Site Nowhere To Be Found on Google? Negative SEO May Be The Reason
If you’ve fallen off the map for some of the keywords you used to rank well for, your website may have suffered a Negative-SEO attack.
You might be asking, “What the is a Negative-SEO attack and why me?”
Simply put, a Negative-SEO Attack is an attempt, often by competitors, to create garbage backlinks to your site in order to negatively impact your SEO. Normally, backlinks are good, indicating that the piece of content that’s being linked to offers valuable information on its topic.
But when the folks at Google discovered unscrupulous SEO’s (“Search Engine Optimizers”) gaming the system by putting up multiple bogus websites with links to their clients’ sites (improving their clients’ SERP rankings and thereby making more money), Google set about to fix this problem.
Their answer was in the form of the algorithm code-named “Panda”, which caused sites with “thin content” to be pushed down in the SERP rankings and to drag down any sites that had links from the offending site.
While the overall effect of Panda was to ensure that the results searchers saw were of high quality, there were a few negative side-effects caused by Panda, two of which were:
- Companies that hired the aforementioned unscrupulous SEOs saw their search engine page rankings drop as the bogus websites their sites were linked to got pushed down;
- Really unscrupulous SEOs realized that they could use the Panda algorithm to their advantage by hiring themselves out to, instead of improve their clients’ rankings, sabotage their clients’ competitions’ rankings.
How Do I Know If I’ve Suffered a Negative SEO Attack?
In order to know whether your site has been the victim of a negative SEO attack, you first need to know what sites have links to your site.
If you have Google’s free Search Console tool linked to your website, you can generate a .csv list of the links to your site. You could also go to majestic.com and enter your domain name to generate a report. Tools like majestic.com and MonitorBacklinks.com have page and domain “quality indicators”, but they’re not always accurate so the best way to determine whether a backlink is good or not is to go visit each link, one by one (unless, of course, you can tell just by looking at the link that it’s good or not).
Below are some examples of bad backlinks associated with Winc Analytics’s client sites.
One backlink to a New York technology provider’s site took us here:
Multiple backlinks on to the page of a client who’s an interior designer took us to pages like these:
Different URLs with the same garbage content.
Of course it was evident to us that these links were made to our clients’ sites with the intent to hurt their SEO.
So What Do I Do If I’ve Suffered a Negative SEO Attack?
Once you’ve confirmed that there are negative SEO links to your site, you’ll want to disavow those links with Google.
The disavow process entails these 3 steps:
- Create a text file with the specified format for Google’s Disavow Backlinks tool (you can download our sample copy here);
- Enter the domains of the offending links into the disavow file;
- Submit your disavow file to the disavow tool (check Moz.com for a good explanation regarding using the tool).
It’s been our experience that it takes about 8-12 weeks for bad backlinks to start “falling off” and then at least another 4 weeks before you’ll start to see the your page rankings start to return.
The process of cleaning up after a negative SEO attack is involved and will take some time, but there really is no way around it because leaving those bad backlinks out there will almost certainly negatively impact the SERP positioning for the keywords you’ve spent time and money trying to rank for.
If you find that this is a little too much for your to tackle and you need some help, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. if you’re looking for more info on Negative SEO, here’s a good piece by SEO expert, Sean Works: https://writesean.com/matt-cutts-says-negative-seo-attacks-arent-a-big-deal/