If you have been working with a digital marketing agency, you have likely heard about search engine optimisation (or SEO for those who love acronyms). There are two types of search engine optimisation that you need to know about in order to make your strategy a success: white hat SEO and negative SEO. 

White hat tactics are ethical tactics in search engine optimisation that improve your organic traffic, and negative SEO involves competitors who will use unethical organic ranking techniques to lower your rankings in search engine results. A competitor will use negative SEO to “attack” your traffic and raise their own. If this sounds a little complicated, below we look at what negative SEO is and how to prevent it. 

 

Wait…What Is Negative SEO?

 

Negative SEO can sound quite scary, and it can be hugely detrimental to your website and its rankings if you do not know what to look for and how to prevent it. In simple terms, negative SEO occurs when a competitor uses mostly off-site (not on your website) tactics to negatively impact your website. These tactics include the following:

  • Hacking your website to negatively alter content
  • Building spammy links to your website
  • Copying and distributing your content across the internet without your knowledge
  • Pointing links to your website using bad keywords, such as “gambling”
  • Creating fake social media profiles to damage your company’s reputation online
  • Removing good backlinks that your website has

These are just some of the methods that people use for negative SEO, but it can be difficult to spot this if you are not sure what to look for. We look at some aspects to monitor to discover nay negative SEO taking place on or off of your website. 

  • A Drop In Traffic: If you notice a sudden drop in your website traffic, and know that there have not been any recent algorithm changes, then it is highly likely that there are some negative SEO practices taking place. However, be sure to check that you have not made any mistakes before making this assumption. 

 

  • Penalty Notification From Google: Google is a highly vigilant search engine, and will send you penalty notifications if your website is a victim of negative SEO, such as keyword stuffing, broken or spammy links, or content milling. This will help you to see if there are any search engine optimisation issues both on and off of your website. 

 

 

  • Slower Website Speed: A major red flag to look out for is a slower website speed despite the fact that you have not made any changes to your website. This could be due to a hacking issue, and you should monitor the speed and use an analytical tool to look out for any problems that might be causing this. 

 

How Can I Prevent It?

 

Now that you understand a little bit more about negative SEO, you are likely wondering how you can prevent it. There are some simple steps you can take to prevent or remedy any negative tactics that are being used against your business, as we outline below

 

Set Up Google Webmaster Email Alerts

 

If you have access to Google’s Webmaster tools, you are able to set up email alerts when there is suspicious behaviour on your website. For example, these alerts can be sent to you when your website is attacked by malware, when your pages are not being indexed, when your server is having connectivity problems, and when you receive a manual penalty from Google. 

 

Keep Track Of Backlinks

 

Because spammy backlinks are one of the main tactics of negative SEO, it is important that you keep track of your backlinking profile. You can use any number of the free tools online to check this, or invest in a paid option that has more features, such as Moz Pro, where you can monitor your own and your competitor’s backlinks. 

 

Cancel Copied Content

 

Duplicate content might not be a definite negative ranking factor, but it can have an impact on your SEO, which you should try to avoid. In order to avoid having your content copied or duplicated and shared online, you can use a canonical tag (<link rel=”canonical” href=”[URL]”>) to signal to Google that your URL is the original one for the content. 

You can also use free online tools, such as Copyscape, to check whether your content has been duplicated or copied anywhere online. This will allow you to take action, like contacting the website it has been shared on and asking them to take it down. If you would like to improve your SEO tactics, feel free to contact NetMechanic today to find out how we can help you.