May 24, 2017 | By:

5 Common Negative SEO Attacks and How to Prevent Them

Find out how to stay safe from common black hat SEO attacks.

Competition is everywhere, and the internet can be one of the most cut-throat and aggressive battle grounds. Negative SEO, or black hat SEO, is a technique that aims to lower a competitor’s search engine ranking. This could range from off-page SEO techniques to on-page SEO. Essentially, competitors leverage Google’s algorithm against you by imposing penalties on your site.

Here, we’ll discuss these common negative SEO attacks and what you can do to protect yourself.

1. Content scraping and reposting

This is among the pettiest and most common of all black hat SEO techniques. Attackers simply scrape, or copy, your site’s content and duplicate it to other websites. This hurts your site’s credibility and authority, and if the scraped copy gets indexed first, you will get penalized.

How to protect yourself
Before you make your web content available to the general public, make sure to have it indexed. To detect content scraping, you can use tools like Copyscape. This tool allows you to search for plagiarized content. If you find duplicates of your content, you may either contact the webmaster or report the incident to Google and submit a copyright takedown notice.

2. Auto-complete SEO

With this technique, attackers search your company or brand name in Google with negative keywords such as “scam” or “lawsuit.” At a certain number of searches, Google auto-completes the search term with the negative keyword. Auto-complete SEO can have a big impact on your company’s reputation.

How to protect yourself
Keep your search queries in check regularly. If you get unusual search queries, you’re likely to be a victim of auto-complete SEO. This type of attack cannot be prevented altogether, but you have a way to save your company’s reputation by putting a smart content marketing strategy in place that aims to rank positive content in SERPs.

3. Link removal

With this negative SEO technique, attackers can have your best links removed by contacting webmasters and requesting some of your backlinks to be taken down. You might think that webmasters know better than to believe these impostors, but sadly they often don’t. Attackers have their tricky ways in escaping scrutiny from webmasters. Losing your best links means losing your search engine rankings.

How to protect yourself
The best course of action is to regularly monitor your links. You can use tools such as Monitor Backlinks and Majestic. Detecting these attacks early on can help you restore those removed backlinks before your search rankings are affected.

4. Hacking and link spamming

This black hat SEO technique is done when your attacker hacks into your site and creates an unusual number of links pointing to your website. Simply put, they’re spamming, and this triggers Google Penguin to penalize your site and would therefore hurt your search engine rankings. Attackers may also create new pages that drive traffic to their own site, stealing your page’s authority and building their own backlink profile.

How to protect yourself
Do regular audits to your website and watch out for strange anchors for untargeted keywords. If you detect spam links, be sure to add the links to your disavow list to prevent the link equity from counting against your search engine ranking. You may also report spam links to Google.

5. Fake parameters

This type of negative SEO technique is done when attackers use fake parameters that point to URLs on your site. For example, if you’re an outsourcing company, they create irrelevant keywords as parameters such as “marijuana.” These instances would prompt Google Panda to penalize your site and hurt your site’s credibility, relevance, and search rankings.

How to protect yourself
The best way to protect yourself is to prevent this instance from happening. You can do this by using a canonical URL to specify a preferred version of your webpage. A canonical URL points search engines to the preferred URL, and therefore will be ranked that way by Google. This makes sure that no other versions of the URL will be indexed and ranked. Another way to prevent this attack is to configure your server to “noindex” unknown parameters.

Negative SEO attackers become more and more creative as technology advances. There will always be competitors who would want to hurt your website ranking and overall SEO effort. The best way to counter these attacks is to monitor your site’s performance and regularly audit your SEO strategy.

If you’d like to discuss more about malicious SEO trickery and how to combat it, give us a call at 888-420-5115 or email us at [email protected]. We do this preventative maintenance and more for our clients every day and would love a chance to help your site succeed.

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