Even when you do everything right, SEO can seem frustrating. You spend a lot of time and money on SEO, but results may seem elusive. Sometimes, you succeed.
When you see a steady stream of traffic arriving at your site from Google, you naturally feel good. You’ve finally done it! You prepare yourself for increased conversion rates, revenue, and profitability. Unfortunately, your success may not last forever.
You can probably expect that your competitors also engage in SEO. Therefore, at times, their sites may outperform yours. For this reason, you must continuously monitor your website and promptly respond when its performance dips.
When your site’s traffic drops, you might at first blame Google. After all, Google continually changes its algorithm in ways that harm your website. Similarly, you could blame you and your team. After all, a careless SEO mistake can ruin the experience of your site’s visitors.
Have you ever considered that your competitors can attempt to negate your SEO? Such behavior sounds unethical, but it can happen.
Types of Negative SEO
Unfortunately, unscrupulous actors can use SEO against you. When they succeed, they can gain an unfair advantage over you and cause harm to your business. Continue read to learn more about how your competitors can use SEO principles against you.
Much of the difficulty of off-page SEO stems from the fact that you have no control over what other people do. So, you must work hard to get people to mention your brand and link to your content. Unfortunately, your competitors can use a similar tactic to hurt your site. Here’s how.
Backlinks from high-authority domains can increase the SEO value of your website. Meanwhile, links from low-quality domains can hurt. Hostile people can leverage this fact against you.
Businesses can hire link farms to create thousands of links to your site from spammy, low-quality, and malicious hosts. When this happens, Google demotes your site, burying it in search results.
You have no power to prevent attacks that involve link spam. So, you must continuously monitor your backlink profile. Look for a third-party tool that displays changes in the number of links that lead to your site.
When you see the number of links and the number of linking domains suddenly increase, you should suspect an attack. To respond, review the list of these links and submit the undesirable ones to the Google Disavow Tool.
Scraping tools can pounce on your new content, copy it, and then publish it to hundreds, if not thousands, of sites across the web. If Google happens to see your content on a website other than yours, it may consider that site, not yours, as the source.
Knowing that Google penalizes sites that host duplicate or stolen content, you can expect a scraping attack to devastate your website’s performance.
As is the case with link attacks, monitoring can help you contain the effects of scraping attacks. Sign up for a third-party tool that scours the internet for copies of your content. When you identify sites that have scraped your content, ask the webmaster to remove it.
Visit Google and submit a copyright infringement report when offending webmasters refuse to act against websites that publish content scraped from your site.
Your competitors can degrade the performance of your site by continually crawling it. So, when Google attempts to crawl your site, the search engine assumes that your site has operational problems. When this happens, Google will penalize your site for providing poor user experiences.
Get help from your web hosting provider to get help responding to a crawling attack. After screening your web server’s logs, they can help you block hostile crawlers via your .htaccess file and other means.
Typically, your competitors have greater access to off-page SEO factors than they do to on-page factors. After all, hostile players must gain access to your site before they can change it. Still, you should guard against the following on-page negative SEO attacks.
Hackers can add content to your site and then use HTML tags to make it invisible. Because of this, you often won’t know that your site was hacked until you see its SEO performance plunge.
When they don’t add content to your site, hackers may add redirects that automatically send your website visitors to their site. Such a move can transfer your page authority to your competitor’s site. If hackers redirect your visitors to a malicious website, Google could remove your site from its index.
Protect yourself from hacked content by regularly using a site audit tool. Such an app can detect changes to your site that you might ordinarily miss. Also, pay attention to the number of outbound links. If that number unexpectedly changes, someone may have hacked your website.
Only by adding a line such as “Disallow: /” to your robots.txt file, malicious people can effectively remove your website from Google. A subtler attack could block only your most popular website content from search engine indexes.
A sudden, across-the-board drop in page rank for numerous keywords could mean that someone blocked your content. Respond by using an automated tool that reports dropped keywords. To confirm that your site was attacked, visit Google Search Console to review your site’s robots.txt file and crawler statistics.
Sometimes people hack websites for fun or as a challenge rather than to hurt your SEO. Unfortunately, when this happens, your SEO may still suffer.
When Google crawls a hacked website, it will often add a note to search results that warn users of a potentially hacked site. Google may also either bury or de-index your hacked website.
Hackers frequently have a trademark image or message that they leave on the home page of the sites they hack. So, periodically visit your website to verify that it displays your intended content.
If your competitors succeed in negative SEO, they have a chance to see their site rise in search. Today, start assembling a set of monitoring and analytics tools that can help you quickly identify and respond to this type of attack.