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The SEO and marketing industry can be turbulent. With all of the updates and algorithms that come into play over the years, the industry would be unrecognisable to someone who was in the business more than ten years ago. But as a result of all of those changes, marketers have to constantly change their strategies and marketing methods in order to avoid something called “negative SEO”. This is a relatively new concept, but it’s really very self-explanatory. It’s SEO that is seen in a negative light as opposed to a positive one. This is especially important because Google will look badly on negative SEO, having the opposite effect to positive SEO. Let’s take a closer look at what negative SEO is, exactly, how it can be prevented and what the different types of negative SEO are. 


What is negative SEO?

Negative SEO is otherwise known as adverse SEO. It’s an attempt to harm the exposure and visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs), with the sole aim of stealing traffic and keyword rankings as a result. It’s essentially a malicious way of making a target website look as though they’re using spammy or negative SEO tactics that will violate the policies and guidelines set out by search engines, such as Google. In a way, it’s a method used to sabotage a competitor’s rankings in the SERPs. Negative SEO tactics can take a variety of different forms, which we’ll discuss in more detail in a moment, including:

  • Website hacking
  • Building spammy links to a website
  • Copying content and distributing it
  • Pointing links to your website using offensive or controversial keywords, such as “poker online”, among others
  • Creating fake social media profiles to ruin reputation online
  • Removing some of the best backlinks that a website has going for it


How to prevent negative SEO

There’s no doubt that hundreds, if not thousands, of websites and businesses are dealing with the consequences of negative SEO. Where it might seem like an impossible thing to avoid, almost as if you’re waiting for negative SEO to hit you one day, there are actually a few measures that you can put in place to make sure that you don’t fall victim to negative SEO tactics for someone else’s gain. Negative SEO can be detrimental to your leads, your sales and your reputation, so here are a few things you can do to protect yourself against negative SEO methods:


Keep track of your backlinks profile

This is, arguably, one of the most important things you can do to prevent negative SEO spammers from carrying out their operation. One of the most common methods they will try is performing negative SEO against your site simply by building inferior quality redirects or low quality links. 

You need to know when someone has created links or redirects to your website, for good reason. There are many different tools available such as Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer that allows you to check if someone has been building links to your website. MonitorBacklinks.com is also a valuable resource for checking the same thing. 

It’s a convenient tool for business owners and marketers alike who lack the time to manually check backlinks. MonitorBacklinks.com will send you an email with everything you need to know about backlinks and your website, as opposed to you logging into other sites everyday and carrying out your inspection.


Protect some of your best backlinks

Backlinks are important when it comes to preventing negative SEO, as we’ve already mentioned. As such, the next step is to protect the backlinks you already have. Spammers have the ability to remove your quality backlinks and replace them with others. To prevent this from happening to you, you can do one of two things (or both if you wish):

  1. Always use an email address from your domain when communicating with webmasters, as opposed to using Yahoo or Gmail. In turn, you can prove that you work for the website and that no one is fraudulently making contact in order to make changes. As such, your email should read in the following format: name@domain.com
  2. Keep track of your quality backlinks using different methods. It’s always best not to rely solely on one programme or tool. However, you can still use MonitorBacklinks.com to keep an eye on your quality backlinks as well as to make sure someone hasn’t been doing anything malicious with your links. You’ll be able to monitor status changes if you add tags to the most valuable backlinks, because you’ll then know whether any links have been removed. If they have, ask your webmaster why this has happened

What are the different types of negative SEO?

There are several different types of negative SEO, unfortunately. We’ve already touched on the issue of link removals and of malicious backlink replacements, but in addition to that, some of the other ways in which you can fall victim to negative SEO, and some of the other malicious tactics that spammers and hackers often include the following:



Simply, those who want to tarnish your name and destroy your online success with regards to traffic and leads will hack your website. This is the easiest and most effective way of bringing a site down. They can gain unauthorised access to your site and delete content, copy content, deface your site, add offensive imagery, redirect URLs to spammy pages and even implement harmful codes that will negatively impact your website visitors and users. There are ways of protecting your site from hackers, including:

  • Implementing security software
  • Enabling security alerts using Google Search Console
  • Investigating any sudden drops in otherwise successful SEO results


Content scraping

If you’re not in the marketing industry, you may not have heard this terminology. You might think we mean “scrapping”, where people will simply delete content from the site. Where this is something that can happen, we still refer to it as content “scraping”. In addition to deleting quality pieces of content from a site, spammers will duplicate content and publish it somewhere else without getting permission to do so. As a duplicate has been created, Google will simply choose one version to display in the SERPs.

It’s a 50/50 chance whether the plagiarised version is displayed or not. As such, the legitimate site will suffer from a loss in organic traffic, thus pushing them further down in the SERPs where no one will see it. To find out whether any of your content has been copied, you can use Copysentry. 

This will automatically monitor the internet, looking for duplicates of your pages or blog posts. If it does find something, it will alert you with some hints. If that’s the case, you can contact the webmaster and ask for the content to be deleted or you can report the issue to Google. In addition, you can also submit a DMCA notice or, in the most severe cases, take legal action if necessary. Make sure you discuss your options with a legal professional.


Smear campaigns

A smear campaign is essentially the distribution of content that contains nothing but false, damaging or misleading information about a person or a business. A smear campaign will damage the reputation of you as a person and even the reputation of your business as a whole. A smear campaign could include any of the following things:

  • Writing a defamatory blog post
  • Creating fake social media profiles 
  • Spreading rumours via chat rooms, such as Reddit
  • Submitting baseless DMCA notices regarding copyright complaints
  • Sharing false or misleading information with relevant influencers

Some of the things you can do to protect your business from the consequences of a smear campaign include: paying attention to brand mentions online, responding appropriately to formal complaints received and generally being friendly to customers who have left damning, seemingly, reviews about your business or the goods and/or services you offer. In some cases, it might be that you need to take more serious action, but consult a legal professional beforehand.


Review bombing

This tactic is perhaps one of the most simple and quick ways of ruining the reputation of a business. It’s so easy to leave a negative review on platforms like Google and Trustpilot that are completely unwarranted. The more negative reviews there are, the less likely it is that you’ll receive legitimate leads and sales. It, essentially, discourages people from clicking through to your site. Make sure you monitor your reviews carefully. It’s not always easy to distinguish a legitimate review from a fake one, so look to Google to carry out automated spam-detection when it comes to any reviews that are left, particularly negative ones.



Kumo is an experienced digital marketing agency with over two decades of knowledge of draw upon. We have SEO, PPC, content writing and website design service available, helping to catapult your business into the spotlight. If you would like further information about the marketing services we have on offer, get in touch with a member of our friendly, professional team today – we’re always pleased to hear from you.


Author Biography


As an experienced Copywriter, Lorna enjoys creating varied content for an abundance of different industries and sectors. From detailed, informative articles to creative infographics, she's always looking to inject originality into the work she produces. When she isn't working, Lorna runs her own lifestyle blog, plays the guitar and loves to take part in charity runs.