As demand for highly relevant and quick information continue to grow every day, Google continues to update its search algorithm to give its customers better results. Black Hat SEO tactics are common among marketers who try to break the rules and rank high on Google within a short time. These techniques can be a major reason for a business downfall if they aren’t aware of the tricks to fight back. Gone are the days when Black Hat SEO, tricks, and techniques were used to manipulate the ranking of a site to achieve better results. Search engines sought to curbs these tactics by updating algorithms to penalize websites using Black Hat SEO techniques.
Ranking high on search engines requires knowledge of the current and ever-changing SEO trends and adjusting your approach to suit the new algorithm updates. Unfortunately, there are scammers and other disgruntled parties who try to outsmart search engines using negative SEO tactics to bring organic traffic to their websites. This is a breach of the rules commonly referred to as the dark side of SEO.
So, how can you protect your site from Black Hat SEO practices? Here are some key ideas.
Set Up Google Search Console Alerts
Google Search Console is a great feature which gives you important data and reports such as search traffic analytics that helps to improve your site performance. You can also use Google Search Console to monitor any form suspicious manual actions that may affect your site. Thanks to the alert feature, you can get an update in case of any of the above activities occur.
To activate the alert notification, go to the Google Console dashboard, click settings, and then click on Search Console Preferences. Enable the email notifications icon and you will automatically get alerts in your inbox. These notifications will be sent when there is a malware attack on your website, problems with server connection, if some pages disappear from indexation, or when your site gets penalized.
Perform Regular Backlink Audits
Low-quality backlinks with manual redirects pointing to your website are the most common form of negative SEO practices. This is why it’s important to monitor your backlinks and review your link profiles daily.
There are dozens of great tools available such as Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer that you can use to manually check for low-quality links to your website. Once you spot any suspicious links, click to find its source to check if everything is okay.
On the other hand, you need to pay attention to your backlinks and protect them. Often, spammers will try to contact website owners, using your name, and even try to request the webmaster to remove your best backlinks. To prevent this, always use your professional email address from your domain, for business communication. Avoid using your private emails such as Gmail and Yahoo so that the webmaster doesn’t mistake you for someone else pretending to be you. Monitor your best backlinks to keep your site safe.
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Check Your Site Speed
Your site speed is a key factor when it comes to ranking on search engines. If you notice some sluggishness in loading time on your site, make sure you check if someone is trying to send a lot of requests per second to your server. Failure to monitor your site may give spammers an opportunity to put down your server.
If you can’t find anything and the problem still remains even after doing some tests, you might be a victim of forceful crawling. This may cause a heavy server load, meaning your site will slow down and might crash. For cases related to a crawling attack, make sure you reach out to your webmaster or hosting company and try to find out where the load is coming from.
Improve your Site Security
Site security is a serious issue that should be taken seriously. You don’t want to wake up one day only to find out you have zero control over your website. Although negative SEO tactics may not be that common, cyber-attacks are on the rise year after year. Secure your site access from malware and hackers with strong passwords that are impossible to break. Try to include a long sequence of numbers, mixed with alphabets both small and capital letters.
If you have a WordPress CMS, install the Google Authenticator Plugin for a two-factor authentication. This app will automatically generate a new code every time you log in to your WordPress website. It’s also wise to create backups of your database and files on a regular basis. Website backups are essential for your website’s security. They will help you restore your files in case it gets erased or corrupted. Don’t put your website information at risk, back it up.
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Check for Scraped Content
Understanding and ensuring that your website is secure doesn’t stop at backlinks. A common black hat tactic is republishing your website’s content on other blogs. This is known as content duplication.
Content marketing has been the magic game for a successful website for years, but not everyone is creative enough to create great content. Consequently, content duplication has become too frequent. If most of the content on your website is duplicate, there’s a big chance that your website will be slapped with a black hat penalty and lose rankings.
You can use tools like Copyscape.com to check if your site has duplicate pages on the internet. Just add your website URL, or the entire article on this tool and verify if anyone has plagiarized your content. If it appears somewhere else, ask the webmaster to pull it down.
Social Media Mentions Monitoring
With regular cases of cyber-attacks popping up all over the internet, spammers have upgraded their tricks. They create fake social media accounts using your website name just to tarnish your brand image. Then we have the unhappy customers who complain about your service on their social media accounts, and this may affect your brand reputation negatively.
Try to get rid of these accounts by reporting them as spam. Also, keep track of your social media channels to find out if there is any mentions of your company name on the internet. This will help prevent your website from being penalized in case of an algorithm update.
Never Make Enemies Online
Negative relations with your customers can result in negative SEO. You never know when an outraged customer plans to take revenge after an argument. So, it’s wise to always treat your customers politely and never argue with them. Handling some cases may be tricky especially when the customer is complaining, but don’t let it get out of hand.
To wrap it up, negative SEO is rare, and some activities that may be seen as a result of negative SEO attacks may turn out to be something else. Google has a great technique for identifying malicious link behavior and restricting it before it has a great impact on your SERPs.
That said, we have people who find clever ways to manipulate the system. Black Hat SEO techniques are risky and are detected sooner or later. The result is your website may be banned or penalized. To be safe, ensure every aspect of this guide is in check and you won’t have to worry about possible negative SEO attacks. In the meantime, keep monitoring your site performance and identify problems before Google does.