Google constantly tries to improve their algorithm and the way they approach ranking websites. What used to work for you in the past may not give you the results you are expecting. Unfortunately, besides not boosting your website, clinging to old habits can even harm it and cause you to drop rank. To avoid these situations, we will be looking at how to protect your website from negative SEO.

What are black hat practices?

When watching western action movies, the bad guy is usually the one with the black hat. The same analogy carries over when it comes to SEO. Black hat primarily refers to a set of practices and techniques that can boost SEO but go against the terms of service of search engines. Google and other major search engines are growing more intelligent over time. It’s become increasingly difficult to trick the algorithm – which is a good thing if you want to protect your website from negative SEO. Even if you do everything by the book, someone can employ shady practices to harm your website.

Your competition may try to harm you.

We have seen a pandemic-induced digital transformation happen over the last two years. Many businesses have shifted everything they could online, which has inevitably led to the rise of cybercrime and the number of businesses getting attacked.

These digital attacks can take many forms:

  • Your website can become hacked – where the attacking party can use viruses or malware to hold your data to ransom.
  • Spam links that lead to your website – your website can suffer negative SEO from links that go against search engine guidelines. For example, someone can spam your website with links for gambling or pornography.
  • Bad reviews and negative social media commentsnegative posts are easy to make from anonymous profiles.

Negative SEO you inflict on yourself.

Building SEO takes time, and some website owners are tempted to take shortcuts. They may employ black hat practices like building link farms, double indexing, content automation, rich snippet markups, etc. We highly recommend that you stay away from these techniques and only apply white hat practices to protect your website from negative SEO.

Any respectable business will have a 5-year-plan and strive for the long game. Going for fast solutions that will get you into trouble down the line isn’t worth it. Honestly, it never hurts to perform an SEO audit to be safe. Even if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you should always protect yourself from others.

Preventing is more manageable than fixing.

The best way to protect your website from negative SEO is to stop it from happening in the first place. If you are suffering from the effects of negative SEO karma, Google has issued a handy disavow tool. Unfortunately, it can take several weeks to see any results from disavowing. For most businesses, that amount of time is something they don’t have. 

On the other hand, Google can issue your website a penalty and completely omit it from search results. If you are unsure why you are getting less website traffic, you should check for penalties and intervene if there are any irregularities. You should take this seriously because you only have a certain amount of time to act on the penalties. If you fail to respond within a reasonable timeframe, your only option will be to let them expire. Penalties can cause severe damage to your SEO, recovering from which may be almost impossible.

Here is how to protect your website from negative SEO:

  • Set up email alerts.

Google Webmaster Tools will allow you to receive automated emails from Google when there is suspicious activity on your website. You can get notified about malware attacks and non-indexed pages on your site. Most importantly, you’ll also be informed when you receive a manual penalty from Google. Setting up is easy; connect your site to Google Webmaster Tools, and from the Preferences menu, you can select which notifications you’d like to receive.

  • Constantly monitor your backlinks.

Backlinks are the easiest way for hackers to harm your website. People who want to inflict negative SEO can build many low-quality links, which all point to your pages. To combat this, you’ll need to establish strong quality backlinks and make sure to maintain them.

Spammers can even try to remove your best backlinks. They impersonate you, contact the website that hosts your backlink and ask them to take down the link. Your best course of action is to have a company email and always communicate with the webmaster through that.

  • Check for duplicate content.

Duplicate content is a tactic that spammers often use, but it is also a black hat practice that you can (inadvertently) do to yourself. In this case, duplicating means distributing your content and assets all over the web. It’s a relatively simple concept to put into practice, and thankfully it’s easy to check. You can use a plagiarism checker like Copyscape to see if your content is unique and if it has been reposted and where.

  • Have additional safety measures in place.

Most hacking happens through some form of human error. These can range from weak passwords to computers that are constantly logged in and easy to physically access. You can protect your website from negative SEO and beef up company security by doing the following:

  • Use antivirus and malware protection software.
  • Have backups of essential files.
  • Brief your employees on digital security protocols.

In conclusion

Taking care of your website is vital for any company. However, what good is a premium website if your SEO tanks and users have difficulty finding your pages? That’s why it’s essential to learn how to protect your website from negative SEO. Ensure you have a constant stream of organic website visitors by following our safety tips.

Meta description: Avoid bad SEO karma. This is how to protect your website from negative SEO attacks, or even simple black hat mistakes.