Are Negative SEO Tactics Hurting Your Business?

Mar 20, 2019 | Legal

Marketing Blog
If you generate leads from people who visit your company’s website, you’re probably familiar with SEO — which stands for Search Engine Optimization. The problem is, the SEO tactics that work today won’t work tomorrow (and vice versa). In fact, SEO efforts that worked well as recently as 2015 may prove completely ineffective in 2019. For example, do you know how negative SEO tactics or unintentional mistakes may hurt your business? If not, it’s time to learn.

While a competitor ruining your website’s online search rank or stealing your organic traffic isn’t unlikely, it is possible. So, it’s smart to understand what signs tell you when such a devastating attack happens. Read on for a quick primer on what negative SEO is and how to deal with it if it happens to your business.

How Competitors Can Use Negative SEO Tactics Against You

Negative SEO tactics have one goal: to lower a competitor’s visibility and rankings in online search results. We’ll list some examples showing you what negative SEO tactics may look like, plus suggestions to prevent or counteract them.

Negative SEO Tactic #1: Link Farms

This is when competitors build spammy blog sites and link back to yours using anchor-text phrases like “free porn.” If this happens to you, you’ll see your online search and SEO keyword ranks fall drastically, almost overnight.

How to fix it: To respond to an attack like this, your webmaster can disavow spammy backlinks directly in Google Search Console. (In fact, you’ll sometimes receive a manual penalty alert in Google Search Console before you notice this activity yourself.) But unless you disavow these links quickly and ask Google to re-index your website, it may take months to recover.

Negative SEO Tactic #2: Hacking/Spam Injection Attacks

This kind of attack rarely involves direct competitors, but has similar consequences to #1 above. If a competitor (or malicious bot program) hacks your site and changes content, it can undo your careful SEO efforts. A hacker can do things like redirect your page’s visitors to  a competitor’s website. Another popular trick is a spam injection attack, which inserts invisible website links into your site’s footer or header code. Google’s web crawlers find thousands of links to free movie and software downloads in countries like Poland, Russia or China. But humans won’t see them — so you’re much less likely to realize it’s happening until the damage is done.

How to fix it: To counteract this threat, conduct regular site audits using subscription SEO-monitoring tools like Hrefs or SEMrush. If you have access to your site’s Google Search Console, you can also look for any suspicious activity there. Once you find where the attacker injected malicious code, follow these steps:

1. Remove the malicious text and backlinks (look in your footer, header or custom CSS files). If nothing’s amiss there, does your website allow visitors to comment? We don’t recommend enabling this feature on any corporate website, since it’s an easy target for spam injection attacks.

2. Disable everyone’s login except your admin account and password. Once you’ve done this, watch and wait. Does the attack happen again within 24 hours, or exactly seven days later? If not, the hackers likely got in through someone’s individual login. Once that’s resolved, go to step 3.

3. Update your website’s active plugins and disable or delete anything not in use. Change all site passwords before letting anyone but the admin log back in. If your site uses a traditional CMS like Joomla, learn more about fixing this attack here.

Negative SEO Tactic #3: Content Scraping

Competitors might copy and paste your content on their sites (or set up blogs just to host scraped content). This can hurt your site’s rankings in a few different ways. When Google finds content that’s duplicated across multiple sites, they pick just one version to show in online search results. If your competitor’s using negative SEO tactics to steal potential clients, your site may not appear in any online searches.

How to fix it: If this happens to you, report it using Google’s copyright infringement report page. One way to prevent this attack (or make it less attractive) is showing the publication date on every content post. If you’re a law firm that blogs to attract new clients, for example, list the author’s name and publication date. You can also serve a DMCA takedown notice to sites hosting your scraped content showing you’re the original copyright holder.

Negative SEO Tactic #4: Site-Crawler Attack

In this attack, a competitor uses web-crawling tools to slow down your site’s page-load time during business hours. If Bing, Google or Yahoo struggles to index your site, your pages show up much lower in search results. And that’s not all — Yahoo Business found 1-2 extra seconds added to your site’s page-load times lowered online conversions 10%.

How to fix it: If this happens to you, contact your web hosting company.

Accidental Mistakes That Act like Negative SEO Tactics

While we’re talking about negative SEO tactics, it’s important to note they’re not all malicious attacks from outsiders. If you’re unfamiliar with managing websites, you can accidentally hurt your business with basic SEO mistakes. For example: Moving your WordPress blog from “http” to “https” without implementing 301 redirects can seriously hurt your site rank.

Another common mistake is guest-posting on another site without doing your due diligence. Guest posts can help quickly build your online authority and reputation . But that’s only if your name or linked business appears on a respected site that regularly posts unique, high-quality content.

A third accidental mistake? Having too many broken outgoing links on your site. This annoys visitors and hurts your rankings, since search engines waste time crawling links that don’t load.

Outsource Client Acquisitions So Negative SEO Tactics Can’t Cost You Clientele

Keeping up with SEO tactics — both positive and negative — as well as common mistakes is a full-time job in itself. Add social media and online marketing, and who has time for clients anymore? If this sounds like too much to handle, it’s time to let the experts manage your client acquisition efforts.

Partnering with LeadingResponse ensures you’ll get superior quality leads delivered in real time to meet your monthly volume needs. Just tell us what your ideal client looks like and what areas to target and we’ll start customizing your campaigns.

Fill out the contact form on this page and get your free monthly lead volume estimate today!

Popular Topics
A dart sits at the bullseye of a target on a desk, next to a laptop, glasses, pen, and notebook.
Apr 11 2024

How LeadingResponse Delivers Quality Legal Case Leads

Having the right tools at your disposal can make all the difference in your legal marketing efforts. LeadingResponse offers cutting-edge legal...
A stethoscope and a card that reads 'medicare' sit on a yellowish green background.
Apr 06 2024

Medicare 2025: Your Guide to the Latest Changes and What They Mean for You

CMS just rolled out the latest on Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D Payment Policies for 2025. Here’s what these changes mean for you and...
Business men sitting at a desk, going over graphs and financial reports.
Mar 28 2024

10 Creative Marketing Ideas for Financial Advisors

How do you effectively market your services as a financial advisor and stand out in a competitive landscape? In this blog post, we’re going to...
Man with a crutch meets with and shakes hands with his personal injury attorney
Mar 14 2024

5 Tips for Your Personal Injury Marketing Plan

A well-crafted plan can set you apart from the rest. To help you achieve this, here are five crucial tips to consider when developing your personal...
Financial advisor works on his phone, with metrics out on his desk. His phone glows with light bulb, productivity, and growth icons.
Feb 01 2024

Unlocking Growth: The Crucial Role of Marketing for Financial Advisors

Finding clients as a financial advisor can be complicated. In an era marked by dynamic shifts in the financial services sector, the need for...
Formal handshake
Jan 22 2024

Unlock Success: Your Guide to Outsourcing Legal Marketing

Effective lead generation is essential for business strategy and cash flow and plays a pivotal role in supporting the financial growth of your...
Young black woman speaking into a podcast microphone
Jan 17 2024

2024 Performance Marketing Trends to Watch

For those who are well-versed in performance marketing and want to know more about marketing trends, keep reading fort the anticipated marketing...
Close up of estate planner shaking hands with new client
Jan 15 2024

5 Tips To Get High Quality Estate Planning Leads

Estate planning leads is a niche market, and knowing how to find the right prospects can be daunting. If you’re ready to see a significant...
Get More Leads
Jan 08 2024

The Hottest Mass Tort Leads for 2024

Is your law firm looking to expand this year? If so, then lead generation should be your top priority. Getting the best legal leads doesn’t have to...
Man draws his business growth rising
Jan 04 2024

5 Ways to Improve Conversion Rates in Client Acquisition

Discover 5 effective strategies to boost conversion rates in client acquisition. Learn how to optimize your marketing efforts and maximize...
Professional woman sits on a chair to the right, in front of a large yellow wall. Drawings display "PPC" and internet connectivity symbols to the left.
Dec 28 2023

The Ultimate Guide to PPC Advertising Best Practices

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, aka search engine marketing, is a potent tool for digital marketing. With PPC ads, businesses can reach more of...
Professional man works on his laptop keyboard, a pen in his hand as he types. An internet search bar is over the image.
Dec 20 2023

A Comprehensive Guide to Search Engine Marketing

In today’s online-driven world, businesses compete to capture the attention of their target audience with more and more competition each...

Now is the time to grow your business for tomorrow. Ready to get started?

We respect your right to privacy.