Types of negative SEO and how to protect your website

Warning about cyber attacks and different types of negative SEO on a tablet.

Whether we like it or not, negative SEO happens. And in competitive business environments, like today, it happens more than you think. Even the most honest websites can find themselves being the victims of malicious intents and practices, especially if they don’t have previous experience with this type of SEO.

These attacks are sophisticated, some would say even subtle, disruptive, and often carefully planned. But, instead of waiting for them to happen, you can, fortunately, learn the types of negative SEO and how to protect your website in time. By doing it, you can mitigate the damage to your traffic and ranking positions, which would otherwise be catastrophic.

Protect your website from different types of negative SEO

In essence, negative SEO encompasses a variety of techniques used to sabotage the quality and performance of your website. These practices often come from malicious people who have something against you, your website, or your brand. And no surprise here, they are frequently used by your unethical competitors. They include:

  • hacking your websites
  • removing quality links to hinder your SEO efforts
  • buying or building thousands of low-quality (spammy) links for your website
  • copying and distributing duplicate content
  • creating fake social media profiles and reviews
  • and more

Like the cherry on top, you can easily find yourself being reported to Google and other search engines directly for breaking the web rules. Fixing all the damage that may occur is a tremendous task. That’s why it’s always better to know how to prepare and prevent these attacks before serious damage comes to pass.

Analyze your own SEO Strategies first

One of the first steps in the battle against negative SEO attacks is to make sure your own “house” is clean. In most cases, closely following search engine guidelines will do. In other, more specific cases, you will have to use only the best SEO practices for WordPress, for example. Sometimes, it will all depend on the platform your website is built on. But in general, the rule of the thumb is to avoid any black hat techniques. Audit and analyze your website to eliminate any suspicious methods. Clear up your link profile, avoid publishing thin content, and carefully follow social media and reviews.

When you are sure everything is correct on your end, it’s time to learn about the types of negative SEO others can do and how to protect from them.

Table of contents:

  • Duplicate content
  • Ruining your link profile with toxic backlinks
  • Removing quality backlinks in your name
  • Negative reviews against your website
  • Hacking a website

1. Duplicate content

Probably one of the most common problems of the web is dealing with duplicate content. Low-quality websites and those that don’t rank well often “borrow” the content from others. This means they will do anything that benefits them, even if it means copying your articles and pages. They may scrape the pieces of your content using similar terminology.

However, they can go as far as to completely copy your entire article. The problem is, they often target fresh content before search engines manage to crawl them. Or, they can do this with the purpose of flagging you for content spamming. This frequently presents them as the original content creator or leaves you to face spam penalties. Not only will this ruin your content and SEO efforts, but it can also be very discouraging.

The solution to duplicate content

To find if someone is stealing your content, you can use tools like Plagiarism Checker or Copyscape. It’s the fastest way to figure out if someone is posting the same articles, or stealing from you. If they are, you can try to contact websites where your content is posted and ask them to remove it. But, most likely, you will have to notify search engines about it. For example, Google has an Online Infringement form you will need to file to avoid penalties.

2. Ruining your link profile with toxic backlinks

There are many low-quality websites people use to generate backlinks. Some of them include link farms, PBNs, spammy resource directories, and similar. Someone may decide to buy or create thousands of those toxic links and point them to your website to ruin your SEO.

Everything in order to intentionally destroy your online credibility and the value of your website. While Google and other search engines are successfully dealing with this type, nothing stops others from linking your website to them unwillingly. Sometimes, it may look like you are trying to build your backlink campaign this way, which will eventually get your website penalized.

How to deal with spammy and toxic links?

Hunt for those links by regularly auditing your link profile. Make sure you have tools that will help you monitor and discover backlink spamming intents. The sooner you find out something is going on, the more time you will have to react. And malicious people won’t have the time to develop their negative campaigns against your website. Furthermore, you will need to create and regularly submit the disavow list to Google to keep control over your links.

3. Removing quality backlinks in your name

Disruptors may sometimes choose to try to eliminate your most quality backlinks. They will contact the webmaster pretending they are you and ask for link removal. Since one quality backlink is worth dozens of other links, this can really affect your marketing efforts.

How to fix it?

Make sure to react the moment you notice your backlink profile is declining. Get in touch with webmasters and explain the situation. To be sure they are accepting mails from real owners in the future, create an email account with your website domain name on it instead of using generic emails from popular mail services.

4. Negative reviews against your website

Today, everyone can post their opinion on the web. In essence, this is what the internet is made for: to share information. The problem is when someone is creating fake negative reviews for some dishonest agenda. And nothing can stop them from doing it. While this will hardly hurt large websites and companies, small businesses are highly susceptible to it. Too many negative reviews and one-star ratings can easily ruin someone’s business. And, unfortunately, some competitors will not hesitate before using it to ruin others.

Solutions to negative reviews

Fortunately, as a business owner, you can always reply to such negative reviews. If it’s a valid review, you can solve the issues and move on. If it’s a dishonest review, probably the best option is to flag it as spam. Most review websites allow you to report if you notice any suspicious behavior.

5. Hacking a website

Those with enough technical knowledge can exploit vulnerabilities on your website. For negative SEO, they will most likely make some less obvious changes. They will not delete your pages but will aim to destroy your website performance. Instead, they may play with your links, titles, and metadata to hurt your SEO. Some may even place malicious redirections, so search engines decide to punish you. No single on-page SEO is safe from these attacks.

How to prevent hacking?

You will need to bolster your security and website defenses. Protect your passwords and use two-step authentication methods. Hire a cyber security professional to set and patch everything for you. Eventually, if the breach happens, immediately notify Google that your website has been hacked.

Finally, try to avoid making enemies on the internet, whether it’s your competitors or unsatisfied customers. You never know who is willing enough to put some effort against you. But, since it’s sometimes unavoidable, learning about the types of negative SEO and how to protect your website is the only way to stay safe. Tracking everything can be tricky, but it is necessary to save your website’s reputation and performance.