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Negative SEO: What It Is And How To Protect A Website From Its Ongoing Attack
Rockon I.T - Blog

Negative SEO: What it is and How to Protect a Website from its Ongoing Attack

  •   Gemma Walker
  •   Nov 13, 2018

Negative SEO

SEO Is Dead!?

Entrepreneurs, marketers, or general users who are running a business or maybe are just interested in digital marketing might have stumbled on hundreds of blogs, articles, and newsletters claiming the same clichés on the internet. Not to mention, offering five reasons, six considerations, and whatsoever points to win this argument. Declaring the death of SEO is same as finding out that the legendary actor ‘Sylvester Stallone’ is dead, well again! Same as the actor, this exactly is not the first time the SEO has fallen prey to a death hoax. You can read a fair share of resources that say search engine optimization has now become a thing of the past. Catchphrases like “Ranking is all about Quality Backlinks,” “Content is King,” and “Better the Keyword Optimization, the Better the Results” are replacing the label “SEO.”

So, is the Latter Conclusion Factual?

Within digital marketing, the category SEO comprises various subcategories – branding, keyword optimization, content creation and user signals, conversion rate optimization, social networking, technical User Experience (UX), link building, and audit & crawling.

Although SEO certainly has its own inherent issues and has turned into a super-hard level chess games that can’t be victorious by non-experts or amateur marketers, it still is the parent and indeed not dead. But rather SEO has become more vital than ever as well as dangerous too. Yes, you read it right – your potential competitors might be involved with the malignant and threating practice “Negative SEO” and ruin your hard-earning rankings in a flash.

What is Negative SEO?

Negative Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the malicious, left-hand counterpart of the benevolent positive SEO. These both SEO types are correlated to each other in terms of ranking and performance as they are aimed to impact the search engine rankings of a website – for a URL and possibly its host domain too, by manipulating content areas, user signal buckets, and variables.

Blackhat scammers employ various unethical methods with the intent to negatively and quickly influencing search rankings for evil and selfish purposes, while white hat experts focus on improving rankings of their website without hurting others.

Negative SEO refers to the practice of implementing black hat SEO techniques and exploiting weaknesses in search engine algorithms to obtain high rankings for a site or page while simultaneously sabotaging potential rivals’ ranking and popularity. Conversely, positive SEO implies to the act of using white hat SEO and ethical techniques, such as website HTML optimization and restructuring, to improve rankings of a website in search engines.

Is Negative SEO Intentional or a Real Threat?

Both the internet and gadgets (mobiles, laptops, desktops, etc.) have been widely adopted by tech-savvy users to survive in today’s technology driven-world. As a result, the internet penetration rate has hit an all-time high over the last few years. In fact, the average internet usage penetration rate, alone in the US, has added up to 83.84 percent in 2018. That’s why many online sellers have dramatically changed their digital strategies and started leveraging negative SEO methods so they can achieve quick, short-lasting, and unpredictable growth in rankings as well as target more and more customers.

It’s fundamental to understand that negative SEO is not always intentional. These days, there are an array of web scraping bot sites, burnt link farms, and blog networks with exact match keyword anchors that generate links. And now and then, unfortunately, your site tend to be lumped together in the crowd of hundreds of thousands of other websites.

At the same time, saying that negative SEO is not a real threat would be wrong too. The demand for negative SEO and black hat specialists have grown over the past two years. Previously, the use of black hat SEO techniques was to improve ranking, CTR, and sales vehicles negatively, but nowadays black mustachioed criminals started using these black art tactics to wreak havoc on their competitors. Instead of putting in a lot of hard work and efforts into their own website, they are putting stumbling blocks in the way of other sites.

There are several different forms of negative SEO attacks, including:

  • Hacking your website, hosting environment, or database
  • Generating negative reviews for ruining your online reputation
  • Creating fake business profiles on social media channels
  • Purchasing links from outdated or burnt networks such as private blog networks (PBNs)
  • Building tens of thousands of spammy links to target your website or URL
  • Making changes to your website code or even removing it from search engines
  • Copying, scraping, and also redistributing your content all over the internet
  • Injecting your website with thousands of irrelevant, low-grade keywords like Viagra, poker online, and other pharmaceutical terms
  • Removing the most lucrative and high-quality backlinks from your site
  • Getting your URLs de-indexed with bad or spam content

The list is endless!

How to Determine if your Site has been hit by Negative SEO?

Negative SEO is not the only and most presumably explanation for a sudden decline in your website rankings. The reason might be something as simple and silly as accidentally:

  • having a broken plug-in that creates a clone of your pages with incorrect canonicalization;
  • no-indexing your content;
  • disallowing specific paths in your Robots.txt files etc.

Before claiming that someone is out there to deliberately lower your rankings, properly factor out and analyze the common scenarios and causes for ranking drops. Here’s a comprehensive list that will help you figure out if you actually are a victim of negative SEO or if it’s just a mistake:

  • First off, check out how Google, Bing, and other search engines are treating your site.
  • Determine if your source code and robot.txt files are misconfigured.
  • Parse your weblogs to find any configuration weakness, detect response issues, and identify scrapers.
  • Use Google Analytics to review bounce rate, session duration, traffic sources and referrals, site speed, etc.
  • Use Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster, and other reliable tools to assess all the three SEO containers: content, links, and user signals.
  • Utilize a premium link analysis tool to evaluate internal as well as inbound link data, including organic keywords, new/lost domains & backlinks, anchors, and outgoing broken links as well as linked domains.
  • Use crawling and technical tools to look at crawl mapping, canonicalization issues, redirects, query parameters, and indexation status.
  • Lastly, use a robust tool such as Copyscape to review the entire website for content duplication.

The Final Verdict

Negative SEO is no fun – it’s something no company or marketer ever wants to come across and deal with, at all costs! Knowing sooner if you have been knocked out by black hat marketers, and how, will allow you to protect your website from their unsettling digital marketing strategies faster.


  1. user
    swetha kapoor November 29,2018

    I am really happy with your blog because your article is very unique and powerful for new reader.

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