Black hat SEO techniques may improve a site’s position in the short term, but insisting on using them in the long run can result in site penalties, downgrades, or even removal from search results. Negative SEO means using these techniques to hit competitors.
Using illegal methods and black hat SEO will result in fines and lower your site ranking. If using these methods is so dangerous and harmful, can using them for other sites change their position in search results?
Sometimes your competitors’ sites decide to attack you instead of improving your site. In other words, these sites use black hat techniques instead of improving the user experience and generating valuable content for their site, but not to increase their site ranking, but because your site Get rid of Google!
It is interesting to know that this thinking is not new in the competitive environment of the Internet and even a name has been chosen for it; Negative SEO!
In this video, we will first provide a precise definition of negative SEO, and then we will introduce you to the most common methods used to hit competitors in SEO, along with ways to prevent it. The duration of this video is 6 minutes and 26 seconds and its approximate size is 50 MB. If you are in a situation where you can not watch the video, we suggest you read the rest of the article carefully.
What is Negative SEO?
Think of a game of chess. In this game, your opponent tries to destroy your pieces one after another by any technique and way he knows. The ultimate goal in chess is for the other side to be able to confuse you and win the game.
In negative SEO, the competitor tries to lower your site’s position in Google search results and thereby reduce your site traffic.
But can you ask how my site becomes dull?
In fact, what we call negative SEO are often the same black hat techniques that are so traceable to Google that it is not far-fetched to be fined.
For example, suppose you are on the first page of Google in the phrase “SEO training”; But your opponent is in 3rd or 4th place. Since the position of the keyword in the results page is very important, the site that is lower than you decides to buy backlinks in the SEO training keyword, to make you the target of the Penguin algorithm penalty.
In order to have a good strategy to deal with negative SEO, we must first know the most common techniques used to do so. In fact, it is only by knowing the various negative SEO methods that we can insure our site against the sudden attack of rival sites. Now it’s time to get acquainted with the types of negative SEO:
1- Malicious link building for a rival site
In this technique, the attacker does not have access to your site or the content of your pages, so he concentrates all his activities on malicious link building for your site. Access to hosting information or site management panel is a difficult task and in fact requires passing the security barrier of the target site, so it can be said that external negative SEO has received more attention than internal SEO.
Google Penguin algorithm has the task of checking the health status of link building sites and if it is sure that the backlinks were purchased with the aim of gaining a place in Google results, it will penalize the wrong site. This simple point is enough to make people think that by building malicious links for their competitors, they will be targeted by this algorithm.
Negative external SEO is actually creating very few and low value external links for a competitor site.
Penguin algorithm to check the health of linking a site; Pays attention to the number, credibility, text of the link and the time period of creating the links. People who use these techniques usually consider the following points in link building:
- Links are generally from sites and blogs with low domain credentials and high spam scores.
- A large number of links are created in a short period of time for the main page of your site or pages that have a good
- visit and position.
- To link, the same terms are used as Anchor Text, which are exactly the keywords of your site.
- The sites that link to you have nothing to do with your site in terms of topic and concept.
- The links that are given to your site are all followers.
These activities will result in a short period of time, a lot of low quality links and of course targeted on a specific phrase for your site. As a result, your site loses its credibility with Google and faces a sharp drop in ranking.
Methods to prevent and deal with malicious link building
Imagine that the credibility of your site is a cup of tea and the external links are the sugar dissolved in it! Now a competing site is using malicious link building to try to increase the amount of sugar in it, and this will make your tea too sweet. Excessive sweetness makes the penguin algorithm suspicious or even penalize your site.
What do you do when your tea is too sweet? Here are some ways:
1- Transfer the tea to a larger glass and add a little water to it
In this way, we try to increase the credibility of the domain with valuable link building and reduce the impact of malicious links. The result of this strategy is that in the end your site will have more credibility than before and you have practically used this attack to your advantage.
You can use the Link Explorer tool on the Moz site to check the distribution of site links and the amount of spam score each. This tool helps you to have a detailed analysis of the links entered to your site, landing pages, linked phrases and spam score of each domain. The image below is an example of a backlog of spam scores.
Of course, increasing the credibility of the site and receiving valuable links is not an easy task, and if not done properly, it may make your tea more sweet. Appropriate strategies for this work are fully reviewed and taught in the external link building workshop.
2- Empty the glass a little and pour tea on it again
In this method, at the same time that we increase the credibility of the site, we also remove some of the malicious links created from it. To introduce malicious links to Google, a tool called Disavow Tool has been introduced by Search Console.
Using this tool, you can introduce pages and domains that have linked to you but have low credibility and high spam score to Google so as not to affect the ranking and credibility of your site. To make this method more effective, we suggest that you continue your white hat linking activity at the same time and add valid and valuable backlinks to your site.
Identify malicious links and how to use the Disavow Tool in the Google Search Console tutorial.
2- Hacking the site and changing the content of the pages
Internal negative SEO techniques are far more complex and difficult than external methods. Because to do that, direct access to the admin panel or site host will be required. In fact, negative internal SEO techniques are applicable when your site has been hacked by a hostile person.
Hacking sites in the past had no purpose other than to show off or show off their power, and usually resulted in a black page with the name and profile of the hacker, which was quickly fixed by the site administrator.
Today, if someone has access to your files and hosting information, they will rarely use it to show off, and by the way, try not to let them notice that you are passing through your security layers.
After your site is hacked, the intruder will have two options. In the first method, using the resources and credibility of your site, it creates new pages or edits your content in such a way as to create a link for your site, which we talked about in the article Beyond the Black Hat.
The second method has no purpose other than to destroy your site, and will usually involve activities such as the following:
- Production of low value and low quality pages in large numbers
- Linking to malicious and obscene sites from your pages
- Restrict Google bots from accessing important pages of the site using the noindex tag or the robots.txt file
- Display different content to Google bots and original content to users
- DDOS attacks on the server aimed at making the site inaccessible to users
- Enable malicious scripts and code on pages to extract digital currencies
- And …
All of the above can reduce the value and credibility of your site with Google and cause it to lose its position in important keywords.
Methods to deal with site hacking and production of malicious content
To prevent this from happening in negative SEO, the most important thing you can do is keep your site secure. Websites can be accessed from three different layers of security; User information, coding security holes, server security holes.
1- User side security
It is interesting to know that the most common method of hacking for Internet sites is a weak site administrator password! Yes, many of us think that by setting a simple password we will increase our speed and efficiency in entering the admin panel, unaware that this simple mistake can have irreparable consequences for you.
Sites managed by multiple people will usually have less oversight because the person you choose to manage your orders may not have enough information about the security of a site and the consequences of not following it. So the first step is to choose the right password and of course hide the login pages for others.
2- Security in site coding
The next step is to follow the security tips when coding the site. For example, there may be space in a part of your site for users to send files. If you do not check and delete the submitted files before sending them to the server, malicious codes may be sent to your server and access to its information for Infiltrator possible.
If you use content management systems such as WordPress, you should regularly update your core and plugins and increase its security level by using valid security plugins such as IT Security.
3- Server or host security
The next step is to protect the server from possible attacks. If your server does not have the necessary tools to prevent these attacks, it can easily occupy CPU and RAM resources by sending many visits or requests and block users’ access to the site.
If you do not have enough knowledge to maintain server security or use shared hosting, there are peripherals like Cloud flare that can do this for you.
Google will notice the hack before you know it!
If you submit your site to the Google Search Console tool, Google bots will constantly monitor your site and pages. Any sudden change in the content of the pages or the creation of low-value pages on it will be quickly detected by these bots and will be notified to you through the Security Issues section.
The image below is an example of a Google report on hacked pages on your site. In each report, detailed information about the type of intrusion and the address of malicious pages is provided to you. After fixing the site’s problems, you can send a review request to Google using the Request a Review button.
If Google notices that your site has been hacked, the phrase this site mat be hacked will appear in the search results. Pages that are highly malicious may not even appear in search results.
3- Destroying the brand and publishing critical content on the Internet
When you become a reputable and powerful brand, you will probably take your site security tips very seriously and have valuable and credible link building on the internet. In this situation, using the previous two techniques will be practically impossible and your enemies will try to destroy your brand personality and identity.
Internet users are accustomed to researching a company or product before choosing it, and when searching for your name they see many pages of negative experience from previous customers or critical comments, they will hesitate to make a decision.
Some of the most common negative SEO activities in the field of brand destruction are:
- Remove your company from Google Maps or insert negative comments in this space
- Publish critical articles and negative experiences in forums and free blogging service
- Publish specialized and analytical articles to review and compare your services with competitors in a one-sided and targeted manner
- Report your site pages through Google Anti-Spam Form
- Post negative comments on your site’s products or services page
Gaining customers’ trust is very difficult and every small mistake can change their view of the quality of your services and products. As a result of these methods, all your efforts to turn a user into a customer are lost in an instant.
How to prevent the destruction of our brand on the Internet?
The answer to this question is a bit difficult, the important point is that this method is usually used for brands that are known and reputable but do not have a direct and strong relationship with their audience. In fact, these techniques are effective when you yourself have not paid attention to customer satisfaction.
If brand activity on social media is appropriate and consistent, criticism and questions are answered quickly, online public relations is continuously and purposefully planned; No one can destroy your brand using negative SEO techniques, and even if such activities are done far from reality, your loyal customers will probably respond.
Therefore, the best solutions to avoid these techniques are:
- Regular internet monitoring to measure user satisfaction with your products and services.
- Targeted activity on social networks and continuous communication with the audience.
- Publish news and information related to your business on specialized sites and news agencies.
- Report malicious pages and baseless comments to webmasters and Google.
What is the chance of success in using negative SEO?
Over the years, Google’s anti-spam team has always emphasized that negative SEO and related techniques have no effect on search engine rankings. Reducing the impact of backlinks, identifying malicious sites, and making the Disavow Tool and Spam Report available show that Google is determined to combat negative SEO.
Of course, this does not mean that we neglect to check the status of our site and its external links. As an SEO expert, you are always on the lookout for page index, loading speed, download links, and more; As a result, any sudden or unforeseen change in the ranking and traffic statistics of the site can be a warning to check the possibility of Google penalties and negative SEO.
Implementing negative SEO techniques is usually difficult and costly for the adversary, but it is not difficult to prevent.
The more emphasis you place on generating valuable content and user satisfaction, the more credible your brand will be with Google and the public, and the more credible you are, the less likely these techniques will affect your site.
In fact, negative SEO usually targets our weaknesses. These attacks, apart from the possible consequences (which can be remedied) will help you to strive for the growth and promotion of your brand.
After reading this article, you may think that negative SEO is not so far away and you can use it to simplify the competitive environment of your business.
Before making a decision, consider that time and focus are your most important assets for SEO success. If you spend this money on harming your competitors, you will practically move away from focusing on your business, and this will lead to new competitors entering the field.
Having competition in any business, causes the growth of all those who work in that field, and if the competitive environment between you is polluted, all those who enter this game will ultimately lose.
You’ve probably seen examples of AdWords ads competitors called Google, what was your feedback on this? When your customers notice your unprofessional and unethical behaviors to succeed, they will be less inclined to use your services and products.
If you have seen examples of other brands being destroyed or using negative SEO techniques, please share them with us in the comments section of this page.