Google just loves to keep SEOs on their toes!!!  A few weeks ago Google rolled out the Penguin Update, which essentially targeted aggressive anchor-text link building and the relevancy of where links are coming from.  If you have too many anchor texts for 1 keyword OR there’s too many links from non-relevant sites, there’s a good chance your site will get penalized.

Negative SEO is essentially “search engine optimization” that hurts websites.  A little counterintuitive, as SEO is supposed to increase the rankings of your website!   In fact, Negative SEO is usually an effect that inexperienced SEOs experience after buying links from bad neighborhoods or utilizing software programs such as SENuke to build links.

It is also a tactic used by unscrupulous competitors to harm the rankings of competing sites.  Historically Negative SEO involved hacking sites or sending fake DMCA takedown request.   With the recent Penguin update, though, Negative SEO has taken on a new meaning: competitors can roll-out negative SEO campaigns designed to have your site penalized.

If you’re enjoying high rankings for competitive keywords, then it’s time to start watching out for the following Negative SEO attacks:

 

1.  Thousands of Exact Match Anchor Text Links From Forum Spam

Keep a close eye on the links that are pointing to your website.   With the Penguin update, you could lose your rankings if a competitor started building thousands of anchor-text links to your site via forum & comment spam.

The best way to counter this is to focus your link-building efforts on sites with strong domain authority.  Quality over quantity.

2.  Review Attacks

Competitors can easily add fake reviews to your business listings, making it look like you are trying to manipulate the listing.

If you are receiving false reviews, make sure you report this to Google ASAP via the “report a problem” section.

3.  Fake Legal Shots

This Negative SEO tactic has been around for years.    After running a link report on your site, a competitor can identify your strongest links.   From there a “fake” legal notice will go out to the website linking back to you requesting that the link go down or else legal action will ensue.  These legal takedowns usually come in the form of C&D or DMCA requests.

4.  Ripping Content Prior To Indexing

Another common Negative SEO tactic is to rip your content the moment it goes live and add it to a site that is crawled sooner than your site is.   This makes your site look like it’s duplicating content.

A great way to combat this is by keeping an updated sitemap & consistently resubmitting new content when published.

5.  Malicious Crawlers

Bots will send out crawlers to cause latency issues for users on a website.

The best way to combat this is to discover the IP addresses that Google, Yahoo, and Bing are using to crawl your website.  Then you can start blocking crawlers in IP ranges that outside of the major search engines.

 

All-in-all, it looks like Google is placing a larger onus on website owners to practice White-Hat SEO & monitor their websites.  It should be exciting to see how the Penguin update pans out, as it opened up a whole new world to Black-Hat SEOs to start going after sites that follow Google’s best practices.