Negative SEO & Google: Fighting Negative SEO

For part 2 of this blog post series, I’m going to discuss several ways you can fight Negative SEO. Don’t sit idly by on the sidelines while competitors take free shots at your website! If you missed part 1 of this blog post series, you may want to check it out first.

Fighting Reviews used for Negative SEO

fighting negative seoThe best way to deal with negative reviews online is to respond to them. If they happen to be fraudulent, most platforms have a method for you to flag the review and report it. Even if the review is fraudulent, it can take quite some time for it to be removed from a review site. Don’t accept down time waiting for that review to disappear. Respond to that review indicating in your response that the review is: not from an actual customer & does not represent the way your business truly operates. Encourage potential customers reading the fraudulent review to check your reviews other places online.

NOTE: Do not mention other review websites or review platforms in your response. This can get your response removed. Do not mention your competitors by name, even if you know who’s responsible for posting the fraudulent review. This can also get your response removed and might set you up for a libel claim from the competition if the accusation turns out to be unfounded.

After you’ve responded to the review, flag it. This is easier said than done in many cases though. Depending on which site you’re dealing with, the options for why you’re flagging the review vary. Not everyone gives you the option to choose, “This is a fake review.”

For Google+, these are the options Google provides to indicate why you’re flagging a review:

fight negative seo reviews by flagging them

If you can show that any of the following “Comment Posting Policies” have been violated, you have a very good chance at Google removing the review from your G+ Business page. However, Google doesn’t give you the option to specifically explain why you’re flagging the review.

fight negative seo with google comment review posting policies

Fighting Scrapers & Duplicate Content used for Negative SEO

There are several ways to fight duplicate content and content scrapers looking to steal your content.

First off, don’t syndicate your own website copy on other sites! If you’re going to use OTA’s or distribution networks, provide those outlets with unique content to use for your company, don’t just copy your home page.

If you’re dealing with content thieves, Copyscape is a great tool to help you identify which sites have stolen your content, how much of the content they’ve taken and the URL on which the content resides. Copyscape is a free service, but the number of URLs you can check in 24 hours is limited. They do provide a premium version with unlimited scans.

fight negative seo with copyscape

Copyscape also provides a service called Copysentry which for a monthly fee, automatically monitors the web and emails you if it finds your content on someone else’s site.

fight negative seo with copysentry

If you’re website is built in WordPress, there are plugins you can add to your CMS to help protect the content on your site itself.

WP Content Protection Manager by Clogica is one such plugin. It has some rather nefarious options included for responding to content thieves clicking on your website. I can’t say I would employ the ad response myself, but in some cases, I see the merit in generating revenue from content thieves.

fight negative seo scrapers with wp content protection manager

fight negative seo scrapers with wp content protection manager

Like all software, there are ways around it. But it’s a good tool to add to your arsenal against Negative SEO via scraped content.

Fighting Negative SEO Click Fraud in Google Ads:

Whether by man or bot, click fraud is a serious threat to your paid advertising budget. Detecting click fraud isn’t as complicated as it might sound initially, but the criteria for determination will be different depending on the vertical your company is in. Ad click user behavior for hotel and travel sites differs greatly from user behavior for local service sites. User return frequency via ad clicks also varies from vertical to vertical.

Start by identifying the typical behavior of real customers who come to your site via ad clicks. Some questions to ask yourself might be:

  1. How much time on my site do converting customers spend?
  2. How many pages do they typically view before converting?
  3. How many overall visits does a converting customer make before they convert?
  4. How often do converting customers return to the site and convert again?

If you’re seeing atypical behavior with your PPC ads from a particular set of IP addresses, add them to the IP Exclusion field in Adwords. This will prevent searches from that IP address  triggering your ads, effectively making you invisible to individuals at that IP address who might try to engage in click fraud with your ads. Kissmetrics has a great article on how to hide your PPC ads from competitors if you need more information about how to identify IP addresses from competitors or using geo-targeting to hide your ads from competitors.

fight negative seo click fraud with ip exclusions

Fighting Payday Loan & Viagra Links used for Negative SEO:

The most effective way of battling purchased links pointed at your site by a competitor is the Disavow Links Tool. Tell Google & Bing you want nothing to do with the Payday loan links someone else pointed at your site.

I’d also recommend making sure your 404 redirect is working correctly and no following your 404 page, since in most cases, your 404 page also links to all the other pages of your site via site-wide navigation.

Fighting Fake User Behavior used for Negative SEO:

Fighting fake user behavior can get a bit tricky since you have to identify your real users from bots and competitor traffic visiting your site. However, there are a few easy ways to identify these individuals based on their behavior on your website. If your internal navigation is solid, you have no internal broken links and every real page of your website is linked in the navigation, you shouldn’t have any natural 404 errors.

Traffic that causes 404 errors, as described in the situation above, is not normal traffic to your website. In many cases, this traffic is caused by people trying to exploit known vulnerabilities in WordPress, people trying to see what strategies you’re using to succeeding in Google SERPs and people otherwise intentionally causing 404 errors in an effort to hurt your placement in Google.

The easiest way to fight this type of attack is to block the perps from accessing your site. One of the easiest ways to do this is with the Wordfence Security Plugin for WordPress.

fight negative seo with wordfence

fight negative seo with wordfence

Wordfence will allow you to block IP addresses attempting to login to your WordPress site with incorrect user names, IP addresses attempting to retrieve or reset your website’s password, IP addresses causing 404 errors, by bots and humans, and you can even block entire countries from accessing your site with the premium paid version of the plugin.

fight negative seo with wordfence

Wordfence is even useful for identifying IP addresses guilty of click fraud with your PPC ads so you can add them to the IP exclusion field in Adwords.

fight negative seo with wordfence

Don’t take Negative SEO laying down: Fight it Proactively

Don’t take Negative SEO laying down. Success in today’s SERP-o-sphere requires a proactive approach to fighting Negative SEO. While these aren’t the only strategies for fighting Negative SEO, they are a good place to start protecting your website. If this sounds too complicated or time consuming, contact a professional to help you defend your website online.




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Scott Davis

Scott Davis is the Senior SEO Specialist at Valet Interactive. His professional experience in marketing spans over 16 years and includes public relations, direct sales, direct promotional marketing, event planning, e-commerce marketing, writing, editing, search engine optimization and search engine marketing. He is an avid music fan and plays acoustic and electric guitar. Cat Fan.