The term 'Negative SEO' is not new. This practice has been around for a while now, but since the release of the Penguin update, it has become a hot topic again. Here our SEO team discuss what the practise entails.....and what makes it so, well, negative.
Negative SEO practices can include:
- Hacking into a website and making negative changes
- Reporting a website to Google for no legitimate reason
- Sending a high amount of low quality 'spam' links to a website without the webmaster's knowledge
The aim of these tactics is to reduce a site's credibility in the hope that it will be penalised, rankings will be lost and replaced by the competitor in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Many webmasters are concerned that with the over-optimisation penalty, competitors will be able to use these tactics to 'take out' their rivals. Although these tactics can work and are often hard to notice, there are measures that can be taken to help prevent Negative SEO from bringing down your website.
- Make sure you have good security software. This will minimise the chances of malware and hack attempts on your site. If you suspect anything, check that no changes have been made to the 'robots.txt' file. This is usually the first thing a hacker will change to block Google from finding your site.
- Google Webmaster Tools can also provide information on whether you're site has been hit. If there are any errors or issues reported in Webmaster Tools, try to sort these out. If you have a quality site that follows Google's guidelines then they are less likely to drop you in the rankings.
- If you feel you have been targeted by Negative SEO and can put a good case forward in your defence, Google may be able to help but this would probably be a lengthy process. You should be 100% sure that your site was hit by Negative SEO before making any claims.