Now is the era of blooming online businesses, the internet competition is as fierce as the real war. Many business owners fight for the online attention and the SEO ranking of their web portals, but there are also people using tricky methods to sink competitors’ presence – such as negative SEO.
Negative SEO is an off-page SEO technique that blasts many toxic backlinks to the target URL. The bad backlinks can come from low domain authority sites or hacked/unsafe sites, links from comment spams, or links to 404 pages created by bots. The result can be disastrous – such as losing website traffic, losing Google ranking position, losing customers, losing trust - if you don’t “cure” it as soon as possible.
We in Topic News PR have look into this problem recently because our website is being attacked by negative SEO. Here we will share our experience on how we identify the problem and how we tackle it. We hope this article can help people who are in the same situation to gain back their ground.
How to identify negative SEO
Many website owners recognize being under negative SEO attack only after their website traffic drops dramatically, or even totally disappeared from search results. Think that a website’s health is like your bodily health, you need to keep it healthy by monitoring vital signs. In terms of a website, you need to keep an eye on the Google search console.
So first, if you haven’t connected your site to the Google search console, do it immediately. A website without search console monitoring is just like someone without health insurance.
Second, look into the “Links” and pay attention to the Top linking sites. Enter the full list of linking sites, watch out for strange domains or domains that suddenly generate many links to your site. Click on the domain and you will enter “Top target pages”; then click on the suspicious Top linking, entering into Top linking pages.
Third, link back to the backlink source page, examine the website, and check the following:
- Does the linking page working or it’s a 404 page? – if it’s a 404 page, and there are many of them, it can create problems and is most likely to be a negative SEO
- Does the linking page contain relevant content and your URL is mentioned legitimately? If the page content has low relevancy to your website topic, or the text link is empty, or the linking text is harmful, it is a negative SEO at work.
- Does the link appear in the comment section with a bunch of other spammy comments? Then congratulations, you are the target of negative SEO.
Tell Google that you don’t want them
Luckily, Google has a way to disregard those bad links, it's called “Disavow”. And You must get a list of the unwanted domains or URLs that link to your website or blog. If you’re on Google search engine, in the upper right corner of the “Links” page, you will find the “EXPORT EXTERNAL LINKS” option.
After you receive the list of links, first you must remove the good links and leave only the toxic links. Then copy the link value, paste them into a Notepad and save it as a .txt file. There are two ways to list out the URLs, one is to provide the full URLs, one link in a line; another way is to submit the whole domain by “domain: example.com”.
Last, submit the linking report to the “Disavow links to your site” page, select your site from the “Select property” drop-down list, then upload the .txt file.
How long does Google take to disavow links?
Google will immediately disregard the URLs you submit. Although you will still spot them in the search console, google treat them as no-follow and they are no longer your problem.
Please note that Google will not delete those links from Search Console, you will see them as usual, but they are no-follow and will not influence your ranking result.
Keep track of your SEO health
Check your link profile in the search console at least once a week to monitor new backlinks. It is recommended to continue promoting your website through positive and natural ways, such as a high-quality online press release distribution.
Topic News PR has earned itself as the leading press release distribution service provider in Asia, covering China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. Recently, Topic News PR has presented press release distribution in two new regions – Vietnam and Thailand, to help western businesses reach potential Asian audiences with the right tool.