What is negative SEO or black hat SEO & how to prevent it?

Protect your website from negative SEO 

On average 30,000 new websites are hacked every day.

In the hopes of getting noticed by the target audience and receiving a higher Google ranking, SEO services have increased high in demand. However, for every yang, there is a yin and in the digital world, it shows up in the form of negative SEO or black hat SEO.

Negative SEO is the use of black hat SEO and other dishonest techniques to boost website rankings incorrectly. In some cases, these techniques can also be sued to sabotage a competitor’s rankings.

Some of the techniques used in negative SEO include:

  • Hacking the website
  • Writing poor reviews through fake profiles
  • Copying website content
  • Creating spam links to the website

Boosting your ranking over a competitor’s may seem like a good idea in the short run but it is sure to backfire in the long run. It can cause a brand to lose credibility, get banned from Google and create distrust amongst customers.

Reputed SEO companies will never opt for such strategies. But if you are worried, here are some tips to protect yourself from negative SEO.

Boost up website security

73% of black hat hackers said traditional firewall and antivirus security is irrelevant or obsolete.

The first line of defence against hackers is ensuring your website security is up-to-date. Routinely check to make sure you are protected against malware and spam and that your firewall settings are strong enough to keep out unwanted miscreants. Make sure your password is strong and wherever possible opt for a 2-step verification password.

Monitor your backlinks

Links are an important way to get visitors to your site. However, if they are hacked or deleted, your brand could be losing massive business. Be sure to check all your links routinely or partner with an SEO agency to help you. In case you notice any links are missing, take prompt action by contacting the webmaster. Additionally, make sure all links redirect the visitor to your site. Hackers are likely to spam your links sending visitors to random advertisements making them shift to a competitor brand.

By 2021, a business will fall victim to ransomware every 11 seconds.

Review your online reviews and mentions

Spammers will set up hundreds of fake profiles leaving terrible reviews for your brand. These could be on other websites or even on social media. Check for your brand mentions and reviews online periodically. In case you notice any spam accounts be sure to report them instantly. If you find yourself receiving terrible reviews from genuine customers suddenly, reach out to them and try and figure out the problem. Sometimes a poor website experience due to hacking or being bounced off the page can lead to poor customer experience.

It takes 196 days on average to identify a data breach.

Look out for duplicate content

Informative and fresh content could massively boost your Google ranking as well as build a better relationship with customers. However, if someone is looking to do you harm, they could copy all your content and spread it across different platforms online. Repeated content will lower your Google ranking ad sabotage your brand. Use one of the plagiarism sites to check for duplicate content and be sure to flag it instantly.

Monitor your website speed

A 1-second delay in website speed reduces page views by 11% and decreases customer satisfaction by 16%.

A slow website is a big turn off for customers. In case you find your website speed has dipped suddenly without any just cause, it could because a spammer is overloading your server with unnecessary requests.  A slow site could damage your Google rankings and cause your customers to shift to a faster website. Contact your hosting company at the earliest to identify the cause.

Conclusion

Negative or black hat SEO practices can do a lot of damage if they remain undetected. Be sure to protect your site using the above tips. In case you notice any underhanded behaviour, instantly alert your webmaster and report it to Google. To ensure your site is always updated and secure, it is advisable to partner with a leading SEO company.

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