Google released penguin update to battle search engine spam and to catch sites who want to rank high on Google by buying links or using black hat SEO techniques.
When this method is used by your competitor to destroy your search engine rankings its called Negative SEO.
What Is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO is a word which describes when your site is under attack.
In simple words, it’s an attempt to destroy your site rankings by attacking your site.
Google admits that negative SEO is rare and is also difficult to destroy site rankings.
But on the other hand, it’s plausible.
There are many websites which are attacked by negative SEO from their rivals, so that they can gain by lowering their competitor’s rankings in organic search.
Many of you don’t know that there are some websites which also offer services for negative SEO.
So you should not take it lightly.
If your traffic drops suddenly or if you are get a lot of backlinks to your site then you should start auditing your site.
How Negative SEO Destroys Your Site Rankings?
In order to explain this a little further, I will give you a better example.
As you probably know that one of my successful blog posts is about long tail keywords.
It was ranking high on Google so one of the competitor’s who wants to rank for the same keyword tried to destroy my site rankings for the keywords.
This is just a snapshot of the same.
As you can see in the screenshot, one of my competitor’s using Google Organic search lands on my page and leaves back instantly.
This is called pogo sticking and it is one of the ranking factors that could affect your site rankings.
In order to protect his identity from Google, he uses different IPs to land on my page and clicks back instantly which also shows dissatisfaction of the user intent and is one of the most important ranking factors.
How do I know that?
Like many other bloggers I use smartlook free account to record visitors moment on my website so that I can understand where the visitors are leaving.
With the help of heat maps and video recording of the visitors, I can increase my website user experience and analyse the data to increase my site traffic.
If you check my SEO post about the future of SEO you will understand why user intent is more important than backlinks.
When someone searches a keyword, lands on a page and clicks back instantly this triggers Google that the page does not satisfy the user intent.
As you can see they are doing it for a long time and by doing this they want to hurt my organic rankings.
Another example here which I want to show is the links that were linked back to my home domain.
As you can see all the 200+ links were coming from different pages from a single site and each post is linking back to my website more than 10 times from different pages.
In this case, Google can sometimes identify it as a spam site but in extreme cases, they will consider this as a method in order to gain rankings by buying links.
All these links are pointed to my homepage and the attacker also started pogo sticking on my main ranking pages which shows their intent is to hurt my site in Organic searches.
Another example is the amount of hacked attempts to get access to my site.
The recent hacked attempts on my site have increased even after securing my site.
Some people hack your site to create backlinks to their websites or to spam another site by using your website as a medium.
Negative off-page SEO
Many of you know off page SEO so I would like to show you how attackers use off page and on page seo to hurt your site.
When Google identifies a spam site its, algorithm detects it and moves to a lower position automatically.
These sites are not a problem because Google algorithm picks it and does its job but the problem is with the sites which are not identified by Google.
A link farm is a set of websites created for the purpose of increasing the page rank of another site by linking it back to improve that page’s search engine ranking.
Black hat SEO’s use this technique to rank specific keywords which are profitable that are bringing money to their site.
Attackers also use the same link farm so that Google can penalize your site because in the eyes of Google you are trying to manipulate search engine results by linking back to your site from multiple sources.
The anchor text can be your website domain name or they will use a specific keyword which they want to gain rankings.
There are some cases when anchor texts are completely unrelated to the site.
In this method the attacker copies your content and then duplicates it and starts publishing on other websites so that your content looks copied.
After copying your content they report your website and files DMCA Takedown request.
Google is smart, so most of the times it will determine which content is original and which one is duplicate but some times its possible.
Even though this method is not that effective but its possible so always check whether some one is stealing your content with the help of copyscrape.
Negative On-Page SEO
In this method the attacker hacks a site and modifies links and robots.txt or inject malware into your site so that your site will be de-indexed.
Check your website robots.txt because hackers use disallow to block Google bots so that search engines can ignore all the contents of the website.
How to protect your site from negative SEO
Find out whats happening on your website and how people are interacting on your site.
Its better to use services like smartlook or hotjar to record your visitors so that you can track the data and analyse it to make your website better.
But we cannot do anything about people who start pogo sticking on your website because its hard to identify some one who is your competitor but also impossible to track them.
At some point of time they might stop it or Google will understand that they are doing this every time to land on the same page.
Find the good links and bad links
Google ignores spam sites easily but sometimes you need to find the links which are destroying your site rankings.
Check the links with spammy anchor text and check those links.
If you find these unnatural then you can disavow them in your webmaster’s dashboard.
If you disavow good links then it will hurt your rankings so before disavow links check your backlinks and see if someone links back to your site hundreds of times.
Check your Do follow links
Do follow links are introduced to reduce search engine spam and these links pass link juice from one website to another.
These links help you to increase your website ranking in SERPS.
This is why many attackers use do follow links for spamming your website so that Google can penalize your website.
By auditing your no follow and do follow links you can reduce the risk of being penalized by Google.
To find out whether a link is no followed or do follow, go to the site which linked back to you and see the page source whether they used no follow tag or not.
If you are getting a do follow link from a new blog then its better to leave it because it will improve your rankings but if the attacker is pointing to your site with multiple do follow links then ask them to remove those links or disavow those links.
Request to remove links
Nowadays, blogs link to other posts when they publish articles to prove their point.
If someone links to your website with proper anchor text and if its relevant the its absolutely fine but if they are linking back to your sites repeatedly then you must ask them to remove those links before submitting a disavow request.
You can contact the website owner and request them to remove the link from their website.
While doing this be polite and ask them to remove those links.
I am the admin of your site here. I found that you were linking back to my site many times. so could you remove those URLs? I would be happy to help you if you remove those links Thank you
If they do not respond to your email then use the disavow option.
Tighten your website security and check the outbound links frequently.
If you see any new links which were not linked by you then it means that your website is hacked.
Is your Website Hacked?
Prevention is better than cure so you must secure your website.
Go to search console and enable Email notifications.
This will notify any changes in your website to your Gmail which is associated with it.
Do not ever use the default login page. Password protect it or change its default URL.
Find out the links which are newly added on your website and remove all those links otherwise your website will be treated as spam by other bloggers who were linked back by the attacker.
If multiple blog owners decide to disavow your site in Google then Google will try to lower your search results for the keywords for which you are ranking.
Check your Google webmasters dashboard and check your manual spam actions.
When you get a lot of links then Google believes that you were buying links to dominate SERPS.
When Google identifies that you were getting a lot of links in less time then it triggers false alarm and believes that you participated in link spam or buying links.
It will send you a message in your webmasters dashboard so that you can remove the links.
This also happens when another attackers links back to your site from multiple spam sites.
So if you get any message from Google then download all the links which were linked back to your site and filter all the good and bad links and send emails to those websites which were linking back to your site.