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Negative SEO means essentially making it look as though a website is trying to spam Google so that it ends up being penalized. For instance then you might spend some money to buy hundreds of low quality links pointing to another website, and this would cause Google to penalize it by sending it down the rankings. This then means that site owners can target and destroy specific competitors so that they can then take their spot at the top of the SERPs and steel their customers and visitors.
Negative SEO has been around for a long time and it is not a myth, but a genuine method that many people use in order to take down sites that are standing in their way. And the bad news is that as updates such as ‘Google Penguin’ are penalizing sites more heavily for spam-like SEO, these strategies have become ever more effective.
As a webmaster or blogger this should alarm you somewhat because it means that through no fault of your own you can end up getting penalized sent to the bottom of the SERPs over night. So what can you do? How can you possibly defend yourself against these kinds of attacks?
First of all you need to keep an eye open for this happening so that you can react quickly. How do you know whether you’ve been the target of negative SEO? Well the first sign will be the number of inbound links to your site suddenly inflating. Keep an eye on your Web Stats and make sure that there is no unusual activity here. At the same time you should of course look for sudden drops in your ranking – if you’ve done nothing wrong and have abided by all of Google’s recommendations then perhaps someone else is getting you into trouble.
If you find yourself with lots of inbound links from irrelevant and low quality sites then a good move is simply to try and remove as many of those as possible. You can do this for instance by contacting the webmasters and asking them to remove your link, or by moving specific pages that have come under attack.
Meanwhile you should also look at who might be attacking you in this way. Look at the SERPs you are on, and look at your to competitors for those keywords. Now look for inbound links to their sites – has the same thing happened to them? If it hasn’t, then there’s a chance that they are the culprits and the best thing to do is to get in touch and try to ascertain if this is the case. Don’t go in guns blazing, but rather just ask them if they’ve experienced anything similar and then offer to exchange links. If they are willing to exchange links then they’re probably in the clear, and at the same time damaging you will damage them so they might think twice.
Had a sudden influx of low quality links? Well then now would be a good time to build some good quality links to ‘drown’ them out. This way you can make sure that Google sees that you do have a lot of good referrals even if there are a few bad ones in there too.
You might also want to try contacting the Google Webmaster community and explaining to them your situation. Build up some good evidence and if you can show that the links all arrived at a similar time then this will help your case. This is rarely successful, but they have been known to reconsider their punishments on occasion and to review cases.
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