Negative SEO: non-obvious harm

Adapted from an article Russ Jones (Russ Jones) - researcher to find in System 1 and Moz.

Negative SEO can harm your site and undermine your job search, even if it has no effect on the resource position in the rankings.

In this article we will look at what negative SEO, what it can influence, in addition to the position, and how to deal with such attacks.

What is negative SEO

The most common form of negative SEO - is when someone buys hundreds or thousands of links spamnyh using different software, and directs them to your website in the hope that it will lead to his loss of the search results.

The attacker hopes that Google will treat these links as a concerted action the site owner to improve the position in the search results, and will punish him.

However, the reality is quite successful Google determines that it spamnye links, and largely ignores them.

According to our experience, in most cases, a negative SEO campaign does not affect the position as expected attackers. Google ignores spamnye links. However, this is not a complete picture.

Problem № 1. Distorted data

The first problem is that if you get 10,000 links, the result becomes a distortion of the data important for decision optimization solutions.

  • Exceeding the limits of Google Search Console

For example, received 100 thousand. Links, you exceed the limit on the number of links on which data GSC will provide you with the relevant reports.

  • Problems in obtaining data on normal links

The previous example also means that you will not get the data on the links that interest you, because it exceeded the limit on the total number of links to export.

  • The increase in costs for obtaining all data

In principle, you can get data on more than 100,000 references. But for them will have to pay: this information will be available in the paid tools such as Link Explorer from Moz.

Another problem is that although Google ignores most spamnyh links, it does not mark them in reports to webmasters. Therefore, even if you get access to all data on the links, you still will not know which of them are significant and which are not.

Problem № 2. The copied content

The above examples - is not the only type of negative SEO. This is the most common, but there are others.

Another common type of such campaigns - take a site's content and distribute it on the Internet. Attackers expect that in this way they will avoid your site ranking will get some traffic and earn some money on advertising in AdSense.

Why is this dangerous?

  • no attribution

If all of your content published on other sites, even if you do not suffer from your position, the negative effects will still possible. This situation means that someone gets access to your content without any reference to the source.

If attackers have removed all references and signatures, they will reap the benefits at the expense of the work done by you.

  • Internal links are syndicated

On the other hand, even if they do not remove your attributes, all the internal links in the content, pointing to other pages on your site, links are syndicated, which fall within the reference circuits banned Google.

In this kind of situation it is not as important to the intent behind the negative SEO. Here what matters is the impact that it has on your data.

For example, if you have 8 links to internal pages, and the article was published on 10,000 websites, you get 80,000 new links that were supposed to be internal, but external steel.

A couple of years ago some pretty strong brands have suffered from the fact that their news content published in other news sources.

Currently, negative SEO campaign of this kind not necessarily lead to the same penalties, but the probability of this is still there. Even if the sanction is not, then, again, we will have a distortion of the data links.

Problem number 3. Malicious links and hacked content

There are several types of negative SEO, who rarely discussed but nonetheless there.

  • Malware-links to user-generated content

If your site has a user-generated content (UGC) - for example, comments - even if you close the nofollow attribute these comments, links contained in them, can lead to malicious software (malware).

If Google finds these links on the site, you will eventually detect it as unsafe.

  • hacked content

In some cases, there are ways to make your site have links that actually are not under your control. It uses techniques such as the introduction of HTML (HTML Injection).

If Google will scan the page and find a malicious link, the entire domain in the search results will be flagged as potentially unsafe.

Recently, the hacked content is becoming increasingly common problem.

Fear, uncertainty and doubt

In the end, it all boils down to the concept of FUD - "fear, uncertainty and doubt."

As you can see, negative SEO - is not so much about what to get you out of search engines. It is a question, to nullify all your efforts to promote.

  • Loss of access to sensitive data

It's been at least ten years since, all began to talk about SEO-tactics, based on the data and data-driven strategies.

If your data is corrupted, then you will lose access to critical information and can not make informed decisions.

How do you know whether the associated loss of positions in favor of another site with a link if you can not get full data on them because your profile is filled with references spamnymi?

  • Difficult to determine the reasons for the fall positions

As a result, SEO-attacks we can not figure out the reason for the loss of position: if it was a duplicate content or whether the problem is related to the hundreds of thousands of links. In fact, it may be even something completely different.

However, since the distorted statistics spamnymi links, it is very difficult to determine the exact cause of the reduction of positions, which makes SEO less certain.

  • Uncertainty in SEO

The less certain SEO becomes, the more important are other promotion channels: search engine advertising and social networking.

If you are a SEO-agency or a consultant, you can lose customers, as more can not take high-quality solutions for them because of the data, distorted under the influence of negative SEO.

It would be great if Google started to tag those links, which it ignores, in the Search Console. Then we could export only those references that are important to us.

However, while Google does not want to share this information, and we need to think about how to protect themselves.

How to deal with negative SEO?

In our arsenal there are several ways:

1. Make copies of important pages

There is such a technique, which is called the «canonical burn pages». It's simple: for the important pages on a site that should be ranked, you need to create other, identical versions and add references to them from the canonical attribute that points to the original page. If you create any links, then they must all refer to the canonical page.

As a result, those who engage in negative SEO, there will be two options. So they can focus their efforts on the page to which reference is made, or to the page that is ranked.

They usually attack the page that is ranked. In this case, you can get rid of this page and leave only the new page (canonical burn page), because it does not have all of these spamnyh links.

If the competitors will choose a new page, then you can get rid of it and keep the original. In this case, you will have to sacrifice those links that have already managed to earn, but it's better than losing quite this page in the future.

2. Built-attribution

Another way to protect - that is what we call the "built-attribution» (embedded styled attribution).

For example, the article says: "Russ Jones said ...". We can conclude the phrase "Russ Jones" in the H1 tag, and then all this - in a span tag with a class that makes it so that it is under the H1 tag was a normal-sized text.

In this case, there is a chance that if someone will copy your content in the usual way, it will not copy your CSS stylesheet.

As a result of the publication of this content on other sites your name or any other phrase, to which you apply a style described above, will be written in very large letters and will greatly stand out in the text.

This does not solve the problem, but will bring tangible inconvenience to those who copy your content. And sometimes it is enough to stop them.

3. Lists of links

The third option, which we recommend that you use this function in the Link Lists Link Explorer tool from Moz.

This feature allows you to keep track of links leading to the site. Get real, quality links, add them to the Link List and at your disposal will always be a list of checked links, which you can then compare with those references, which may occur as a result of negative SEO action against your site.

instead of a conclusion

Negative SEO necessarily knock out the site from Google, but such attacks can lead to the fact that other methods of promotion will be the best choice.

We hope that our proposed tactics can help you avoid such an outcome.

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