or directories, thereby complicating the SEO process for brands.
This can create conflicts between data-sets, which can cause search engines to become confused as to how to index your contact information and data. Even if pinging your website may yield correct data, search engines may believe that your brand info is out-of-date, thereby de-prioritizing your pages and content in the process. As such, it’s important to verify that the data listed for your brand in search engines and directories is accurate.
Content creation comprises a significant amount of time for many brands. Whether you’re generating blog posts or product catalogs, there is a lot of work involved in curating custom content. SEO performance largely revolves around the creation of this content, which is why many negative SEO tinkerers want to steal that hard work out from under you.
Content theft is insidious and relatively common, and when done for the purposes of negative SEO, often involves copying the content word-for-word. It is then published on a variety of other websites, giving the impression that you are either involved with link schemes or are blatantly plagiarizing content. Either way, the result is the same: your website gets harmed and its pages get nerfed in terms of visibility.
Last but not least, the act of seeding unsafe links on your website is a major concern for those who could be victims of negative SEO. Arguably the most common example is user-submitted links, which appear either in guest content or in blog comments. Even when these links are nofollow links, negative SEO practitioners know that linking to unsafe sites can result in search engines penalizing your own. When search engines start pinging your website and find these, they will identify your website as being insecure to those trying to visit it.
Always keep in mind that SEO can work for you just as much as it can work against you. If others are motivated enough, they can seek to undermine your position within one or more niches by sabotaging your hard work. By monitoring these examples of negative SEO on a regular basis, you can minimize any effects they might have if you ever fall victim.