6 Ways To Protect your Ecommerce Site From Negative SEO
The entire SEO industry experienced a major transformation over the past two years. As a result, many online marketers have dramatically changed their strategies. Ranking high in Google for competitive keywords is not as easy as it was three years ago. Because black hat SEO is harder and harder to execute, and less and less likely to deliver results, a new type of SEO has emerged called “negative SEO.” If you are serious about building your brand online and keeping it safe, this is something you should not ignore.
What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO refers to the practice of using black-hat and unethical techniques to sabotage a competitor’s rankings in search engines. Negative SEO attacks can take a number of different forms like website hacks, building hundreds or thousands of spammy links, copying your content and distributing it all over the internet, creating fake social profiles and removing the best backlinks your website has. Negative SEO is real, and numerous websites have had to deal with this problem. So negative SEO happens, and in a competitive business niche, the risk of being attacked by malicious online competition does exist. What you might not know is that black hat SEO can go two ways.
Just because you avoid black hat SEO practices, instead utilizing approved methods to improve your rankings through the merit of your content and the value of your contacts, doesn’t mean your competitors aren’t using negative SEO tactics to damage your rankings and your business. It’s like reverse SEO. Negative SEO is a tactic that involves using black hat practices not to unscrupulously boost your own rankings, but to damage the rankings of a competitor. Google pushed the Penguin update for its algorithmic filter to lower the rankings of sites who use false measures to gain higher ranks in Google search results.
Set Webmaster Alerts
Google can send you email alerts when – your website is being attacked by malware, your pages are not indexed, you have server connectivity problems, you get a manual penalty from Google. It gives you critical data and reports, like search traffic analytics, which can’t be generated anywhere else. It’s super useful stuff for improving your performance. Apart from that, you can also leverage Google Search Console to monitor your website’s safety. In particular, to detect abuse of any kind or sneaky manual actions. React immediately thanks to alerts. These notifications concern cases when your website is attacked by malware. Some of your pages vanish from indexation; server connection problems occur, or your website gets penalized.
If you see an unusually high number of links from a single source, random IP addresses linking to your website, a list of weird domain names linking to random pages on your site, high activity on the “incoming links” section – there is a chance that someone is trying to defame your online reputation. Google has its own way of figuring out link spam, and in most cases, you should not worry about it at all. But just in case you find an unusually large number of spam links emerging out of nowhere, do file a reconsideration request and point out the domain names that are generating suspicious backlinks to your domain. This is not only good for spotting Negative SEO but allows you to also see what impact your link building is having.
Keep Check On Backlinks
This is the most important action to take to prevent spammers from succeeding. Most often, they will perform negative SEO against your website by building low quality links or redirects. It is vitally important to know when someone is creating links or redirects to your website. You can use tools like Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer, from time to time, to manually check if someone is building links to your website. It’s one of the best and easiest tools that can send you email alerts when your website gains or loses important backlinks.Instead of having to manually check your backlinks every morning, Monitor Backlinks sends everything you need to know to your inbox. It usually shows your backlinks immediately, but sometimes it can take a few minutes.
Very often, spammers will try to remove your best backlinks. They usually contact the website owner of the link, using your name, and they request the webmaster to remove your backlink. When you communicate with webmasters, always use an email address from your domain, instead of using Gmail or Yahoo. This way, you will prove that you work for the website and that it’s not someone else pretending to be you. Keep track of your best backlinks. For this, you can use Monitor Backlinks again. Go to your list of backlinks and sort them by Page Rank or social activity. Add tags to the backlinks you value the most so you can verify if any of them get removed.
Check For Duplicate Content
One of the most common techniques spammers use is content duplication. They copy your website content and post it everywhere they can. If most of your content is duplicated, there’s a big possibility that your website will be penalized and lose rankings. You can check if your website has duplicate pages on the internet using Copyscape.com. Simply add your website, or the body of the article you want to verify, and it will show you if your content is being published somewhere else, without your permission. Use Copyscape to check if your assets are unique and to see who has reposted them. Remember, if a website publishes your article and adds the canonical URL, you are safe. It means that they’ve spread your word by sharing it, and not stealing.
There are several ways in which you can hopefully resolve duplicate content issues. Drop a friendly email to the offending website advising them that they are displaying content that has been copied from your site, and requesting that they remove it. By rewriting the content you can potentially improve on it even more, adding extra images and other useful information which may help with rankings. We also know that Google likes fresh content. Updating a post can, therefore have added benefits in terms of ranking. It is, therefore, possible to turn a negative situation into a positive one and actually benefit from being attacked! Other things you need to do in managing your online reputation is to monitor social media mentions, monitor the speed of your website, and try not to make enemies online.
Check Website Speed
If your website suddenly has a very high loading time, make sure it’s not because someone is sending thousands of requests per second to your server. If you don’t act fast to stop this, spammers may put down your server. If your site is being attacked, contact your hosting company and ask for support as soon as possible. A sudden slowdown of your website may also be a negative SEO tactic. Spammers can send multiple requests to your server in order to have it taken down. If you build a high quality authority site within your niche, a site that is built on great content with link juice from good quality sources, then it is harder for it to be taken down by negative SEO.
Google will see your site as an authority and therefore ignore a lot of the negative issues. Big sites can still be hit by negative SEO, and if you are, continue to add great quality content on a daily/weekly basis as well as building good quality links and the effects of negative SEO should be minimal. A web application firewall (WAP) is a good place to start, as are antivirus/anti-spyware programs. You should also choose a password program that automatically deletes all information when any component is wrong. Further, you’ll want to implement a 2-step verification process that requires the use of a unique code generated (and generally sent to phone or email) each time a user logs in. Don’t forget to backup your database regularly.
Use Disavow’s Links
Does your backlink profile contain spammy links? And by spammy, it means containing an enormous amount of low-quality backlinks that cause your ranking to drop or even a penalty. First, try to do all that you can to get rid of them. If you’ve contacted the website managers with a kind request to remove the spammy links pointing to your assets, and they’ve ignored it, you can count on Google to help you out. Google has introduced a simple disavow tool that will help you remove the spammy links. You just need to prepare an accurate document that meets their specifications, and you’ll be able to use the tool.
Using the Disavow Links tool in Bing Webmaster Tools, you can tell Microsoft about the sources that are maliciously linking to your website without any purpose and that they should not be counted as original signals. The Disavow Links tool allows you to submit page, directory, or domain URLs that may contain links to your site that seem “unnatural” or appear to be from spam or low-quality sites. While your efforts won’t have any direct, immediate impact on the rankings of your website, it will certainly help Bing engineers learn more about the malicious sources. You can also ask Google not to take low-quality links into account when it crawls your site by using the disavow tool. Although this should come after you’ve done as much work as you can to remove spammy links and are unable to make further progress.
Protect From Malware And Hackers
Security is extremely important. The last thing you want is spam on your website without you even knowing about it. There are several things you can do to secure your website. If you are using WordPress, install the Google Authenticator Plugin and create a 2-step verification password. Each time you log in to your WordPress website, you will be required to add a code generated by Google Authenticator on your smartphone (available on iOS and Android). The best way to fight web spam is to build credibility and trust that no search engine can ignore. If you get good press mentions, a lot of genuine backlinks, viral activity on Twitter and Facebook, or you are in a scenario where a lot of people are talking about you, referring to you, linking to you, and spreading the word about you, there is no way anyone can harm your site through negative SEO.
The algorithm has to judge the entire cosmos, and genuine links will act as a protective shield against all sorts of evil, foreign actions that you cannot control whatsoever. Keeping your website as secure as possible is the trick to preventing negative SEO. A website that is not secured from hackers and malware will be more susceptible to attacks that damage its reputation. Another thing you need to do is to create a much stronger password. Make sure your password contains both special characters and numbers. Backing up your website will help recover fast in the event that you are hacked. If your website lets users upload files, talk to your hosting company and ask them how you can install antivirus to prevent malware.