Staff Writer: Carolyn Johnson
As a business owner, you may have used small business SEO services to optimize your business website. If your website’s rankings have dipped recently after the latest Google Penguin updates, then it could be that you were a victim of negative SEO tactics.
Negative SEO pertains to any shortcuts or “cheats” that expert SEO services might make in order to get a quick surge of traffic, or to even purposefully downgrade your rankings. Such methods have always been frowned upon, but it isn’t until now that they’ve been punished for those actions. For business owners who are fairly green to SEO, it may initially be difficult to figure out if there’s negative SEO on your site, but there are a few telling signs.
Check out the backlinks on your website. Negative SEO will likely have backlinks that lead to spammy sites with low-quality sites. A suspiciously high number of links will have likely been acquired in a short period of time. This may be a sign that this was a deliberate attempt to associate your business with a sketchy link building organization.
Generally speaking, if an SEO service has been building many links with the same anchor text within a short period of time, this should be a red flag for negative SEO.
Another sign of negativeSEO is if you find your original content on another website that compiles other similar content. Such sites are often used to get search engines to ignore your links due to “duplication of content.”
Watch out for 301 errors redirecting to or from spammy sites. Either spammers or nefarious competitors will create spammy URLs that are similar to yours, then redirect those links to your website, which will then knock you down in the rankings.
You may have received messages from Google Webmaster Tools regarding “unnatural links” on your site. If this is the case, then Google is telling you that your website has been benefitting from links that are outside Google’s purview and are deemed unacceptable.
One of the more challenging ways to find negative SEO attacks is through social media. A spammy negative SEO attack could be posting fake updates in your name. Comb through Facebook, Twitter, and other related blog posts to find any suspicious posts in your name.
When things get really bad, your website will get hit with a DoS, which means Denial of Service. This is rare and happens most commonly on high-profile, high-ranking sites, with popular torrent sites being the most talked-about example. DoS intends to attack your website by overloading it with bots from multiple IP addresses. This is one of the more complex and devastating forms of negative SEO.
Negative SEO could also come in the form of fraudulent copyright infringement complaints, which could temporarily remove your content. Search engine automatically mark down any such content. If this is the case, it’s up to you to prove that your content is original and yours.
Negative SEO can devastate any business big and small, and knowing the signs of negative SEO can help prevent attacks in the future.