Negative SEO occurs when a competitor intentionally attempts to downgrade your website SEO ranking. This is an unethical practice that we would never recommend, but unfortunately there are numerous tactics that can be used against you and your website, including off-page and sometimes by even hacking into your site. You must be wary and pay attention to your analytics in order to notice the attack and take action immediately.
Off-page negative SEO actions can be taken against your website without any hacking or breach taking place. Competitors can use linking, crawling and copying to negatively affect your website ranking without ever gaining accessing your site.
We all know that duplicate content should be avoided to optimize our SEO ranking. Scraping is the practice of stealing your website content and copying it across multiple websites to ruin your sites ranking. There is software available to check for duplicate content across the web, and if you think your website has been scraped you can report it to Google.
A link farm is a group of interconnected websites that are considered spam. These sites will build links to your website and this can cause Google to associate your site with spam and decrease your SEO ranking. Monitor your incoming links to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.
Forceful crawling occurs when a competitor or hacker tries to crash your website by overloading the server with forceful crawling. If your site is down while Google is trying to crawl it for ranking purposes it may get de-ranked. Stay updated on your sites speed, a slow down could signal excessive crawling, and contact your website host if it has crashed or become excessively slow.
More aggressive and difficult negative SEO tactics include hacking into your website and making modifications, we call this On-Page SEO since the actual pages of your website are being altered.
Once an attacker has hacked into your site they can aggressively or subtly modify your content. A subtle attack often involves the attacker linking to spam or malicious content, therefore decreasing your sites reliability in the eyes of Google. But these links can be hidden and hard to spot. Use a website auditing tool to check for changes and monitor the number of outgoing links from your site.
If your site is hacked, Google may de-rank it to avoid sending users to a compromised website (even if the hackers intention was not to negatively impact your SEO). Another reason to always be aware and stop hacks as soon as you notice them.
If a hacker modifies your robots.txt file chaos can ensue. For example by adding a disallow rule, Google will completely ignore your website. Stay updated on your website ranking and watch for significant drops occurring across a large number of keywords.