Negative SEO is a form of search engine optimization (SEO) that involves optimizing a website or web page for lower rankings. If your site’s search rankings have tanked in recent months, you should consider the possibility of a negative SEO attack. It’s often done by competitors seeking to harm other websites’ online presence. If a competitor’s site ranks lower than your business’s site, for example, he or she may attack it with negative SEO. There are ways to overcome negative SEO, however, which we’re going to discuss in this blog post.

Negative SEO: The Basics

The fundamental purpose of negative SEO is to make a website rank lower in the research results. Google and Bing have advanced algorithms to determine where websites should rank and for which keywords. With negative SEO, a competitor may build low-quality backlinks for you website, trying to make search engines believe that those backlinks were created by you. If Google believes that you created hundreds of irrelevant backlinks, it may lower your site’s search rankings, thus causing your traffic to tank.

Because it’s relatively new, many business owners aren’t aware of negative SEO. It wasn’t until 2012 when Google released its Penguin update. This search algorithm updated targeted websites that used black-hat techniques to manipulate their search rankings. Websites with complex “farms” of low-quality links saw their rankings drop overnight. At the same time, Penguin set the foundation for negative SEO.

What You Should Do

The good news is that you can protect your business’s website from negative SEO. First, however, you must monitor your site’s backlinks so that you know which websites, specifically, are linking to your site. There are tools, both free and paid, that can track your site’s backlinks. Even Google’s Search Console can analyze your site’s backlinks.

When reviewing your site’s backlinks, look for signs of low-quality links. If you suddenly have 500 new backlinks, all of which have the same irrelevant anchor text, it could be a sign of an attack. So, what should you do if you discover low-quality links such as this? Contact the websites displaying the links directly and ask them to remove the links. You can also plug the low-quality links into Google’s disavow tool. This tool tells Google to disavow, or ignore, the links in its search algorithm, meaning they shouldn’t impact your site’s rankings. Either way, you must neutralize the effects of these links so that they don’t harm your rankings.