You know what negative SEO is (and isn’t). You know how to audit your site to determine if you’ve been hit. You know how to protect yourself to limit your exposure. Now it is time to discuss how to defend yourself against an ongoing negative SEO campaign.
Who is attacking you?
There are a variety of ways to unmask the people targeting you and your site with a negative SEO attack. Some depend on the type of attack you’re experiencing. No matter how they are coming at you, you will need to collect some information in order to shut them down.
Let’s look at common attack methods and see how we can turn the tables and use what they’re doing to us — against them.
Using your favorite link analysis tool, you will need to segment the links you expect to have (your old links) to the new ones you believe are coming from an attack. This step is very easy to oversimplify because link scoring varies significantly, depending on your philosophy of links, risk tolerance and which tool you use to score links. The end result of this step is a list of links you think are part of an attack.
Check to see if the links being used against you are related or follow similar footprints:
- Are you seeing a lot of links from low-quality blogs, scraper sites, bookmarking sites, wikis or directories?
- Did a large number of new inbound links pop up at the same time?
- Are a lot of your new links coming from the same IP address or countries?
- Are the new links using the same anchors over and over?
This massive influx of inbound links can be the work of an individual or group using spam software. Spam software tends to leave some telltale traces, such as a high number of links using the same anchors or a concentration of links from a single specific footprint. An example of this might be links inserted in footers like this: “Powered by phpBB © 2000.”
If you were to look at your backlinks in your favorite link analysis tool, you might not immediately notice specific patterns or certain types of links. Look for unusual patterns such as adult and pharma anchor text phrases in new links, or a high volume of links you cannot attribute to any of your marketing activities. These types of links may indicate a negative SEO attack implemented by someone using a spam tool, or possibly someone using a network of sites.