While some professionals are busy promoting their marketing strategy, other indelicate people are trying to hinder the evolution of their competitors' sites. Negative SEO is one of the most formidable weapons that some people use to harm the ranking of sites on search engines. It is important to know that faced with this situation, the American giant Google does not hesitate to issue penalties to those who do not follow procedures. How to identify these practices and avoid falling victims of pirates?



Some ill-intentioned people use malicious practices to damage the SEO strategies of their competitors' sites. This iswhat we call negative SEO. . The list of types of negative SEO is long, however, we will discuss some of them.

What is Negative SEO?

As we have just mentioned, negative SEO or NSEO can be defined as all malicious activities aimed at degrading the image of a competitor's site or its ranking in search engines. This technique is derived from black hat methods and aims to make a competitor's site fall from its initial position. NSEO can also come from hackers who are eager to take risks. However, it is important to differentiate between the drop in organic traffic of a site that has made mistakes and that of a site that is a victim of negative SEO. Regardless of the origin of the crime, Google does not always make the difference and punishes this type of illegal action in the same way.

The main Negative SEO techniques

It must be said that sites that do not comply with Google's algorithm are penalized and poorly referenced. This is how negative SEO uses search engine penalties to negatively influence the ranking of another site. If you don't have the time, equipment or skills to secure and optimize your site, let SmartKeyword do it for you. Here are the different negative SEO techniques commonly found:

Generating toxic backlinks using unwanted anchors pointing to your website

The negative SEO technique of generating pirate backlinks pointing to a website is worrying. Although this practice requires time and resources, it is easy to implement. All that is needed is to use automated software or bots to spread these bad links. The targeting of sites is random and the links generated can lead to the addition of massive nofollow links (from several hundred to several thousand). Commentary nofollow has no real impact on a site, however, it can taint the cleanliness of your link profile. The risk of harm can be more serious in the case of dofollow links. Your e-reputation will be put to the test and Google may hit your site with a penguin penalty.

Duplication and/or deletion of your content

Duplication refers to the technique of creating duplicate web pages or producing partial or total duplicate content. This practice of plagiarizing content and spreading it massively is very harmful to a site. Also, if a malicious person manages to hack your site, they can take control and delete or modify files so that your interface is accused of spamdexing. 


Writing fake negative reviews

This practice is used to ruin the image and reputation of a brand or website. This usually leads to a drop in traffic.

Deleting your backlinks

Your detractors can point to your backlink profile to make you drop in the SERPs. To do this, all they have to do is pretend to be your company or a partner agency. Once theyget in touch with you sites's webmaster they can ask them to delete all the links that come to your site.

Site hacking

Hacking a website is certainly the most effective tactic. Hacking a website leads to a drastic drop in its natural referencingperformance . This negative SEO practice results in a loss of visibility on search engines. The aim is to make the competitor's website less reliable in the eyes of Internet users and to make it lose its credibility in the eyes of search engines.

How to prevent and protect yourself from negative SEO attacks?

It is not easy to anticipate a practice of negative SEO. However, you can take certain steps to quickly detect if a site has suffered this tactic. To effectively counter the practice of negative SEO, thethe best thing to do is to take control as soon as possible. To do this, you need to plug certain tools into your interface and adopt measures that will help you circumvent the consequences of the damage. Here are several methods that will help you do that.

Secure your site

To secure your site, first of all think about changing your web host, because the one you have now may not guarantee you optimal protection. As soon as this change is made, you must take control of your site back. Analyze your pages’ contents and remove any changes made by hackers.

Find duplicate content

With so much information available on the Internet, it's not always easy to spot duplicate content. To help you identify pages that copy your content, you can use Positeo, Kill Duplicate or Webconfs. These softwares allow you, with a single click, to identify content similar to yours and to denounce them to Google.

Monitor your negative reviews

A drastic or unexplained drop in your site's traffic should lead you to react. In SEO, it is important to maintain a permanent surveillance level, because hackers act without warning. So you need to constantly monitor negative reviews that come back to your page. Keep an eye out for possible intrusions or any smear attacks against your business.


Monitor and audit your backlinks regularly

You also need to monitor and audit backlinks that are hurting your SEO. To do this, you need to check your links regularly and have an eye on the sources of your inbound and outbound feeds. To spot the links pointing to your site, it is advisable to use Search Console and Analytics tools. To remove toxic links, you can connect to the Google Webmaster Tools which will guide you step by step. It is necessary to build up a panel of software that secures all the SEO elements of your site.

Stay in touch with Google

If you suspect a hackingpractice or notice an attempt at negative SEO on your site, you should report the problem to Google. Contacting the search engine will help you to limit the damage and contain the problem before it becomes a major issue. Google may take steps to remove the plagiarised content so that you can avoid penalties. If it's a backlink problem, submit a disavowal file to Search Console as soon as possible. Never try to replicate an NSEO attempt by the same method, as you may also be breaking the law.

○ Handle manual and algorithmic penalties.

Any form of action that goes against the SEO code of conduct is subject to penalties. If you notice a freefall in your traffic or a collapse in your position on Google results, there is a good chance that you are the victim of a search engine penalty. Even if the situation seems unavoidable, keep your cool, because it is always possible to manage these penalties. You should know that manual penalties are directly inflicted by "quality raters" whose role is to monitor and control the quality of information relayed on a site. With each penalty, the site’s webmasters receive a warning warning on their account (Google Search Console) telling them what the penalty is. These penalties result in a drop in the SERP and a major update of the algorithm. Google provides two types of penalties for the proper functioning and respect of SEO practices.

- Manual penalties: they concern the sanctions applied by Google when a site violates the rules of the web giant. They are usually the result of a human action. This type of penalty often concerns the presence of artificial links or an unorthodox netlinking strategy on which Google remains ruthless.

- Algorithmic penalties: they are automatically applied by the robots and make the use of optimization practices obsolete. Algorithmic penalties are more insidious, because they are not openly declared. They can be detected if your site has recently undergone an update and if you have seen a sharp drop in organic traffic during the same period.

Whether it is a manual or algorithmic penalty, the first thing to do is to perform a careful analysis of your backlinks. If the number of toxic links is too high, try to focus on the first 100 harmful links. This examination will allow you to identify the poor quality links. These backlinks should be removed manually by the site'swebmaster or at best you should refer to the Search Console disavowal tool. To regain your ranking on the SERP, it is important to request a review after making the various corrections.


Better safe than sorry is the perfect adage here!

If you follow the security recommendations seen above and in addition you regularly monitor your positions and number of backlinks, you should be fine.

   Article written by Louis Chevant

Further reading

The complete guide to Internal Meshing

The step-by-step method to build your semantic cocoons, your mesh and the optimal tree structure of your website.