The Shadow In The Light: What Is Negative SEO & Why You Should Be Aware Of It!
SEO is a brilliant tool for your Search Engine Marketing no doubt about it, with the power of great content & strategically selected keywords you also can enable your brand to reach great heights! You won’t find one digital marketer that is vehemently opposed to this thought, or thinks otherwise, while they might have their preferences the fundamental stance remains the same.
But just like everything else in the world that is great, there are a few things about SEO that are pretty negative. These qualities or rather these techniques are categorized as ‘Negative SEO’. What is that you might ask? Simply put, Negative SEO is an umbrella term used to describe SEO tactics that are deemed immoral and ‘cheat’ the system to gain an advantage over your competition.
Just like there is consensus on the fact that SEO is great, similarly, everybody agrees that Negative SEO is bad. Negative SEO can hinder your business website’s growth, hurt your rankings, and destroy your brand reputation.
Here is a detailed analysis of Negative SEO, and how you can counter it:
What In The World Is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO is a ‘black hat’ technique that utilizes immoral and unethical tactics to sabotage a given target’s search engine rankings. The most common form of negative SEO is when someone would stage a false flag operation and purchase thousands of links that are meat for spamming and point them towards your website.
This is done in hopes that Google, Bing, or another search engine platform will notice this irregular behavior. Resulting in penalizing your website due to the link’s inherent connection with your website. Negative SEO tries to demolish your website’s credibility and unseat you from your hard-earned search engine ranking. This is done by making you seem like a spammer & nuisance on the platform that adds no value.
The Importance Of Negative SEO
Learning about Negative SEO is the same as learning to swim, while it is true that you won’t drown anytime soon, but at the same time, it’s good to be in a position where you can stay afloat. Therefore it is crucial to know how a business rival can weaponize Google’s inbuilt spam protection & safe searching tools and hurt your interests on the web.
The above mentioned false-flag operation has far-reaching consequences for your website. As it can take a toll on your website ranking and brand reputation. But the story doesn’t end here, there are more sinister elements to how Negative SEO can hurt your website, and we tell you everything;
#1 Corruption Of Data Analytics
‘Google Bowling’ is the more popular name of the above mentioned false-flag operation. In such an attack, a third-party floods the web with spam links that direct traffic to your website. Now you might be thinking that can’t be bad, at least I am getting free traffic? Well to burst your bubble, Google Bowling can seriously damage not only your website index ranking but also corrupt your data collection.
To understand this argument better let’s say your website is attacked by 100,000 spam backlinks. Now this will cause your Google Search Console to go berserk! No longer will you get correct data analytics for your website that will cause serious long-term damage to your campaigns.
The data that you generate from all your Search Engine Marketing campaigns provides you the crucial insights that enable the future course of action. What happens if that precious data is taken away from you? The answer is simple, you can’t fly blind and without that data, you essentially become blind in your website marketing.
#2 Duplicate Content
Now that you understand the fundamentals of a false-flagged spam backlink tactic, it is time to look at other Negative SEO techniques that you need to be aware of. One prime method of Negative SEO other than Google Bowling is ‘Content Duplication’.
As the name suggests in content duplication third-party copies of the content on your website. Then they upload it on as many syndicated feeds as possible. Hence this results in a search engine platform like Google taking note, and penalizing your website’s search index ranking because of unoriginal content.
With the advent of AI-driven search algorithms that platforms like Google are increasing using. These types of attacks become much more lethal. Core search platform updates like BERT bring to the table NLP or Natural Language Processing. These updates enable computers to understand the language more like humans. As a result of which the value of the content provided takes paramountcy when indexing your rank on the search result page.
#3 Malware & HTML Injections
This is by far the most sinister method of Negative SEO. As it attacks both user and search engine platform trust. In this method of Negative SEO, a third-party would flood your User-Generated Content channels with malware injected backlines. Therefore when caught by a search platform will cause them to deem your website unsafe for visitors.
HTML injections are a very common tactic in this type of Negative SEO practices. In this practice the conspirator would inject malicious code into your website to make it seem unsafe for visitors. This not only results in a search engine platform penalizing you but also hampers your relationship with your visitors.
How To Mitigate The Impact Of Negative SEO
Negative SEO is not a common practice for sure. So the chances of you being the target of a negative SEO are pretty slime. Nonetheless, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Therefore there are some precautions that you can take to mitigate the impact of Negative SEO on your website.
Here are the few ways you can protect against Negative SEO:
- Create Alerts On Google Webmaster – By using Google Webmaster and creating alerts you will be instantly notified if your website suffers from problems with page indexing, server connectivity, malware injection, etc.
- Track Your Backlinks – To protect your website from spam backlinks you must be aware of their creation first. Therefore use tools that enable you to monitor any backlinks that are being created pointing towards your website.
- Use Google Authenticator – The first step to protecting your website is by installing Google Authenticator so that you can stop hackers from injecting malicious code into your website.
- Social Media Monitoring – Keep a strict vigil on your social media platforms to check for User-Generated Content spam. Most of the time attackers will disguise themselves as your followers and target your customers.
- Vigil on Your Server Uptime – You must keep a 24/7 constant watch onto your hosting servers to see if they go down during their operations. Negative SEO might even employ tactics where the attacker targets your hosting and throws your website off-balance.
Negative SEO is not an imminent threat to your online presence, but a threat nonetheless. Therefore it is crucial that you never take it lightly and let your guard down. As it might leave you vulnerable to attack, to succeed you must be prepared for any eventuality.