How To Identify Negative SEO?

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by   Peter Wootton .

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  • #8880

    Colin Hodgson

    Question. I usually don’t lose sleep over negative SEO, but

    1. How do you identify if one of your competitors is maliciously, either directly or indirectly, affecting your site? And
    2. What can you do about it?

    I have a client who had a new competitor show up in the rankings. The site is less than 8 months old, very thin content, less than 100 total back links, and only 2 reviews on Google My Business.

    My client has valuable content, a healthy back link profile, a well optimised, fast loading site, and several hundred 4.5 or higher reviews. My client should be dominating them!

    Ever since this one site popped up, we not only saw a significant drop in rankings, but so did several of their other competitors.

    To top it off, I discovered a hack on my clients site yesterday with a page pointing to Canadian pill sites.

    I can’t for sure say it was this new site that is causing the issues, but it seems suspicious.

    Have any of you ever experienced something like this? If so, what did you do?
    If not, do you have any recommendations?

  • #8881

    Peter Wootton

    I doubt it’s your competitor. Smaller/local clients don’t usually have the resources to launch negative SEO.

    I’d double down on that assumption after the mention of the hacked page.

    That’s an instant way to kill credibility in the eyes of a search engine.

    And usually pill hacks suck your site into a web of bad links where the people manipulating your site cross link it back and forth to other sites they’re doing the same thing on.

    I’d run an audit on your site. Good chance you’ll find other bad pill/casino pages.

    • #8882

      Peter Wootton

      Yeah, this is their second hack in 6 months. This is the first one since they signed on with us. I checked their back link profile, and I’m not seeing any Spammy links…yet. We are in the middle of cleaning things up.

      It’s just weird. I’ve run several competitive analysis over the past few weeks and we really should be killing it. My client completely dropped out of the local rankings, and I can not figure out why.

      It’s a weird situation.

    • #8883

      Peter Wootton

      Took on a local client a few years ago that came to me with the same problem. Ended up finding static pages outside of their CMS. That’s why they didn’t come up in an automated audit. Bad links aren’t needed to kill rankings if the site has malicious/questionable content.

    • #8884

      Peter Wootton

      Yeah, they had a static page outside of their CMS. Screaming frog didn’t even pick it up. It was found by SEMRush tho. From what I can tell, the page hasn’t been there longer than 2, maybe 3, weeks. But, the rankings dropped about a month or so ago.

      Thanks for your input. Once we get the site cleaned up, I’ll post a follow up on the results and the steps we had to take to resolve this issue.

  • #8885

    Peter Wootton

    Drop in rankings doesn’t have anything to do with SEO. Google has been more and more unpredictable, I have a site in the same boat as yours exactly and not where it should be. Google likes them better for whatever reason. However the fact that your site is hacked could be a big issue, I would check your search console and see if you got flagged as your site could be demoted because of it so clean the site and tell them you fixed it. It would take a lot more analysis than just it has more links and reviews. Reviews is a local map signal and even that really doesn’t help you rank as i have seen zero reviews show up before others.

    • #8886

      Peter Wootton

      One of the first things I did was check GSC, and it wasn’t reporting anything…

  • #8887

    Peter Wootton

    Mueller said Google ignores lots of low-quality links so not to worry about NSEO. If Google knows your site is hacked, then it will show up inside the SERPS, just google your site. Like Damon said, crawl your site, and look inside every directory for files that don’t belong.

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