Negative SEO

Manu Magno

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Negative SEO aims to degrade the visibility of a website in Google search results. The result can be a Google Penalty for the attacked website.

Definition

“Negative SEO” refers to measures that mainly pursue the goal of causing damage to other websites, for example, through the frequent placement of low-quality backlinks, by causing them to fall in the rankings of well-known search engines. Negative SEO violates the guidelines of the well-known search engines, which is why you should avoid it for reasons of fairness.

To achieve website devaluation by search engines such as Google, attackers use tactics such as automated spam links, fake link removal requests, content scraping, hacking, or fake URL parameters. As a punishment, a Google Penalty for the attacked website is threatened, while a deindexing of the website is rather rare and only occurs with very special attacks. The most common method of Negative SEO is spam links in large quantities. They don’t cost much, require little expertise, and are very effective at the same time.

How to recognize Negative SEO

Even if the indexing speed of search engines has accelerated considerably, such as through Google Caffeine, it always takes a while until the SEO measures show their effect in the SERPs. Because the same is true for Negative SEO, you can usually recognize deliberately damaging search engine optimization only very late. However, you can draw important conclusions about Negative SEO by regularly reporting on important Key Performance Indicators(KPI) such as visibility, domain popularity and link profile.

By monitoring key metrics at specific intervals, you can spot changes more quickly, allowing you to identify the problem faster and take corrective action if necessary. To detect duplicate content, you can use a duplicate content checker, for example.

How to fend off Negative SEO

Especially newer websites can be more affected by Negative SEO. On the one hand, they have far fewer incoming links and therefore do not have the necessary trust signals as do more strongly linked and older websites. In addition, online shops are usually more likely to be affected than information websites, and more competitive areas are also more at risk than niches. You can assume that where there is a lot of money to be made online with SEO, there is also the greatest potential for becoming a victim of Negative SEO. Larger, stronger websites with the necessary trust signals, on the other hand, are considered relatively safe. So if you want to hedge your bets, make sure you have a strong link profile.

To avoid Negative SEO preventively, it is also worthwhile to monitor the new incoming backlinks with SEO tools such as Monitor Backlinks, Majestic SEO and Ahrefs through so-called link monitoring. This way you can react faster to classic spam link attacks. To prevent the resulting spam backlinks from causing any damage, you should disavow them as soon as possible using the Google Disavow Tool in Google Search Console.

Conclusion

Negative SEO refers to techniques that cause a website to be devalued by search engines. It can usually be detected late, but with regular reporting you can draw conclusions about Negative SEO. A strong link profile in combination with link monitoring is the best prevention.

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