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How to Detect & Combat Negative SEO Tactics

How to Detect & Combat Negative SEO Tactics

Prevent the horror of your website suffering a rankings crash. Content spam is the #1 cause of this. It is a negative SEO tactic and is the unwanted and unauthorized use of content from your website on third-party websites in connection with other content. This negatively affects your company’s and website’s reputation. The main targets of content spammers are strong or popular websites in certain niches. This includes ecommerce websites as well. Spammers will use keywords that get more than 500 searches per month and steal from targeted websites to publish on other domains to rank on SERPs. The stolen content is then republished on hacked pages whose owners have no idea that their websites are being used. 

How Do You Identify Content Spam?

  1. Analyze Ranking Losses
  2. Conduct an SEO Audit 
  3. SEO Analysis to Narrow Down Problem 
    • Auditing your domain
      • Analysis of backlink gains or losses
      • Backlink audit
    • Auditing competitors 
      • Analysis of backlink gains or losses
      • Analysis of competitors’ content
    • Check your on-page SEO & technical SEO
      • Site Audit & technical issues
      • On-page check (page titles, subheadings, etc.)
    • Check for Google Updates

How Google Detects Duplicate Content 

Google is great at identifying duplicate content and detecting on which pages the content appeared first. So why do so many spam sites rank? John Mueller of Google provides some insight to why that might be:

“But even if we know which one is the original and which one is the copy, sometimes it makes sense to show a copy in the search results…And one of the situations where I have seen this happen consistently is if a website is of lower quality overall, where when our systems look at it they’re like, well we can’t really trust this website. But if a higher-quality website were to take some of this content and publish it, we would say, well we know more about this website and actually maybe we should show this content in the search results.”

— John Mueller, Google Web Trends Analyst, June 2021

Translation: Google believes that copied content should sometimes show up in search and may work better on some else’s domain rather than the original website. So, making sure your website is updated in design, function, and content is extremely important. Spammers duplicate the original content until the original page ranks worse and destroys the original website’s authority. The original site usually has fewer backlinks and is often overall smaller that the, while the spammed content aims for ranking on a national level. If you find your business’s website is under this spam attack, Google provides a dedicated form for reporting spam websites. In addition, if the spam site is spreading malware or aims to steal data, you can report these phishing attacks through Google Safe Browsing.

How is Stolen Content Used on Content Spam Websites?

1.7 million websites, 1.5 million images, and more are imported into the hijacked Search Console via the sitemap. The hacked page was also can be accessed via a WordPress to exploit. Once a site has been hacked, a thorough expansion of subpages begins. For Example, 25,800 Google results for a small pipe cleaning website that is distributing dangerous malware attacks on hacked websites. Spammers’ websites use plagiarism to not only place is search results, but in post snippets for easy SEO wins on social media platforms as well. 

They use backlinks alongside known, relevant text content in social media linking to completely different domains to boost these domains and entire sentences are taken from third-party content to post on Facebook to enhance their own content. Sometimes text content is taken from a webpage with a top 3 ranking and appears on a competitor’s Facebook profile. by Seybold found 17% stolen content on a website at the top 3 Google SERPs Page. That may not sound a lot, but for a 10,000-word article, 17% is 1,700 stolen words. When attackers’ websites are removed from the index after a webspam report is sent to Google, rankings may recover, but a complete recovery under continued DDoS attacks and restoring an online store’s top rankings can take up to 7 months with considerable SEO skills. That is a lot time taken away from authority and brand building. 

Avoid negative SEO tactics and create an ethical SEO strategy with us. Call 248.528.360 

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