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.
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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
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