Top 8 Ways to Combat Negative SEO

Top 8 Ways to Combat Negative SEO

February 20, 2023
(Reading time: 4 - 7 minutes)

Most people use gadgets, tablets, laptops, and smartphones to browse the Internet. That makes your website’s SEO more important than ever before. However, if you are a victim of negative SEO or on the unfortunate end of a Google algorithm update that has severely penalized your site on the search engine page rankings for any keyword you’re trying to rank for, things can look bleak.

The goal of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to improve the ranking of your website in search engines. The higher you are in Google’s first ten listings, the more traffic you’ll get.

Many components go into SEO, including title tags, meta descriptions, keyword research and usage, images, and alt text. However, not all factors play an equal role in determining your rank for any particular keyword or phrase. Understanding how each element affects your ranking can help you make better decisions about spending time on a good SEO strategy.

Understanding Negative SEO

Negative SEO is using black hat SEO tactics by malicious actors to harm the visibility and ranking of your small business website in search engines.

This can be achieved through various means, including:

  • Creating spammy links to a website
  • Hacking the website
  • Duplicating or scraping the website’s content

While creating spammy links or duplicating your content is somewhat harmless, it can signal a bigger problem when it happens at scale.

Overall negative SEO can have a major impact on your website’s traffic and revenue, which is why it’s important that you understand and you are aware of these malicious tactics.

How to Determine That You Are Being Affected by Negative SEO

Determining if your website is affected by negative SEO can be difficult, as the impact may not be immediately noticeable. However, there are certain signs to look for that can indicate a negative SEO attack. Here are some ways to determine if your website is being affected by negative SEO:

  1. Have you found that your website traffic has suddenly had a decrease in traffic?
  2. Has your rankings in Google been on the decline or dropped suddenly?
  3. Have you noticed an increase in low-quality or spammy backlinks pointing to your website?
  4. Have you found duplicate content appearing on your small business website or around the web?
  5. Has your website been hacked or otherwise compromised?

8 Steps to Take if Your Website Is a Victim of Negative SEO

If you suspect that your small business website is being affected by negative SEO, it’s important to take action quickly to mitigate the damage. Here are eight steps to help reduce the damage of negative SEO.

1. Monitor Your Website’s Backlinks

Checking your website’s backlinks is a critical aspect of SEO. It can help you identify and remove any low-quality or spammy links that may negatively affect your rankings.

Now there are several SEO tools available that can help you monitor and analyze your sites, such as Google Search Console, Ahrefs, SEMRush, SpyFu, and Moz. These can help by providing you with a detailed overview of your site’s backlinks, including the number of links, the source of the links, and the quality of the links.

Once you have the list, you need to look at any which may be considered spammy or low-quality. These links can be identified by their source, such as low-quality directories or link farms, or by their anchor text, which may contain spam-type keywords.

You will want to monitor your small business website’s backlinks regularly to ensure they are still high-quality and relevant. This can help you catch any potential negative SEO attacks early and take action to mitigate the damage.

Be careful if you choose to use a tool to remove any links or use the Disavow tool in Google Search Console. There is a fine line between removing ones that seem spammy and potentially good ones. The bottom line is only remove them if they are really bad because, chances are, Google already knows what is junk.

2. Secure Your Website

Negative SEO attacks often involve hacking, so securing your website is crucial to prevent further damage. The best defense is always a good offense. Regarding your website, it’s best to keep your software up to date, use strong passwords, and implement security measures such as two-factor authentication.

3. Check Your Website’s Crawl Stats

According to Google, “Crawling is the process of finding new or updated pages to add to Google.” Therefore, your crawl stats show how often Google has visited your small business website to check for new content. The more often Google visits your site, the higher the chances of spotting new content on your site.

If you see that your crawl stats are declining, it’s a leading indicator of a potential issue.

You can learn more about your crawl stats report on Google’s Support Pages.

4. Check Your Google Search Console

You will also want to check your Google search console for any crawl errors or other technical issues affecting your site.

Here you can see all the error codes that may be affecting your site’s performance from a technical standpoint.

Having an idea of what is affecting your website will help you solve the problem before it worsens and leads to more significant issues for your site in the future.

5. Create High-Quality Content

High-quality content is a critical factor in ranking on the search engine results pages (SERPs), and it can also help to counteract the effects of negative SEO. Focus on creating relevant, informative, and valuable content for your target audience.

6. Build Quality Backlinks

Building quality backlinks from reputable websites can help counteract negative SEO effects and improve your website’s ranking. Focus on building relationships with other websites in your niche and earning links through quality content and outreach.

7. Check the Domain Names of Your Competitors

Every website has a Google Webmaster Tools profile, which provides you with information about the domain names of your competitors. There may be a situation where your competitors have used or are using negative SEO to target you.

If you notice an unusual increase in the ranking of your competitor’s websites, it is time to remove every negative link on your site.

8. Do a Site Audit

If you’ve been the victim of negative SEO, it’s time to do an audit. Because when it comes to negative SEO can wreak havoc on any site. You could lose traffic and credibility and spend a lot of money on something that never should have happened in the first place. It’s also worth noting that if your website is ever under attack, you’ll need to know what steps to take to avoid additional attacks in the future.

Simply put, a site audit is not something most people think of regarding online marketing. Site audits are used for website development and improving user experience. But for those sites that have been victims of negative SEO, you’ll want to do these site audits to discover any hidden issues. Auditing your site is essential in learning how to recover from negative SEO attacks.


If you run a website, you are exposed to negative SEO risk. It’s important to understand how this can affect your site and what actions you can take to avoid it. Over time, your site will be affected in one way or another, so it is better to know what you are doing rather than trying to figure it out when your rankings start dropping, or Google penalizes you for the wrong things.

Even if your site isn’t hit directly by negative SEO tactics, those who engage in these tactics could put you at an advantage when ranking your keywords because they won’t have the same penalties that others experience.

Chad Treadway

Written by:  |  February 20, 2023

Chad is a Partner and our Chief Smarketing Officer. He will help you survey your small business needs, educating you on your options before suggesting any solution. Chad is passionate about rural marketing in the United States and North Carolina. He also has several certifications through HubSpot to better assist you with your internet and inbound marketing.

See Chad Treadway's' bio: