Negative SEO on the Rise?

You’re driving down a little country lane; the scenery is beautiful, but you have no idea where you are. You find a helpful person who directs you to your destination.  That’s SEO. The Internet is a vast place, and keywords and other techniques give direction. Now, what if you met someone who gave you the wrong directions on purpose? Told you to go left when you should go right, told you to zig when you should zag?  That is negative SEO, a technique that has been rather buzzy of late.

What do you need to know?

Google has always maintained that there is “nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.”  They amended that to “almost nothing,” and now, they have updated the statement once again, indicating that there are indeed ways your site may be targeted. Negative SEO is the practice of creating masses of spammy links to a site (usually a competitor’s site). The goal is to drop the site’s ranking – and perhaps raise their own.

This can be a problem because Google has started to consider where your links come from in order to rank your site. So, if, for instance, The London Times or TMZ for the entertainment crowd links to your site, it is essentially an endorsement. If you have tons of links from spam sites, you are penalised by Google. That works in reverse, too; a blackhat SEO can create these spammy sites and link to your site.

Sounds scary, right? Here’s the good news. If you have earned your Google ranking with solid, organic links – maybe not from the Times but other reputable sites – then you are not as vulnerable. If you find via a link audit that you are being linked to from spam sites and cannot remove them, you can issue a “reconsideration request” with Google. And again, if you are a reputable site, you stand a very good chance of having these spam links negated.

If, however, all you have are these links, it can be much more difficult to plead your case. New sites can be vulnerable.  It is important for sites to create valuable content and work to get legitimate, healthy links to build a defense against negative SEO. Start with links to your social media sites or profiles, and branch out (wisely) from there.

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