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What Is Negative SEO and Why Should You Care?
Negative SEO is a set of techniques used in order to drop a site in the SERPs.
You might have heard of SPAM being referred to as "Sites Positioned Above Mine". Some take this definition literally and use all kinds of methods to get the competitor sites ranking above their own banned or dropped in the SERPs in order to rank their sites in place of their dropped competitors.
Why is this even possible? Google uses multiple factors in determining how to rank a site, and a lot of these factors are offsite, such as backlinks, cocitation, etc. While a competitor cannot influence your onsite factors, it is really difficult to determine, for example, who has created the offsite links that Google might not like and whether it's been the site owner's mistake or a result of a competitor's malicious activities.
After the Penguin algorithm update has been introduced, it has become even more apparent how third party activities can hurt a site and Google has launched its Disavow tool. However, this is not a solution to all the problems. The disavow tool addresses bad links - but links may be only part of the problem, the actual bad links hurting your site need to be identified, you cannot just disavow everything, and it's at Google's discretion whether to take your disavow request into account.
What Can Be Done to Protect Your Site?
Sometimes site owners make it easier for their competitors to undermine their site's positions by making mistakes that can be exploited through negative SEO, including onsite vulnerabilities. Discovering and eliminating such vulnerabilities will protect your sites from malicious activities of a competitor before they even happen.
Have you noticed a sudden drop in your site's positions? There is a possibility that it resulted from negative SEO done by a competitor or hater. In many cases, it can be identified and the damage can be minimized - and the sooner it's done the higher are chances for success.
Are you launching a new site? Before you even start building links for it, make sure you are not shooting yourself in the foot by having SEO security holes in its structure and your whole setup. It is never too early to run an SEO security audit.
If you're interested in ordering my SEO security consulting services feel free to contact me for a quote and discuss your project. Typically, my SEO security audit fees start from £1,500 and depend on the site size and specifics.
Need to find out more about Negative SEO? Here are a couple of slide deck for my talks at various recent SEO conferences.
Negative SEO: Past, Present and Future - my ThinkVis talk March 2013
Negative SEO: Myths and reality - BrightonSEO April 2013
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