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Negative SEO White paper

Learn about the changing threat landscape of bots and botnets. Our bot detection & bot mitigation white papers show how to address them with Distil Networks.

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THE SILENT ATTACK ON YOUR MARKETING PLAN The Internet is an ever-changing digital landscape. Strategies that work one week might be obsolete the next, demanding continual experimentation and planning. This makes formalizing a successful SEO (search engine optimization) strategy all the more challenging. Any approach needs to be up-to-date with the latest trends and algorithms, as well as readily adaptable. The last few years have arguably been the SEO industry's most diverse, and there has been an aggressive transformation in how online marketers and bloggers approach SEO. Google Search results were once dominated by websites that repetitively listed keywords in their metadata and content. Fast-forward to 2016; today that same strategy draws a penalty. This last item has become common knowledge and opens the door to a new enemy—negative SEO. UNDERSTANDING NEGATIVE SEO Negative SEO exists almost as a mutation of blackhat SEO, which exploited Google algorithms by stuffing keywords and backlinks into content to boost search rankings. Google quickly addressed that, making it harder for sites to avail themselves of such loopholes. It was soon punishing those focusing on deceptive SEO tactics to the detriment of high-quality, concise content. Ironically, Google's effectiveness in stamping out such strategies led to the creation of negative SEO. How it differs from blackhat SEO is that, rather than directly manipulating data and keywords to boost page ranking, your well-performing site is deliberately adulterated to make it seem like it's breaking the rules. It sounds like sabotage—and it is. Targeted websites are essentially framed into appearing as if they're attempting to exploit the algorithms. This automatically forces Google into a punitive position, pushing violating sites down in search results and off the front page. Meanwhile, competing sites are propelled into a better position. It's a malicious attempt to take down an opponent and starve it of needed search traffic. Aside from tricking Google into believing its rules are being mocked, an attacked site also results in skewed analytics that misrepresent actual organic growth. Without operators knowing how to spot such SEO tampering, a website may be damaged beyond repair before a problem is ever detected.crawlers looking for full-load pricing information. Today there are all these crawlers that are smart enough to search, perform an DIFFERENT NEGATIVE SEO ATTACK TYPES Negative SEO can have a devastating effect. Perhaps surprisingly, it's fairly easy to formulate such a campaign against any chosen target. Anyone having the right knowledge—which is easy to acquire—can spend $50 at a place such as fiverr.com and wreak SEO havoc. Let's look at a few of the ways one can go about this. Copying Content A golden rule of SEO is to create unique, high-quality content that differentiates a site from competitors. Without it, Google won't have a reason to rank it in search results. While Google insists that it doesn't penalize sites having duplicate content, there are still ways a knockoff can hurt search result ranking. This makes cookie-cutter replication a useful negative SEO method. By unleashing web scraping bots, a malicious party can steal new, original content that Google hasn't yet indexed and copy it to hundreds of sites. Regardless of how SEO-friendly your original material may have been, Googlebots now recognize it as having been plagiarized many times over. An automated decision—not necessarily correct—is then made regarding which site it indexes. Google makes it clear that "deceptive" duplicate content will be removed from its search results. And it generally does a good job of determining which page, from which the original content was lifted, it should show in its search results. You, however, still run the risk of Google potentially listing a copycat as the content originator. Here, an imposter can easily outrank your source site.nce would likely have come and gone. Hacking According to online security firm Sophos, a staggering 30,000 websites are hacked every day. Across the globe, small businesses are attacked at the heart of the most important consumer-facing portion of their operations. A hacker can gain access to your web page and alter keywords, delete entire articles, or change its body copy. You might have meticulously constructed your site's metadata to help improve its ranking, only for a perpetrator to alter or delete it in a few seconds. Another common tactic is to create outgoing links to sites that Google typically doesn't like, e.g., online casinos or X-rated material. Such links are often hidden away on newly created pages on your own site, or surreptitiously blended into the background color on a page footer. (It was this method that enabled the rise of the now infamous SAPE network; not all of its sites are hacked, but many are.)

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