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When web marketers play dirty: what can you do about “negative SEO”?

Many webmasters compete fiercely to land their sites the highest places in Google’s search results – so much so that some of these people could attempt to dislodge your own site from its SEO perch through dishonourable means.

As “negative SEO” like this can cost your business dearly, you should try to act quickly on any instances of it in order to minimise – and hopefully reverse – the damage.

Watch out for a sharp drop in visits through Google

What would be the first warning sign that your site has been subjected to a negative SEO attack? Often, it would be an abrupt, unexpected fall in the visits your site attracts. If this has happened to your site but you haven’t changed it in any significant way, you should suspect foul play.

Initially, you should only suspect it, though – as other factors, like a change in Google’s search algorithm, could be at fault.

Check whether your site has received a manual penalty

This is a quick and simple way to ascertain whether an SEO problem is to blame for your search traffic woes. If Google thinks you have resorted to unfair “black hat” practices in your SEO strategy, the search giant will hit you with a manual penalty.

To help yourself find out if your site is penalised in this way, you should make sure that site is connected to Google Webmaster Tools and set up your preferences so that you would be notified by email.

Endeavour to protect your strongest backlinks

These are the backlinks that supply more SEO juice than any others to your site. Unfortunately, though, some shameless people could, posing as you, write to the webmasters of the sites where those backlinks have been placed and ask for them to be taken down.

For this reason, whenever you contact a webmaster yourself, you should do so from an email address with your website domain attached. That way, the email’s recipient will be able to verify that it’s you.

Let webmasters know if they have duplicated your content

Another shifty SEO tactic would be someone duplicating your site’s SEO copywriting content and posting it in various places online, making it look as though you are engaging in spammy behaviour.

However, if you do see content of yours posted on another site without your permission, there might not have been malicious intent on the webmaster’s part, as someone else might have asked them to publish it. Therefore, you could simply ask them to remove the offending content.

Keep your website’s content management system fully updated

If your website is integrated with a content management system (CMS), it could be delightfully quick and easy for you to tweak the site as and when necessary. However, if you don’t keep your CMS up to date, it could be left with vulnerabilities hackers soon identify and eagerly exploit.

Our web design experts can implement a whole new CMS system for your website, allowing you to stay ahead of hackers who could otherwise flood your pages with SEO-damaging links.


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