Many business owners are blissfully unaware that their competitors can deliberately damage their position in Google. The reality is however that with a certain level of knowledge it is surprisingly easy to damage someone’s rankings.
In the SEO world, this is called Negative SEO and recent months have seen big increases in subversive incidents of this nature. This increase is directly related to Google’s tightening guidelines. Your competitors may take the view that it is easier to damage your rankings than to improve their own.
Negative SEO is a process of building low quality, spammy links and pointing them at a site that you want to damage. These links contravene Google’s guidelines and can result in a costly penalty from which it is hard to recover.
So how do you Spot it?
Keep a regular eye on the ‘who links to you’ section in your Google Webmaster Tools account. You can usefully download a list of latest links and thereby identify which sites have added a link to you. Investigate new sites thoroughly, what/who are they? What is their domain authority and Moz Trust Rank? Are they a foreign site and how is your site linked to them?
Very often negative links will be added via a blog comment section. Watch out for the link known as ‘money keyword anchor text’ rather than www.mydomain.co.uk. Anchor text is where the actual clickable link comes from keywords such as ‘SEO Cambridge’.
Google now penalises over use of these anchor texts considering them subversive manipulation of their ranking process. The days are long gone when just the number of links you had mattered. Now it is all about authority and relevance. The higher the domain authority of the site that links to you and the fact that the information on that site is relevant to you is critical.
Too many low quality links to your site, particularly if they utilise ‘money keyword anchor text’ will eventually result in a Google penalty. It is just a matter of time before Google crawls your site and finds that your back link profile falls foul of their current guidelines.
This is what those parties practising Negative SEO are banking on. They continue to append bad links to your site and simply wait for the damage to be done. It is underhand and highly unacceptable but unfortunately as we know life is not always fair – there are no SEO police!
Keeping a regular eye on your Google Webmaster Tools account and utilising a quality link detox software program will enable you to identify and resolve any negative SEO attempts. Submitting a Google Disavow request will safeguard your websites position but do make sure it is completed professionally. Incompetent use of the disavow tool can result in you damaging your own hard earned rankings.