) Do You Worry About Negative SEO?
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Is Negative SEO Bad For Small Business

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Silke Jager

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Negative SEO can hit at any time and it could potentially destroy your small business.

If you’re thinking, “That’s never going to happen to me.”, then it’s time to pull your head out of the sand right now. Negative SEO is not a joke and if you’re trying to build a business online then you need to pay attention. Having a trusted, well written website with unique content will certainly help you get search engine traffic and recurring visitors, but that’s not always enough. You need to stay vigilant.

The head of Google’s webspam team and creator of the disavow tool @Matt Cutts was quoted saying ‘mom and pop’ business sites don’t need to worry and only “super competitive poker, casino, whatever kind of niches…” might get hit with Negative SEO. I don’t agree with this and have seen enough evidence, on several small business websites that I monitor regularly, to the contrary. Remember, a loss in traffic means a drop in your potential revenue.

Should you worry about negative SEO?

Definition of Negative SEO – Someone is trying to lower your site’s rankings in the search engines.

This is done when a person or company build hundreds or even thousands of links, pointing them at a competitors’ website. Digital Shift Marketing explains it this way, “Search engines, such as Google, will incorporate the ‘spammy’ links pointing to the website and might assume that the website is attempting to artificially increase its own rankings. As a result, operating under this assumption, Google will punish the website it suspects is trying to “game” the search system. In doing so, this will lower the rankings of the website being targeted with many irrelevant links pointing to it. Lower rankings lead to less traffic and less business.”

There are several instances where your website might be at risk and become a target to Negative SEO:

  • You’re in a competitive niche to make money
  • You earn any income from your site (affiliate links, selling products/services, etc.)
  • You’ve been contacted to sell your site

If your site fits any of the descriptions above, you should use a variety of tools like Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, Ahrefs, Majestic and Moz to keep track of all of your incoming links.

At a minimum log into your Google Webmaster account regularly and check your backlinks. In fact, every website owner should be checking their webmaster account at least once a week.  If you notice anything out of the ordinary you need to take action.

Google’s Disavow Tool

Google is pretty good at just discounting negative links, but for when things go really bad, they offer the disavow tool as part of its ‘Google Webmaster Tools.’ This free tool allows website owners to inform Google of links that should be ignored when assessing their website.  This tool is a method for site owners to notify Google of unwanted and illegitimate links that had been produced as a result of negative SEO.

It’s important to note that Google created the disavow tool to be used as a last resort. There are steps you can take before turning to the disavow tool, like doing a regular backlink audit but remember, not everything that looks like negative SEO is necessarily negative SEO. Compile all of your links from all of your sources and create one master list to identify new links gained.

To find out if you’re really dealing with Negative SEO versus a bunch of regular, old backlinks and for more examples, how-to’s and a ton of comments, you can read this well written, but rather lengthy article, on MOZ written by Marie Haynes – Negative SEO: Should You Be Worried? If Attacked, What Should You Do?

Set Google Alerts

To help you stay on top of potential website hacking attacks it’s a good idea to always stay pro-active. Visit the Google Alerts page and set up alerts by typing in keywords such as:

  • “payday loans”
  • “cialis”
  • casino

You can also do a manual search by typing the following in the Google search box ‘site:yourwebsite.com‘ followed by the keyword.

Should You Worry About Negative SEO

So, as a small business owner should you freak out and loose sleep over Negative SEO and potentially miss out on a bunch of website traffic? Not overly, but, you do need to be aware! Pay attention to the traffic you receive and where it comes from.

Have you been a victim to Negative SEO? Do you monitor your site regularly? Leave me a comment below!

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2 Responses to Is Negative SEO Bad For Small Business

  • I know I should but I usually forget about checking my analytics by the end of the week. There is so much to do…. I haven’t noticed any change in traffic and don’t know of anybody that’s been attacked. Thank you for raising awareness about Negative SEO though, I agree that people need to know what they’re up against.

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