negative SEO blog

4 effective ways to defend your website against negative SEO

Note: This article has been archived. It means it is still available, but no longer updated, so the information may be outdated.

If you’re looking for fresh SEO content, read our ultimate guide to SEO or look at our latest posts

With more and more online businesses emerging each year, it’s only natural that they will have to fight over those few top spots in the search engine listings. But like with any war, some of your competitors will try to undermine your efforts, instead of trying to be better.

Negative SEO is one such tactic. Someone will try to lower your organic search visibility, website traffic and naturally, your revenue.

It is a real danger that can get you out of the business unless you know how to defend against it. This guide will try to highlight some of the best ways to protect your online assets against such efforts.

How to recognize a negative SEO attack

You won’t be mounting much of a defense unless you know when you’re under attack. Time is crucial when it comes to negative SEO, as your reputation will keep drowning as you try to figure out why you’re losing traffic and money all of the sudden.

These are some notable negative SEO attacks:

  • If you notice hundreds of spam-heavy links pointing to your website, using such keywords that people most associate with spam, chances are that one of your rivals is behind it.
  • They might try and slow your website down, by flooding it with hundreds of requests each second.
  • Content from your website may be copied and distributed around the internet, which will leave you vulnerable to Google’s duplicate content penalty.

Be on the lookout for these signs as your potential red flags when it comes to an SEO attack.

  • Sudden traffic drop – If you’re suddenly getting significantly less traffic without any particular reason, you might be under attack. That’s why it’s important to keep track of your traffic numbers on daily basis.
  • Keyword rankings drop – If your traffic is lower than usual, it could be because of your keyword rankings. Monitor your keyword rankings as they also might be a red flag.
  • Manual penalty notification – Google sometimes sends a warning message telling you that your website is breaking their guidelines policy. This penalty might be triggered by an SEO attack.

Perform link audits

You should perform regular link audits anyway because they are a great way to track your growth. But when it comes to negative SEO, they are probably the best way to notice suspicious activity before it’s too late.

When monitoring your link profile growth, keep an eye out on any spikes or drops in backlink activity, especially if you haven’t been active in your link building. If you do figure out that you’re a victim of a link spam, you need to disavow the links and notify Google about it.

Protect your content

Scraping is a process of lifting someone’s content and claiming it as your own. Since content marketing is incredibly important in today’s world, Google has decided to put a stop to it and penalize content copying. This might lead to serious consequences.

Google will devalue your website which will result in lower ranking on its search engine, thus losing you traffic and revenue. Check your content regularly through a tool like Copyscape. Be sure to report to Google if your content has been used without your consent.

Monitor your SERP ranking

There’s probably more than one reason why you should check your SERP ranking now and then, but for this purpose it’s especially important. If you’ve dropped in search engine ranking and didn’t change anything drastically, it’s possibly the result of an attack.

If you’re hiring an SEO company to manage your SERP you probably don’t have to worry about this. If that’s not your case, then you need to use a rank tracking software and monitor your organic search visibility for any sudden drops.

Fake reviews

Sometimes the best way to undermine your rival is to use the oldest and the simplest of ways, spreading lies. While negative reviews are a normal part of every business and a chance to get some good feedback, an unrealistically big number of bad reviews might point to an SEO attack.

Fake reviews can do some irreparable damage to your reputation, and that’s why you need to stay on top of the game and notice anything suspicious in time. Since fake reviews are against Google’s policy, you should report them and get them removed from Google My Business.


Negative SEO is a rare thing, especially since Google is successfully fighting it every step of the way. That said, it still exists and is a real danger to any business that heavily relies on being visible on the web.

By keeping track of all these things we mentioned, you’ll make sure to notice anything suspicious in time, and stop any irreparable damage from happening.

Protect your online assets as much as you can, and you’ll minimize the risk of losing a business overnight.