Top SEO Factors

Negative SEO

Most SEOs believe Negative SEO is all about spammy backlinks. Those SEOs are wrong and generally don't know what they are talking about. While spammy backlinks are one form of negative SEO they do not define the space and generally are not the attack that is causing you harm. Most of the time the culprit using Negative SEO on you is in one of these four roles: A disgruntled employee, A past SEO, A close organic competitor with a lot to lose, or someone who you have deeply upset personally. These individuals will have different skillsets and they will look at the problems in different ways: Steal your customers, waste your budgets, smear your name, sabotage your website, steal your content, displace your rankings, etc. Dislike for you does not come in a single flavor of spammy backlinks. People who think that way simply do not understand security. If someone is trying to tank your website then they are probably trying to hack or disrupt your systems and processes too. The list below is an incomplete list. You could probably double it and still not have most of the bases covered. I'll try to keep adding to it as time permits!

Please Don't No Practice Negative SEO. You can't be the Hero if you are the Villain. This practice hurts the whole SEO industry. Successful SEOs fire bad clients. If you are good at your job that is all you ever need to do. Many of the activities on this lists are crimes and/or liable offenses you can be sued for. Do not ever do these things!

  1. Changing the topics a webpage ranks for.

    If your page is about apple pies but people keep posting about chili for know reason they may be attacking your keyword density.

  2. Check for Negative and false Press

    A competitor engaged in negative seo may reveal their intent by creating negative or false press releases. Check for Pretend to be a competitor and ask for link removals

  3. Check for false canonicalization

    Are people canonicalizing bad content to your pages?

  4. Check Server Logs: SQL injection

    SQL should never appear in web server access logs. inding SQL in the logs is evidence of an attack.

  5. Bad Post Bumping

    Check if users keep replying to bad or outdated posts so it keeps fresher or better content off the main indexes

  6. Domain name bot activity

    Check if domains are being redirected to pile up bot activity onto a target site all at once.

  7. Desktop versus mobile server errors

    Check Google Search Console Server Errors Tab for Desktop and Mobile

  8. Check Server Logs: Vulnerability Testing

    People with malicious intent will try know vulnerabilities against your server. These attempts often appear in your web server's access logs.

  9. Steal a website’s viewers or contributors.

    If applicable make honey pot power users so when 3rd parties try contact them you will know about it.

  10. Alternative URLs

    Check for people submitting alternative URLs or hosts to exploit missing canonical tags

  11. Harassment

    A competitor engaged in negative SEO may show their intent by trying to bully, harass, or otherwise intimidate a person, website, or business.

  12. Check for misuse of Google’s spam report form

    No Instructions.

  13. Unwanted bots and directories

    Check for Unwanted bot and directory submission

  14. Check for Keyword bombing posts and comments

    Check if people are exploiting comments and posts to impact the keyword relevance of your pages.

  15. Check Server Logs: Outrageous requests per second

    Spambots and other negative SEO attacks often have the symptom of IPs with high request counts.

  16. Duplicate titles and descriptions

    In Search Appearance in GSC investigate your duplicate title and meta description pages. Check the URLs to make sure they aren't bogus

  17. Ruining a website’s content or data.

    A competitor engaged in negative SEO may show their intent by filling out your online forms with bogus data.

  18. Check search results for negative mentions of domain or products

    People who would be motivated to use negative SEO against you typically speak ill of your website publicly.

  19. Getting a page demoted in the rankings.

    This is usually findable in the form of "Haters with alternatives" Always be ready to counter these campaigns.

  20. Fake spam email.

    Check for faking Email spam to get competitor publicly blacklisted

  21. Check Server Logs: 500­503 Errors

    Status 500 errors appear in numerous negative SEO attacks. They usually appear for bugs and configuration issues most of the time.

  22. Getting the website banned from search results.

    Look for unauthorized agents acting in your name as well as harmful activity from within your organization.

  23. Disrupting the operation of the website.

    A competitor engaged in negative SEO may show their intent by causing activity that makes it hard for the website or business to function.

  24. Check for fraud order events and credit card testing

    You should still report on this activity regularly because it usually appears with other negative SEO activities.

  25. Actively run anti­virus on server

    Periodically run anti­virus on all of your computer systems.

  26. Stealing a website’s customers.

    Reviews or profiles linking to competitors.

  27. New Keyword Context

    Check for people link building a page into a new keyword context

  28. Hurting the reputation of a product.

    A competitor engaged in negative SEO may show their intent by impuning the reputation of your products and services on and off site.

  29. Misuse of Disavow

    Check public misuse of the Disavow feature to declare a competitor as spam to google. Check if site appears in public disavow files or in lists of sites that people recommend disavowing.

  30. Manual Actions

    Check your Manual Actions in Google Search Console

  31. Right Keywords, Wrong Page

    Check for people link building incorrect pages into the keyword context for bad experience

  32. Desktop versus mobile not found errors

    Check Google Search Console Not Found Errors for Desktop and Mobile

  33. CTR and position events

    In search analytics in GSC check CTR and Position and make sure the chart looks ok... no drastic events

  34. Fake bots

    Check for Fake bots that claim to be competitor and behave badly (again to get publicly blacklisted)

  35. Check Google Search Console Messages for penalties

    Google Search Console may notify you of problems with your website via the messages they provide when you enter the platform.

  36. Check search results for domains matching your content

    Both copyscape and Google search results are a great place to check if your content is appearing where it shouldn't.

  37. Disgruntled Employees

    Check your website for links and content that shouldn't be there. Also check you source code repositories and database content fields for bad words, competitors, and management names.

  38. Check search results for bizarre URLs

    URLs that make no sense to you were often created by someone else.

  39. Check for toxic domain redirection

    Check GSC for confusing 404 URLs that might tie back to toxic domains being pointed to your website.

  40. Content overflow

    Check for Content overflow where users keep posting to a one page thread until the page is too big. Check for Pretend to be a competitor and ask for link removals

  41. Check for Website or Social Identity Theft

    Make sure others aren't speaking with your unclaimed brands on social and web 2.0 sites.

  42. Don't share accounts or email credentials

    Give each person their own account. Sharing accounts puts credentials in places they should be.

  43. Check for rating and review spam (this is ok but my product over here is better)

    A competitor engaged in negative SEO may show their intent by spamming competing offers in reviews.

  44. Check for Cross site scripting

    Is you website vulnerable to cross sight scripting attacks? If so then attackers may be able to change the terms your site will rank for by exploiting the vulnerability with Google.

  45. Topic flooding

    Check for Topic Flooding where users flood the forum with so many crappy posts the forum becomes unusable Check for Pretend to be a competitor and ask for link removals

  46. Click Fraud To Invoke A Ban

    Competitor clicks your ads in a fraudulent way in an attempt to get you banned from the advertising platform.

  47. Bad writing

    Check for people inserting grammar, spelling, and content encoding errors

  48. Check for false authorship

    Is someone writing with your authorship credentials?

  49. Index status

    Check Google Search Console Index Status page and make sure your total number of pages looks correct

  50. Don't let your domain registration lapse

    Don't let someone steal your whole site by forgetting to renew.

  51. Adult Links

    Check for people linking your websites from adult sites or other toxic locations

  52. Check for fraudulent DMCA takedown

    Is your website's reputation being attacked with fraudulent DMCA takedown requests to third parties?

  53. Admin Accounts

    Periodically change your admin passwords and account names

  54. Archive suspicious errors

    If Google Search Console errors look suspicious then Download and archive them

  55. Slander and false claims

    A competitor engaged in negative SEO may show their intent by slandering or making false claims about a website, business, or person.

  56. 404 Errors

    Check server logs for a large volume of 404 errors from 1 referring domain

  57. Check for denial of service

    Is the web server experiencing a campaign of denial of service attacks?

  58. Periodically run vulnerability testing on your site to close security vulnerabilities

    Updating regularly reduces your number of vulnerabilities. Testing points out the updates you forgot to make.

  59. Mark non­issues as resolved.

    If Google Search Console errors look minor and are no longer reproducible then mark them as fixed so you only see new errors next time

  60. Check Google Search Console Messages for outages

    Status 500 errors show an outage where your server was not responding to web browsers. This happens in a number of negative SEO attacks, but it can happen for other reasons too.

  61. Content Keywords

    Check your content keywords in GSC and make sure nothing looks spammy or out of place there

  62. Check website for unatural ratings and reviews

    Unnatural spikes in rating or review volume can denote a negative SEO attack.

  63. Routinely back up server

    Expect the database and server files to be encrytped and held for ransom. Wont it feel good to have offline backups?

  64. Check for Hacking the site

    You web server logs often contain the clues of hacking attempts on your web server. Hackers are often willing to engage in negative SEO as well.

  65. Catalog of attacks

    Catalog the frequency, duration, dates, origins, and impacts of website activity.

  66. Check Security Issues in GSC

    Does Google Search Console report any security issues that need to be addressed?

  67. Check search results for odd URL parameters and URL anchors

    URL parameters are a common attack vector for duplicate content attacks.

  68. Check for crippling the site’s speed

    Is the website experiencing activity that slows down the server?

  69. Update your web platform and plugins regularly

    Updating regularly reduces your number of vulnerabilities.

  70. Form Spam

    Check for Flooding a web database with bogus data

  71. Adult content

    Check for users posting adult or damaging content.

  72. Topic Spam

    Check website categories for over­abundance of old or bad topics

  73. Use a version control system and check the update status of deployed code for changes regularly

    If you have a PHP or wordpress site then put it in GitHub (or similar) and check out on your deployment server. Then you can "git status" to see the file changes on the server. This lets you rollback changes if your PHP is hacked and see what exactly the changes were.

  74. Editing a competitor's Google My Business listing

    Your competitors can edit your Google My Business listing and if you aren't paying close attention and receiving notifications then they might just get away with it.­edit­listing­google­my­business

  75. Check for fake ratings and reviews (worst product ever)

    A competitor engaged in negative SEO may show their intent by generating fake ratings and reviews.

  76. Check for Domain squatting and hijacking

    A competitor engaged in negative seo may reveal their intent by stealing your domain.

  77. Check Server Logs: Bad Bots

    Identify and block bad bots. Bad bots can stack up on your domains and multiply server load.

  78. Check search results for unusual sub­domains

    Wildcard subdomains are another attack vector for duplicate content attacks.

  79. Linking Domains

    Check Google Search Console for who Links to your site the most under search traffic

  80. Fake Link Removal Requests

    Check if people pretend to be a competitor and ask for link removals

  81. Trying to hurt the reputation of the website.

    Reputation attacks can occur on and off site. They are typically easy to find but hard to detect. Regular searches are required.

  82. Stealing a website’s content.

    Stealing another website's content could get your website penalized by Google. copyscape and google test searches

  83. Use strong passwords for website accounts

    Don't use a weak password for your wordpress admin. Don't name your wordpress admin account admin. Call it something else. Don't post with your admin account. post with an unprivledged posting account.

  84. Check for spammy links

    A competitor engaged in negative SEO may show their intent by creating link spam for your website.

  85. Flooding junk traffic

    Check for Flooding junk traffic to a site so Google gets the wrong idea about the site’s audience location or demographics

  86. Squandering a website’s ad spend.

    A competitor engaged in negative SEO may show their intent by clicking on your PPC ads and wasting your ad spend.

  87. Check for Fake complaints

    Search for fake complaints about the website on other sites.

  88. Check for customer service spikes

    Spikes in customer service activity can signal larger issues.

  89. Check for GoogleBot interruption

    Are you being hit by slow loris attacks?­secret­world­of­negative­seo­13244/

  90. Traffic Origins

    In search analytics in GSC check countries and make sure your not suddenly popular in Russia

  91. Causing confusion

    A competitor engaged in negative SEO may show their intent by causing confusion about products and services or to blur the lines differentiating them.

  92. Shady sources of backlinks

    Check for Inclusion in blog networks, link wheels, other linking schemes Check for Pretend to be a competitor and ask for link removals

  93. Patch your server regularly

    Updating regularly reduces your number of vulnerabilities.

  94. Check website for profile spam

    Are profiles being abused to spam links to websites?

  95. Make sure your link count hasn't abnormally grown since last check

    Update you link count spreadsheet

  96. Trying to hurt the reputation of the author.

    This is in the form of attacking the reputation of an important contributor to a website.

  97. Causing financial harm to a website.

    A competitor engaged in negative SEO may show their intent by finding ways to financially harming the business.

  98. Wordpress Security Plugins

    Double check your Wordpress Security plugin for any loose ends if applicable.

  99. Check for CTR and other false signal bots

    Be sure to block bots that serve no useful function.

  100. Check website for comment or post spam

    Are comments or posts being abused to spam competitive offers or to lower quality of the site?

  101. Check Google Search Console Messages for crawl errors

    A number of negative SEO attacks have the symptom of generating lots of entries in your crawl error logs. These logs can be generated for other reasons too.

  102. Inappropriate or Stolen Favicons

    There are a few ways to deindex a page with favicons and most SEOs don't know to check this.

  103. Soft 404 Text in User Generated Content

    Google will filter soft 404 pages and the filters they use are very basic and have been triggered by articles and comments about the topic.

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