Over the last decade, Google has created an algorithm that punishes companies that use black hat search engine optimization tactics – tactics like link farms and automated search engine queries. While these algorithm changes have succeeded in making the majority of companies play fair when it comes to SEO, it has also unintentionally created an altogether new black hat SEO strategy: negative SEO.
What is negative SEO?
Negative SEO is a tactic used by a competitor, a saboteur, or a mercenary to harm your optimization efforts. In most cases, these parties will create hundreds or even thousands of spammy links to your website, producing an illusion that you are violating Google’s black hat SEO rules. As a result, you may be punished by Google and other search engines for someone else’s malicious actions: your rank may suffer or you could be eliminated from search results altogether.
In some cases, competitors will engage in SEO in order to harm your business. In other cases, companies may threaten you with negative SEO unless you pay them not to. It is currently unclear how prevalent these problems are or whether negative SEO will become more common in the future.
What should you do if you become a victim of negative SEO?
- Verify that you have been affected by negative SEO. If you have received a threat regarding negative SEO, it may have only been a threat. Go to your Google Webmaster account and investigate. Have you received an email from Google warning you that you (or someone pretending to be you) have been engaging in violations? If not, your reputation may be intact.
- Check out your inbound links. Search your traffic in your Google Webmaster Account, focusing on the “Links to your Site” section. Do you see anything fishy? Even if you aren’t the target of a specific negative SEO campaign, you may see some links you would like to disassociate from anyway.
- Try to get the links removed by contacting the websites’ owners. If you are truly a victim of negative SEO, trying to get the links removed may not do any good, but it is always worth a shot to clear up the issue and repair your good name simply by talking to the people who are creating your bad links.
- Disavow the links. Google recognizes that negative SEO exists and that not all websites are responsible for spammy inbound links. To combat these issues, they have created a way for web masters to disavow backlinks by uploading a list of the links in a .txt format.
- Don’t get into a negative SEO war. This is not the time to get into a mud-slinging contest – everyone will get dirty. Focus on your own marketing tactics and SEO techniques and resist the urge to fight back using the same unfair tools.
Does your website need a white hat SEO makeover? Have you been the victim of negative SEO? Call The Search Ninjas today to get back on the right track – and start with our free SEO audit: 855-529-6465.