There is a huge amount of competition in the world of SEO. Some search terms are incredibly competitive. Literally thousands of websites can be competing for some keywords, with only a handful getting any traffic from them. Most of those websites will be using white hat SEO to try and beat each other to those top spots. But some websites will fight dirty.
These websites fight dirty by using negative SEO. This is the practice of using blackhat ranking tactics and directing them at competing websites in order to get them penalized by Google.
It might not be immediately clear if you have been a victim of a negative SEO attack. There are some ways to tell but there is no way to tell for absolute sure. There’s certainly no way to tell who was using negative SEO tactics.
One clue is if your rankings suddenly plummet for no apparent reason. If a Google ranking update is not behind the drop then you wan want to look into the following things.
If you see your rankings drop, you should check out your link profile. If you see hundreds or even thousands of spammy links coming from spammy domains, there is a good chance that you have been a victim of negative SEO.
Another sign might be if you receive a huge surge in web traffic, especially if it comes from countries like Russia. These kinds of attacks can be used to slow your website down or to take it offline
Worried about a negative SEO attack? Here’s how you can protect yourself and your website.
Check your content regularly
One negative SEO tactic is to post plagiarized versions of your content all over the internet in order to get Google to penalize you. One way to protect against this is to regularly check your website’s content using a tool like Copyscape. This site will tell you whether any other instances of your content have been found online. If you find them, you can report them to Google.
Keep an eye on your rankings
As we mentioned above, a huge drop in rankings can be a sign that you’ve been hit by a negative SEO attack. Once you see this, and know that it’s not a Google update, you can start to check all of the other factors. Doing this as soon as your rankings drop can save your site.
That’s why you need to keep a close eye on your rankings and regularly check in on them. If you are using an SEO company, they should do this for you and notify you as soon as they see an anomaly. If not, you can check them yourself.
Report fake reviews quickly
It’s not just your website that can get targeted during a negative SEO attack, your business’ reputation can get attacked, too. This is done by posting fake reviews about your business on Google or other review sites. The good news is that it is easy to report them on most websites. You should do so as soon as you spot them.