Positioning your site on the first page of the search engines is an uphill battle. Not everyone succeeds. If you manage to get your site onto the SERP thanks to SEO, watch your back, otherwise your rivals could take advantage of the flaws in the algorithms. They will ruin your natural referencing to improve their positioning. How can this happen?
Unfair competitors use negative SEO or NSEO to damage your rankings. Among other things, they exploit poor quality inbound links. They tarnish your site’s e-reputation with fake reviews on Facebook, Google My Business and other platforms. How can you spot this unethical and illegal practice and counter it?
Read this article to find out the best way to protect your website against attacks from your competitors.
What does negative SEO mean?
Negative SEO or NSEO refers to a set of unethical SEO techniques by which third parties reach a website. It is an SEO attack by an unfair competitor. The aim is to destroy your credibility with Google and its indexing robots. Google Penguin punishes poor quality web pages. When your site is the victim of negative SEO, the Penguin algorithms consider that you are using the black-hat SEO technique. As a result, you pay the price.
SEO attacks occur more frequently in profitable niches when unfair competition intrudes. Instead of implementing a real SEO strategy, they use obscure methods to harm your website. Negative SEO techniques allow hackers to :
- Hack into your site: your rivals will enlist the help of a hacker to gain illicit access to your shop window. In this way, they can introduce undesirable and invisible content.
- Distributing duplicate content: this form of negative SEO aims to destroy your credibility with the robots that crawl websites. As soon as you put content online, your competitors steal it and publish it on different sites.
- Generate fake traffic: to push your site beyond its traffic limit, hackers overload you with fake visitor requests and your ranking takes a hit. Site loading times increase. The number of real users decreases.
- Generate low-quality inbound links to destroy your site.
- Create a redirect from a dubious site to yours and increase your spam score to bring you down.
- Using SEO Blast, etc.
How can you tell if your site has been penalized by SEO?
Negative SEO can affect you in many ways, but its manifestations are generally the same. To find out if you are under attack, use tools such as Majestic or Ahrefs. They allow you to check the status of links coming into your website. You can also register your sites with Google Search Console.
It provides you with performance and traffic reports for your sites in real time. You can find out what problems need to be solved and implement various optimizations to improve your ranking. Focus on the natural results in the SERP and on the number of visits to your site.
Spot a case of Negative SEO on your site
Let’s say you create a niche website using the WordPress CMS. You call in a web agency to optimize your SEO. You benefit from the help of SEO consultants. They work on your semantic cocoon and the internal linking of your site. The SEO experts will entrust the web copywriting of your blog articles to a professional copywriter. They will develop an effective content strategy for you, focusing on the choice of relevant keywords. They will then provide you with quality backlinks on the same theme.
After a while, your trust flow will improve. Your site inspires confidence and you increase your popularity. Finally, your SEO work pays off! You generate more traffic. Your site will appear first in the natural results when web users type in sensitive queries on your subject.
You have an unfair competitor who, unlike you, does not seek the help of an SEO agency. He doesn’t seek the assistance of any SEO expert, but he wants to improve his Google ranking and positioning quickly. What does he do? He uses negative SEO. He copies and pastes your content onto different sites as soon as you publish it. He’s very clever at getting ahead of the indexing robots.
Google Penguin suspects you, and the algorithm suspects you’re doing black hat. Your competitor continues to exploit Negative SEO techniques and increases the number of poor quality links pointing to your site. He creates redirects from low-quality sites to yours, and then you fall. You analyze your site using tools such as Ahrefs and Majestic SEO, only to find that you’ve dropped from first to tenth place for some of your keywords.
What does this SEO penalty mean for your site?
SEO attacks by a malicious competitor are not limited to a loss of place in the natural results. You also see a significant reduction in traffic. This is because SEO obeys the law of cause and effect. The further you are from the first page of results, the more traffic you lose.
A drop in the number of visitors can occur when you de-index web pages on your site. It also happens when you have a problem with your web hosting. Is your site taking a long time to load? And you don’t have any of the first two problems? In that case, it’s highly likely that your site is the victim of SEO attacks. You can counter negative SEO if you detect it in time.
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How can you protect yourself and keep your site safe?
To prevent your website from being poorly referenced by search engines, you need to be constantly on the lookout.
- Create and use a Google Alerts account
This tool enables you to carry out relevant monitoring of your keywords. You receive a message as soon as an Internet user uses expressions or types queries that you are targeting. What’s more, you can keep a close eye on trends in your market and anticipate them if necessary.
- Carry out regular SEO audits of your link building
This involves analysis Your site comes under attack when it receives poor quality links or redirects. You need to evaluate all the links pointing to your website and reject those that could harm your natural referencing. Keep authority links, as they add to your popularity. To monitor the profile of your links, use tools such as Ahrefs or Google Search Console.
- Use PageSpeed Insights to monitor the performance of your website
Poor SEO also manifests itself in very slow site loading times. If you suspect that your shop window is slowing down, this performance test tool from Google will be a great help. It provides you with information about the loading speed of a web page on PC and mobile. If your site remains slow despite any optimizations, it’s probably a case of SEO Negative.
- Regularly check whether other platforms are copying your content
Use Copyscape to check whether your content is being copied from other sites. If you detect duplicate content, don’t waste time. Don’t contact the webmaster of the site concerned. Report the problem directly to Google to recover your copyright.
A few additional measures to prevent and counter SEO attacks
Keep an eye on your e-reputation, because it’s not always clear who’s behind the profiles. Your competitors can create fake accounts and leave bad reviews under your publications. They will use platforms such as Google My Business and TripAdvisor to destroy your brand image. As soon as you come across inaccurate reviews about your business, report them.
Finally, be on your guard. Detect any problems that could harm your site and deal with them in good time. Migrate to HTTPS to ensure your site is protected against hackers.
If your rivals are cluttering you up with paid links or URLs from unreliable sites, delete them manually. If you come across a large number of low-quality links, use Google’s Disavow Tool. Disavow Tool helps you analyze and then reject unwanted links.
To avoid SEO attacks from a dishonest competitor, entrust your web project to an SEO company. They will help you create an optimized and secure site. It works on your SEO and provides you with quality content and backlinks. Your SEO agency will improve your visibility and monitor your online reputation. It guarantees your long-term digital success through ongoing efforts and regular monitoring.