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What is Negative SEO? How to remain safe?

Negative SEO on a website can take many forms and cause varying degrees of damage, when applied to a competitors website. Negative SEO methods are used to convince search engines that they should punish a site for using Black Hat SEO techniques when they have not. Perpetrators found to be employing these risky Negative SEO methods would potentially be black listed by Google, not to mention pursued legally for loses.

Any reputable SEO company would never use these types of tactics, but still the problem exists.
Some of the most common Negative SEO techniques include:
  1. Buying links and pointing them to a competitor’s site in an effort to negatively affect their search engine rankings.
  2. Website Hacking to affect a site’s organic SEO strategies.
  3. Reporting a competitors black hat SEO efforts.
  4. Review bombing by listing lots of five star reviews on a competitor’s site making it seem like they paid for fake reviews.

Recently more businesses have expressed concerns that these techniques could or have been used against them, but there are ways to protect your site against these types of attacks.

  • Build strong domain authority and popularity for your site which will make it less likely that it can be negatively effected.
  • Regularly review your site metrics and identify any major changes as they occur.
  • If you are affected by paid links that you haven’t actually purchased, but you rectify things quickly it’s likely Google will not hold you accountable.
  • Stay on top of feedback about your site using Google Alerts and if you think there have been any reviews generated improperly or a lot posted in a short space of time, make sure you report the problem with the site owner.
  • Keep sitemaps current and make sure they are linked to your Webmaster Tools accounts so that new content is regularly spidered.
  • Use rel=canonical tags to secure the authorship for your content and reduce the likelihood of duplicate content issues removing your snippets from search results.
  • Monitor any unnatural links that appear suddenly. Google’s Webmaster Tools makes this easy and you can quickly identify spammy links. You can then use the Disavow tool to remove the importance of these links to your backlink profile. If there is still a problem, contact Google to help you get back on track.

So make sure your SEO efforts are kept up-to-date and monitored monthly so you can catch any Negative SEO tactics early-on. And while you shouldn’t lose sleep fearing a Negative SEO attack on your site you should be vigilant about watching your SEO metrics in the future.

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