this post will about a topic, that bothered me for the last three months. When it comes to entrepreneurship, there is two way to do business.
The good way and the evil way. Either you obey all the rules, laws and unwritten ethics or you do everything to bypass it. My journey was always about doing it the right way or in another word the slow way.
I would never turn to shady methods to get what I want. There is some sense of honor and pride in what I do. But the consequence of being a saint is that I become easy prey.
Entrepreneurship is a tough game and there is no medal for being the last or for participating. There is no system to defend yourself from the actions of someone, who resides on the dark side.
What Is Negative SEO
As you might know, my blog relies heavily on organic traffic from search engines. Google and similar services use various signals to rank the website in their search results.
If the website is popular and that means readers spend a lot of time on the website and there a lot of links from other authority websites pointing to my website, Google will push my website higher.
There is a whole industry called SEO or search engine optimization, that overanalyze how Google works and what to do to be on the first page of the search results.
A positive SEO then means sticking with the correct way to rank content. And there is no science behind it. Just publish quality content, build links with high authority domains and traffic will come by itself.
A negative SEO, on the other hand, has the opposite goal, to burry the webpage into oblivion and tank its ranking with some shady tactics.
The Impact Of Negative SEO
So what happens when someone does everything in reverse to your webpage? Its rank will tank as a result, the traffic will slumber and your revenue will decline to zero.
How do they do it? And why would anyone want to harm your webpage?
Mostly SEO attacks come from the competitors and haters, who don’t want you to be successful. Either they want to over-rank their website or they want your content to disappear.
The most frequent and cheapest way to do SEO attack is to post spammy links pointing to your website. Links, that Google rates as spam, because of various metrics. We actually don’t know what metrics Google uses but we can assume spam links can be identified easily.
They all come from cheap domains such as .info, that cost only 1 to two USD. Wheres, all domains are parked, there is no content on them or worse return a 404 error. A first sign saying something smells fishy here.
Second, if the number of similarly bad quality links grows rapidly in a short amount of time, it is another signal for Google, that you are a spammer.
How are the links indexed when they come from nonfunctioning domains without any content you ask?
Well, I wondered as well, but apparently, Google crawler is not limited to HTML websites for indexing, it can crawl hosted files as well. Each file pointing to your website, and it can be a simple text file, can be generated automatically by a bot.
Therefore it is cheap and easy to do a mass attack on any target on the internet. There are even SEO agencies offering negative SEO services. For a few bucks, you can eliminate your competition from the surface.
How To Mitigate An Negative SEO Attack
The world is not fair and I will use a Youtube analogy here. There will always be a hater who dislikes, unsub and report your content. It is part of being successful.
So any effort channeled toward haters is pointless. Because there is no ultimate way to prevent an SEO attack from happening. It is a cat and mouse game. Spammers will be always one step ahead.
Fighting against haters means to be in constant damage control mode. Being paranoid and watching over the shoulder for any sign of a bad will.
That being said, doing nothing is even worse.
Disawov Spammy Links With Google Search Console
Luckily, Google provides a free way to defend yourself and to reactively mitigate the impact of ongoing SEO attacks, which also does not require much time.
You need a Google Search Console account, that is tied to your website. And the account must be aged, so Google had time to crawl all spammy links.
Once you see links appearing in a Links section of Google Search Console, then you can export all the links to a CSV file.
The next part is the most laborious. You need to manually go over one by one and choose spammy links, that need to be filtered out.
Sometimes, it is obvious just by looking at the URL. Take for example links, that come from .info, .xyz or other cheap domains.
Another sign is when the links are ending with file extensions like .img or .pdf.
The final step is to copy the domains of those spammy links, put them into a text file, while each separated by a new line. And upload it into Google Disawov Tool.
That’s it. Now sit and wait for the result, which might or might not come.
It will take some time for Google’s brain to update rankings. One thing is 100% sure though, once haters attacks, the rankings will never be the same again. As links keep being generated, your website score will be constantly polluted with negative SEO signals.
What Happened To My Blog After An SEO Attack
It all started during summer after I wrote a stellar post on my fitness transformation. Not knowing about the popularity of the content, I published the 13000 words+ article and went to a three weeks long vacation.
During my trip, I didn’t have access to the internet so I had no idea, that my post took off. Then after returned home, I was surprised to see a growing trend.
Little did I know, that at the same time, I became a target. Traffic was increasing every day and there was no reason to be suspicious.
I enjoyed the growth for a few months until one day, my daily visits started to tank. Initially, I thought, It was just a consequence of the regular Google search engine updates, but when the declining trend lasted for two months, I started to panic.
My site has self-written quality content, organically acquired backlinks, so why the hell is Google punishing me?
A simple look at the list of backlinks in Google Search console revealed the sour truth. I somehow gained hundreds of weird-looking backlinks pointing to my most successful post.
All coming from cheap domains, having nonsense names and all parked at Namecheap or Godaddy. It didn’t make any sense. But It all came together considering a wild hypothesis, that someone didn’t want me to be on the top position for some branded keywords.
Someone famous, someone with a lot of resources, enough to pay hard cash for a mass long-term SEO attack, someone with a track record of being a douche.
Backlinks report showed the first one was indexed in July 2019, just a month after publishing the post. Then the number of new backlinks increased linearly in consequent months. And now it sits 5-10 new spammy links a week.
To this day, I have to update my disavow list every week to mitigate the impact of a negative SEO attack. Sadly, the traffic never recovered to the peak levels and I don’t know if it ever will. We will see.
Hope this post helped you and see you next time.