Are You A Victim Of Negative SEO? Learn How To Deal With It!

Your site’s rankings have tanked? Or, all your SEO efforts seem to be going right down the drain? It’s time for time out!

You need to take a step back and evaluate your SEO. It could be your competitors pushing your website’s ranking down, or it could be your own misdirected SEO.

The first step is always to search your own backyard!

Is It You?

If you say yes to any of the following, chances are that your site is suffering the effects of negative SEO because of your own misinformed choices.

  • Have you been exchanging links from spammy or bad neighborhood websites?
  • Have you created a website that is similar to your competitor’s website in terms of pages, content, look and feel?
  • Are you investing in black hat SEO link-building techniques?

Is The Competitor The Cultprit?

Sometimes, an envious competitor can stoop really low and try to harm your site with negative SEO. The following are the two key negative SEO strategies that your competitor may have used:

  • Your competitor has infected your website with virus or malware. This reduces the websites credibility in the eyes of the visitors.
  • Your competitor has created a duplicate copy of your content and has got it indexed before you did.
  • Your competitor is posting fake negative reviews about you in blogs and forums.
  • Your competitor is building spammy links pointing to your website.

How To Deal With Negative SEO

Till a few days back webmasters had very limited options when it came to negative SEO. Thankfully, Google has finally realized that and launched the much-awaited Link Disavow Tool.

If you have identified spammy links (unnatural links in Googlespeak) to your website, you may use the Link Disavow tool to disassociate your site with those links. Once you do that Google’s algorithm won’t take the disavowed links into account.

"SEO" orange word with a magnifying glass on "o"

Prevention Is The Best Form Of Cure!

As useful as the link disavow tool maybe, it should be your last resort. Nipping negative SEO in the bud, before it has a chance to affect your site’s ranking is still the best strategy. The following is a list of the top preventive techniques:

1 . Google or other search engine Webmaster tools: The Webmaster tools can help you detect malware on your website. It’s also through this tool that Google will communicate with you about penalty slaps.

2 . Alerts: Set Google alerts and you will get updates about mentions of your website in blogs, news or Q and A forums. This will help you track the webmasters that are running a negative SEO campaign against your website.

3 . Keep a track on the links: Keep a track of the backlinks on daily basis; this will help you to avoid any sort of negative SEO link building.  Observe the amount of root domains and links to your site. Any sudden variations which diverge from the past witnessed trend must be investigated immediately.  There are several link manager software tools that you may use for this purpose. SEO Moz’s social monitoring tool is one of the most respected ones in the market.

4 .  Periodically check your website: You must check your website periodically. Make use of Google Analytics to keep a track on increase/decrease of traffic, usability of the website, changes in bounce rate, etc.

5 . Don’t create spammy content: Don’t stuff keywords in your content especially when you don’t have anything concrete to share. It won’t fool the search engines, and your visitors won’t have much love lost for you either.


One thing you must keep in mind while creating content for your website is to write for the user and not for the search engines.  Create the content first, and then add keywords to it.

  1. Say No To Keyword Stuffing or Cloaking: It’s important to add relevant keywords, but overstuffing the content with the same keyword over and over again is much frowned upon SEO practice. It takes ages to gain confidence of the visitors and a few days to ruin the image completely.


If you have been following any cloaking strategies like stuffing the text with keywords written in the same color as your web page’s background, you are in for a trip to the Google slaughterhouse. Search engines have become very smart at detecting these techniques, so it’s best to stay away from them.

  1. Avoid Shortcuts: In the post penguin and panda world shortcuts can’t get you too far with Google. So, the best way forward for you would be to stick to squeaky clean white hat strategies, focused on offering a good user experience on your website, and gaining backlinks through solid editorial contributions or guest blogging.


In fact, in a recent video Matt Cutts too gave a thumbs up to guest blogging, as long as webmasters focused on creating quality content, instead of creating low-grade content for links.


In Conclusion

In the post-Penguin world, Negative SEO is a reality, something that Google also realizes.

Going by the current trend Google is only going to get more stringent about content and link quality.

Therefore, it’s important to clean up your link profile, and stay alert to any negative SEO campaigns directed at your website.


Image credit :

About Vani

Vani Chugh Kabra offers Expert SEO Content Writing Services and is the founder of Vani Online Media, a Mumbai based Content Marketing firm.


  1. Very well written and comprehensive. I need to look into the new Google disavow tool. It just goes to show that in these days, the best SEO is to always have high quality content on your site without resort to keyword stuffing and any other black-hat techniques.

    • Thank you! You are correct, in the current scenario creating and marketing content is the safest strategy.

      About the link disavow tool, it’s being discussed extensively across SEO forums. My personal view is that webmasters should evaluate their links throughly before using the disavow tool.

  2. TrafficColeman says:

    Vani I wrote about this subject this past week for my readers to enlighten them on whats to come. This tool will at least give websites owners the option to disregard links to their website..but only time will till if this effective or not.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  3. I agree. I think websites that host links, which other webmasters decide to disavow stand to lose the most here. As for Google, it’s a smart move—now they get every one to chip in with the spam clean-up.

  4. Hi Vani,

    Really informative article, but I like to know what’t the best way to know if you’re a victim of negative SEO. I mean if you receive any site for the first time and you’ve been asked to review it. How would you check if it’s affected with negative SEO?

    • Thanks Aasma. If the site has received a penalty slap because of negative SEO, the site’s webmaster account would in all probability have received an e-mail about ‘unnatural links’ from Google. Admittedly, that’s the worst way to find out about your site being a victim of negative SEO. I would personally, first examine the website’s link profile. If I see a huge number of exact match links, or inbound links from thin or spammy looking sites, I would suspect negative SEO at play (it could be self-inflicted, or the handiwork of a competitor). A sudden surge in the number of backlinks can also be indicative of negative SEO. Hope this helps:)

      • Thanks Vani,

        For answering my question, But still it’s a guess work and required quite detailed analysis of every inbound link.

  5. Hi Vani,
    Actually, I suspect a competitor duplicating some of my contents. He opened up a free wordpress site and published there the duplicated posts. If not for copyscape I wouldn’t have found out about it. The infuriating thing is he changed the schedule of the posts and made them 2 or three months ahead of mine. I don’t know who this competitor is and what their intentions are, but to copy my posts and have them scheduled ahead of mine is simply uncalled for. I tried to contact them through the ‘contact us’ and comment form of the site but to no avail.

    • Hi Felicia. If your content was already indexed when your competitor copied it, I would suggest you report it to

      Your competitor may change the schedule manually, but what’s important is which page was indexed first. If your website has a good indexing rate, chances are that your content was already indexed when it was copied. Hope this helps.

  6. I think the Google Disavow tool is great to sanitize your website from unnatural and spammy links and get the desired results for your SEO efforts. It will be a very beneficial tool for webmasters. Links should be checked thoroughly, and before changing your SEO strategy just see that whether your competitor is using negative SEO for your website. Great read, thanks :)

    • Thank you:) You have some very valid points, however, I personally feel that the real value of the tool will become apparent with time only.

  7. Build authority and NSEO won’t be able to hurt your site.

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