attacks can negatively affect our visibility on search engines. In this post you will find the keys to identify and combat them.
Note: in this post many technical SEO concepts will be used. If you are not used to them, here you have our SEO dictionary
In this post you will find
1. Negative SEO: what it is
In some sectors where there is a lot of competition for organic positions, there are situations in which some actors use unregulated weapons to climb positions. Within these weapons that we commonly call Black Hat, the vast majority are aimed at benefiting the positions of the project or client that carries them out. However, there are also some very bad techniques aimed at harming their rivals in the SERPs. We call these practices negative SEO.
2. How to find out if I have received negative SEO
It is not always easy to detect negative SEO attacks
, and often by the time you realise it, it may be too late.
Generally speaking, we could say that if you are doing things right in terms of SEO (code, server, content, links...) and you notice a sudden drop in search engine rankings, you should be suspicious. If you are not doing it right, it will be more difficult to detect the reason for this drop.
Keep in mind that the marked drops in Google that come from a negative SEO could turn into a manual or algorithmic penalty from Google. In the first case you will have it easier, as you will receive an alert from Google Search Console
notifying you, and you will have ways to argue and reverse the situation.
However, if it is an algorithmic penalty
, then you will need to identify the type of negative SEO you have received
and act accordingly. In this article we will analyse the most common ones:
3. Top Negative SEO Attacks
3.1. Toxic links
This is the most common negative SEO practice and also one of the easiest to detect. It consists of competitors manually or automatically inserting links to our website on pages of dubious reputation. Normally they are Russian websites, abandoned forums, pornography websites, etcetera. To detect this you should use an inbound link detection tool such as Ahrefs
. We recommend listing these domains on a regular basis and uploading them to the Google Disavow
link disavow tool. There is some debate about the extent to which Google would already have listed the websites that do SPAM and negative SEO and would not take them into account, but as a precaution we recommend disavowing them as it will not hurt us.
3.2. Anchor text manipulation
We have explained in a previous post how we use anchor texts to tell Google what it will find in the destination link that we place. Well, in a negative SEO attack, what they do is to place links with anchor texts
of a very different topic from ours. Let's imagine that we have an SEO project in which we intend to position a url for the keyword "balls", and our competitor puts links on dozens of websites with the anchor text "fake watches". This will lead Googlebot
to a thematic confusion that will dilute the ranking of my URL.
3.3. Identity theft
We are at the maximum level of hacking, but you should know that it exists. In this case a competitor impersonates our identity and asks webmasters where we get links to our website to edit or remove them. This is difficult to detect, but with a good tool to monitor incoming links and a good alert system you will do it. When you notice it, you should contact the webmaster to reverse it. And if you identify the person who impersonated you, we leave it up to you to decide what actions to take ;)
3.4. DDOS server attacks
In this case, which is more hacker than negative SEO, the attacker would seek to saturate our server
through many requests for our web resources (usually Chinese, Indian or Russian robots) that would bring down the server in the eyes of the user and Google.
To prevent these attacks it is always advisable to have a quality hosting, which is scalable and has prevention against these situations, and always have a copy of our website at hand, and have a CDN
service such as Cloudflare to keep a live copy of the website while we recover from the attack. If things get complicated or chronic, it would be advisable to contact a company specialised in cybersecurity such as Océano IT
3.5. Hacker attacks
In these cases, unwanted elements such as malware are introduced into our website, or content is altered by deleting pages or introducing links to SPAM websites. Normally if it affects links and content we will see it in Google Search Console, but it is not always the case. The prevention and healing measures would be similar to those mentioned in the previous point.
3.6. Duplicated content
In this type of situation, other websites copy our content and place it on other sites. This can penalise us as duplicate content. It is very difficult to detect unless they have left internal links to our website, although tools such as Dupli Checker
could help. Once detected, you always have the option of contacting the media outlet and asking for it to be removed, and if that doesn't work, opt to use Google's tool to remove duplicate content.
3.7. Online reputation
Through these attacks, our competitor posts negative reviews on our profiles in Google Business Profile
, or in forums, directories and rating websites, in order to undermine our online reputation
. When a user is interested in our company, negative reviews will scare them away and they will choose other options, such as yours, for example. To detect this, it is important to monitor our brand with a tool such as "mention" or google alerts. If possible, appeal to remove reviews, or at least respond.
Throughout this post we have offered you a definition of negative SEO, we have seen the main attacks that our project can suffer, as well as tools in each case to detect the problem and remedy it. If you are thinking of doing negative SEO to your competitors, we strongly advise you not to do it
. Not only are you going to put your SEO project at risk, but you are also likely to waste a lot of time. It is also a pity because it damages the working environment and the prestige of our professional sector. We suggest that you make a positive effort to improve the SEO of your project, and we wish you the best of luck. On the other hand, if you have reached this post because you believe that your website or your client's website has been affected by negative SEO practices, you can consult our SEO specialists to analyse your case.