What Is Negative SEO?

As search engines have been getting smarter and search algorithms have been getting more sophisticated, black hat SEO strategies have been harder to execute without being penalised. As a result, a new unethical SEO strategy known as “negative SEO” has gained popularity. Negative SEO isn’t about getting your website higher, it’s about getting your competitor’s website lower. This blog covers exactly what negative SEO is and how to protect yourself from it.

Bad Links

A few spammy links won’t do anything to hurt a website’s ranking. Instead, it takes an organised effort of a multitude of links known as a link farm. Typically, these links will use the same duplicate anchor text to appear even more spammy. These link farms are used to make it appear to search engines that the targeted website is using black hat SEO to boost their own rankings – and therefore they will be penalised and deranked.

This attack can’t be prevented, the only thing you can do is notice the attack early enough to reverse any damage. This can be done by monitoring your link-growth and identifying any suspicious increases. You can review these links and disavow any suspicious and low-quality links you believe are harming your website. This can be done using Google’s Disavow online tool.


Scraping your website content and duplicating it across multiple websites is another negative SEO tactic. This strategy hopes to trick search engines into thinking your website content is the duplicate content, which results in your website being penalised.

You can use tools such as Copyscape to find instances of content duplication across the internet. You can report any duplicated content using Google’s online copyright infringement report, or you can contact the webmaster and ask them to remove the duplicated content.


Yes, even crawling can be a negative SEO tactic. Search engines such as Google allow users to have their websites manually crawled on request to ensure their index is up-to-date. This can cause a lot of traffic and slow down your website. Negative SEO uses these features to slow down a website and sometimes even crash it. If a crawler cannot access your website, you’ll get deranked. Even if your website doesn’t crash, it can still become slow which then hampers another SEO factor: page load speed.

Direct Attacks

There are more direct negative SEO attacks, which involve having direct access to the back-end of a website. These attacks can include changing content, redirecting web pages/links, and editing the robots.txt to either derank your website or even remove it from the index, disallowing your website from showing up in search engines.

To prevent these attacks, simply use common sense. People should only have access to the back-end of a website if they need such access. When they don’t need access, remove them. It’s also important to stay on top of security. Keep your website, software and plugins up to date. This includes your website as well as your hardware, such as computers and servers.

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