If you are listed at the top of Google for just one keyword, you should be wary about negative SEO. Sitting atop Google means that you effectively have a target on your website’s back. Everyone wants to take your spot and some will use any means necessary to do so. A lot of SEOs will look at the tactics you have used and try to copy them to achieve the same success. There is no harm in this and they are unlikely to succeed. Others, however, may resort to negative SEO in order to get your website penalized by Google.
Negative SEO involves a third party trying to ruin a website’s off-page SEO, such as its links through spam techniques. The hope is that Google sees the spam, thinks the top-ranking website is at fault and punishes them, causing them to fall in the rankings. Here are the most common negative SEO techniques and how you can watch out for them.
Spam link building
This is the most common negative SEO technique and the most likely one to be used against your website if you become a target. It involves negative SEOers creating hundreds or even thousands of spam links on a network of poor quality websites and directing them towards your top-ranking site. The idea is that Google will penalize your website for poor quality links.
The good news is that this is easy to watch out for and identify using a leading SEO tool. Most comprehensive SEO tools will track your links so you can see spam links as soon as they appear. If you do see them, you can use Google’s disavow tool to make sure the search engine doesn’t take them into account.
While this is a less common negative SEO tactic than spam link building, it can still occur. Another way to get your site penalized by Google is to create content issues, so negative SEOers will copy and paste all of the content from your website and add it to their network of spam websites. You shouldn’t have to worry too much about this tactic, however, as Google will usually take the content that it found first as the original and give you preference. If you are worried, however, you can use a content monitoring tool to notify you when your content is copied.
Fake business reviews
Some negative SEO tactics will be aimed at your business, rather than your website. If you are a top ranked local business, other business owners or negative SEOers may take to leaving negative reviews about your business on Google and other websites in the hope that it pushes your ranking down. These can be incredibly damaging, not least because some fake reviews can be hard to remove. It is crucial that you check Google, Yelp and any other reviews sites regularly and report fake reviews as soon as you see them.
While you are unlikely to be the target of a negative SEO attack, it is important you are aware of what they are and what to do. The more you know, the more you can do to stop them.