How Can You Tell That You’ve Been Hit by Negative SEO and How to Fight It Smart

6 Minute Read
Written by: Branko Ilishev
Oct / 16 / 2019

Does it feel like Google has been hating on you lately? Do you see problems with your website in the shape of spam links to your site with unrelated keywords, viruses and malicious codes, and fake social profiles of your company? If the answer is YES, we have some bad news for you: You’ve been hit by negative SEO, and now Google might penalize you or even ban your website for good.


… you wonder?

Well, the truth is not everyone is your friend in the online business world, and there are lots who don’t want you on the top in the search result pages. In fact, the people who are doing this are probably your competitors.

With the use of black hat techniques which are not allowed and unethical, negative SEO specialists are trying to harm your website’s rankings. Remember what good SEO is? Well, they will do everything contrary to this so that they violate Google policies and have Google penalize you.

Sounds scary, right? It indeed does, and it is hard to spot negative SEO because it is impossible to avoid an attack. However, you can stay alert at all times, especially if you are at the top of the first page of Google search results, and do routine checkups with the tools you have at hand. Let’s go step by step, take a closer look at what might go wrong with negative SEO and reveal the immediate fixes and long-term solutions for the problems.

What Types of Negative SEO Can Harm My Website?

Virus detected on a website

The easiest way your competitors can get to you is by building bad links to your website and by bad we mean adult sites, gambling sites or even banned websites. Google will easily catch these links, and it will hit you with a penalty.

Next, they can make use of 301 redirect passes so that they can 301 redirect unrelated or banned domains to your site or, again, 301 redirect gambling/SEO/pharma/adult domains to your site.

What is more, the implantation of viruses into the code of your HTML can get Google do delist your site. And the worst part is that you will not be aware of this until you receive an email alerting you of the situation. This is a pretty bad outcome for the trust rating of your company and might end with your website being reported as unreliable. The two most common tactics that negative SEO specialists use are WordPress hacks and SQL Injection.

Moving on to the fake social profiles of your company. Your competitors might pay the negative SEO specialists to create such fake profiles so that people are misled and des with wrong information about your business.

Finally, your competitors can work on maximizing your website problems by linking the website to pages that don’t exist and create duplicate content which gets Google’s immediate attention.

How Can You Find These Problems?

security sign for a website

Here are a few simple and informative ways.

Use Google Analytics / Webmaster Tools / Searchmetrics / SEMrush

You can use these programs to detect a sudden fall in the search traffic. If you are hit by negative SEO, these programmes will easily show you a massive drop in search traffic

Do a Backlink Audit

By doing so, you can see whether someone has built any low quality and spammy links to your site. You can also use the before mentioned programmes and tools to download all the latest links of your website or to get an overview of all your inbound links.

You can also use Ahrefs to get a full report with information on all links along with a whole lot of data to analyze. On the report, you can notice links that appear on a domain that is not indexed by Google, or website that have warnings for malware, link farms or links from pages that have zero Google PageRank.

Look Out for Unnatural IPs

Make sure that foreign IPs or TLDs are not pointing to your site. You can also check if there are many links from the same IP regardless of the domain. Use SEMRush to check the IPs.

Check for Duplicate Content

One of the many online tools you can use to check if anyone is duplicating your content is Copyscape. Enter the URL of the page you want it checks, and it will provide you with immediate results.

How to Fight Back In a Smart Way?

man securing a website on a laptop

There are several things you can and must do in order to fight this unfair and nasty SEO war.

First, Organize Your Data

Analyze all reports from the tools and organize the data you got. Copy and paste the data from each link source into separate sheets and then remove the duplicates so that you are left with only one URL link. You can do that easily by clicking on the Data tab and selecting “Remove duplicates”.

Pinpoint the Bad Links

You can’t all go through all of the backlinks manually because it can be rather time-consuming. But what you can do is use tools like Cognitive EO, Backlinks Monitor or URL Profiler to identify the bad links. Next – disavow those bad links. With the disavow tool you can mark the link with a tag and by doing this you are telling google that you are not connected to that site in a positive or in a negative way. However, be careful with this tool as there are mixed reviews about it, so use it only as a last option.

Contact the Webmasters

In the case of duplicate content, contact the webmaster and ask them to remove it. If no positive answer or understanding comes out of this, feel free to submit a copyright infringement report to Google.

Only Work With Trustworthy SEO Agencies

Don’t hire SEO freelancers or agencies you know nothing about. Check who you are they before starting a collaboration. Disreputable agencies won’t be able to handle the problems and even be the reason for some mess-ups.

About the Author

Picture of Branko Ilishev

Branko Ilishev

Branko is your SEO prodigy. He manages the SEO team and finds creative solutions for your online visibility problems by thinking out-of-the-box. He also translates the collected data of analytics into understandable information that gives you concrete insights.