Are Negative SEO attacks a reality?
Unscrupulous people are really doing negative SEO and there’s currently no way to prevent it. Newer website are easier targets with negative SEO.
Negative SEO Attack Vectors
- Hacking a website
- Automated link building software such as XRumer, SENuke or ScrapeBox will allow an attacker to quickly build hundreds of spammy links to a website often using a network of proxies or VPNs to cover their tracks.
- Convince a business that they are at risk for a Google penalty and get access to their webmaster tools and disavow all their links.
- Buy paid links to your competitor and report it to Google
SEO Attack Case Studies
How can you protect your business from Negative SEO?
1. Google Search Console
2. Monitor your Backlink Profile
Ongoing backlink monitoring to ensure that negative SEO attacks are picked up early
3. Google’s Disavow Tool
“If you’ve done as much work as you can to remove spammy or low-quality links from the web, and are unable to make further progress on getting the links taken down, you can disavow the remaining links. In other words, you can ask Google not to take certain links into account when assessing your site”.
This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.
4. Check for Duplicate Content
If your website’s content is copied and distributed hundreds or thousands of times around the internet it puts your website at risk of Google’s duplicate content policy.
A free and easy way to check for duplicate content is to simply to use Google. You can even setup a Google Alert to notify you when Google indexes any of your copied content.
Using Negative SEO to your Advantage
Most applications of negative SEO are unethical but is possible to use ethical negative SEO to target your competition if their are involved in SEO techniques that violate Google’s guidelines. When analysing a competitor’s backlinks it’s common to see links that have obviously been purchased. They may not deserve to be out ranking and Google wants to know about it. Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s Webspam team explains more in the video below.
Report spam or paid links to Google
Google takes spam extremely seriously, and investigates reported instances. These reports are submitted directly to Google’s webspam team and are used to devise scalable solutions to fight spam. File a spam report (Google Account required)
Participating in link schemes violates the Googles Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results. If you believe a site is engaged in buying or selling links that pass PageRank, tell Google about it.
The Future of Negative SEO
On Friday, 23rd September 2016 Google announced, “Penguin is now part of our core algorithm”. The key changes:
Penguin is now real-time. Historically, the list of sites affected by Penguin was periodically refreshed at the same time. Once a webmaster considerably improved their site and its presence on the internet, many of Google’s algorithms would take that into consideration very fast, but others, like Penguin, needed to be refreshed. With this change, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we recrawl and reindex a page. It also means we’re not going to comment on future refreshes.
Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.
Penguin 4.0 is now real-time and more granular. Is this the end of Negative SEO?
The new Penguin algorithm may simply ignore spam links so rather than punishing the site it would affect a particular page. If this is the case, it would make it more difficult to use negative SEO to knock an entire website down the search engine pages however it may be possible to affect a particular page.
Penguin’s new realtime updates will allow would-be attackers to experiment.
Regardless if Negative SEO continues to work or not, it will continue to cost businesses time, money and the potential of lost revenue. Links still need to be monitored daily and action taken to disavow those that are potentiality damaging. Bad links could potentially cost businesses thousands of pounds in SEO fees, which many small businesses simply cannot afford.
SEO Security Takeaways
SEO Security is very important for any business who want their website to succeed.
1. Setup Google Webmaster Tools Alerts
2. Continuously monitor your backlink profile.
Build great quality, user focused content and build a strong brand.
Lexcia has helped businesses recover from the devastating affects of SEO attacks. If you think you are a victim of negative SEO attack or need help putting procedures in place to defend your business, we can help. Contact us today.