In recent years, SEO has changed a lot and is continuously changing. These dynamics prompted online marketers to switch up and adopt their strategies. Getting to the top of Google search results for tough keywords isn’t as easy as it used to be.

With black hat SEO becoming less effective and riskier, a new threat has emerged – “negative SEO.” If you’re a marketer or a business owner looking to protect your online brand and its security in 2023, this guide is perfect for you.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about what negative SEO entails and provide you with essential insights on how to protect your website from its impacts.  

What is Negative SEO?

Negative SEO is when someone uses sneaky and unfair tricks to harm a competitor’s search engine rankings. These can come in various forms, like:  

  • hacking your website
  • creating tons of spammy links to it
  • spreading your content all over the internet without your permission
  • adding bad links to inappropriate keywords (e.g., “Viagra,” “poker online,” etc.)
  • making fake social profiles to damage your online reputation
  • even deleting your best website backlinks

Why Protecting Your Website from Negative SEO Matters

Protecting your website from negative SEO is important. If your website is new and doesn’t have a strong history or good backlinks, a negative SEO attack can make it disappear from Google. But if your website has been around for a while, it’s better at handling such attacks and staying visible.

How to Protect Your Site from Negative SEO Attacks

To protect your site, you must understand potential attacks and learn how to prevent them. Here are 16 simple tips to prevent negative SEO from affecting your site: 

1. Activate Email Alerts in Google Webmaster Tools

Setting up a Google Webmaster Tools email alert is a smart move. Google can send you emails if your website faces issues like:  

  • malware attacks
  • pages not getting indexed
  • server problems
  • if you receive a penalty from Google

To get started, connect your website to Google Webmaster Tools. Log in, then click on “Webmaster Tools Preferences.”

2. Keep an Eye on Your Backlink Profile

Keeping an eye on your backlinks is crucial to stop spammers. They often try negative SEO by creating low-quality links or redirecting to your site. You can use tools like Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer occasionally to manually check for new links, but we suggest using MonitorBacklinks.com.

3. Fortify the Security of Your Valuable Backlinks

Spammers may attempt to have your best backlinks removed by impersonating you when contacting the webmasters. To prevent this, follow these steps:  

  • When reaching out to webmasters, use an email address from your own domain (e.g., yourname@yourdomain.com) instead of generic email services like Gmail or Yahoo.
  • Keep a close watch on your best backlinks. For this, you can rely on Monitor Backlinks.
  • Access your list of backlinks and sort them by Page Rank or social activity, ensuring that your valuable links remain protected.

4. Protect Your Website from Malware and Unauthorized Access

Securing your website is crucial to prevent spam and unauthorized access. Here’s how to do it:

  • If you use WordPress, get the Google Authenticator Plugin and set up a 2-step verification password.
  • Make sure to create a strong password that includes numbers and special characters.
  • Regularly back up your files and database to keep your data safe.

If your website allows file uploads by users, consult your hosting company on how to install antivirus to prevent malware. This keeps your site protected.  

5. Detect and Address Duplicate Content

They often copy your website content and spread it across the web, which can harm your site’s rankings. To ensure your content is unique, you can use Copyscape.com.

Just input your website or the article text you want to check, and it will reveal if your content is being used elsewhere without your consent. This helps you protect your website’s credibility and ranking.

6. Monitor Your Brand’s Mentions on Social Media

To stay on top of this, use tools like Mention.net. When someone mentions your name on social media or a website, you’ll receive notifications and can decide on the necessary actions. To set it up:  

  • create an account
  • click “Create alert”
  • name your alert, add the keywords you want to track
  • select the languages you wish to monitor
  • Click “Next step” to get started

This helps you maintain a clean and credible online presence

7. Optimize Your Website’s Loading Speed

If your site’s loading time suddenly spikes, check to ensure it’s not due to an overwhelming number of requests being sent to your server. Failing to address this promptly could result in spammers taking your server offline.

A handy tool for monitoring server uptime and loading time is Pingdom.com. Sign up and activate “email alerts” to stay informed when your website experiences downtime.

8. Avoid Becoming a Target of Your Own SEO Tactics

Avoid becoming a victim of your SEO strategies by removing practices that can harm your website’s rankings. Here’s what to avoid:   

  • Don’t link to penalized websites.
  • Refrain from purchasing links from blog networks or any links for SEO.
  • Don’t flood your site with numerous low-quality guest posts.
  • Be cautious about building excessive backlinks to your website with “money keywords.” Aim for at least 60% of your anchor texts to feature your website name.
  • If you sell links on your website, use the “nofollow” attribute to prevent any negative SEO impact. This way, you’ll maintain a strong and safe SEO strategy.

9. Foster Positive Relationships in the Online Sphere

Engaging in arguments with clients can have unforeseen consequences. There are three types of spammers and reasons behind their actions:

  • Some spam just for fun.
  • Others do it for revenge.
  • Some spam to outrank their competition in search engines.

Maintaining positive interactions and avoiding conflicts can reduce the risk of encountering online adversaries and maintain a healthy online presence.

10. Regularly Audit Your Links

Regularly reviewing your links is a smart move for any business, and it can be a lifesaver if you face a negative SEO attack. Monitoring the expansion of your link profile is the best way to spot any unusual activity before it escalates into a significant problem.

11. Identify Instances of Content Plagiarism

Identifying content plagiarism is crucial in today’s content-driven landscape. Unfortunately, not everyone is original in their content creation efforts, leading to a rise in scraping.

Scraping involves copying your website’s content word for word and posting it elsewhere, often claiming it as their own or using it in link farm attacks to spam your site.

12. Watch on Your Google My Business Listing

While negative reviews can provide opportunities for improvement, an overwhelming surge of them might indicate an attempt to inundate your site with fake reviews, potentially causing significant harm to your reputation.

To stay on top of this, keep a close watch on your Google My Business listing and employ social media listening tools to track and manage your online reputation.

13. Analyze the Click-Through Rates of Your Keywords

Keep an eye on your keywords’ CTR, as they are crucial to your website’s performance. Unusual CTR patterns can impact your rankings. In one case, a site’s rankings were affected by a high bounce rate caused by a bot programmed to target specific keywords, visit competitor sites, and then bounce.

Monitoring your CTR helps you detect and address such anomalies to maintain a healthy user experience and SEO performance.  

14. Enhance Your Website’s Security Measures

Ensure your software is up-to-date, apply security patches regularly, and use strong encryption in your CMS to protect your users.

If you’re in e-commerce or handle sensitive customer data, consider migrating your site to HTTPS for enhanced security, which can also positively impact your SEO rankings.

15. Employ Only Up-to-Date, Proven, and Secure SEO Strategies

There’s no secret magic to instantly propel your website to the top of search results. Instead, focus on consistent, trustworthy SEO practices that build authority over time.

By adhering to proven and safe SEO strategies, your website will gradually gain credibility and achieve higher rankings in search engine results.

16. Avoid Unnecessary Online Conflicts

Many online users are quick to start disputes on forums and social media, making controversial statements to stir things up. It’s best not to engage in such situations because you never really know who’s on the other side of the screen and their intentions or abilities.

Is Negative SEO a Real Threat?

Absolutely. Negative SEO is a real problem that many websites have faced. It’s much easier to prevent than to fix once the damage is done. A quick search on platforms like Fiverr shows over 15,000 offers for “negative SEO” services at low costs.

Moreover, black hat forums are filled with success stories of people who have used this technique, highlighting the need to be proactive in protecting your website from such threats.

7 Common Examples of Negative SEO

Negative SEO attacks come in various forms, and each can lead to different Google penalties. Here are some common examples of negative SEO tactics to be aware of.  

  1. Building Links in Link Farms
  2. Replicating Content
  3. Altering Content
  4. Fabricated Reviews
  5. Fictitious Social Media Profiles
  6. Excessive Website Crawling
  7. Unauthorized Access and Malware

These methods can harm your website, so you must stay vigilant and implement preventive measures.

How to Combat Negative SEO Against Your Website

If you observe the onset of a negative SEO campaign targeting your company, here’s how you can respond:

  • Identify and Tag Unwanted Backlinks: Monitor new backlinks through email alerts and tag potential spam links. Create a list promptly.
  • Remove Unwanted Links: Contact webmasters to remove identified harmful backlinks. If contact info is not available, use Whois.com/who is to find contact details.
  • Utilize Google Disavow Tool: If facing a manual penalty and previous steps fail, create a disavow list for submission through Google Webmaster Tools.

Protect your Brand with Expert and Trusted SEO Services

By staying vigilant, using the right tools, and following the preventive measures outlined, you can fortify your website against potential threats. With a track record of delivering effective and reliable solutions, BrandLume is your ally in protecting and enhancing your website’s SEO performance. Contact us today.