How I Turned a Negative SEO Attack into a Positive

Avatar for Brock Murray

Brock Murray
Co-Founder / COO

Man with ski mask on leaning over a laptop to show Negative SEO
Man with ski mask on leaning over a laptop to show Negative SEO

As a self-proclaimed SEO addict, I check my backlink profile nearly everyday. I like to monitor which marketing efforts have generated backlinks (such as those listed in  my recent article on outreach.)

To my surprise on September 16, I noticed some really spammy links with some pretty interesting anchor text pointing to my domain. Right away I knew our website was the target of a “negative SEO” attack.

My first reaction was frustration: Why would somebody do this?
Then there was a sense of relief:  Good thing  I caught this right away.

(Most businesses don’t actively check their link profile – if at all. This is a wake-up call for businesses. This can happen to you too! It shows the importance of working with an agency that monitors these types of things.)

The reality is there is a ton of competition in the SEO industry. There are those who focus on purely white-hat tactics to push their website to the top. Some use gray-hat tactics – mostly using techniques that are white-hat, but push the envelope a bit with riskier strategies. Then there are the purely black hat SEO’s that will stop at nothing to achieve their goal – be it hacking into websites to post links, sending tons of spammy links to the site (or tiers of the site) to help boost metrics.

Recently Google has made many changes to their algorithm that have made it much  harder than ever before to “game” their SERPs (search results.) Even online marketing beasts like Ryan Stewart are turning away from SEO – in it’s traditional form. It’s not an easy task and not something that will happen overnight by any means. SEO has really transitioned into much more than that.

I agree that SEO is not what it was. It has transformed into  “web presence optimization” – optimizing your online presence including any social profiles, review sites, directories AND website to make sure the brand comes up when a prospect is searching. Tie that in with content creation (blogs/case studies/white papers/video/resources) to complement your inbound marketing strategy, drip-market your prospects with e-mail automation – and you have an effective strategy in 2015.

OK, let’s cool off and make a plan.

We need to “disavow” these links – attempt to diassociate our website with those links. In short, the first step is making a list of  all the inbound links to my site (by  aggregating the links from Google Search Console, ahrefs and Majestic.) The second step is to create a disavow file, and the final step is to submit your disavow file via Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools.)

Need a more in-depth view? I’m not going to re-invent the wheel.  Check out this guide   by link-penalty expert and fellow Ottawan  Marie Haynes.

What’s next?

Guess what? That’s it. It’s really not that difficult to combat – you just need to be on top of it.
Continue monitoring your inbound links and rinse, lather, repeat as needed.

Staying on top of it?

To date our rankings have not been negatively affected, in fact quite the opposite.

As expected, the negative SEO attack would improve your rankings temporarily – until Google ‘refreshes’ their link-based penalty algorithm, Penguin, and can leave you with a devastating penalty. Penguin V4.0 is expected by the end of this year.

So…have you ever been the target of a negative SEO attack?


Avatar for Brock Murray

Brock Murray

Brock Murray is the COO and co-founder of seoplus+ digital marketing agency. As the driving force behind this award-winning, full-service agency, Brock's passion is helping businesses establish, grow, and maintain their online presence. With the help of SEO, PPC, social media, content marketing, and more, Brock and his team help clients of varying sizes and verticals, from small, local retailers to large, multinational enterprise companies.

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