Negative SEO And How To Defend Against Incoming Spam Links

photo credit: Éole via photopin cc

If you’ve been keeping up with The SEO Newsletter, you’ll already know that incoming links are an important part of getting good SEO for your web-site.

But those incoming links need to be good ones!  If your web-site gets linked to by an irrelevant site, or worse still a poorly constructed link farm that some dubious SEO company has set up for you, then this will actually degrade your SEO efforts.  Poor links means a bad reputation with the search engines.

So, if you think about it carefully, you’ll realise that one way to attack your competitors is to have lots and lots of poorly qualified links to their site, thereby making their own SEO null and void.  The search engines will start to down play any authority they may have built up, and start to push down their indexed pages in the search result listings simply because of the negative SEO that incoming spam links give.

As Angus Shaw points out in this blog post:

Unfortunately though where there’s money to be made there will always be those willing to resort to unscrupulous methods, and to try to blow out our candle to make theirs blow brighter. This is where ‘negative SEO’ comes in – which is the point at which bloggers stop concentrating on themselves and on offering a great site, and instead start thinking about how they can get ahead by taking down the competition and getting their sites penalized. Find yourself a victim then and you can see your website drop from the top spot in the SERPs to page eight and even see your content and design ruined. It’s unsettling, it’s unfair and it can potentially cost you a lot of money.

But there are ways to defend yourself – to fight back and to stop the problem happening in the first place. Here we will look at some of them so you won’t be unarmed in this battle.

Dealing With Negative Links

The main form of negative SEO is unwanted link building. Here a competitor will build links to your site without your permission that come from untrustworthy sources or pages that are irrelevant to your content. This is bad news because Google will see your site as attempting to spam them and as such they might penalize you by forcing your page down the SERPs.

Your first line of defence against this kind of action is to check your webstats regularly. This means making sure that keep looking for new links, and it means looking for any fluctuations in traffic. The sooner you spot an attack, the sooner you can do something about it.

Next is to contact the webmasters. The person whose site your link is on probably had nothing to do with it and will simply have allowed a competitor to post your link their automatically. Approach them politely and ask them to remove the links and they should be compliant. Repeat this for every webmaster. Better yet, you may be able to get some details from them of the person who submitted your link – in which case you have your culprit and can fight back.

Failing this, you might then want to try and use Google’s new disavow links tool which will allow you to submit a list of links that you don’t want Google to take into account when deciding on your positioning. This takes a while but it will normally be a successful way to get back in the game.

The Google disavow links tool is part of the Google Webmaster tools — which again you’ll learn about in one of the editions of The SEO Newsletter — something that all SEO savvy web-site owners will know about.  And to find out more about the disavow tool you can read up about it in the Official Webmaster Central Blog.

So, keep an eye on your incoming links, because it might just be an attempt by your competition to downgrade your web-site in the search results by sneakily using negative SEO tactics with spam links.

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