Any brand hoping to succeed in digital marketing needs the right type of content to improve search visibility on a results page. The SEO industry has seen a transformation in recent years that has shifted content marketing strategies. Keyword rankings have become highly competitive and consequently negative content creation tactics are used to damage competitor sites. These negative SEO tactics leave your site vulnerable to attacks that can quickly damage your brand’s online reputation if left undetected.
What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO occurs when search engine algorithms work against websites by mimicking spam behavior to make it appear that black hat link building techniques are being used to boost search rankings. Search engines will penalize such links, which will negatively impact a website’s ranking and traffic.
There are a number of ways that negative SEO practices take form:
- Copying and spreading your original content on other websites
- Creating public and private link networks that link back to your site
- Creating fake accounts on social media platforms that attack your online reputation
- Using suspicious keywords as anchor text linking to your site
- The attempted removal of valuable backlinks from your site
Before you can identify negative SEO practices, you need to understand what makes good content and how SEO on-page content optimization works. Quality content helps a brand improve web traffic by driving visibility in organic search results. Incorporating the best practices of content optimization is an affordable way to make your SEO content show up in search results.
LinkGraph’s SEO content guide teaches you the best ways to optimize your content strategy. Keyword research helps you see what your target audience searches for so that you can create effective long-tail keywords. Use these keywords in your SEO content creation and optimize your landing page copy. LinkGraph will help you understand how to optimize a title tag and the meta description, how to refine your content marketing strategy, and how to continue driving traffic and conversions.
How to Identify Negative SEO
There are several ways that you can identify negative SEO tactics on your website.
1. Have you noticed a sudden drop in search traffic?
If you notice a sudden drop in search traffic to your site and you haven’t made any recent significant changes, this could be a red flag.
2. Have you been penalized?
A notification from Google informing you that your SEO actions are against their guidelines is a clear sign that something is going on.
3. Have your individual keyword search engine rankings dropped?
It’s a good idea to regularly track your target keyword rankings so that you can quickly identify any drops.
4. Has there been a spike in your backlinks?
A gradual spike in backlinks or a significant change in their quality is a red flag that there is a negative SEO campaign against you.
5. Blocked links aren’t showing.
Some websites block monitoring tools from crawling on their websites which could leave you vulnerable to hazardous links. Backlink reporting on Google Search Console shows all the links to your website that Google has found, allowing you to manually check suspicious links. Google Analytics allows you to check a referral traffic report to see where your site’s traffic is coming from.
6. Has there been a decrease in your backlinks?
If you notice that any backlinks have been recently removed and you aren’t the one who requested the removal, contact that website to find out why.
7. Is your content appearing everywhere?
Content scraping takes your original piece of content and publishes it on other websites. Syndicating content on high authority and relevant sites is permissible when you follow Google’s guidelines. Google decides which version of your content to deliver in search results and there is no guarantee it will be your original content.
How to Respond to Negative SEO
There are three ways you can respond to negative SEO:
1. Create a list of backlinks that need to be removed.
The first step is to verify any recently created links on your site and identify the bad ones that need to be removed. Tag the bad links and manually monitor them to see which links are hurting your search engine rankings.
2. Try to remove the bad links.
Contact the webmaster of the website and request to have your identified links removed.
3. Create a disavow list.
Use the Google Disavow Tool if you receive a manual penalty. If this isn’t possible, create a disavow list to submit to Google Webmaster Tools.
Negative SEO happens but the good news is that attacks are rare, and with careful monitoring of your web pages, you can quickly identify and remedy negative SEO tactics.