Negative SEO – What is it? How Can You Recover From it?

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Alex Dewey

Technical Lead

What is negative SEO? Why does it happen?

Since the launch of Google’s Penguin and Panda updates, it’s more important than ever to have quality links pointing to your website. Sites that possess an unnatural link profile, with links from spammy sites, general directories and irrelevant, low-quality web pages will get penalised by Google.

Negative SEO happens when the unethical, damaging links pointing to your website aren’t built by you but by a competitor in the hope that you drop down search engine rankings. It’s not that common but unfortunately it does happen. More often than not, negative SEO is a last-ditch attempt for a jealous competitor to get the better of your brand.

How can I recover from negative SEO?  

If your website has been affected by negative SEO, it is possible to recover and sometimes you can get back to where you were before. However, it can be a time-consuming process. There are three steps to recovery:

1. Diagnosis 

Do you check your banklinks regularly? There are plenty of online tools available like Majestic SEO or Google’s Webmaster Tools that allow you to look at the links pointing to your site. It’s perfectly natural to have a few dodgy backlinks but if you find hundreds of suspicious sites linking to you then you may have a problem.

Likewise, if you notice a sudden increase in links from strange websites or spot a number of sites using irrelevant anchor text in their links, you could be suffering from negative SEO. It’s time to sort that out.

2. Removal

Getting rid of those bad links isn’t easy or particularly quick but it can be done. You have to contact the owners of the websites, one by one, and request that their link to your website is taken down. We told you it’d take a while.

There are tools that can help to ease the pain. Websites like Link Detox, LinkRisk and rmoov allow you to examine your links, contact website owners and check up to see if your links get removed.

3. Disavowal

Requesting the removal of your links will work in the main, but there will be some webmasters who won’t, or can’t, remove your link. Then you should use disavow tools from Google and Bing to distance yourself from the links. Be sure to only use these tools as a last resort.

How to protect yourself from negative SEO

If you’re a successful brand that ranks well for competitive keywords, you may well be identified as a target for negative SEO. There are ways to stay protected:

Build a healthy link profile. The more authoritative, relevant links you have pointing to your site, the harder it is for a negative SEO attack to take place. So focus on creating content that invites links and shares from other relevant websites.

Monitor your backlinks. If you know your backlinks inside out then you’ll be able to act quicker if you find yourself inside out. Use backlink tools to keep track on your links and ensure your profile grows steadily and naturally.

Diversify. If your only online marketing strategy consists of SEO then you’ll be hit hard if someone targets you for some negative SEO. So don’t just rely on search: grow your social, PPC and content outreach as well.

Have you been affected by negative SEO in the past? How did it affect you? Have you fully recovered?

For more information about technical SEO and dealing with negative SEO and protecting yourself in the future, talk to us today. Call 029 2076 6467 or email today. 

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Alex Dewey

Technical Lead

Alex has worked in Worked in SaaS B2B, Web development and Ecomm – Pets (this covered Amazon optimisation as well as Google Bing etc) before finding his way into the world of Technical SEO. Alex loves problem-solving for clients and researching innovation for internal processes. Alex is responsible for the technical output for the company…

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